Your family and recreation will be a very important consideration.
Community support can be very advantageous
Whether opening a new business, expanding an existing one or when seeing new markets, many will spend time evaluating the community in which they choose to set up the business and/or live in
Choosing where you’ll start your business and live when moving to a new community is a huge decision. It can have a huge impact on how comfortable you feel in your new surrounds and on how successful your relocation will turn out to be.
Where should you move to? Where will you feel at home? These are complicated questions with many variables to consider.
Starting or, relocating a business in a new community can be daunting. Preparing your new premises, moving the family and employees and settling into to a new community all require detailed planning.
With the enthusiasm, economic growth and identity you bring to a new community, there should be a reward for your efforts almost immediately. To succeed in a new location, you must embrace it, its people and invest in it, if you want it to respond positively to you.
Your family will want to be involved
If you’re the one starting a business, questions about the living environment for you family will be very important. In particular, this is a fundamental issue you must address before you plant your roots. If you don’t you will soon have a very unhappy family and will need to relocate again.
Keep in mind researching local communities can be a time-consuming and costly process and involve a lot of travel and accommodation. Make it fun for the whole family and any key employees you wish to take with you.
Becoming involved in a new community that you have carefully chosen, can make certain your business and family form lasting relationships. Everyone can become excited with all the new experiences.
“Ensure that your family and your team feel empowered and genuinely excited about the location of your business”. Peter Sergeant
Create a short list of communities you like
The easiest place to find information about a community should be its website. Communities with engaging, information-packed sites lean more toward being small business-friendly than those with poorly built, academic-looking websites. These sites can also be invaluable to new business owners looking to share information with potential clients and employees.
What kind of community do you want to set up in? Will there be hidden dysfunction that could impede your progress? Basic considerations for your short list might include:
- Big city, or regional centre.
- Small village, close to a big centre
- Rural versus city living.
- Coastal or inland.
- The remoteness of the location.
- Distance from other family and friends.
- Closeness to a capital city.
- Health services.
- Education facilities.
- Transport services.
- Broadband services
- Business services.
- Living affordability.
- Future environmental problems.
Before you get into the details of choosing a community, consider the following:
- Where is your target market located, will it be easy to service?
- Is there a demand for my product or service in the community you wish to operate?
- Will the location you like best be able to service your chosen markets.
- How will you fit in with or stand out from the local competitors?
- Will you have appropriate branding or image for your chosen community?
- Will you be able to adequately staff your business from the local market?
- Will the community be close enough to your suppliers?
- Does the local government pro or anti business?
- Are the people friendly to the type of business you propose to serve?
- Will people in the community be eager to help?
- Will you have to do extensive renovations before you can move in?
- How much are property taxes? How much are income and sales tax? Balance them out. Could you pay less by choosing to start up in another state?
- Can you afford to pay your employees at least the minimum wage?
- Do you qualify for any government economic programs or incentives? Might you qualify somewhere else?
- Are there any government grants to help you set up in a particular community.
- Never overlook in-kind support services that might be offered to you.
- Can you legally conduct your type of business in the community?
- If you want to make renovations or changes to the building, are there any legal, or heritage, restrictions?
- Are you going to run into restrictions because of zoning laws in the community?
Interview the local government
As local governments work to transform their regulatory environments into ones that promote and nurture the establishment and growth of startups and small businesses, it’s becoming easier to measure and rank their efforts.
There are many factors that determine how business friendly a community might be. The cost and challenge of building approvals can be a nightmare, local property taxes, and access to capital as some communities are downgraded by financiers is important. Zoning requirements can also be an impediment.
To be business friendly, a community must make an ongoing concerted effort. Not hit and miss, in order to create an environment that inspires and empowers people to open and run their own businesses. The entrepreneurs in the community should be leading initiatives, not the local government. The local government should be there to encourage and support.
