by Greta Lorge
ODDBALLS OF THE PRODUCE STAND, tomatoes and avocados are fruits, as most people know.
Yet more often than not they're found alongside vegetables in savory culinary preparations. Working on this issue of the magazine got me wondering what it is, exactly, that makes a fruit a fruit. It turns out that the plant world is full of strange cases of counterintuitive classification.
Botanists define a fruit as the portion of a flowering plant that develops from the ovary. It contains the seeds, protecting them and facilitating dispersal. (The definition of a vegetable is a little fuzzier: any edible part of a plant that isn't a fruit.)
Subcategories within the fruit family—citrus, berry, stonefruit or drupe (peaches, apricots), and pome (apples, pears)—are determined by which parts of the flower/ovary give rise to the skin, flesh and seeds.
Strawberries and raspberries aren't really berries in the botanical sense. They are derived from a single flower with more than one ovary, making them an aggregate fruit. True berries are simple fruits stemming from one flower with one ovary and typically have several seeds. Tomatoes fall into this group, as do pomegranates, kiwis and—believe it or not—bananas. (Their seeds are so tiny it's easy to forget they're there.)
One might think that owing to their superficial similarities to stonefruits, avocados might be classified as drupes. But no, they're actually considered a berry, too—with one, giant seed.
So, bananas are berries and raspberries aren't. Who knew?
There's no longer any controversy; every healthy diet should include at least some caffiene.
Neuroscience continues to uncover new ways that coffee and (to a lesser extent) tea and chocolate, tend to make brains healthier and more resilient. 2019 has already seen some amazing research breakthroughs that are definitely worth sharing.
First, a joint study from the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University, and published last January in Neurochemical Research magazine,discovered that a methylxanthines--a class of chemical found in coffee, tea and dark chocolate (cacao)
That same study also discovered that xanthine metabolites--a chemical released when your brain processes caffeine, "may also contribute to the beneficial effects of coffee, tea and cacao on brain health."
Second, a meta-analysis of 11 studies on the impact of coffee on brain health and published in World Journal of Surgical Oncology showed that both coffee and tea (and thus, by extension, cacao) doesn't just reduce the risk of alzheimer's disease but also reduces the risk of brain cancer.
Finally, a groundbreaking study at Okayama University
Translation: caffeine makes your brain more flexible and resilient.
The big takeaway: if you want to keep your brain healthy both today and in the future as you age, you should be consuming coffee, tea, or cacao.
Well, chances are you're not consuming enough. Studies have shown that the ideal daily dosage of coffee is about six to eight 8oz cups, ideally consumed prior to 2pm so that it doesn't disturb your sleep.
If that sounds like too much coffee, consider replacing a cup or two with an ounce of dark chocolate. It need hardly be said that, for other health reasons, you should be consuming coffee, tea and cacao without sugar or creamer. But you still get the brain-boost, regardless.
Life is good, eh?
From original Article at Invaluable.com
Drinking wine has long been a part of history, from ancient Judeo-Christian traditions to Egyptian ceremonies — even grapes hailing from France’s Champagne region have been made into white wine since the Middle Ages. In fact, a recent study even found that today’s consumers are drinking wine from the same grapes—or a direct relative—as those consumed by medieval Frenchmen some 900 years ago. Because the tradition of wineproduction has been around for so long, there are many types to choose from, which can be intimidating for even the most seasoned wine enthusiast.
If you’re looking for a place to start, understanding how to “read” a wine label is the first step towards choosing a wine. Labels vary from country to country, and some contain mountains of information while others remain spare and clean. Label design differs drastically as well: some labels lend a more old-fashioned, vintage feel, while others are decidedly modern. Though they can be tricky to interpret, learning to decipher the label can help make more informed choices when seeking out a specific bottle.
The Evolution of the Label
According to a Persian legend, wine was first discovered by a despondent young woman who, in an attempt to end her life, drank spoiled residue produced by rotting table grapes. Instead of poisoning herself, she became intoxicated and thus, the pleasurable effects of wine were discovered. Evidence from the burial site of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun indicates that the ancient Egyptians were among the first to actually label their wines. Labels from King Tut’s heyday detailed the vintage, the growing region, and the wine-maker.
