Entrepreneurship has an attractive set of freedoms: create any kind of business, set your own hours and manifest an ever changing job description, one free of geographical bounds. Thanks to the Internet, you can choose to start up anywhere in the world that you want to.
But just like selecting a home for your family or a school district for your kids, there are a few important factors to consider when picking a place to start a business. Note: these things should still be top of mind if you’re entertaining the idea of location independence altogether!
I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs the following question:
What specifically should entrepreneurs look for when seeking out a new city to launch their company?
Here are the 12 things to keep an eye out for when considering new regions to call home base for your startup:
1. Who Do You Know?
I just moved Real Bullets Branding to Boston last year. When I was deciding on a city, I looked at who I knew there that could help connect me to clients, how active the tech community was, and the cost of living.
2. Seek a Startup Culture
Consider whether there is an existing startup ecosystem in place. Cities with a startup culture will more than likely be home to incubators, investors and networks of like-minded individuals. Not only will you be able to find much greater support resources, but you’re also likely to encounter many prospective hires who are passionate about innovation.
3. Networking Opportunities and Events
In any new city, the hard thing is meeting people. You need to know that you’re going to be able to attend events or go places where you’ll have the opportunity to introduce yourself. That could be a coworking day, a user group or even a conference — the important thing is that you know where other people will be.
4. Look Into Lifestyle
In today’s global marketplace with technology moving faster and faster, many entrepreneurs can work from anywhere. It is important to have balance so your business can run smoothly as well as your life. Find a city that you enjoy — the environment and the people. Make sure it has the things you are looking for. Move somewhere you want to be anyway, launch your company and you’ll be happy.
5. Cost of Living
Rent. Food. Utilities. All of these costs add up and take money that you should be spending on your product away and cast it to the wind. Find a place that is cheap enough so you can afford to take risks, hire more people, and outlive competitors who are living in a more expensive city and therefore don’t have as large a cash cushion as you do. Geo-location is no longer vital — capital is.
6. Scout Out the Talent
The key in any startup, no matter how good your product happens to be, is talent. If you are a tech startup, it might not make sense to launch your business in a city that thrives off of industrial companies. Try to find cities that offer a low cost of living and lots of access to local talent through decent universities and graduate programs.
7. Brush Up on Local Laws
Depending on the size and scope of your business, you should check out things like local tax rates, hiring laws, zoning ordinances, and economic development incentives. These variables could have a big impact on your profitability and ease of doing business.
8. Who Will Be Your Peers?
One of the most important aspects of moving into a new location is proximity relationships. Who will your peer group be? In today’s business environment, networking often makes the difference between the success and failure of a new venture. Make sure your contacts and business network are in place before considering a launch in a new city.
9. Coworking Opportunities
Make sure there are plenty of coworking spaces to choose from, since those are the ideal places to work from when first working on a startup.
10. Survey the Local Customers
Ideally, your company will grow because of a tight-knit group of local advocates who will generate buzz through word of mouth and support you through thick and thin. Is your potential relocation site a place where a substantial number of your ideal customers already live?
11. Find the Clients
If you’re trying to grow and need big brands to help you do so, locate in a city where there are big customer names you can build relationships with in your product’s or service’s sweet spot. A big client name early on can lend loads to credibility.
12. Eye the Investors
At some point, you may need to raise capital from investors. This can be extremely hard, or completely impossible, if there isn’t an investor community in the city where you’re looking to launch your company. Do your research about Angel groups, private investors, VC’s and other locally funded businesses, as this will help you determine the strength of the investor community.
Image Credit: findfado