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Where are the best U.S. cities to plant your startup?

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) The results of this survey are surprising, and may have you packing up your cold weather gear to move inland and scout for office space.

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Grow where your dollar counts

It’s no secret that San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York are major hubs for new startups, but they can be incredibly expensive cities in which to live and grow a business. From the cost of a cappuccino to the need for a wired office phone (based on relative cell phone coverage), every dollar counts for startups. So why not pick a city that makes it easy to hit the ground running?

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Nerd Wallet surveyed 381 Metro Areas in the U.S. to figure out which ones were the most nurturing to foundling companies. Their analysis included the number of people between the ages 25 and 34, the median income of the area, unemployment rate, and cost of housing. They also looked the ratio of businesses to people and the amount of new small business loans each area administered. The results are surprising, and may have you packing up your cold weather gear to move inland and scout for office space.

And the results are…

10. Missoula, Montana
With the most businesses per resident, Missoula starts our top ten. It has few young professionals even though it is home to a small university. It has a low median home price, and incomes that won’t blow your socks off. It also touts the lowest population of all the top ten metro areas listed.

9. Fargo – North Dakota – Moorhead, Minnesota
Dust off your North Dakota accent, because Fargo is the place to be. There aren’t a lot of startups here, but the networking is top notch. Food startups don’t be shy, Fargo is home to some new craft beer bars, and cafes.

8. San Francisco – Oakland – Hayward, California
Don’t bash San Francisco’s home prices just yet; the Bay Area still has a lot of perks. Not only does it have the highest median income, but the number of primo colleges in the area produce a sharp workforce.

7. Seattle – Tacoma – Bellevue, Washington
While this seems like the place to be for a lot of new startups today, Seattle may not be your best bet. While it still ranks number 7 in the entire country, Seattle has the highest unemployment rate of the ten contenders, and doesn’t give out a lot of small business loans. Still, the median home price is a whopping 350k which, for a startup city by the ocean, is not that bad.

6. Fort Collins, Colorado
With a lower unemployment rate and cheaper real estate than Denver, Fort Collins comes up short by offering a lower percentage of young labor. Still, Colorado is hard to beat on the whole, coming up with three separate areas that are prime for brand new businesses.

5. Denver – Aurora – Lakewood, Colorado
A short commute from its higher scoring neighbor, Denver still has a lot to offer a new small business. It tends to be less expensive than Boulder and has more young residents.

4. Austin – Round Rock, Texas
The hometown of The American Genius and the Texas Longhorns, this state capital does not disappoint. Not only does it offer a smorgasbord of recent grads hungry for jobs, but it has also allotted a huge percentage of small business loans as well.

3. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City ranks highly in a lot of categories. Not only does it have a good amount of young educated people, they have lots of businesses per capita, and strong cell coverage. This isn’t just for tech startups though – craft breweries have been popping up ever since Utah loosened its strict alcohol standards a few years ago.

2. Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington, Minnesota
The twin cities are home to a ton of huge companies. From Target to Best Buy, small businesses here won’t be lacking for local mentors. The city is full of millennials and its real estate is cheap. Don’t forget to splurge for heat and air conditioning in your office space; the temperature swings can be brutal.

1. Boulder, Colorado
Of the areas polled Boulder, Colorado topped the list. Not only is it surrounded with gorgeous scenery, but Boulder has the highest number of college-educated residents, AND the most amount of businesses per capita.

Where are you planting the seed?

If you’re starting a new business every penny counts, and success might mean moving to one of these cities to get it started. That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed anywhere, though. With the right idea, work ethic, and talent, there’s no stopping you! Some places might just make success a little bit easier. And who doesn’t want starting a startup to be easier?

C. L. Brenton is a staff writer at The American Genius. She loves writing about all things, she’s even won some contests doing it! For everything C. L. check out her website

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Johnathan

    January 6, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Though I think these ten cities are great places to begin and grow a startup, I strongly feel that Charlotte, North Carolina deserves to be somewhere on this list. It is quickly developing and is one of the largest financial centers in the US.