Throughout the Persian Empire, winemakers began labeling their wines out of necessity due to the many varieties of wine that were produced concurrently. Early labelwork utilized pieces of parchment paper tied with string around the bottle of the neck to identify the varietal. Later, labels evolved into carvings throughout the base of pewter stands that described the wine’s region.
By the 18th century, labels were designed on stone. In 1789, the invention of lithography—a method of printing originally based on the immiscibility of oil and water—allowed labels to be printed in mass quantities, increasing the ability to distribute wine quickly. As winemakers became more profitable and proud of their work, more time and effort was spent on labels. Eventually, elaborate designs, descriptions, notes, and colors were implemented, as many utilized the prominent artwork and interests of the time period.
With the rise of advertising, information, and prosperity in the 20th century, producers realized they could easily target a specific audience through captivating brand design and promotion. This furthered the need for more intricate and well-executed labels featuring patterns and vivid imagery. Producers began testing avant-garde approaches, even commissioning prominent artists to design their labels. Wine producer Château Mouton Rothschild was an early pioneer of art-inspired labels, commissioning artists like Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol to design its labels. Today, contemporary artists continue the practice, with creatives such as Tracey Emin lending their talents to the world of wine labels.
The Basic Elements of a Wine Label
Labels provide useful information in selecting and savoring a bottle of wine. While some information like name, volume, and alcohol content are compulsory in all countries, laws and regulations differ throughout the world. In general, most wine bottles have two labels, one on the front and one on the back. This allows makers to simplify the appearance of the face of the bottle, while providing all required legal information on the back. Below, we discuss all the information you may find on a wine bottle, and how each can help determine the quality and taste you’ll find in your pour.
Memorable Name and Design
This is optional, but many producers use a fanciful name to attract the likes of a target demographic. It also helps to distinguish the brand on the front label.
Producer or Bottler
This is a mandatory requirement and indicates who made the wine. If no brand name is listed on the label, the bottler’s name is listed and is thus considered the brand. The name can be obvious appearing in large format, or perhaps in small text at the top or bottom of the label, which is the case in many French wine labels. Some American wine labels that only display a wine name are branded wines from larger wine companies. For example, Apothic Red is a branded wine by E&J Gallo, the producer. Below is a list of several common producer descriptions:
Most wines have some sort of geographical indication that denotes where the grapes were sourced to produce the wine. If a particular wine is from a specific vineyard, this will be indicated in quotations or located below the region designation. These wines are often considered more refined and thus more expensive than those from a general region.
Varietal or Wine Type
The variety refers to what grape or grapes are used. For example, Merlot or Chianti or CMS Blend (Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah). For blends in particular, the percentage of each used isn’t typically stated. Wines that use varietal names must derive at least 75 percent of their volume from the grape designated, and the varietal name must appear on the label with an appellation of origin—that is, the legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes were grown.
Vintage or Non-Vintage (NV)
While this is an optional element, the classification of vintage versus non-vintage says a lot about the quality and type of wine. “Vintage” refers to the year in which the grapes were harvested. Those that are multi-vintage or non-vintage wines tend to be less valuable because winemakers pull from multiple vintages to control the flavor. In May 2006, U.S. federal regulations changed, allowing up to 15 percent of a blend to be from a vintage other than the stated year. Previously, 95 percent of the grapes used were required to be from the stated vintage. This law allowed producers in the United States to have similar standards as other wine producing countries.
Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
Alcohol by Volume can determine much about the wine and is a good indication of how rich it may taste. Most commercially available wines will range from 7.5 percent ABV all the way to 17% ABV. While European wine regions only allow their highest quality wines to have a 13.5 percent ABV and above, in the United States, ABVs can be quite high. High alcohol wines are made from riper grapes and tend to have more fruit-forward flavors.
Estated BottleThough not a requirement, Estate Bottled certifies that the winery grew 100 percent of the grapes on land it owns or controls. This means that the wine was grown, produced, and bottled on that specific estate. Here is what the term looks like on wine from various countries:
How to Read a Wine Label
While dissecting a wine label may not reveal everything about how a particular bottle will taste, it will help you make a more educated purchasing decision. Use the visualization below to help understand the quality and origin when considering your next purchase.
