Live Here, Play Here, Work Here: Building Your Business Locally
By Gloria Martinez
Moving to a more densely populated urban area to find a job may be a necessity for some
people. If jobs are scarce in less populated areas, well, one has to go where the jobs are. For others, it’s a desire to experience a different way of life in a new environment, and to experience the culture and convenience that a large metropolitan area typically offers.
There’s certainly no shame in spreading your wings to gain new experiences and meet people who are perhaps quite different from those with whom you grew up, whether it’s moving from a small town to a city or vice versa. Eventually, however, people settle in a place where they feel a sense of community and belonging and will work hard to try to create a life for themselves there. Starting a business in your local community, that place you now call home, can bring purpose and value to your life, while creating opportunities for others in your community.
(Photo by Jessica J. Yakim)
Building With Business Nuts And Bolts
Businesses succeed because they provide something that people need or want at a price that is commensurate with the value of the items they are offering. Also, they take great pains to let their prospective customers know they exist. They don’t even have to offer something new – perhaps it’s an improvement on what is currently available or purchasing it locally may be more convenient than a comparable business that is 50 miles away.
When you put that idea and the accompanying goals down on paper, you have created some semblance of a business plan.
How formal you make it may depend on several things, such as the type of business you are building and the competition you are facing. If you have a lot of competition, you need to be clear about what differentiates you from your competitors, as well as include a marketing plan that details how you plan on reducing the competitive “noise” and reaching your prospective customers. Also, if you need to seek financing, your lender or investors will likely want to see a formal business plan.
You’ll also want to select a name for your new business. This is not something to be done
without forethought. The right business name should be simple but memorable, convey
meaning about what you offer, and describe what you value or what sets you apart (for
example, “service,” “quality,” “rare”). You can also choose something that’s reflective of the
neighborhood where you plan to locate your business or something of historical significance that will resonate with the community.
(Photo by Nicole Green on Unsplash)
A quick online search should let you know if another business has a name identical to the one you’ve chosen. Even something similar can be confusing, especially if it’s the same type of business. Once you’ve settled on a name, make sure a domain name is available that is identical, or at least closely matches, your chosen business name. Then check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see if the name has been trademarked. Once these details have been settled, you can decide on a business structure, such as a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation.
Sometimes business owners come up with other business ideas that may be complementary but, don’t necessarily fit with their current business. Or the domain name they want isn’t available? In cases like these, you can come up with another name under which you will be doing business, known as a DBA or “doing business as.” You then file a DBA with your state with your official business name, as well as this assumed DBA name.
Your Community Will Thank You
Small businesses are the heartbeat of many communities and neighborhoods. They keep jobs local, they can attract other small businesses, and they can revitalize neighborhoods. Small business owners care about their communities because they live there. Many raise families there and use their entrepreneurship to support schools, youth sports activities, and community events. Unlike money spent on businesses owned by “absent” business owners or non-local corporations, money spent on small businesses doesn’t just stay local but has a multiplying effect that reverberates throughout the community.
Hold an open house when you first open your doors. Take the time to create a dialogue with your customers. Talk about what attracted you to this community and your dreams for your business and its role there. Think of regular community events you can create that will keep customers coming back – not necessarily for sales, but just to cement your place in the community and cast you as a pillar in their minds, not just someone who cares about business profits. Soon, you’ll find your business name on the lips of the residents for referrals and as a community role model.
Businesses that grow strong roots tend to reap healthy branches. Whether it’s in a small, iconic neighborhood nestled at the outskirts of a large metropolis or a rural town, by investing in your community, opening a locally owned business, and demonstrating that you care, you are making your community a better place to live, work, and play.
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