    • Lani Rosales

      January 7, 2017 at 11:06 am

      We’ve heard a lot of great things about Charlotte – it’s on other lists, so maybe they’ll include it next year!? #GoodLuck 🙂

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Business Entrepreneur

Why CloudApp needs to be in your business toolkit

(EDITORIAL) CloudApp is simple yet powerful for any sized business, keeping your productivity at an all-time high.

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Are you fed up of screenshotting something and taking the time to drag it into a Slack window to share with an employee for them to ask you what you meant by this. Well, so was I. Working remotely occasionally has its blunders when it comes to communication, the struggles of explaining what you meant without the need to meet via a video call or jump over to another person’s desk can sometimes be a tricky situation to be in.

This is the same for in-office situations too. There’s been plenty of times in an office where I’ve had to break my own workflow or someone else’s to head over to their desk to visually explain something. A potentially useful period of time.

A few weeks ago, this pretty much came to a stop. After receiving two emails during a week in October with two types of link attachments, I was curious what they were. Clicking into these links, I got a visual demonstration of what the person was speaking about. I was so impressed. From a screen demo of a website to how something worked and what buttons to click to get a desired outcome. I was blown off my feet.

Simple as it was, the app is called CloudApp. Both available on Windows and Mac, CloudApp’s primary goal was allowing users to capture these moments like a screenshot or a screen record to help explain the thing in front of you, with little worries. The magic didn’t stop there, once I started playing with CloudApp, I recorded a short demo of a site bug/issue that we had and instantly I heard a “ping”. The recording was captured and ready in a paste-able link.

Within seconds, I sent over the visual demonstration. Dead simple, hugely effective.

By the end of the working day, I had visually explained 98% of things in Slack conversations, emails, mobile texts and even to those I was sitting near. It was a crazy addition to my Mac and productivity across my day and it didn’t stop there.

CloudApp also did a host of beneficial things like allow you to annotate images or screenshots, create GIFs, upload files and even record webcam videos too to support your screenshots.

I would recommend CloudApp to everyone. I was so impressed with their toolkit.

The freemium account is great too. You get unlimited screenshots and annotation with 15s of GIF and screen record creation, which was so reasonable for someone getting started. There are additional pricing options too. CloudApp is available for Mac and Windows and is well worth installing to take full advantage of visually explaining things to friends, colleagues, and those struggling to get a drift of what you are trying to talk about.

Download CloudApp for Mac and Windows.

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Business Entrepreneur

How to determine your freelance rates based on data, not your gut

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Setting freelancer rates can be quite the tricky business. This tool does arms you with the data you need to grow your business

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The bulk of my professional career has been spent as a freelancer. The designation of “freelancer” has taken me on an interesting path that allowed for projects and opportunities I didn’t even know existed.

While I’m grateful for each and every opportunity, I now look back on some of these experiences and realize that I was vastly underpaid. For the most part, this is my fault as someone paying for a service is looking for the lowest possible rate and I never bothered to bargain out of fear of losing the role.

It was even at a point where I dreaded being asked my hourly rate because I didn’t know what the norm was. There was always a fear of charging too much and getting dropped for someone cheaper, or charging too little and looking inexperienced.

We recently talked about knowing your worth and how we freelancers often under charge for our services. Luckily, as this career path becomes more and more popular, there are now more resources devoted to helping us know what to charge.

Such a resource comes in the form of Freelance Rates Explorer. Created by Bonsai, this online tool gives users the ability explore rates from 40,000 freelancers worldwide.

“There are many sites like Glassdoor that offer salary data comparisons for full time employees,” said the tool’s developers. “However, there isn’t a site like this dedicated to provide insights on freelancers rates. We had this data, so we built the Rate Explorer to make it easy for freelancers to compare their rates in the largest publicly available rates database on the Internet.”

In order to find the standard rate for their field, users will input their role (either development or design), their skills (full stack, front-end, back-end, DevOps, iOS, and Android), experience (in years), and location. The Rate Explorer then generates a bar graph based on the answers and will show the most common hourly rates based on the number of freelancers and the rates range.

Bonsai also offers proposals, contracts, time tracking, invoicing and payments, and reporting. All of this is designed for freelancers.