As demand for wine grows in the United States, and French reds from the Bordeaux region, Italian reds, South American reds, and other New World wines continue to flood the market, it’s important to understand how to identify the types that speak to your taste. At auction, fine wines can be conservatively priced, so experts recommend inquiring about the region of production, purchase history, and other notable information that can reveal much about the taste and quality of the beverage. At the end of the day, our editors recommend that you discover a bottle that you like, pour, and repeat.
Scientists have a totally new understanding of thirst
The well-known “8 x 8” rule — you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day — is not only daunting, it’s unfounded. In fact, nobody is sure where the idea came from, and science doesn’t support it. “It has no basis in fact,” says Michael Farrell, a professor at Monash University in Australia, who studies how the brain responds to thirst and other sensations. Likewise, the old advice to “drink before you’re thirsty” is countered by the latest research, as scientists finally figure out how the brain knows when you’re thirsty, and when you’ve had enough.
The human body is 55–60% water, varying by individual (muscle has more water than fat). Blood is 83% water, and 70% of your brain is all wet. Water aids digestion, clears toxins from the liver and kidneys, removes excess sodium from the bloodstream, regulates body temperature and blood pressure, protects skin and other tissues, and keep joints lubricated.
A person can survive weeks without food, but seldom more than a few days without water. Even mild dehydration, within hours, can affect mood, cognitive function, and physical performance, studies show.
We lose water constantly, by breathing, sweating, and using the toilet. But water loss is highly variable. On a cool day when a person isn’t active, eight glasses of water could be “well in excess of need, in which case a lot of water will be excreted” along with vital substances like sodium, Farrell says. Alternately, a person exercising on a hot day might need more than eight.
There is no official U.S. government recommendation for how much water to drink. But there are guidelines for total fluid intake from independent groups. The average adult woman should consume about 11.4 cups of fluid per day (a cup equals 8 ounces) and men should consume 15.6 — be it straight from the tap, in other beverages, or in food, according to a widely cited 2004 report from the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies. People get about 20% of their water from food, the report states. Fruits and vegetables are particularly water-laden — both tomatoes and watermelon are 90% or more water.
Subtracting the 20% of water consumed through food, that means the average woman should drink about 9.1 cups of fluid daily, and a man should drink about 12.5. That’s almost exactly what the group Dieticians of Canada advises for non-food fluid intake (nine for women and 12 for men).
Those estimates can be off for some people, however, considering different body sizes and types, varying ambient temperature, and activity levels. And there are other caveats. Women who are pregnant or nursing need more than they would otherwise.
Meanwhile, older people are particularly prone to drinking less than what’s advised. A 2017 study published in the journal Nutrition and Healthly Aging found that 56% of seniors drank fewer than six glasses of fluid a day, and 9% drank fewer than three. Other research has shown that somewhere between 6% and 30% of people over 65 who are hospitalized are dehydrated.
Along with regular water, milk, juice, and other non-alcoholic beverages count towards your fluid intake, according to the Mayo Clinic and other experts. Even coffee counts (the idea that caffeine dehydrates the body is a myth).
That said, health experts stress the value of plain water, the original zero-calorie beverage. Research published earlier this year in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found about 20% of children and young adults drank no regular water on a given day, and those same people consumed 93 more calories a day, on average, and got 4.5% more of their calories from sweetened drinks. It has long been known that sweetened beverages are linked to weight gain and a slew of problems — from depression to diabetes and heart attacks. Drinking more plain water leads to lower total calorie intake, according to a study of 18,300 adults published earlier this year in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
Knowing when you’re thirsty
You feel thirsty when your blood gets too salty, a signal picked up by specialized thirst neurons in the brain, explains Christopher Zimmerman, a grad student in neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco. Clear urine is a sign you’re well hydrated. When urine turns yellow, and especially if it becomes dark, dehydration has begun. Other symptoms include infrequent urination and dry or blue lips, along with blotchy skin, rapid breathing, fatigue, fever, and dizziness.
Under normal circumstances, the body and brain work together to let you know you need water before any of that happens, Zimmerman says. Though he adds that “every person’s threshold for ‘feeling thirsty’ is probably a bit different, similar to pain thresholds. So in dangerous circumstances, like during extreme heat or exertion, it is a good idea to drink water even if you aren’t feeling thirsty yet to guarantee that you don’t become dehydrated.”
