Some cities are friendly toward startups, while others have a less active entrepreneurial community. Entrepreneurship is one of the best influencers of economic development, since new businesses are disproportionately responsible for job creation and growth through innovation, so it usually pays to live in a city with a thriving startup culture that nurtures entrepreneurship. At the very least, you can do your part to contribute to a culture that encourages new business creation and support—and a good way to start is with the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Week. During this week of entrepreneurial networking and education, Venture X will be offering complimentary coworking! Stay tuned for more details.
In the meantime, what is it that makes a thriving startup culture, and what can you, as an individual, do to create or manage the startup culture of your city?
The Hallmarks of Startup Culture
There are a few attributes and amenities that serve as hallmark indicators of a city that naturally encourages startup development and entrepreneurship:
· Coworking spaces. There’s an interesting problem that develops in many big cities; the more popular it becomes for entrepreneurs and business owners, the more expensive it is to buy or lease office space in the city. And of course, the more expensive it is, the harder it is to start a business there. One modern solution to this problem is the emergence of coworking spaces, shared workspaces that multiple people can use as they see fit, simultaneously and for a low monthly fee. The presence of coworking spaces in a given community is a sign that there are plenty of options for new entrepreneurs hoping to start a business on a limited budget; it’s also a great networking opportunity.
Fortunately, West Palm Beach has a thriving entrepreneurial community. That’s one reason why Venture X is planning to open Phase 2—a brand new 6,500 square foot facility with 20 offices and 75 seats, overlooking the new dancing fountain in Rosemary Square. You can even schedule a behind-the-scenes tour with us to get a sneak peek of what’s to come!
· Incubators and accelerators. Some cities have workspaces dedicated specifically to startups. For example, startup incubators frequently allow brand-new entrepreneurs to use their space and access their resources, sometimes providing mentorship or advice along the way. Startup accelerators frequently take in a fixed number of startups that have already partially developed, connecting their entrepreneurs to mentors and investors as a way to help them grow. Either type of startup-friendly vehicle is a sign that your city supports its entrepreneurs.
· Investor presence and interest. Though slightly harder to determine, you can estimate the startup-friendliness of your city overall by looking at the presence and interest of startup investors. For example, how much venture capital or angel invested funds were made available to entrepreneurs in your city in the past year? Are there multiple venture capital firms to choose from, or active angel investors who are popular in your community?
· Networking events. Entrepreneurs thrive on networking. It’s how they meet prospective clients, employees, partners, mentors, and other people who can help their business grow. The more networking opportunities that are available in a given city, the easier it’s going to be to start a business and help it grow. Are there any organizations in your area that host local meetups and networking events for professionals and entrepreneurs? How often do these events take place?
· Local laws, regulations, and grants. Some cities have special incentive programs designed to influence more entrepreneurial activity. For example, they may have fewer restrictions and lower fees for registering your business, or they may offer small business grants for startup entrepreneurs who meet certain requirements. Whether financially or logistically, some local governments simply make it easier for an entrepreneur to start a business.
· Access to talent. If you look at most cities and urban areas known for their friendliness to startups, most of them have an important quality in common: proximity to colleges and universities. If your startup is going to be successful, you need to have a skilled, educated, and talented team—which means it needs to start in an area with plenty of skilled, educated, and talented people. The more diverse and more skilled the workforce is, the better the entrepreneurial environment.
· Low (or reasonable) cost of living. Unfortunately, most of the qualities listed above come with a massive caveat; the more appealing they are, the more expensive it is to start a business and live in that city. Accordingly, you’ll need to keep these costs in mind, and seek a city where rent and other costs are more reasonable.
· A supportive community. Support comes in many forms, but to be successful, entrepreneurs need at least some support from their community. In many cases, that means having an audience willing to buy products and services from new, local providers rather than established, national corporate brands. At Venture X, we’ve recently hired new staff members whose responsibilities include building and sustaining a thriving community of entrepreneurs. Community Manager Joshua Shronce and Community Coordinator Jourdan Przybyla are just a few of our talented team members.
Improving Your Startup Community
If you’re an entrepreneur hoping to start a business, it may be in your best interest to evaluate your current city and/or move to an area likely to support your new business endeavor. But if you’re a consumer interested in making your city friendlier to new entrepreneurs, there are many steps you can take to support a more nurturing environment.
· Get involved in networking. First, try to network more often. Not only will you meet tons of interesting professionals (and possibly develop your own career at the same time), you’ll also encourage networking organizers to be more active in your community. It’s also a good way to stay plugged in and learn about new businesses as they arise. Atlantis Networking is a great place to start, or you could get involved in the Palm Beach Toastmasters Club.
· Support entrepreneurial opportunities. Whenever you hear about new entrepreneurial activities, do what you can to support their development. For example, if there’s a local coworking space that supports new entrepreneurs, consider attending their events and working alongside some of the up-and-coming business owners in your area.
· Buy from local entrepreneurs. If you have a choice between buying a product at a national chain store or at a local business, go with the local business. Spending your money with local entrepreneurs keeps it in the local economy, and plays an important role in keeping entrepreneurs active in your community.
Are you interested in supporting the startup culture of West Palm Beach? Or are you an entrepreneur looking to work and network with other business owners in the area? Contact us to schedule a tour of Venture X, one of West Palm’s most popular coworking spaces, today!