Many communities welcome entrepreneurs and people looking to move to their community looking to start a new business or, to create the next big thing. Others will not be so receptive as they seek to maintain the status quo and avoid any additional work.
It’s critical to introduce yourself and your business to local government officials. If they are good at their job (many of them aren’t) they will want to know how your business is going to positively impact their community and what they can do to help you.
They might not be able to do anything to physically aid your business, but they have important connections and insight into the current situation, the communities growth, or decline, and the long-term vision of the community.
When you reach out to members of the government it makes them aware that you strive to become an asset to the community and bolster the community’s growth and success. In addition, your local government offices can provide information on similar or complementary businesses that could potentially lead to community partnerships.
Be aware that most governments are focused on policy, rules and regulations. Whereas entrepreneurs and new business owners are focused on action and making things happen. Getting bound up in the language of governments is to be avoided. It is frustrating and very time-consuming. You want action, not words.
Make sure you interview the mayor, don’t be put off as it is the head of a snake that determines the movement. Be aware that most council officials can tell a good story, can be very warm and charismatic, but fall short when it comes to delivery.
Look for warning signs of a poor match for you
- You are dealing with people who have never owned a business.
- The local government has little understanding of entrepreneurship.
- Business people seem to be too reliant on governments.
- There seems to be a breakdown in communications between existing businesses.
- A few community leaders seem to exert too much control.
- There is only scant information about the community.
- The community seems to be too risk adverse.
- There is a resistance to new technology.
- Closeness to a ‘sponge city’, or other negative influences.
- People keep complaining about having no time and money.
- There seems to be a lack of advisors, mentors and other accelerators.
- Not inclusive, you don’t feel wanted.
- You or your family don’t feel welcome as newcomers.
A way to check out a community
With your family and your cameras, go out into the community and take photos. Photos of:
- The things you like, the good.
- Things you don’t like, the bad and the ugly.
- The places you would like to live.
- Locations you would like to work in.
This will form the basis of some serious discussion as it will help to overcome decisions made on pure emotion.
Check out the people
Reach out to other businesses and people in your new community. They are vital to your continued success, both professionally and personally. You must be able to feel comfortable with the type of people living there. As your business adjusts to new surroundings, reach out and participate in local events on a regular basis.
Establishing these rewarding connections requires you to introduce yourself to your community and communicate your business’s vision. People will want to know, who you are, where you come from and what you are doing in their community. It is a good policy to be one of those people who gives before they get, and without expectations.
Look for a community that is ‘inclusive’. People who are too ‘picky and choosy’, don’t really understand the value of startups and small businesses to their community. Look closely at the range of activities and events that help entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses to grow and prosper.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they must be felt with the heart”. Helen Keller
The number of local businesses that are willing to help you organise events, research programs or even donate furniture and equipment to your new business might surprise you. Living in a caring, sharing community is what helps make life work.
It’s easy to forget that nearly every business that has been established in the community was once the new company trying to find its way around. Many forget but many remember. Look for those people who are open to new ideas and opportunities.
Relocating to a new community can be intimidating. Even through bonding with your work family and community networks, people can build lasting relationships, in some communities, they are lacking in social skills until they get to know you. So, don’t be afraid to step forward and quietly introduce yourself.
Trust your instincts.
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Be sure, their actions you see match the rhetoric of the people you meet.
So be prepared for some run-around and to be disappointed as you are shoved from one person to another for answers. Look for communities that have good working relationships with the local government, are inclusive and have a long-term commitment to startups.
Most local governments have some sort of economic or business ‘development centre’ or organisation that, along with local government, can make your transition more manageable.
These development centres and your local chamber of commerce can be great places to start researching the support available in your new community. You want to know who the movers and shakers are in the community. These are the people who can have the biggest impact on your businesses profitable growth and sustainability.
Unfortunately, in many communities, these organisations are found wanting because they are based on old paradigms. You will also find that most governments sponsored support organisations are also big on rhetoric and small on delivery, even if you can engage them.