The science behind satiation
A drink of water enters the stomach quickly, but then it must flow into the intestines, then be absorbed by veins that flow through the liver, before it can pass on into the rest of the bloodstream, Zimmerman explains. Considering it takes about 10 minutes to begin changing the body’s overall hydration, scientists have long wondered why a gulp of fresh water is so immensely and immediately thirst-quenching and even pleasurable.
It’s been known since the 1990s, from a small study on people, that the mouth and stomach both send thirst-satiation signals to the brain. But the mechanism was a mystery. Three years ago, Zimmerman and study leader Zachary Knight wired up some mice, whose thirst mechanisms are similar to humans. When thirsty mice drank water, sensory signals raced to the brain’s hypothalamus, which regulates appetite and other vital functions, shutting down thirst neurons immediately, the researchers reported in the journal Nature.
“This fast signal from the mouth and throat appears to track how much you drink and match that to what your body needs,” Zimmerman says. But how does the sensory system know straight water from, say, salt water?
In the researchers’ latest study, detailed earlier this year in Nature, mice drank salt water. Their brain’s thirst neurons went quiet, same as before. But then they switched back on, indicating a contrarian signal was received. Next, the scientists injected fresh water directly into the rodents’ stomachs, and sure enough, the thirst neurons were deactivated. Salt water injections did not deactivate the neurons.
The brain rewards the drinking of water, but then there’s a gut check, the researchers concluded.
Other research in mice finds that gulping water — specifically the physical motion in the throat, which is different from the motion of swallowing food — also sends satiation signals to the brain’s thirst neurons. That study, by Caltech assistant professor of biology Yuki Oka and graduate student Vineet Augustine, was published in Nature last year.
“When the mice sipped water, these neurons did not get activated,” Augustine says, “very clearly showing that gulping is necessary.” Their research also showed, like Zimmerman’s, that the gut weighs in on whether the liquid that came down is sufficient.
“This is an absolutely new way to look at thirst, as we show that it is not just your brain but your throat and the gut that play an active role in quenching thirst much before your blood gets diluted by the ingested water,” Augustine says.
Drinking water also triggers the brain to release dopamine, the chemical that makes people feel good about everything from sex and drugs to gambling, according to Oka’s latest research, published May 29 in the journal Neuron.
The upshot: Drinking water doesn’t just satiate, it satisfies.
The brain can be fooled, however. A study back in 1997 found that after exercising, people drank less water the more carbonated it was. Other research showed sparkling water hydrates as well as regular water, ifa person drinks an equal amount. But that isn’t what typically happens.
A 2016 study in the journal PLOS ONE found differences in voluntary fluid intake among very thirsty people depending on both carbonation and water temperature. Nintey-eight healthy adults were deprived of water for 12 hours, then they all drank 13.5 ounces of water that was either refrigerated or at room-temperature, and either carbonated or not. Then all four groups were allowed to drink as much additional room-temperature water as they wished, to measure how thirsty they remained. The people who initially drank cold water were less thirsty than those who drank warm water, and the people who drank cold, carbonated water were even less thirsty, meaning they drank the least overall. “Thirst signals a physiological need, but the cessation of thirst is the result of sensory information being integrated in the brain,” said senior author Paul Breslin, of the nonprofit Monell Chemical Senses Center.
Exactly why carbonated water causes people to drink less isn’t known, but one idea is that the bubbles create a sense of fullness in the stomach that discourages further drinking.
Finding the right balance
Drinking too much water can be deadly. Water intoxication, called hyponatremia, dilutes the body’s salt level, causing cells to swell. The condition is rare, but at least 14 athletes are known to have died from it, according to a 2015 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, which issued this new advice to athletes: Drink when you’re thirsty.
The good news is, if you’ve had enough water, your body will tell you. Research led by Farrell, the Monash University professor, finds that when people drink plenty of water and don’t feel thirsty, swallowing more water requires more effort — three times as much, people in the study said. The researchers dubbed it a “swallowing inhibition” — the body’s reaction to excess intake.
Bottom line: While the elderly and anyone exercising intensely or dealing with extreme heat may need to stay ahead of their hydration, by and large your body and brain are on the case. “The message is, do what comes naturally,” Farrell says. “Drink when you want to, and chances are this behavior will keep your fluid balance on an even keel.”
WIRED takes a tour of the new LEGO House in Billund, Denmark. The "home of the brick" was designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and completely inspired by LEGO. The building uses the same dimensions as LEGO bricks, so you could technically build it out of LEGO.
