|Location, location, location….
…is the often proclaimed maxim of business when it comes to real estate matters. But aside from identifying a location which is visible, close to your potential customers and your suppliers, there are many factors in finding the right place for your business. If your business is to be located within city limits, one of the most important issues to consider is zoning, as this may have serious implications on how the location can be used now and in the future. In general there are three main zoning classifications; residential, commercial and industrial, each with its own subcategories and possible additional classifications depending on the individual city.
The importance of zoning for the small business owner lies in its restrictive nature, as city zoning ordinances may dictate what kind of improvements can be made to a property, and how it may be utilized. For example, you may be interested in opening up a coffee shop in a residential area heavily populated by potential customers, i.e. college students, but city zoning laws may not allow such use of the property. As the re-zoning process may be long and tedious, it is recommended for you to contact your city’s Planning and Zoning Department to inquire about the zoning classification of a location before you commit to it. Some types of businesses, for example day care centers, often require a Specific-Use-Permit (SUP) in order to be permitted to operate. Once again, the city’s Planning and Zoning Department is the proper authority to contact in order to determine if your business falls under this regulation.
Even if you choose to run your business out of your home, there are some things to consider. Some cities may require you to obtain a business permit to legally operate a business out of your home, and there may be some regulatory requirements regarding the properties features (parking spaces, square footage/occupancy, etc.) your home would have to meet. The city administration is the proper authority to contact regarding business permits. As always, we at the University of Texas – Pan American (UTPA), Office of Center Operations and Community Services (CoSERVE), Small Business Development Center (SBDC) wish you much success in your business venture and remind you that when it comes to your location, as with any other aspect of business, thorough planning, solid research and due diligence can help you avoid inconvenient, and potentially costly, complications down the road.
Reference: “A Citizen’s Guide to Texas Zoning”, The Real Estate Research Center at TAMU. http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/1294.pdf
This article has been contributed by Matt Z. Ruszczak, a business development specialist with the UTPA CoSERVE SBDC, serving the western area of Cameron County. If you have any questions and/or would like to set up an appointment to meet with a SBDC business development specialist, please feel free to contact us at (956) 292-7535.