Location, location, location. It's as fundamental for small business success as it is for real estate. A company can sprout up anywhere, but many founders find themselves looking beyond the city in which they've chosen to headquarter their ambitions, focusing squarely on national (or international) domination.
Could you be leaving significant growth opportunities on the table by not focusing on building your company's relationships in your own backyard first? Even if your organization's target audience is not your local market per say, growing your presence in your community can reap a number of benefits, including supporting you through rapid early success and growth phases. Committing to whichever city you've chosen to call home, and learning from the people there first, will give you the confidence and experience needed to join the global stage.
Here's how to make your local market an integral component of your success.
Get to know the local talent
Talent is not beholden to any geographical boundaries. But without cultivating a base from the best and brightest in your area, who will help build your national ambitions?
Knowing your own market like the back of your hand means you'll have a better idea of where local talent is and how to speak the language that will get their attention. Of course it starts with creating a reputation and even an aura that attracts top talent and keeps them in town.
It's more challenging and costly to recruit talent from out of state. When you focus first on building a solid reputation for company culture and foster strong relationships within your community, the talent will recruit itself. You may be surprised how many gems you uncover in your own backyard.
Home is where the support is
Cities take pride in giving birth to new ideas and innovative companies. So many entrepreneurs aim so high that they often forget where they came from and who has their best interests in mind.
People want their community associated with good things. Making a concerted effort to emphasize your local connections will give influencers more to brag about when they're networking on the road.
Your community will be the first to build you up if you are sincere in your efforts to build it up right back. Hiring, volunteering and expanding your reach within your local market can foster civic togetherness and do wonders for your business beyond your products and services.
I've seen numerous businesses gain national and international exposure thanks to the support of local economic and government leaders, and even fellow entrepreneurs. Just remember to reciprocate when you get the opportunity. By learning how to strengthen your local ties and embrace your role as a community pillar, you'll be better equipped to repeat the process when you start expanding to other locations.
Get face time with your best customers
Local communities get together, share contacts and network in a way that's impossible (and impersonal) to do on a larger scale. Word of mouth, organic marketing is huge for both early stage companies and talent looking for work, and the odds of both sides meeting their matches is better with a narrowed radius.
A significant part of owning your local market is being good at assessing its trends and its changing demographics. Talking to people and getting to know what's important to them is always going to yield the most valuable information, and founders and executives can have those conversations one-to-one. Potential customers who are able to score direct line access to CEOs aren't likely to forget the interaction and will be more likely to sign up for products and services as a result of a personal encounter.
You never want to put all your eggs in one basket, but as your organization hatches, your local community can be the nest you need to incubate, strengthen and grow before you venture out into the wild. The resources and the brand advocates you have in your area code will be what and whom you lean on once you start to expand. Focus on deepening the bonds you have within your reach and you'll start linking successes together as you move out in all directions.