I may have built three businesses in New York City, but I'm increasingly focused on spending more time in my small town of Port Washington, outside of New York, where I can focus on my family, my community...and maybe even my next business?
Every good businessperson knows: cut costs to increase profits. While this normally applies to utility bills, payroll, shipping costs, or other expenses, our connectivity now provides an avenue for decreasing overhead in a radical way. The secret? Launch in a small town!
Entrepreneurs look for opportunities everywhere. Some say the next batch of great opportunities will come from small towns. "The small town of today is alive," writes Colby Williams in his new book, Small Town, Big Money. "And we're looking for a new breed of entrepreneurs to take us where we want to go."
Cities contain all the VC money, so cities are where entrepreneurs go. When a city experiences a gold rush of entrepreneurship, many established locals benefit, from property owners to service industry personnel. However, once one city becomes cost-prohibitive for new ventures, entrepreneurs look to another city, and the cycle begins again. Now some, like Williams, believe a wave of tomorrow's leaders will bypass this process altogether in favor of inexpensive startup costs where VC investment is not needed.
The Life We Want Someday
Many have a life in mind for that day when their efforts finally pay off. Maybe they invest in arable land or income property, maybe they buy a boat and a house on a lake, or maybe they pay off all their debt and spend more time with friends and family. These goals are immediately achievable for those headquartered in more affordable locales.
Let's face it: in cities, an entrepreneur chases the same investor capital as, socializes with, and competes against every other 25-year-old with an MBA who wants that same piece of the pie. The startup with the most money, the most luck, or the right timing often beats out those who may be better suited for the long-haul of running a successful business. An entrepreneur with a truly innovative idea who is not enticed by the urban startup life may find the future he or she hopes for by launching in a small town and thereby cutting startup costs to shreds.
3 Reasons to Consider Small Towns for Entrepreneurship
When many think of small towns, the first pictures that come to mind are strip malls or fast food drive-thru lines. While these monuments to yesteryear still stand, mostly empty, throughout America, the people who live near them are not the same as they used to be, and this creates opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate.
1. Small town people are changing.
No matter where they live, people are online. This is especially true of millennials. Social media and streaming entertainment connect nearly every small town citizen in the same way that they connect city dwellers. As a result, the demand for trends and technologies reaches into small towns in milliseconds. People are more open-minded and eager to try new things than ever before, so entrepreneurs can offer tried and true products and services to people who want them but who have no access to them nearby.
2. Small towns offer opportunities to scale at a fraction of the overhead.
Also, compare the costs! Even a tech-centered startup, with three employees and three laptops, has to compete for quality space in a big city. The monthly lease might cost $5,000 or more, and each employee might pay another $1,000 or greater in rent, transportation, parking, utilities, etc. In a small town, the company could do the exact same business, reaching the exact same clientele online, but paying only $500 per month for a commercial lease and $500 a piece for living expenses. The Internet offers scalability from anywhere, while the small town insures a faster road to financial security.
3. Small towns want you.
Finally, small town leaders are getting into the mix. Some offer tax breaks or incubators for new businesses. Others realize the power of social media to increase traffic in their towns, and many are facilitating the installation of the fastest available internet town-wide in efforts to remove one barrier from an entrepreneur's decision. Small towns realize the economic benefits of developing entrepreneurial ecosystems and of recruiting educated and creative-class professionals. Look for towns to get creative in the coming years in their efforts to differentiate themselves and to attract fresh talent.
Entrepreneurs no longer have to sacrifice the life they want for the rat race. With hyper-connected neighbors, minimal overheads, and towns that support entrepreneurship, CEOs can launch scalable ventures from the most affordable settings. Watch for the next big startup stories to come from small towns.