Last Update – December 17, 2014
As your small business grows you may find yourself branching out into new locations. When you enter, establish and expand your business footprint and market presence in a new city, state or region you will inevitably need help.
It can be difficult to know exactly how new locations operate in regards to business and entrepreneurial culture. However, most prosperous cities will have multiple resources available to assist you in establishing your business.
Bringing your business to a new city provides benefits to your company and the local communities you call home. Cities depend on small businesses to bring in new jobs, income, and recognition. This mutually beneficial relationship can be greatly enhanced when you take the time to see what a community has to offer.
Discover Local Community Resources
A common and significant challenge for startups and small business owners alike, is finding a network of like-minded people. This is why gaining access to community resources is extremely important.
Look to local businesses for support and guidance when getting acquainted with anew city and its potential customers. Most communities will have organizations that focus on providing entrepreneurial support. Local chambers of commerce, city councils, and university-oriented business centers are great places to start in locating resources and connections.
Discovering these connections will bolster your chances for success and integration within your new market. These resources can help you determine the local regulations that will impact your business and possible financing options, and they can provide an introduction to service providers within the area. Face-to-face meetings with established businesses can lead to lifelong relationships.
Furthermore, these connections can help you determine a niche the community is currently missing and enable you to enrich already-established businesses with your service or insight. Of course, when setting up your business in a new locale, it’s vital that you respect established businesses in order to gain a network and, most importantly, not offend potential customers. Most communities will be incredibly welcoming to new businesses if your goals truly benefit the community.
For example, my local city, Columbia, Missouri offers a variety of resources to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Our REDI (Regional Economic Development, Inc.) regularly interviews new startups to better understand their needs. In addition, the Missouri Innovation Center, Entrepreneurship Alliance, CLIMB, and League of Innovators are other readily accessible resources that can help connect entrepreneurs and help startups understand the local requirements of business.
These resources not only aid new businesses in writing business plans and attending professional conferences, but they also offer established businesses new avenues and opportunities to explore and expand. Nearly every community has a wealth of resources that can be found with a little time and effort on your part. Visit local businesses, attend organizational meetings, and seek out startup weekends and events hosted by your new community.
Benefits of Business-Minded Communities
Communities are comprised of people who share a place to live, work and play.
For communities to be successful, they need jobs and resources for their citizens. The “quality of place” enjoyed by citizens depends on the opportunities, creativity, and innovation promoted by local businesses. In addition, entrepreneurship and local business combat the effects of “brain drain,” or the loss of local innovators and future leaders. The presence of strong local businesses has a positive effect on all facets of the community, including education and social services.
Many cities work diligently to bring entrepreneurs to their communities and support their own native businesses.
For example, The JumpStart Program, based in Cleveland, has invested significant resources to become a key provider of funding and expertise to startups. Philadelphia has been impacted by Innovation Philadelphia, a program that supports the technology-driven economic growth of the city through growing for-profit creative industries, attracting and retaining young professionals, and fostering entrepreneurism and new ideas. Several other cities host Accelerator programs to enable startups to launch and succeed, such as Boulder, Boston, Chicago, New York, and Seattle.
These programs can provide startup funds, business advice, and a place to incubate a business.
Overall, both you and your city are working toward the same goal — progressive and prosperous cities will work to fortify their business communities, while forward-thinking entrepreneurs work to improve and strengthen their cities.
Your fresh ideas and energy can be great additions to your new community, and, in return, that community can offer a variety of key resources for startups acclimating to their new surroundings. To succeed in your new location, take that crucial first step and get to know the people, prospects, and promise your new community holds.
Mike Brooks is President of REDI (Regional Economic Development, Inc.) in Columbia, Mo. REDI promotes positive economic expansion and provides increased economic opportunities in the Columbia area, assisting entrepreneurs, developing businesses, and companies relocating. As president, Mike led REDI in creating a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurship and business growth in Columbia. Mike welcomes anyone to reach out to him on LinkedIn or REDI at columbiaredi.com.