The Next Business Hub: Small Towns
Updated: Jan 21
5 Natural Resources that will allow small towns to become great business hubs.
Most companies – Start Ups especially focus on what their location hub offers to the company. For starters let’s start with - what is a Hub: “Startup hubs are places that provide ideal conditions for entrepreneurs to flourish and accelerate the growth of their businesses.” Building Up A Startup Hub: Dubai Is Committed To New Businesses (entrepreneur.com) Silicon Valley is a hub for tech startups because it offers a combination of talent (people), Venture Capital, and a rich history of tech startups that offer a wide range of connections and relationships. New York City is a hub for finance and business in general for the same reasons: talent, capital, and a wide range of connections and relationships. These major hubs are areas that attract business, because they have “fertile soil” for starting a business.
But the tides are shifting with the power of the internet, major cities are no longer going to be the only hubs in the world. Every location will have something to offer a business, it is our jobs as entrepreneurs to identify what those natural resources are and put them into play.
A natural resource is like gun powder – a lot of energy that needs a spark or some sort of activator to do anything. Entrepreneurs are those sparks.
Alternative locations are on the rise such as Nashville, Austin, Miami are just a few of the locations on the rise for entrepreneurs looking to activate the resources found there. But they are not the only locations, small towns have incredible amounts of resources for natural resources to capitalize on 5 Natural Resources Small Towns have
1. Small population - Easier Brand Recognition
Right off the bat, starting a business in a small town has the benefit of almost immediate Brand Recognition. If you start a business in a town where there is only 200 business, it will be a lot easier for that brand to be remembered than if you were in a city with 10,000 business. As an example, say you start a coffee shop called “Pirate Joe” in a town with only 200 business, only 5 of which offer coffee. You are immediately in the top 5 coffee companies in town. Compare that to a city with 10,000 businesses: you open “Pirate Joe” amongst 10,000 business, 250 which are coffee shops, how many people will be able to remember your 1 out of 250 coffee shops. It’s the same ratio of coffee shops 2.5% - but by being located in a smaller town your brand will be easier to remember. 1 out of 5 vs 1 out of 250, yes your customer base is smaller, but that’s okay to start because the goal is to figure out what chess pieces are in play and what you can do with them. Yes there are things you can and should do when it’s your business vs 250 to stand out. But for the time, energy, and other resources – there is a major benefit in starting and already being 1 out of 5.
2. Pre-Built - Strong Customer Base There is a huge push for “think local”, “shop local”, “spend local” that push is a natural resource for small town entrepreneurs. Back to our “Pirate Joe” example, by creating a company in a small town, you have an opportunity to build customer loyalty and create a strong customer base very quickly. Deliver a great experience or product (especially one that the town needs) and you might be surprised just how much support you have. Customers that want sweatshirts, stickers, all kinds of swag to represent your business. In a major city, a small business could spend a lot of time, money, and energy into getting customers to the threshold of “I want to rep that” – in a small town it could be almost immediate. In addition to that I have witnessed firsthand, both as a customer and as a business owner that people will pay a premium (within reason) for local goods and services. This think local movement is pushing people to realize the power their dollars have in terms of impacting businesses and communities and the impact that dollar spend has on a small business vs a major corporation. 3. Less Noise – Easier Connection Less Noise is a Natural Resource. Imagine not having to sift through endless amounts of noise to make moves.
Have you ever wanted to connect with someone to “pick their brain”, ask them a question, or demo something? In a major city with millions of people, the person you’re trying to reach probably has a couple of gates (secretary, mail sorting system, etc.) preventing you from doing that. It’s not necessarily that they’re trying to ignore you, it’s just that they need these systems in place to prevent them from being constantly overwhelmed with inbound calls, messages, walk ins, etc. They might very well be interested in meeting with you, but because everyone else wants to meet with them as well, they have to protect their time to accomplish what they want to accomplish. In a small town, chances are there is a lot less incoming, that natural resource could be key to you making a connection, learning from someone, or developing a new relationship. Because there are less people, your opportunity to be heard is higher. It’s like going to a conference with 10,000 people vs going to a conference with 12 people. More than likely you will get more of a chance to interact and speak to who you want to speak with. You’ll be able to ask them that business question, you’ll be able to show them a business idea, you’ll be able to connect on a personal level instead of the “hi, what do you do [response] awesome!” repeat, you’ll be able to deep dive into a conversation – which is where the value truly is.
4. Lower competition For Funding
Imagine being in a lottery, but instead of being amongst tens of millions of people, you’re amongst a few dozen (if that), would it be worth it? Sure, the lottery with tens of millions of people might offer a $10,000,000 reward, but the odds are slim to zero that you’ll win. Meanwhile, the other lottery offers $100k, but the odds are much higher that you’ll win. This is a small-town natural resource.
There is an abundance of money out there, money that is looking to be spent and invested and that money is diffusing away from the major cities. There are plenty of grants, venture capital, and angel investor dollars that are being directed towards small towns and chances are that amount will continue to grow. You’re funding request is less likely to be lost amongst thousands or millions of requests. Continuing the Pirate Joe example, say Pirate Joe is looking for capital to expand it’s operations. If they’re in a major city, there might be another 100+ businesses that are sending out applications to expand their coffee business. But in the small town there might be 5. Being 1 in 5 submitting an application for limited funds is better than 1 in 100+ Furthermore, in a small town it might be easier to have direct contact with a wealthy individual in town (see point 3) who wants to see the town do well and better yet, they might already be incentivized to seeing you do well before the investment. Why is this important – because incentives dictate action. In this case that action being – investing in the community. Example: let’s say there is an apartment building owner who just can’t find tenants, if you bring your proposal to them explaining how you’re looking to grow your business and employee base, the investor who previously might not be interested in your business realizes not only does he have the chance to be part of the business growth, but could possible also fill his apartment building – it would create a double win for them and make them lean more towards investing the funds. 5. Finding Employees “Good employees are hard to find, great employees are almost impossible to find”. Ask any small business owner that has had to go through the process of finding employees and chances are they’ll tell you that it’s one of the most painful parts of small business. This, (among other reasons) is one of the reasons why the Talent Acquisition market is worth $5. 7 billion dollars. Starting a business in a small town allows you to quickly identify quality employees without the resource burn of looking, searching, hiring/firing employees. Walk into any business in town and you will be able to tell which employees are A+ employees. Those easy to see, obvious signs of a great employee could save you a bunch of time and energy that goes with looking for employees. Furthermore, if you build loyalty with these employees, they in-turn build loyalty with you. In closing small towns have a wide range of natural resources, again our objective as small town entrepreneurs are finding them and capitalizing on them. What natural resources have you identified in your town? Is there someone capitalizing on them or are they just sitting idle? Bonus: Done correctly – you have the chance to create the greatest resource of all: Momentum
Don’t want to limit yourself to a small town – you don’t have to – especially in the age of technology and scalability. You can use the small town as an incubator, a place to work out the kinks of your business before focusing on scale. A small town can offer a safe haven with it’s lower cost and natural resources that will help you gain momentum. Once your business is gaining speed and momentum, you can leverage that to launch towards your next goal!
Momentum is Monumental in any business and being able to capitalize on momentum is what allows businesses to become next level.