The Best Place to Start Your Business …

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… is where you are. Sure, there are exceptions. Maybe you’re young, and have no roots. Or maybe you just want to move to somewhere else. But, barring special cases, look around you. The best place to start you business is where you are.

In my email and on Quora I get a steady stream of questions about moving first to start a business. Today, specifically: “If LA is so expensive, why do people start a business there?

And also today, what is the best country to start a business...?

To be fair, this may be a flaw in Quora, a question-and-answer site I frequent. They started paying people to ask questions that generate answers.

However, it’s also something that’s been coming up off and on for the four decades I’ve been involved with startups. Should I move to Silicon Valley? What are the best startup hubs? Is New York city a good place?

Myth and misunderstanding

What bugs me is that — at least in the US — the idea of the best location, or a better location, is so much myth and misunderstanding. You start your business where you are. That’s where you have a home, roots, contacts, vendors, and a sense of local market.

And furthermore, in the US, the Internet is everywhere. Phones, couriers, libraries and airports are everywhere. While there may be more investors in California and Washington than in Idaho and South Dakota, the off-the-hub startups get investment too, when they are good investments. A few years ago I met two young entrepreneurs located in the woods about an hour from Talkeetna, Alaska. They’d go months unable to reach even Talkeetna, which is a very small town, four hours from Anchorage. The two of them were running several websites and making tens of thousands of dollars monthly.

I can think of three general exceptions:

  • Maybe you’re young, left home for college, and want to start your life somewhere else, a new home, not where you grew up. The catch here is that young people are the exception in startups. Research shows that the vast majority of successful startup founders are in their 30s or 40s.
  • Maybe you aren’t young, but you do want to move. I get that. My wife and I moved from Mexico City to Palo Alto in our 30s, and from there to Eugene OR in our 40s. There’s nothing wrong with that. But that’s not moving because your location is better for business.
  • Maybe you are in an exceptionally bad location. Generally the urban vs. rural trade-offs work reasonably well, but if you’re hours from an airport, or can’t get good broadband, then maybe your location is a disadvantage for your startup.

Otherwise, the best place to start a business is where you already are.

Think it through… have you ever moved?

Moving is a royal pain in the rear. It’s very hard to find a new place to live, home or apartment, especially from long distance. When you get there, you suddenly have to find a new bank, new restaurants, new stores, new organizations, new people. Nobody knows you. Your social structure is back to zero. Your business contacts, locally, are back to zero. It’s hard.

Starting a new business is also really hard. Doing it in an entirely new place makes it a lot harder.

The obvious conclusion

The best place to start a business is where you already are.



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