As for the Rates Explorer, seeing the numbers calculated right in front of you may make you realize that you’re vastly underselling yourself. This tool can be especially beneficial to use now as we go into a new year and may be updating contracts.

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Business Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs: You’re unemployable in your own company, must define your role

(ENTREPRENEURS) Once you’ve built a successful business, it’s time to reexamine your role and determine where you fit in best.

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In my experience, most entrepreneurs are “accidental entrepreneurs.” They happened to be good at something, or they had a unique one-time opportunity to provide a product or service to the market. Then years later, they wake up one day and realize that they’re running a big business.

As an entrepreneur, one of the unintended consequences of building a business is that you become essentially unemployable within your own organization. After living the life of freedom, flexibility and responsibility of being a business owner, it’s difficult to go back to a “nine-to-five” job. This is why many entrepreneurs don’t enjoy staying with their businesses after they’ve sold to other organizations. Within months, they are frustrated that they’re no longer in control and the new owners are (in their opinion) making poor choices.

I see many situations where entrepreneurs are bad employees in their own organization. In fact, they may be the worst team members in the organization by having inconsistent schedules or poor communication skills and/or by inserting themselves into areas that aren’t useful. They can also have too much freedom and flexibility. And while most entrepreneurs insist on clearly defined roles, expectations and goals for all of their employees, they don’t always take the time to define their own roles, expectations and goals.

So why do entrepreneurs become bad employees?

I believe that it’s because they don’t have someone holding them accountable. Think about it: Who do they report to? They’re the owners. Part of the definition of “owner” is being accountable for everything but not accountable to anyone. Having a board of directors, a peer group or a business coach can provide some accountability for them, but another solution is to clarify their roles in the company and then abide by those definitions.

If you find yourself “unemployable” in your business, it’s time to define your role. It starts with outlining your main focus. Do you concentrate more on day-to-day execution or strategic, long-term decisions? Do you consider yourself an owner-operator or an investor?

Most entrepreneurs start as an owner-operator and put in countless hours of sweat equity doing whatever needs to be done to build the business. But over time they reinvest earnings in the business and hire a management team so they can step back and take on a more strategic role. Sometimes it’s not clear when the entrepreneur makes that transition, which can lead to challenges for the entire team.

Focus: Strategic Overview

If your main role is in dealing with long-term, strategic decisions, then it’s important for you to communicate that to the team. Clearly delegate tactical roles and responsibilities to the leadership team.

I’ve seen many instances where owners do more harm than good by haphazardly injecting themselves into tactical decisions that should be handled by the leadership team. Instead of jumping in when they see something they disagree with, I encourage owners to actively “coach” their leadership team to be better leaders. The approach of micromanaging every decision of others will frustrate everyone and lead to an underperforming organization.

I have one client that decided his role was to build strategic relationships and work on a new service offering. He was confident that his leadership team could handle the day-to-day operations of the business. Over time he discovered that being in the office every day was actually a distraction for him and his team. So, he moved his office out of the building.

To maintain his ownership responsibilities to the company, he scheduled one afternoon a week to physically be in the office. Team members knew they could schedule time with him during that weekly window when he temporarily set up office space in a conference room. Not having a permanent office in the building also sent a message to the team that he was not responsible for day-to-day decisions. Sometimes not having an office in the building is better than the team seeing the owner’s office empty on a regular basis.

Focus: Day-to-Day Execution

If you decide that your role is in the day-to-day execution of the business, then clearly define your role in the same way you would define any other team member role. Are you in charge of marketing? Sales? Finance? Operations? Technology? R&D? Or, some combination of multiple roles? Take the time to outline your responsibilities and communicate them to the team.

Just as you define your role, also define what you are NOT going to do and who is responsible for those areas. After all, sectioning off some tactical work does not abdicate you from long-term decision-making. You must set aside time to make the long-term, strategic decisions of the company.

Being an entrepreneur sounds glamorous to those that haven’t done it, but ultimately, the owner is accountable for everything that happens in their organization. It can be quite sobering. And while some entrepreneurs have a delusional belief that they can do everything in a company, it’s not a path to long-term success.

All entrepreneurs have to decide what their role should be in their organization – even if it means that they’re contributing to their “unemployable” status.

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