When you look at your social media feed or the newspaper, you'll probably see a picture of a divided America. Our differences show up everywhere. Even Insureon's Small Business Outlook 2017 found that where you live impacts how you do business. According to the survey, only 11 percent of rural owners plan to offer a new service. For city dwellers, that number jumps to 30 percent.
Location might impact how a small business operates for many reasons. In the city, increased competition for customers may force a business owner to adopt new services quickly. Less demand in the county, however, may inhibit a business's growth opportunities.
But in both cases, the business owner has to figure out how to keep their operations afloat. That got us wondering what business ownership is like in different areas of the country. Are small-business owners more alike than they first appear?
We spoke to entrepreneurs from cities, suburbs, and small towns and will explore our findings in a three-part series. Let's start with what we learned about urban small-business ownership.
Urban Business Owners Follow Their Passion
Entrepreneurs tend see their businesses as more than a way to make a living. Take, for example, Mara Natkin, owner of the art and wellness shop Artery Ink (@ArteryInk). She and her partner Gloria Ramirez started their business in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, after personal tragedies caused them to rethink their relationships to their bodies. As they learned more about healthy eating, they were inspired to share the information through art.
"We had always been into art and knew we wanted to do something with it," says Natkin. "We love owning our business because we feel so passionate about the message that Artery Ink brings to people."
Others, like Rachel Charlupski of Miami Beach, Florida, choose to entrepreneurship because they saw a need in their communities. Her business started as a hobby, but when she saw the demand for luxury travel and event babysitting services, The Babysitting Company (@babysittingco) was born.
Along the way, she realized her passion is being her own boss.
"I love everything about owning a business," says Charlupski. "But what I love most is that I create every day of my life exactly how I want it to be."
The common thread: Running a business is hard wherever you are, but most small-business owners love what they do. Find the thing that you are passionate about, and it will carry you through the tough times.
Urban Business Owners Share Resources
While a big city can be a lonely place, the urban entrepreneurs we talked to all set up shop in communities with a vibrant and cooperative small business scene. That includes Brooklyn, New York, where Flora Pringle started the candy shop Cracked Candy (@Cracked_Candy). She says in her community, they share "resources, networks, and ideas."
"I have often asked other small businesses questions about packaging or a distributer to get their input and have always received honest and willing answers and referrals," Pringle says. "And I have done the same for other small, local manufacturers."
Big cities also offer more formal assistance for entrepreneurs. Rafael Romis, founder of web design and marketing company Weberous (@Weberous) in Los Angeles, California, says he can find groups for just about anything he needs, including small business advice, product feedback, and networking.
"Right off the bat, a new business owner can start utilizing the benefits of a bigger city and get a leg up on the competition," says Romis.
The common thread: Nobody does this alone. Whether you're in the city, suburbs, or country, look to the people who have been there before you. Most of them are willing to help.
And if you're wondering where to go, check out the article "The 7 Best Small Business Groups for Networking" for ideas.
Interested in how business owners in the country think about their jobs? Come back next week for "Small Business Ownership in Rural America."
About the Contributors
Rachel Charlupski is the founder of The Babysitting Company, a fully insured concierge babysitting service that personally vets and trains babysitters for private residences, fine hotels, professional sports teams, events, and international and domestic travel. With offices in most major US cities, The Babysitting Company can provide sitters on a moment's notice as special requests, and last minute bookings are the company's specialty.
Mara Natkin and Gloria Ramirez together created Artery Ink. Through their artwork, they hope to encourage and inspire you to eat healthier, take better care of your body, and ultimately become happier. They design and print greeting cards, prints, and t-shirts, and they recently published a coloring book for adults called Show Me Your Guts.
Flora Pringle is the founder of Cracked Candy, a naturally sugar-free candy that is safe for teeth. It is smashed into shards so no two pieces are alike. The delicious candy is vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and has a low GI. Flora lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two young children.
Rafael Romis founded the web design agency Weberous in 2011 to help businesses stand out and boost their online presence. Originally from Greece, Romis studied and worked in London and now lives in Los Angeles. When he's not working at Weberous, he offers business and marketing consulting services to small businesses. And when not working, he enjoys the California sunshine with his wife Jennifer and his puppy Goldie.