“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” So sang Frank Sinatra in his iconic song “New York, New York.” It’s a line that has repeatedly been quoted, by everyone from young professionals to aspiring entertainers. For New Yorkers, the meaning is universal, capturing both the intense competition and limitless opportunity to be found in America’s most prominent metropolis.
The lyric is also very much applicable to entrepreneurs. If you can build a business in the fast-paced world of New York City, there is nowhere you can’t go. The sky is the limit.
New York City might not be the entrepreneurial capital of the United States. That title that belongs almost by default to Silicon Valley. Still, there can beno question that NYC is a superb place to be an entrepreneur. In fact, there are many ways in which New York City is an even better place for entrepreneurs than the San Francisco Bay Area, if only because there is less of a startup bubble. In Silicon Valley, virtually every business is a startup or was a startup and evolved into something much bigger. In New York, there is a more diverse mix of companies to behold, from the smallest street-side vendors to the largest corporate monoliths. Making it in New York doesn’t just mean beating out other startups for investor attention or capital funds; it means making it, period.
Here are a few other reasons why New York City should be on your destinations list if you are thinking about expanding your company to the United States:
You’ll get a much-needed reality check.
If you are thinking about expanding your business overseas, you have probably already had a bit of success on this side of the pond. It’s easy to start feeling like you’ve already won the jackpot when you have a growing business with an established following and a burgeoning customer base or clientele. It’s easy to feel like you’ve conquered the world.
After day one in New York City, you’ll know you haven’t conquered anything—at least not yet. NYC is one of the most competitive cities in the world. If you don’t fill a market niche, someone else will. If you don’t innovate, someone else will. If you don’t grab the opportunities that come your way, someone else will.
The speed and intensity of the New York business world is an essential training ground for any company. It will quickly reveal where your weaknesses lie and challenge you to fix them. Survival of the fittest is the name of the game, and while diving into that kind of environment will undoubtedly be stressful, it will also help your business grow, evolve, innovate, and focus. If you want your business to reach the next level; the best thing you can do is become the small fish in a huge pond.
You have access to one of the biggest, most ambitious talent pools in the entire world
New York City draws people like a moth to a flame. Recent college graduates come to this city seeking professional opportunities. Established professionals come here looking for bigger, higher-paying jobs. Brilliant local institutions such as Columbia University and NYU are continually churning out talented, smart people ready to enter the workforce. As far as talent pools go, you would be hard-pressed to find one that is deeper, broader, or more dynamic than the one in New York City. Filling jobs and finding new people to add to your team will be an exciting process—though still a difficult one, due to the sheer amount of talent you’ll see walk through your door.
Job candidates aren’t the only people you will encounter who can help take your business to the next level, either. On any given day in New York City, you could link up with your company’s future big investor, or meet someone with the connections to help you win a game-changing new contract or partnership. These encounters can happen elsewhere, but they are less likely in cities that don’t have the population density, business background, and diversity NYC does.
There is a market for just about everything
Another significant advantage of the population and diversity of New York is that virtually every market niche is represented. So many demographics call this place home, to the point that your company’s target market is most certainly represented.
This characteristic is good for two reasons.
First, when there is a target market in your city of expansion, you have a built-in base of customers or clients to start pitching to right away. Especially if NYC is your first hub for North American development, having this base is essential for setting down roots and building a foundation. From there, you might be able to expand your reach up and down the East Coast or throughout the United States. Having that New York foundation, though, will pay dividends for your company growth, revenue, brand reach, and recognizability for years to come.
Secondly, having your niche market represented right there in town makes it easier to set up focus groups, surveys, polls, or other processes that help you learn about market needs and pain points. By tapping into the diversity of NYC, you can learn a lot about the people you are trying to reach with your product or service. This knowledge, in turn, will help you hone your business offerings and marketing messages so that they appeal to the right people.
You can take full advantage of industry events
New York City is the capital city (or at least a capital city) for a wide array of industries—including, perhaps, your own. Because of this fact, the city frequently hosts industry events, talks, expos, and conventions. When you have an office in New York, you don’t have to travel far to attend, which makes it much easier to take advantage of them. Some gatherings will allow you to hear from leaders in your field and learn more about where the market is going and what you need to do to keep up. Others will allow you to put the focus on your business and hopefully develop new contacts or marketing leads. Either way, these events are there to help you, and they are more common in New York than in virtually any other city in North America.
The startup community is welcoming
In Silicon Valley, the entrepreneurial community can sometimes feel competitive to the point of being cutthroat. The New York City startup community, while certainly competitive, tends to be more welcoming and nurturing. Perhaps because the NYC tech community is younger than the one in Silicon Valley, most members are eager to see it succeed and flourish. That means that people from other startups and established businesses alike are typically more willing to meet with other entrepreneurs and lend a hand. Indeed, by networking with other people in the startup world, you can grow your company’s connections and establish valuable relationships with influential businessfolk.
Don’t expect these connections to be your golden ticket: even in a welcoming startup community, no one is just going to offer you the world on a silver platter. However, if you use your network for what it is (a ladder to help you reach the next level) instead of what you wish it would be (an elevator to the penthouse), you can fit in quite nicely in New York’s startup world.
Wall Street is right there
Need an investor? There’s probably someone trading on Wall Street right now who would love to get involved with your business. In NYC, you are surrounded at every moment by people who know finance and are looking for new, exciting ways to make money. Investing in young, cool companies is one way that these people chase their dreams.
If you have a reliable business model and can find a Wall Street investor who is intrigued by what you are doing, you can make fireworks happen.
There are plenty of opportunities to unplug and stop thinking about work
Startup lifestyle is grueling, especially in an arena as competitive and go-go-go as New York City. Luckily, there are always opportunities to unplug and turn your attention elsewhere in the Big Apple.
New York City plays host to some of the best restaurants, theater, concerts, nightlife, shopping, museums, and tourist attractions on the planet. In short, don’t get so wrapped up in building your business that you forget to take advantage of one of the big perks of running a company in New York: NYC itself.
Taking a Leap of Faith
Despite all the benefits and perks discussed above, the decision to expand your business to New York City is not one you should make lightly. If your startup isn’t ready for the pressure, NYC can chew you up and spit you back out. It’s a tough place to make a dent, in any industry, and tales of failure are more common than stories of success. For the right entrepreneur and startup business at the right time, though, a move to New York City can be a game-changing decision.
Before you take the leap of faith, just remember what Frank said about New York City: if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.