Christina Moffatt may be a baker, but her experience with growing a business is more than half-baked. Between crafting cupcakes, dreaming up desserts, and premiering on The Food Network's Cupcake Wars, Christina Moffatt has been busy as owner and operator of Crème Cupcake + Dessert in Des Moines, Iowa.
Since launch in 2010, Crème has outgrown three locations before landing at its current spot in Moffatt's dream neighborhood just west of downtown. Looking back on her journey, Moffatt shares her considerations for other entrepreneurs hoping to launch or grow their business with a new location:
1. Where is my clientele driving, shopping, and living?
Moffatt suggests researching the demographic data of your potential neighborhood to make sure your location will expose you to your target market or preferred clientele. These zip code statistics can be found online at sites like the United States Census Bureau.
2. What are my overhead costs?
Can you afford buildout? Will you need loans? Can you afford this space? Map out these numbers before signing any lease. Otherwise, you might find yourself underwater fast.
3. Does it fit my concept?
Think about how you will use the space. If you have a retail shop or restaurant, can you design your layout so the space looks crowded and bustling? What about space for storage? As you grow, you may need more equipment, as well as the room to keep it.
4. Is it easy to find?
If your business relies on customers coming into the space, consider how easy it will be to find. You might increase visibility with clear signage. Moffatt learned this from experience. At a past location, her shop was a tucked away and it was hard for people to locate.
5. How are customers going to park?
How are customers accessing the building? And what image does this project? If your business hugs a street or sidewalk, your business will be more pedestrian-friendly, but may offer less direct parking. And while a large parking lot in front has plenty of handy spots, the lot may look empty at times. So think about both the practicality of parking access and necessity of curb appeal.
6. Will I need access to the interstate?
If your business delivers goods or receives shipments of supplies, you need to be near main roads and/or the interstate. Choosing a location far removed from key thoroughfares could end up costing you time and money.
7. Who can help me?
Use an external agency to help you plan. Moffatt consulted her local Small Business Development Center. Such organizations can help you map out resources, costs, needs, often for no charge.
What is Christina's #1 tip for picking a location?
"Had we made the jump into a big space from our first market, we would've been swallowed by overhead. Some people get caught up in the mistake of 'I want it and I want it right now.' And they don't understand what it really takes to run their business. Things break instantly. Things go wrong. Things happen. And you have to be sure you can afford that. A lot of businesses don't allow for that. So I would say, be patient and persistent."
Christina's patience and persistence has definitely paid off. She loves her current location and is already considering expanding Crème to multiple locations.
We wish her the best of luck!