Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’re preparing to build a storefront or have one in the works. With your new location, you’ll be able to reach more customers in your area and establish yourself in the community. As great as all of that is, it comes coupled with great responsibility.
Liability coverage needs to be at the top of your list, not only from an insurance perspective but a logistical perspective. You need to protect your assets, your workers, and the physical location of your business. As the new owner of a storefront, you have a lot more liabilities than digital services.
For digital service businesses, liability is typically pretty low. They don’t have offices, they aren’t serving food, and they aren’t selling a product someone can find a way to misuse. Aside from the obvious financial risk, they aren’t selling anything that poses a danger to the consumers.
You, on the other hand, need to be ready to deal with these 3 liability points when building your new storefront.
1. Hiring the right contractors. Everyone has a cousin who can build a house. What everyone doesn’t have is a contractor that can build a structure up to local, county, and state standards. Keeping your building up to code is important. In many states, a building that doesn’t meet city code can be condemned. Furthermore, fire codes and other city procedures need to be observed in the construction of your building.
2. Insuring the building as fast as you can build it (and before then, too). Insurance is there for a reason: to protect your business. Make sure that you have every layer of insurance you can afford. No matter how much you try, you can’t prevent certain tragedies. Without insurance, you’re left to suffer the financial burden of dealing with misfortune as it shows up on your doorstep.
3. Security for your workers and the building. During the early phases of opening a storefront, there is a lot of unprotected material and vulnerable inventory in an otherwise empty building. Store managers may spend many hours alone in a building preparing for opening day. Whether you opt for armed security and supervision or camera alarm systems, you’ll want to make sure that you have your store secured. No one is immune to crime.
These 3 liabilities are the aspects of your business you absolutely have to have covered. If you don’t, you’ll find that your financial future isn’t as secure. Ask anyone who’s been sued or stolen from and then tell you they wished they had covered their bases.
But it makes sense, right? First, your building needs to be a place worth standing in. Neither you nor your customers should be in a building that is hard for firefighters to extinguish, patrons to escape in case of emergency, or structurally compromised. Second, you need to make sure if one of the aforementioned tragedies does occur that it doesn’t financially cripple your business or your family. Last, you need to make sure your people and your building are protected from every risk factor you can control.
As exciting as a new storefront can be for your business, you’ll need to make sure that you are prepared for the responsibilities that come alongside the new building. Operations become a bit more complex when you need to worry about the safety and liability risks of your workers and consumers.
What has snuck up on you in the process of your building your storefront? If you’ve already built one, what do you wish you’d known about building a new storefront? Tell your story in the comments.
John Pearson is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.