Choosing a business location is perhaps the single most important decision a small business owner or startup will make. Regardless of industry, location is often the factor that determines whether a business succeeds or fails, and not just for the reasons you may think. Even with precise planning and research, looking at demographics, assessing your supply chain, scoping the competition, staying on budget, and understanding state laws and taxes, there is an important piece of the puzzle that often gets overlooked: IT infrastructure.
Many business owners assume that the right voice and data suppliers will be available to them, regardless of the location they choose. Often, they don’t give IT a second thought until after the lease has been signed or construction has begun, and many are surprised to learn that the infrastructure in their new location won’t meet their needs.
In my 24+ years in the communications/IT arena, I have helped hundreds of businesses determine their infrastructure needs. Because experience is often the best teacher, I’d like to offer you some helpful tips to consider before choosing a new location for your business.
- If you are moving, plan to contact your local provider to port your telephone numbers two months in advance. In some cases it may take over a month to get this accomplished. In fact, in some cases, your current provider may not be available in your new location. Better to know this well in advance and take the necessary steps to ensure your phone service is uninterrupted.
- If you are moving, check on the portability of your main advertised phone number. If you cannot port that over you will have to change everything that contains that number, including business cards and marketing materials.
- Investigate the bandwidth available in the location you are considering. Make sure you can get the bandwidth you need to support your Internet access needs.
- Do a complete back up of all critical data before the move.
- Plan your equipment move with your data provider and your IT staff to reduce your downtime. It’s critical to have a plan in place and a backup plan if something fails.
- If you are building a new building, make sure you have large enough conduit to accommodate the voice, data, cable TV and electrical needs in your building. It could potentially cost you tens of thousands of dollars to do this after concrete is poured, so be proactive and do it before.
- Plan for Future Growth – If you anticipate further growth, look for a building that has extra space should you need it.
- If you don’t have an IT staff, choose a local provider that has experience in these areas. They will help you with your move or help you with your design and manage your project for you so you can focus on other things.
Planning for your infrastructure needs well in advance of a move makes good business sense. As a small business or startup, you must control costs in all areas, and researching and preparing your voice and data systems for a move is one of the best ways to hold the line on this type of expense. It takes just a bit of advance preparation but in the long run it can help you to settle into the best location possible for your business.