Once you've narrowed your choices to a handful of possibilities, it's time to perform a SWOT analysis. Simply put, a SWOT analysis is a more thorough version of listing advantages and disadvantages.
As you perform your SWOT analysis, you'll decide how each prospective location stacks up according to these variables:
You can use a piece of paper, a computer program – any tool that will help you evaluate your prospective locations according to the four categories.
Performing a successful SWOT analysis requires visiting the community long enough to assess the variables first-hand and to capture the "flavor" of the area. Remember: Word of mouth from others won't be helpful as part of a SWOT analysis, because you're assessing information in terms of your feelings and reactions toward it, and your ability to take action to use the information to your advantage. Others' perceptions won't be nearly as useful as your own findings.
Review an example of a completed SWOT analysis or download the attached blank form to do your own SWOT analysis.
Example of completed SWOT analysis form
Blank SWOT analysis form
Follow Up With Due Diligence
Due diligence is the process of investigating the details of a potential investment.
In your investigation of potential practice sites, the definition of due diligence can be expanded to include the amount of energy you put into assessing potential locations.
For example, if someone says, "Southdale has a terrific school district," you're not performing due diligence if you interpret that person's statement as fact. You are performing it, however, if you drive to the district office and ask to see the administration's 10-year plan. Another key component of due diligence is obtaining the most recent census figures from the Internet.
The general rule: No third-party opinion can come close to being as relevant as your own investigation. Don't rely on hearsay; go directly to the source to determine if a variable is true, and how it will affect your potential plans.