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5 Things to know before opening a storefront

If you're thinking about opening a brick-and-mortar for your business, you're in good company. From Liila Boutique and Little Neetchers to Ursa Minor Brewing and Runa Yoga, we've helped countless small businesses in the Northland region navigate the exciting and often complex process of opening a storefront. And we're sharing 5 key things you should consider before opening the doors to your first storefront.

5 Things to Know Before Opening a Storefront

1. Make sure there's a demand there we're all about making your big dreams a reality; it's also important to consider whether there's enough demand for what you want to offer. In other words, no matter how great your idea may be, it's essential to understand whether your target customers see the value in what you offer and more importantly want to pay the asking price.

2. Know what makes your products and services unique – while having a great product or service (or both) is important, the key thing is knowing your unique selling proposition (USP) or what sets your core offering apart from your competitors in the mind of your target customer.

For example, if you're planning on opening a new fashion boutique in town, ask yourself why someone would want to stop in and shop at your boutique versus another one down the street. Is it the fact that you offer complimentary styling services to go with the great selection of styles you offer? Or is it because you carry an exclusive selection of brands that nobody else in the area can offer? Whatever it is, make sure you know what truly sets you apart and that you can clearly communicate this to your customers.

3. Have a business plan in place – a business plan can help you solidify your goals and objectives and secure funding for your brick and mortar store in the future – especially as you scale. To complete your business plan, you'll need to be clear about what you offer and how you’ll be able to get all the products. So, whether you plan to sell clothing, coffee, or something entirely different, make sure you know how and where you'll be purchasing those products from, what prices to charge (and how it compares to your competitors), and what your profit will be once it's all said and done. If you are local, check out the Entrepreneur Fund for free assistance.

4. Figure out the best location for your business – whether you're considering leasing or buying a brick and mortar, our Predesign Exploration Package can help you better understand the many requirements and needs of your future business so you can make an informed decision about the building or site that's truly right for you.

For starters, you'll need to know whether you can use the building for the purpose you intend. And even if you find out that the intended use is allowed, there may be building code requirements that you still need to make, so the building is safer and more accessible and energy-efficient as it pertains to the City of Duluth or your local jurisdiction.

In addition to zoning and building requirements, you'll want to consider the location of your target customers, the style of your business, visibility, where your competition is, parking and access, and scalability, to name just a few. For more resources, check out the City requirements.

5. Secure the necessary financing – once you have a business plan and a location in mind, you'll have a better idea of how much money you need to secure to run your brick and mortar business successfully. Just make sure that you're considering obtaining financing more broadly – including everything from building analysis and architectural design to costs associated with building system changes, furniture and equipment, supplies, marketing, and staff. If you haven't already, check out the Entrepreneur Fund for assistance with business loans, advising, programming, etc.

So, now that you have a better idea of what you should know before opening a storefront, you can have a more robust plan in place for your brick-and-mortar business. And whenever you're ready to take the next step, contact us to set up a discovery session so we can help you bring your dream business to life.



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