Once inside, visitors are treated to the ultimate LEGO experience, with lots of opportunities to get building and to admire master LEGO builders' breathtaking creations. Subscribe to WIRED
Saeed Ahmed, CNN
There are about 7.6 billion people in the world. And around 24% of them -- 1.8 billion -- are fasting from sunup to sundown. Every day. For an entire month.
It's Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar.
But what if you're not a Muslim -- just a caring, considerate person. Is there anything you should do so you don't come across as insensitive to your fasting friends in the US during Ramadan?
Short answer: No. Long answer: No.
But you can earn some cool points if you follow these 10 tips:
9. You can say 'Ramadan Mubarak' ...
There's no "war on Christmas"-level controversy surrounding the greeting (it means "Happy Ramadan"). Your Muslim co-worker will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
10. ... but please don't say, 'I should fast, too. I need to lose weight'
Ramadan's not about that. Plus, one of Ramadan's side effects is obesity (it's all that post-sundown overeating).
By Leo Babauta
On my 46th birthday recently, my (mostly adult) kids wrote out a list of lessons I’d taught each of them in their lives so far. Each wrote their own list, and my wife Eva sweetly put them together in a notebook.
As I read through them, I felt like crying. It’s so incredibly touching that they appreciate what I’ve been trying to pass on to them, things I’ve been learning and want them to understand.
As a father, there are few things more meaningful than to see how you’ve helped your kids through your example and talks over the years. We have a mixed family of 6 kids, aging from 13 years old to 26 years, and all of them are wonderful human beings.
It turns out, there were some lessons that all or most of the kids put on their list, which I’m going to share with you here. These lessons they had in common made me wonder if these were the more powerful lessons, or if they were simply the ones I talked about the most. :)
So here they are, roughly ordered in how frequently they showed up on my kids’ lists:
I love my kids with all my heart, and it has been a privilege to be their dad. I take 10% of the credit and give the rest to their moms, grandparents, and themselves.
Also … from them, I’ve learned some lessons that are just as important:
By Tim Harford
t isn't easy to type "QWERTY" on a qwerty keyboard.
My left-hand little finger holds the shift key, then the other fingers of my left hand clumsily crab sideways across the upper row. Q-W-E-R-T-Y.
There's a lesson here: it matters where the keys sit on your keyboard. There are good arrangements and bad ones.
Many people think that qwerty is a bad one - in fact, that it was deliberately designed to be slow and awkward.
Could that be true? And why do economists, of all people, argue about this?
It turns out that the stakes are higher than they might first appear.
But let's start by figuring out why anyone might have been perverse enough to want to slow down typists.
In the early 1980s, I persuaded my mother Deb to let me use her mechanical typewriter, a miraculous contraption which would transcend my awful handwriting.
When I hit a key, a lever would flick up from behind the keyboard and whack hard against an inked ribbon, squeezing that ink against a sheet of paper.
On the end of the lever - called a type bar - would be a pair of reversed letters in relief.
I discovered that if I hit several keys at once, the type bars all flew up at the same time into the same spot.
Fun for a nine-year-old boy, less so for a professional typist.
Typing at 60 words per minute (wpm) - no stretch for a good typist - means five or six letters striking the same spot each second. At such a speed, the typist might need to be slowed down for the sake of the typewriter. That is what qwerty supposedly did.
Then again, if qwerty really was designed to be slow, how come the most popular pair of letters in English, T-H, are adjacent and right under the index fingers? The plot thickens.
The father of the qwerty keyboard was Christopher Latham Sholes, a printer from Wisconsin who sold his first typewriter in 1868 to Porter's Telegraph College, Chicago. That bit's important.
The qwerty layout was designed for the convenience of telegraph operators transcribing Morse code - that's why, for example, the Z is next to the S and the E, because Z and SE are indistinguishable in American Morse code. The telegraph receiver would hover over those letters, waiting for context to make everything clear.
So the qwerty keyboard wasn't designed to be slow. But it wasn't designed for the convenience of you and me, either.
So why do we still use it?
The simple answer is that qwerty won a battle for dominance in the 1880s.
