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The 8 Best U.S Cities to Start a Business In

The 8 Best U.S Cities to Start a Business In

While a well-developed new business can survive in challenging circumstances, there are certain U.S cities that provide the most fertile soil to bring your business from a seedling to a thriving operation. But what makes these locations the best? A variety of factors interact to create the ideal circumstances for a new business venture – things like less competition and a lower cost of living. Nerdwallet researchers also considered unemployment rates, income levels, and population density to determine where you’d have the best chance to start a business and succeed in the long-term. Just as a web-hosting directory allows you to compare virtual domains for your company page, this Nerdwallet study lets you compare the best physical locations for your business.

1. Boulder, Colorado

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    Everyone’s favorite ski town, Boulder ranks number one on the list of best places to start a business. With a population of 301,072, Boulder showed a high number of businesses per 100 people: 14.1. While it may see counter-intuitive, having other businesses nearby is actually a strength. Most of the businesses surrounding you will not be competitors, and it offers the perfect opportunity for foot traffic and drive-by exposure. Boulder hosts a strong technology scene and is home to several coworking spaces, incubators, and networking events.

    2. Wilmington, North Carolina

    A seemingly random choice for the second best place to start a business, Wilmington is both close to the beach and growing as a tourist attraction. Downtown Wilmington hosts the highest number of businesses per 100 people: 15, making it an especially bustling spot for businesses owners to set up shop.

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    3. Greater Bridgeport, Connecticut

    The most noticeable scene you’ll find in Bridgeport is its active art scene. Bridgeport also ranks the highest annual median income of all cities on the list at $63,369, and has a highly educated population. Family-owned businesses like Amodex have garnered significant financial success in this city of opportunity.

    4. Evansville, Indiana-Kentucky

    Evansville is a lesser-known city on the list, but features several active cultural districts. The Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville also offers some unique assistance to new entrepreneurs, like help in selecting a location, tax phase-in assistance, and programs to assist you in expanding your business.

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    5. Greater Portland, Maine

    Often mistaken for the hipster mecca of Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine is actually the safer place to start a business in the U.S. This city hosts an impressive foodie culture with countless culinary businesses already thriving. There are opportunities for meeting places, health insurance, and even cell phone plans thanks to the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. To top things off for bootstrappers, Maine is also one of the cheapest states for car insurance, with a premium that is $539 less than the U.S. annual average.

    6. Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Cedar Rapids is a top city in the world for corn and grain processing, and home to cultural centers like Orchestra Iowa and the Paramount Theatre. While it may not be known for attracting entrepreneurs, it does have a pleasantly lower cost of living. Furthermore, it’s unemployment rate is the lowest on the list at just 3.8%.

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    7. Greater Beaumont, Texas

    You may not know anything about Greater Beaumont, but its cost of living is something to pay attention to. Greater Beaumont’s average household paid a total of just $8,316 per year on housing costs, lower than any other city on the list. The town is also home to a delightful Cajun culture, as well as a view of the Gulf of Mexico.

    8. Green Bay, Wisconsin

    We know Green Bay for its fanatical football fans, but there’s way more to the city than this. Along with museums, restaurants, and shops, Green Bay also features the CityDeck, a boardwalk that runs along the Fox River. The Greater Green Bay Chamber offers hefty microloans to new business owners.

    This isn’t to say that you’d fail to start a business in a city that is not on this list. However, if you live in or near one of these cities and are thinking about trying your hand as an entrepreneur, this report gives you the official “OK.” The report shows that above all, the Midwest seems to be the ticket, offering easier circumstances than most coastal cities.

    Featured photo credit: Cory M. Grenier via imcreator.com

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

    How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

    We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

    So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

    While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

    Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

    What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

    How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

    But what does being productive actually entail?

    Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

    Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

    It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

    Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

    9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

    1. Avoid Multitasking

    Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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    Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

    If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

    2. Turn off Notifications

    According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

    Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

    The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

    Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

    3. Manage Interruptions

    There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

    Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

    If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

    By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

    4. Eat the Frog

    Mark Twain once famously said that:

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    “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

    What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

    We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

    Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

    5. Cut Down on Meetings

    Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

    You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

    The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

    But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

    If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

    6. Utilize Tools

    Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

    If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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    And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

    Some examples of tools that could be used:

    Communication
    • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
    • Samepage for video conference software.
    • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
    Task Management
    • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
    • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
    • Wekan for an open source option.
    Database Management
    Time Tracking
    • Clockify for a free tracker.
    • TMetric for workspace integrations.
    • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

    You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

    7. Declutter and Organize

    Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

    Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

    Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

    Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

    8. Take Breaks

    Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

    As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

    Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

    Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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    9. Drink Water

    Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

    Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

    Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

    A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

    If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

    You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

    The Bottom Line

    The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

    After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

    In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

    A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

    Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    More About Boosting Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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