I seem to have noticed plenty of Mexican fast food restaurants popping up around the South East, which means fiesta time for me. But what about other cuisines, or indeed business ideas, that just seem destined to succeed?

If you’ve spotted a great niche in the market, mapping software could give you a hand with getting your idea off the ground. For a business like a fast food outlet where “location location location” still applies, a crucial question is where to site your first premises. A mapping tool like Map Business Online can help you investigate locations, nearby competitors and profile the local population who will be your market. Let’s look at how you might plan your business idea with mapping software.

One easy approach to finding good locations is to look for businesses with a similar customer profile. If your customers are likely to be the same type of people who visit Giraffe restaurants then find out the locations of their stores in your region, plot them on your map, and draw circles of a relevant radius around them. A 2.5 mile radius would identify towns and parts of cities where Giraffe have decided to locate, and a 0.25 mile radius would give you the immediate streets within a 5 minute walk of their site.

A similar approach can be used to plot competitors, and avoid areas where there might already be an oversupply of what you are offering.

Demographic analysis is another helpful tool. For example, once you’ve narrowed down to a few candidate locations, you may want to create drive-time areas around these, and look at the size and profile of your local market. Convert your drive-time polygon into a set of postcode sectors, and look at things like total population, and socio-economic or age profiles. This exercise is particularly useful if your customers are concentrated in a particular age or socio-economic group. You can also export your data for further analysis in Excel or a similar package.

How Mapping Software Can Aid Your Business Idea

Once you’re happy with the results of your simple mapping analysis, print out the map or save it as an image to insert in your business plan. It might help convince the bank/boss/Dragons Den how sizzling hot your idea is. You could even share an interactive map with friends, stakeholders, or potential partners so they can see the raw numbers too.

Whatever stage you are at, try planning your great business ideas with mapping software… especially if it leads to more tacos for me!