Sholes' design was taken up by the gunsmiths E Remington and Sons. They finalised the layout and put it on the market for $125 - perhaps $3,000 (£2,271) in today's money, many months' income for the secretaries who would have used it.
t wasn't the only typewriter around - Sholes has been described as the "52nd man to invent the typewriter" - but the qwerty keyboard emerged victorious.
The Remington company cannily provided qwerty typing courses, and when it merged with four major rivals in 1893, they all adopted what became known as "the universal layout".
And this brief struggle for market dominance in 1880s America determines the keyboard layout on today's iPads.
Nobody then was thinking about our interests - but their actions control ours.
And that's a shame, because more logical layouts exist: notably the Dvorak, designed by August Dvorak and patented in 1932.
It favours the dominant hand (left and right-hand layouts are available) and puts the most-used keys together.
The US Navy conducted a study in the 1940s demonstrating that the Dvorak was vastly superior: training typists to use the Dvorak layout would pay for itself many times over.
So why didn't we all switch to Dvorak? The problem lay in co-ordinating the switch.
Qwerty had been the universal layout since before Dvorak was born.
Most typists trained on it. Any employer investing in a costly typewriter would naturally choose the layout that most typists could use, especially when economies of scale made it the cheapest model on the market.
Dvorak keyboards never stood a chance.
So now we start to see why this case matters. Many economists argue qwerty is the quintessential example of something they call "lock in".
This isn't really about typewriters.
It's about Microsoft Office and Windows, Amazon's control of the online retail link between online buyers and sellers, and Facebook's dominance of social media.
If all your friends are on Facebook apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp, doesn't that lock you in as surely as a qwerty typist?
This matters. The lock-in is the friend of monopolists, the enemy of competition, and may require a robust response from regulators.
But maybe dominant standards are dominant not because of lock-in, but just because the alternatives simply aren't as compelling as we imagine.
Consider the famous Navy study that demonstrated the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard.
Two economists, Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis, unearthed that study, and concluded it was badly flawed. They also raised an eyebrow at the name of the man who supervised it - the Navy's leading time-and-motion expert, one Lieutenant-Commander… August Dvorak.
Liebowitz and Margolis don't deny that the Dvorak design may be better: the world's fastest alphanumeric typists do use Dvorak's layout. In 2008, Barbara Bradford was recorded maintaining a speed of 150 words per minute (wpm) for 50 minutes, and reached a top speed of 212 wpm using such a keyboard.
But they were just not convinced that this was ever an example where an entire society was desperate to switch to a hugely superior standard yet unable to co-ordinate.
And in fact these days, most of us peck away at our own emails, on devices which can actually let you switch your keyboard layout. Windows, iOS and Android all offer Dvorak layouts.
You no longer need to persuade your co-workers, other employers and secretarial schools to switch with you. If you want it, you can just use it. Nobody else is even going to notice.
Yet most of us stick with qwerty. The door is no longer locked, but we can't be bothered to escape.
Lock-in seems to be entrenching the position of some of the most powerful and valuable companies in the world today - including Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.
Maybe those locks are as unbreakable as the qwerty standard once seemed.
Or maybe they risk being crow-barred off if restless consumers are tempted by something better.
After all, it wasn't that long ago that people worried about users being locked in to MySpace.
If you're opening a restaurant where five restaurants have failed,
make sure you find out why.
In Start Your Own Business, the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. guides you through the critical steps to starting your business, then supports you in surviving the first three years as a business owner. In this edited excerpt, the authors outline 10 important criteria you should evaluate when considering a location for your new business.
Before you start shopping for business space, you need to have a clear picture of what you must have, what you'd like to have, what you absolutely won't tolerate and how much you're able to pay. Developing that picture can be a time-consuming process that's both exciting and tedious, but it's essential you give it the attention it deserves. While many startup mistakes can be corrected later on, a poor choice of location is sometimes impossible to repair.
Be systematic and realistic as you consider the following 10 location points.
Style of operation
Is your operation going to be formal and elegant? Or kicked-back and casual?
Your location should be consistent with your particular style and image.
If your business is retailing, do you want a traditional store, or would you like to try operating from a kiosk or booth in a mall or a cart that you can move to various locations?
There are two important angles to the issue of demographics. First, consider who your customers are and how important their proximity to your location is. For a retailer and some service providers, this is critical; for other types of businesses, it might not be as important. The demographic profile you have of your target market will help you make this decision.
