Select a Location

Finding a great location for your business is a critical step to set your business up for success. Do your research on the area and think about the needs of your customers and employees. You can also save time and money down the line by learning about zoning and building permits in addition to getting smart about how to negotiate a commercial lease.

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When deciding on a location for your business, consider factors such as a central location relative to your market, transportation and parking availability, ease of access, etc. You might also want to consider any environmental factors (schools, community, cultural factors, or other businesses) that may benefit your business and help attract more customers.

Consider the quality of your potential site in 5, 10 or 20 years from now and the cost of insurance associated with the area. Local regulations and zoning ordinances associated with your potential location is also important information.

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Demographics

If you've developed your business plan you should have a good sense of who your target customers are, who is the most likely to purchase your products or services, and who you want to market to. Use this information to your advantage and consider how you can locate your business to most effectively serve your target customer base.

Consider factors such as age, ethnicity, gender, income, buying habits, occupations, and household composition. For instance, if your target customers are mothers with small children, you may want to think about neighborhoods that are family-friendly or areas that are located close to other family amenities.

There are several online tools that you can use to conduct a demographic analysis. PolicyMap and Living Atlas are all examples of free websites that aggregate demographic information and can help you research potential locations for your business. If you need assistance, many public library systems have reference librarians skilled at assisting small businesses perform market research.

For more help about finding a suitable location in your area, call us at 1-800-Jersey-7 or chat with us.

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Understanding Zoning

Every municipality (City, Township, Borough, etc.) has a Land Use/Zoning Ordinance which regulates the kinds of business activities that are permitted within a designated zone and places restrictions on building on land parcels including building setbacks, building heights, signage, and various other aspects of the land usage.

When evaluating a location for your business you should consult with the Zoning Officer to determine the suitability of the site for your purposes and what obligations you will have, including possible Planning/Zoning or Landuse board approvals. It is vital that you do your due diligence and understand the zoning requirements/restrictions before signing a lease.  You should also be aware of the cost associated with receiving zoning approvals to avoid expenses for which you did not budget.

Generally, the easiest way to get set up is to find a location that was formerly the same type of business as yours. For instance, if you're opening a restaurant, you might try to find a space that used to be a restaurant. This usually means that the property already has the correct zoning and permits for your business, although you should always verify with the Municipal Zoning Officer to be sure.

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Environmental

Some environmental factors could limit the development of your location. You can look at the environmental data for a site using the NJ GeoWeb tools from the Department of Environmental Protection.

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Industrial Sites

A business planning to buy land on a former industrial site should know what is above and below the ground. Any business thinking of  buying another company’s operation must be willing to assume the liabilities for past improper handling of hazardous materials. The liabilities for cleanup and damages may be far greater than the value of the operation.

In addition, state and federal governments and the courts take an increasingly tough stance against those responsible for the existence of contamination, which can mean the difference between being considered innocent or being considered responsible for millions of dollars in damages and cleanup costs.

New Jersey’s ISRA is designed to ensure that sellers do not leave behind more than the buyer bargained for. Any New Jersey industrial operation subject to ISRA will be fully evaluated for contamination, above and below the ground. Under ISRA, any environmental contamination posing a risk to public health and the environment will be required to be identified and remediated by the seller.

New Jersey’s ISRA Program can be reached at 609-984-1351.

Home-Based Businesses

Planning to work out of your home? Home-based businesses are some of the simplest businesses to set up in New Jersey. However, there are a few rules that you'll want to be aware of to make sure that your business activities aren't disrupting your neighbors and that your location is safe for your clients.