Let us begin by playing a game. I’m going to list some cities and towns, and you will tell me what they have in common.
Okay, sounds like fun.
1. San Bernardino, California.
2. Akron, Ohio
3. Seattle, Washington
4. Joliet, Illinois
5. Boston, Massachusetts
6. Forrest City, Arkansas
7. San Bruno, California
Nothing springs immediately to mind. Did someone famous live in those places?
No, and I’m not surprised it was hard, because you almost couldn’t find a more varied group of cities. The answer is: A famous company started its operations there with one store. I’ll tell you in a minute what companies they were.
First, though, I want to talk about opening a small business and the importance of finding the right place to begin. There’s nothing like opening that first day, but it is much more fun to open on Day 100, 1000, and 10,000. Toward that end, Gildshire looked at the cities that are hosting the most successful new small businesses. We took into account factors such as business costs, access to resources (both human and otherwise), and the city’s perceived openness to new ideas and businesses. Here is what we found.
Years ago, Atlanta’s city theme was “Too busy to hate.” It was a way to separate itself from the racial strife that was (and is) a real thing all over the country. The slogan fits today, as well. A leader in commerce Atlanta is one of the best cities for a small business to grow. It’s highly educated workforce is the foremost reason.
Raleigh, North Carolina:
As many of you know, to say “Raleigh” is to say “Durham,” and “Chapel Hill,” as well, since the three cities comprise North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Business venture investment, a highly educated workforce, and a robust investor class make the Triangle a target-rich area for a small business.
If you still think Florida is just for Sunset Specials and canasta, you haven’t seen the west-central part of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Office space availability, corporate taxes, labor costs, and the cost of living all trend toward the atmosphere sought by a small business, especially when compared to the rest of the state.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma:
The lyricist tells us that the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains in this southwestern capital city. But, small businesses are sweeping in right behind the vaunted winds. OKC ranks 98th out of 100 in cost of living among major American cities (gas at a buck and a half a gallon will do that), and cheap labor can be the difference between a small business making it to Year Two or not.
That’s our list of cities that small businesses are finding hospitable. Each of them offers unique opportunities and a more-than-fair chance of a small business gaining a foothold.
That’s a good list, but aren’t you forgetting something?
You’re right! The cities we named at the beginning. It turns out, they all hosted one-store startups for a business that would one day be a commercial shooting star. Let’s connect them.
San Bernardino: McDonald’s.
Joliet: Dairy Queen
Boston: Radio Shack
Forrest City: Autozone
San Bruno: Ross Dress for Less
Gildshire hopes that a small business with your name at the top of the corporate chart will make a list such as this one, too. Happy hunting, entrepreneur.