The 5 Best Cities to Start a Small Business

If you’re planning to launch a new retail store or restaurant, and you’re not committed to a specific location, take some time to choose the place where your business is most likely to flourish. Considering factors such as networking abilities, opportunities for funding, regulations, and funding, here are some of the best business-friendly cities across the United States.

Austin, Texas

The winner of Thumbtack’s 2013 small business friendliness survey, Austin takes the lead thanks to factors such as minimal regulations, ease of networking, and ease of hiring high-quality staff. As home to the annual South by Southwest Festival, the city is comfortable embracing new business concepts, and access to startup capital isn’t hard to find.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

A study from the media group The Business Journals found that Oklahoma City is one of the most conducive locations when it comes to founding a new business venture. The city has a low cost of living, a stable economy, and a high concentration of small businesses for the city’s population.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Access to major universities and large companies nearby provides a large and eclectic customer base for small businesses in the Raleigh metropolitan. Raleigh is deeply invested in supporting small businesses as well: The city has set up a $600,000 loan fund to help support small businesses that haven’t been able to get traditional bank loans.

Denver, Colorado

Denver ranked third out of 103 U.S. markets in The Business Journals’ study. The city’s 550,000 small businesses account for more than half of Denver’s private sector jobs. Residents are largely young, active, and eco-friendly, making the city a good bet for entrepreneurs in sectors such as fitness, healthy food, and adventure gear.

Dallas, Texas

In the Kosmont-Rose Institute Cost of Doing Business Survey, Dallas was ranked as one of the 20 least expensive states in the West, making it easy for a struggling entrepreneur to gain a foothold there. Although the city is home to many large businesses, it’s also welcoming to small ones: Nearly 80% of the city’s businesses have less than 500 people, and these companies employ almost 40% of the working population.

When selecting a location to start your business, your existing connections are likely to count more than anything — so don’t discount your hometown, regardless of whether it topped any survey rankings. Still, if you’re seeking a new setting for your new venture, the five cities above have proven to be fertile ground for many small businesses.