As a New Yorker, I’ve seen the myriad of technology startups that have come and gone throughout the city. I’ve even worked with some myself. Oftentimes, New York or San Francisco are viewed as hotspots for technological innovation. This is, however, only half true. While Silicon Valley receives a lot of attention for being a hotbed for startups, many of these companies are looking to lay down roots in smaller towns.
Higher taxes and startup costs can limit the growth of a fledgling company. Not only that, but by operating in a small town, startups can gain insights that they normally would not gain in cities. As a result of the concentration of tech companies in Silicon Valley, many tech products and initiatives are tested in the area and carry the near-exclusive influence of big cities without considering the needs of users in more remote areas. Additionally, there’s more of a danger of getting lost in the noise when trying to market a product to a large city. Towns give companies the option to test tech products on a smaller scale before rolling them out further, a process that is a lot less expensive for the company as well.
Many entrepreneurs have begun to realize this, and none of the top towns of the nation for startup jobs are in Silicon Valley. Plus, with a strong enough idea, a good startup can make a splash in the town that it debuts in and can attract hidden talent from local colleges and the like. Even outside of starting businesses, entrepreneurs may be able to assist other local businesses with consulting and become integral to the community.
For instance, while the efforts of a startup in San Francisco may be a drop in the bucket as far as the welfare of the city is concerned, investments in smaller cities can have a larger impact on a group of people. The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee experienced this with the arrival of gigabit internet, which led to a decline in unemployment rates. Many small businesses can benefit from better access to technology, and entrepreneurs are in the position to leverage their expertise to perform well.
In addition, the lower cost of living means that, especially in the early days of a startup, it’ll be easier to avoid running out of funds. You’ll be able to more easily manage a staff of employees and find an office space that works for you. In larger cities, many companies are forced to regularly change offices in order to stay within the confines of a budget.
The irony of the “cities first” mentality is that, despite often overlooking small towns due to remoteness or lack of marketing reach, it can be much easier to network in these towns than cities. Never underestimate the power of community pride; your company may well receive a warm reception and attention from local press. And marketing over the internet mitigates any problems associated with a tech startup in a small town. Entrepreneurs can then scale up their scope of networking, reaching out to other businesses in the area and finding leads that may be more receptive to a business relationship, particularly if they have a startup that fulfills a certain niche.
There’s a lot to be said for humble beginnings. Given the costs associated with any startup, particularly in technology, there’s value with saving money and embracing the environment of a small community. They say that it takes a village, but working in a town can lead to mutually beneficial relationships and some surprisingly great leads for bolstering a business’s reputation.