Entrepreneurship entails great freedoms and liberties in one's career - not only do entrepreneurs have full autonomy over their schedules, but they also can live anywhere. In recent years, there's been a rise of the "digital nomad" lifestyle : internet founders traveling the world while running their businesses from their laptops. Other founders swear by the opportunities present in living in big cities , such as New York City and San Francisco. It begs the question: how does where you live impact your startup?
Of course, startups can grow and thrive anywhere, thanks to today's increasingly digital landscape - all you really need is a laptop! But, in considering potential cities to move to, the following are factors that invariably affect your startup's ability to succeed and scale.
1. Proximity to other entrepreneurs.
Many entrepreneurs start out alone - and this inherently lonely lifestyle can start to take a toll on their mental health. A recent study by Dr. Michael Freeman at the University of California, San Francisco found that 1 in 3 entrepreneurs live with live with depression. This startlingly high statistic means that if you're an entrepreneur, you're more likely to struggle. While there are a number of factors that contribute to this -- such as the natural ups and downs of entrepreneurship -- loneliness has truly become an epidemic for "solopreneurs."
"Humans thrive when they can work in workspaces in close proximity to other entrepreneurs, may they be coworking spaces or coffee shops." says entrepreneur Ted Foxworth, President of CryptoRocket.
Many find that their productivity rises significantly when they're working around other productive individuals in an environment that stimulates and inspires them. So, smaller cities with fewer workspaces and a smaller entrepreneur base can take a toll on a founder because of the lower likelihood of finding fellow entrepreneurs or digital nomads to work around.
2. Cost of living.
If you're bootstrapping your startup, every dollar counts. It's ideal to spend as little as possible on living expenses so that most of your revenue can be put back into the business. This is where entrepreneurs struggle with weighing the options: the Bay Area may be ideal for the connections and opportunities, but are the outrageously high rent prices worth the investment? That's a decision only you can make.
CEO of Fundera Jared Hecht shared the six cheapest U.S. cities to start a business on Inc., which are: Eugene, Oregon; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Hickory, North Carolina; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Fort Wayne, Indiana. It should be noted that he lists these cities not only because of their lower cost of living, but because of their additional proximity to bigger cities for more opportunities. Just because a city is one of the most affordable in the United States doesn't mean that should be the sole motivation for living there; weigh the costs and benefits of what your startup needs, while also taking living costs into consideration based on your financial status.
3. Frequency of conferences, masterminds, and networking events.
It is highly recommended that entrepreneurs attend conferences, masterminds, and networking events to learn more about business and expand their networks. Steve Farber, the founder of the Extreme Leadership Institute, noted in an Inc. article that there is no substitution for face-to-face interaction and the opportunity to increase your brand footprint and exposure at a conference is significant.
Of course, you can always travel to attend big entrepreneurship conferences, such as Forbes 30 Under 30 or StartupGrind's Global Conference. But, living in close proximity to hotspots for conferences (such as New York City, Austin, or Boston) increases your ability to attend events frequently - which expands your network and continues to increase your brand's footprint. So, when assessing where to live for your startup, make sure to investigate the city's frequency of business-related events and conferences.
4. Proximity to more potential clients.
Expanding your network also means meeting more potential clients! The face-to-face value of talking with someone who needs your services far outweighs online marketing and virtual communication because of the "Know Like Trust factor," which asserts that a customer or client will buy from you if they know, like, and trust you. This is far easier to achieve faster if you're able to meet with them face-to-face.
Cyle Patnode is the founder of Your Online Advisors, and he first started the company in his parent's basement in St. Cloud, Minnesota. When he moved to Denver, his monthly business revenue skyrocketed to five figures a month - and he credits that spike to his ability to meet with clients in person. "There's a trust that's built immediately when you can meet with someone face to face," he commented. "That always closes the deal."
Finally, should be noted that where you choose to live is really up to you. Business.org reported that the cities with the lowest percentage of startup growth include Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Providence, Kansas City, and Riverside San Bernardino. If you live in a city that seems non-startup friendly from the outside but is the perfect fit for you right now, then it's the perfect city for your startup. Opportunities are everywhere, regardless of where you live and work.