The 10 Best Cities To Start A Business

by Guest Expert

You just graduated business school with a master’s degree in business administration (an MBA). While you were in school, you worked part time for a business in town. During the summer, you worked full time for the company.
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You learned a lot of things working and studying for three years. You honestly believe that you have the skills to get a high-paying job at a Fortune 500 company right out of school. However, you also learned something a lot more important -- you would prefer working for yourself.

Starting a business is so appealing to you that you want to start one right away. At one point, you considered establishing a virtual office in the college town where you live. After much thought, though, you decided to have an office. However, you haven’t decided where. ‘What’s the best place to start a business,’ you thought to yourself.

Fortunately, we have the answer. We have spent a considerable time studying the best cities to start a business. Several business publications have studied this issue as well. They’ve considered cities’ workforces, their cost of living, their access to funding, where entrepreneurs are moving to, small business growth in cities, cities’ educational opportunities, unemployment rates, the strength of cities’ small business and entrepreneurial networks, taxes, how receptive governments are to helping startups, and whether there are too many regulations.

The results of the various studies were published in Business Insider website, KiplingerForbes magazine, and CNNMoney website. Oddly, exactly 10 cities made two or more of the four lists. Those 10 cities are listed below. The combined rankings of the four publications have helped us ascertain that the best cities in the USA for starting a business are:

1. Denver:

Denver is the only city ranked in the top 10 by all four publications. Forbes ranked it second behind San Diego. Business Insider ranked it third. Denver has the second most educated workforce in the USA, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce president Kelly Brough told CNNMoney. Denver has helped open a new center for entrepreneurship and technology. In addition, the city’s Small Business Development Center provides startups advisers and short-term leases.

2. Austin:

The capital of Texas is the only city ranked in the top 10 by three of the four publications. Forbes ranks the city third because it has very high concentration of small businesses “across a number of high-growth sectors.” The city’s cost of living is lower than most of the cities on this list. It also has a low unemployment rate and an educated workforce, partly because the University of Texas is in Austin. Kiplinger cites the fact that tech startups can connect with each other and prospective investors via a business incubator in town.

3. Oklahoma City:

Oklahoma City was one of eight cities ranked in the top 10 on two of the four lists, but it gets the bronze medal because it ranked No. 1 on both the Kiplinger and CNNMoney lists. Kiplinger said Oklahoma’s capital is one of the USA’s most affordable big cities and simultaneously has a very high number of small businesses per 10,000 people. Susan Urbach, the University of Central Oklahoma Small Business Development Center’s director, told CNNMoney that the city’s government makes starting a business easy for entrepreneurs who disdain paperwork.

4. Omaha:

Nebraska’s largest city is second on the Kiplinger list and third on the CNNMoney list. Warren Buffett has worked here for decades. That doesn’t mean you will become a billionaire if you move to Omaha, but the Omaha Small Business Network regularly lends money to entrepreneurs who lack working capital. The city also has an accelerator -- an organization that offers advice and resources to help small businesses grow. The accelerator is particularly beneficial to ecommerce and tech startups, CNNMoney reports.

5. Nashville:

The capital of Tennessee, often dubbed Music City, is a great place for entrepreneurs as well as country music performers. It’s third on Kiplinger’s list in large part because its living costs and business costs are low. The cost of financial services is 13.2 percent below the national average. In addition, it has a nonprofit Entrepreneur Center that is particularly beneficial to startups in the digital media, entertainment, health care, social enterprise, and technology industries. The center also offers resources that help startups launch within six months.

6. San Francisco:

Yes, San Francisco is a very expensive city, but it’s very high on the Forbes and Business Insider lists. According to the online reviews that were part of Forbes’ analysis, San Francisco has “the best-liked businesses in the country.” The city also ranks very high in percentage of small businesses in high-growth industries, particularly computer software and services. You also probably already know that the city is a high-tech capital with a very educated workforce.

7. (tie) Miami:

Miami is second behind Oklahoma City on CNNMoney’s list and tenth on Business Insider’s list. I swear the city’s weather wasn’t mentioned on the lists. Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce chairperson Tony Argiz told CNNMoney that Miami is loaded with entrepreneurial spirit because it’s loaded with young, entrepreneurial immigrants from many Latin American nations. In addition, the nonprofit Miami Entrepreneurship Center offers entrepreneurs free office space and Miami Dade College focuses on helping businesses owned by minorities and women.

7. (tie) Seattle:

Seattle is fourth on Forbes’ list and eighth on CNNMoney’s list. Seattle worked for Bill Gates and Microsoft so it should work for you. OK, it doesn’t work that way, but “aspiring entrepreneurs can tap incubators and business programs at the University of Washington and community colleges,” reports CNNMoney. Besides Microsoft, Amazon, Costco, and Starbucks are headquartered here as are innumerable high-tech startups. It’s a “magnet for young talent,” CNNMoney says.

9. Atlanta:

Sixth on the CNNMoney list and eighth on the Business Insider list, Atlanta has long been known as a national and regional center of commerce. It was No. 1 on CNNMoney’s list in 2012. Its residents are very educated with 47 percent of those who are at least 25 years old having at least a bachelor’s degree. Atlanta offers tax rebates to lure startup companies into moving to Georgia. In addition, Georgia Tech and Georgia State University have tremendous programs to assist entrepreneurs, CNNMoney reported.

10. New York City:

Taxes, schmaxes. New York City has high taxes, an extremely high cost of living, lots of government regulations, and a high cost of doing business. Yet Forbes magazine and Business Insider still rank the USA’s largest city as one of the 10 best to launch a startup and run a small business respectively. New York City has one of the highest percentages of small businesses in high growth industries, one of the highest percentages of small businesses in comparison to large businesses, and one of the highest percentages of small businesses with a website.


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