The U.S. economy has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride for the past year and a half. Some industries have had to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, while others have seen remarkable growth opportunities arise.
If your business is doing well enough for you to consider adding a location, both congratulations and caution are in order. “Fortune favors the bold,” goes the old saying. However, strained small business cash flow and staffing issues can severely disfavor the underprepared.
Ask The Right Questions.
Among the most fundamental questions to ask is: Will we be able to duplicate the success of our current location? If your first location is doing well, it’s likely because you’ve put in place the people and processes that keep the business running smoothly. It’s also because you’ve developed a culture that resonates with your customers. You need to feel confident you can do the same at subsequent locations.
Another important question is: How might expansion affect business at both locations? For a small business opening a second location prompts a consideration that didn’t exist with your first: how the two establishments will interact. Placing the two operations near each other can make it easier to manage both, but it also can lead to one operation cannibalizing the other. Ideally, the two locations will have strong, independent markets.
You’ll need to consider the financial aspects carefully. Look at how you’re going to fund the expansion. Ideally, the first location will generate enough revenue so that it can both sustain itself and help fund the second. But you may still need to take on debt, and it’s not uncommon for construction costs and timelines to exceed initial projections.
You might want to include some extra dollars in your budget for delays or surprises. If you must starve your first location of capital to fund the second, you’ll risk the success of both.
Account for the tax ramifications as well. If you own the real estate, property taxes on two locations will affect your cash flow and bottom line. You may be able to cut your tax bill with various tax incentives, such as by locating the second location in an Enterprise Zone. But the location will first and foremost need to make sense from a business perspective. There may be other tax issues as well — particularly if you’re crossing state lines.
For some businesses, expanding to a new location may be the single most impactful way to drive growth and build the bottom line. However, it’s also among the riskiest endeavors any company can take on. Our accounting firm is happy to help you assess the feasibility of when to open a second business location. This includes creating cash flow forecasting and other financial projections that will provide insights into whether the move is a reasonable risk.