a community of practitioners
Im curious to know what do you think is important when finding a location to start your business. What do you look for when finding a commercial space.
Somewhere that clients are comfortable driving to; they need to feel safe. The ability to make it quiet; dampen outside noises, and provide privacy within the space. A decent bathroom. Big enough rooms for you to set up a table, move around it comfortably and have some storage.
That's barely scratching the surface, I'm sure but that's what comes to mind immediately.
As Therese said about barely scratching the surface... there is so much to consider, and a lot of it is personal. How far you are willing to drive to and from work, your landlord, cost factors, etc.
But, allow me to create a few paragraphs about something that is quite important, and I will use myself as the example:
I am in a very large city (millions). I was a DC prior to getting my LMT license. When I first got out of chiropractic college, I worked in some very rough areas of town. It was nothing to see a hooker here and there, hear a gunshot on occasion, and generally see a lot of dirt. I was in a racially charged area where the intersection of a mainly Nigerian, Vietnamese and American black patient population caused a lot of tension and fighting in that area of town. I learned to ignore the graft. It was common place, I got along with everyone, and it didn't affect me personally. We knew when to schedule different patients so we wouldn't end up with a problem or dirty looks being thrown around in the office.
That translated into my not being very savvy when it came to opening my own practice.
What happened was that one of the multiple businesses I was working for skipped town at some point, left me hanging without a paycheck and a lock box on the door (not uncommon in that line of work). However, I had been seeing a very few private patients in that facility. I didn't have much money, but I knew I wanted to be on my own, and I didn't want to loose the few people I had been seeing. I should have cut my losses then, but I took over that lease and found two people to lease with me. It was in the better of the bad areas in town I had worked in, so I assumed that my practice would grow because I was good at my work. It never occurred to me that the business named "Fantasy Land" (you get the drift of what was happening inside) on the first floor of the office building, might really turn people off. *shocked look* After all, I thought that since we had a DVD Copy Shop, an Insurance Agency, one of the premier Talent Agencies in town, a Pizza Hut, a Voice Over Facility for Radio Communications and a Radio Station Recording Facility in the same building, people would just look past it. ... ... ... I am *not* sure what I was thinking.
Yes... this gave me an opportunity to have my own space. But I was still young and definitely didn't have anyone telling me what kind of mistake I was making as far as location was considered.
I eventually moved to a decent space, in a much better location and with an awesome landlord (my prior landlord was horrible). I was eventually able to drop all of my part time jobs and be in practice full time for myself, but that took time. Even then, I still didn't realize that I should have moved to a different and better area about 20 minutes away, which was more community oriented within our large city and where the people had an expendable income. Along the way I picked up my massage license, and that changed how I really looked at my business. I found that I was serving a different population, and as mentioned above it really could have gone easier had I been in a different location. But, by that point, I was in a spiral where I was still living hand to mouth without much money to generate an office move.
Location really is key. And, as I said expendable income may be a useful target, if you are trustworthy, and care about the community.
I do have people who will drive up to an hour to see me. I mainly have a high income clientele, but I also serve housekeepers and regular Joe's like myself. And, I love my practice, don't get me wrong. But, it's been a long hard haul. Because I am in a very large city and maybe could have had the option, had I just been told... I believe it would have been so much nicer to be in a high-profile community where everyone knows each other, and are willing to refer their friends. A community where people don't mind driving 10 minutes to your office (but certainly think twice before driving 20 minutes in traffic), could have made a big difference in the amount of people walking through my doors early on. Then again, I didn't have much money, so it is possible that early on I would have never been able to afford rent in the area of town that would have been best for me.
I just think if you have the money, opportunity and ability --- take a few moments to look into some of the nicer areas in your town. It may make a difference in how your practice grows.