It takes a lot of work to launch a new business. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than half a million new businesses open their doors each and every month.

The question then becomes, how many of those startups will endure and thrive? The SBA says this number is far lower – only half will still be standing five years later.

One of the most important steps to take before launching a business is deciding on its location. In this post, learn how to thoroughly research and investigate any proposed business location for safety before setting up shop.

Check Zoning & Local Ordinances

One less-considered but key facet of choosing a safe location is what the local zoning and ordinances have to say about the other types of businesses permitted to operate in that location.

For instance, if you want to open up a children’s after school program, you would not want a liquor store to open up next door. But if you don’t check the laws in that area, this could be exactly what happens. Do the research so you don’t open your doors only to find out your business is not permitted by local zoning or regulations.

Before checking zoning and local ordinances brainstorm a list of all the business types that could adversely affect your own new business. This way you can ask the right questions without missing something critical.

Check Local Demographics

The local demographics will be another important part of checking for safety in any new proposed business location.

This doesn’t just mean the local demographics of who lives in the surrounding residential areas or even what other business types are located nearby. It also means observing the regular foot traffic in and around your proposed location and observing the traffic and parking situation nearby.

Look to see if the people you see passing by in an around that area are a match for your ideal customer profile. Or perhaps consider if they could be potential employees? Would they feel safe during work hours inside your building or walking to and from their vehicles or public transportation, even in the early or late hours?

Check Crime Statistics

Finally, no safety check will be complete without checking into the area’s crime statistics. This includes pulling a crime rate map to see how that location compares with surrounding locations. Today, detailed crime maps are also available by county and state.

In addition to examining crime trends at the state and county level, you will want to dig deeper and look at each of the following:

– The city crime trends.

– Crime by neighborhood (paying particular attention to bordering neighborhoods).

– Most common types of crime in or near that area.

– Criminal demographics (age, gender, background, et al).

– High and low crime periods on a daily basis.

– Specific crime registries (i.e. pedophiles/sex offenders registry if you plan to open a children-oriented business).

– International crime (if your location has a close proximity to an international border).

These additional insights will help you to form a more comprehensive picture of the relative safety (or lack thereof) in that general area. You can also contact the local Chamber of Commerce or police department to inquire about any specific concerns that businesses in that area may have reported.

By taking the extra time required to fully investigate whether a new proposed business location is likely to be safe enough to support your new business’s growth, you set your company up for success in many ways, including: finding and retaining employees, attracting and retaining customers, finding financing and becoming a productive, welcome member of that community.


By: Vincent Stokes