Then take a look at the community. If your customer base is local, does a sufficient percentage of that population match your customer profile to support your business? Does the community have a stable economic base that will provide a healthy environment for your business? Be cautious when considering communities that are largely dependent on a particular industry for their economy; a downturn could be bad for business.
Now think about your work force. What skills do you need, and are people with those talents available? Does the community have the resources to serve their needs? Is there sufficient housing in the appropriate price range? Will your employees find the schools, recreational opportunities, culture, and other aspects of the community satisfactory?
For most retail businesses, foot traffic is extremely important. You don't want to be tucked away in a corner where shoppers are likely to bypass you, and even the best retail areas have dead spots. By contrast, if your business requires confidentiality, you may not want to be located in a high-traffic area.
Monitor the traffic outside a potential location at different times of the day and on different days of the week to make sure the volume of pedestrian traffic meets your needs.
Accessibility and parking
Consider how accessible the facility will be for everyone who'll be using it--customers, employees, and suppliers. If you're on a busy street, how easy is it for cars to get in and out of your parking lot? Is the facility accessible to people with disabilities? What sort of deliveries are you likely to receive, and will your suppliers be able to easily and efficiently get materials to your business? Small-package couriers need to get in and out quickly; trucking companies need adequate roads and loading docks if you're going to be receiving freight on pallets.
Find out about the days and hours of service and access to locations you're considering. Are the heating and cooling systems left on or turned off at night and on weekends? If you're inside an office building, are there periods when exterior doors are locked and, if so, can you have keys? A beautiful office building at a great price is a lousy deal if you plan to work weekends but the building is closed on weekends--or they allow you access, but the air conditioning and heat are turned off so you roast in the summer and freeze in the winter.
Be sure there's ample convenient parking for both customers and employees. As with foot traffic, take the time to monitor the facility at various times and days to see how the demand for parking fluctuates. Also make sure the parking lot is well-maintained and adequately lighted.
Are competing companies located nearby? Sometimes that's good, such as in industries where comparison shopping is popular.
You may also catch the overflow from existing businesses, particularly if you're located in a restaurant and entertainment area. But if a nearby competitor is only going to make your marketing job tougher, look elsewhere.
Proximity to other businesses and services
Take a look at what other businesses and services are in the vicinity from two key perspectives. First, see if you can benefit from nearby businesses--by the customer traffic they generate--because those companies and their employees could become your customers, or because it may be convenient and efficient for you to be their customer.
Second, look at how they'll enrich the quality of your company as a workplace. Does the vicinity have an adequate selection of restaurants so your employees have places to go for lunch? Is there a nearby day-care center for employees with children? Are other shops and services you and your employees might want conveniently located?
Image and history of the site
What does this address say about your company? Particularly if you're targeting a local market, be sure your location accurately reflects the image you want to project. It's also a good idea to check out the history of the site. Consider how it's evolved over the years.
Ask about previous tenants. If you're opening a restaurant where five restaurants have failed, you may be starting off with an insurmountable handicap--either because there's something wrong with the location or because the public will assume your business will go the way of the previous tenants. If several types of businesses have been there and failed, do some research to find out why -- you need to confirm whether the problem was with the businesses or the location. That previous occupants have been wildly successful is certainly a good sign, but temper that with information on what type of businesses they were compared to yours.
Find out if any planning restrictions, ordinances or zoning restrictions could affect your business in any way.
Check for the specific location you're considering as well as neighbouring properties -- you probably don't want a liquor store opening up next to your day-care centre.
The building’s infrastructure
Many older buildings don't have the necessary infrastructure to support the high-tech needs of contemporary operations.
Make sure the building has adequate electrical, air conditioning, and telecommunications service to meet your present and future needs.
It's a good idea to hire an independent engineer to check this out for you so you're sure to have an objective evaluation.
Utilities and other costs
Rent composes the major portion of your ongoing facilities expense, but consider extras such as utilities--they're included in some leases but not in others. If they're not included, ask the utility company for a summary of the previous year's usage and billing for the site.
Also find out what kind of security deposits the various utility providers require so you can develop an accurate move-in budget; however, you may not need a deposit if you have an established payment record with the company.
If you have to provide your own janitorial service, what will it cost? What are insurance rates for the area? Do you have to pay extra for parking? Consider all your location-related expenses, and factor them into your decision.