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Business tips BEFORE you open a Brick and Mortar shop

Updated on February 22, 2015

A list of business tips so that you can learn from the mistakes and successes of a small business owner

French Market Botanicals is an online natural bath and body business in Arizona that is run by a friend who is an Aesthetician and part-time accountant.

This business was already a thriving online business when she decided, with much prompting from local customers, to venture into the world of having a Brick & Mortar shop that would serve her area. It is called by another name as it is a separate business from her online one. It is a Spa and bath and body product business called - Blue Lotus Apothecary.

She gave a list of tips (and gave me the permission to share them) to help others to avoid some of the problems that she saw and experienced herself while opening up her own Brick & Mortar shop.

A business owners To-Do before it is too late list

The following is directly quoted from her and includes the asking (and receiving) of permission to share:

What I have learned about leasing commercial space this past year:

* Get everything in writing ~ verbal promises meaning nothing
* Just because it's in writing doesn't mean you won't have to take it to court anyway to enforce what is clearly stated in the lease
* Just because there's a drain doesn't mean it works
* Just because there are electrical outlets doesn't mean they work
* Negotiate for tenant improvements before you sign the lease
* Find a reputable contractor at a decent price before you sign the lease
* Make sure the contractor is licensed and gets a permit for the TI's
* Negotiate for one month of free rent for each year of the lease
* Just because you have high visibility doesn't mean people will stop to shop
* Who your neighbors are makes a difference as to who stops
* Compatible businesses can make or break your business
* For retail foot traffic is everything - pay the extra cost
* Without foot traffic be prepared to spend $500 a month to advertise
* Make sure the space is large enough for ALL your needs
* Write into the lease that you have exclusivity for your type of business
* Look into what is required by the city for signage before you sign the lease as even putting an electric OPEN sign in the window requires a permit
* Get estimates for your overhead, window and marquee signage before you sign the lease as this can end up being one of your most expensive costs
* If your business name has more than 10 letters considering changing it
* Verify zoning for your type of business before you sign the lease
* Research the property in the city records before you sign the lease
* Make sure the post office recognizes the address before you have it printed on anything (i.e. business cards, brochures, postcards, advertisements, etc.)
* Talk to a commercial insurance agent before you sign the lease and wait until the policy has been bound before you sign the lease. They will take your money and then turn around and tell you that they can't bind the policy.
* Ask the landlord what type of improvements they plan to make to the property during the term of your lease and what your share of the cost will be
* If the landlord isn't willing to wait until you complete your due diligence at the location you're researching do not walk away from the space - RUN!

Diana Burrell-Shipton = What wisdom you've gained ! May I copy this and share it with other biz friends ? If so, shall I leave your name attached, or would you prefer it removed ?

Sonsa Rae (of French Market Botanicals who opened a retail space under another name in her local area) Yes, please do! I hope I can save others the time and expense of not having to go through what I did! I had no idea about any of this! You can leave my name attached, no problem...

A small business success - French Market Botanicals

Business owner shares hard-earned tips about having a Brick & Mortar shop with others - contact her with more questions.
Business owner shares hard-earned tips about having a Brick & Mortar shop with others - contact her with more questions.

What tips do you have that you wish you had known BEFORE you opened your shop ?

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    • GiftsByDiana profile image

      Diana Burrell-Shipton 2 years ago from Hubbard, Ohio, USA

      Thank you !

      There is SO much to learn, but I hope this helps others :)

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 2 years ago

      these are great tips especially for someone that wants to go into opening a brick and mortar, in order to pursue their dreams. great information. best of wishes.

    • GiftsByDiana profile image

      Diana Burrell-Shipton 2 years ago from Hubbard, Ohio, USA

      You're welcome !

      I'm sure there are more things that would be helpful, but this was a start.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 2 years ago

      Good tips to know before starting a small brick and mortar business. Thanks for sharing.

    • GiftsByDiana profile image

      Diana Burrell-Shipton 2 years ago from Hubbard, Ohio, USA

      Oh yes there are so many issues that come up that we must try to handle.

      My friend gave us a list of many of the pitfalls and told me that I could share them so I wrote this page (with her approval) to help others to hopefully avoid some of the same mistakes. My oh my, can she tell of the mess that she went through !

      Thank you for adding a your tip as many other folks may have the same thing come up in their areas.

      In my own shop, I took over for my Mom when her cancer came back and so I had no time to learn the in's & outs of owning a B&M shop as I had always just sold online or in an antique mall... .

      I am STILL learning and hoping to hang on in this economy - yikes !

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      The merchant's association in the town where I opened my business had a lot of regulations that I wish I'd known going in, like membership dues and contributions of time and money to the annual events. Your list includes a lot of unforeseen things that really can cause issues if not known beforehand. I would love to hear the stories of what went on behind them.