Is Your City One of the Best for Small Business in America?

best cities for small business 2015

Have you ever wondered if your city is one that’s friendly to small businesses, that attracts small businesses and has a thriving small business scene?

Well, here is a list of the 25 Best Small Business Cities as determined by Biz2Credit’s third annual analysis of The Best Small Business Cities in America:

1. Riverside-San Bernardino, California

2. Chicago, Illinois

3. New York Metro Area

4. Charlotte, North Carolina

5. Las Vegas, Nevada

6. San Francisco-Oakland, California

7. Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida

8. Los Angeles, California

9. Houston, Texas

10. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

11. Washington, DC Metro

12. Atlanta, Georgia

13. San Antonio, Texas

14. San Diego, California

15. Detroit, Michigan

16. Phoenix, Arizona

17. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

18. San Jose, California

19. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida

20. Denver, Colorado

21. Virginia Beach-Norfolk, Virginia

22. Orlando, Florida

23. Columbus, Ohio

24. Seattle, Washington

25. Sacramento, California

Are you surprised by any of the names on this list? Do you call any of them home or do you live close by?

A Closer Look at the Data

If you own a younger business, you’ll fit right in with other small companies in cities like Orlando or Philadephia which topped the list of 10 cities ranked for the youngest businesses (in terms of months of operation).

If your business is aiming to be among the highest revenue generators, you’ll be in good company in cities like San Riverside-Bernadino or New York which topped the list for businesses with the highest annual revenue.

Meanwhile Chicago and New York topped the list for cities containing businesses with the highest credit score.

There were some surprises as well. One was the inclusion of Detroit, Michigan, one of the few old northern industrial cities on the list.

“Detroit has seen a bounce back in the auto industry, and support industries such as technology and health care have emerged in the region,” explained Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit and an expert in small business finance, responding to an email interview with Small Business Trends.

“Lower gas prices have contributed to reducing manufacturing and distribution costs, which has in turn helped domestic companies regain a competitive advantage in the industry with manufacturing coming back from China and Korea,” Rohit added.

Another surprise was Boston’s conspicuous absence.

“Boston largely benefited from the tech boom in early 2000’s, but it seems to be losing its competitiveness to New York, which has established itself as the primary small business and tech hub in the Northeast,” Arora speculated. “There has also been a significant increase in v-commerce investments in NYC, which has now outstripped Boston after Silicon Valley.”

To compile the list, Biz2Credit examined more than 12,000 small businesses identified as companies with less than 250 employees and revenues under $10 million a year.

Finally, communities were ranked by average credit score, average annual revenue, and a BizAnalyzer score to determine the final results.

Want to learn more about the Best Small Business Cities list? Join us for a live webinar with Arora and other experts on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 3 p.m. New York time.

Webinar Details

Who: Small Business Trends CEO Anita Campbell (@SmallBizTrends), Senior Editor of CNBC Digital Lori Ioannou (@LoriIoannou1), CEO of Biz2Credit Rohit Arora (@RohitBiz2Credit) and President of Over The Moon PR John Mooney.

What: “Best Small Business Cities of 2015″ Webinar

When: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. (EDT)

Register Now!

Map: Small Business Trends

This article, “Is Your City One of the Best for Small Business in America?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Your Customers Could Soon Be Asking for Lab Grown Leather

lab grown leather

If you sell leather goods, you are dealing in products made from animals. But times are changing and customers may soon be requesting something more in line with evolving ethical and environmental standards.

Check out Modern Meadow, a Brooklyn-based company that uses tissue and cell engineering technology to create lab grown leather.

This isn’t like the faux leather (or “pleather”) you might see at discount stores. It’s real leather — it’s just lab grown leather.

Lab grown leather doesn’t require actual animals to be slaughtered as part of the process. That’s a plus for the animals, the environment, and potentially consumers as well.

The cost of leather has gone up in recent years. That’s due to rising demand as well as some environmental factors that have impacted traditional leather production. For the same reasons, scientists have also begun working on creating lab grown meat products.

But Modern Meadow thinks that lab grown leather is headed for consumers first. And it’s difficult to argue with that.

Aside from the more relaxed regulations on leather goods in comparison to food products, lab grown leather seems to be something consumers might feel more comfortable with at this point. If consumers are going to take a risk on a completely new type of product, it seems they would be more likely to do so with something other than food.

But the company’s goal is not to create a novelty type of product that people will buy just because of its unique nature or benefits to animals or the environment.

Instead, they hope to create a product that’s actually useful for consumers and businesses that produce leather goods. Modern Meadow’s CEO Andras Forgacs told Fast Company:

“Our goal is not perfect biomimicry. We’re not looking to create the, “I can’t believe this is not slaughtered leather, or I can’t believe this is not a slaughtered hamburger.” It’s to create products that if you were to design from the ground up, you could actually imbue with better properties in truly desirable ways.”

If the company is able to create leather that’s up to, or even higher than, the same quality standard as regular leather, it could absolutely make a huge difference in the leather industry. The ethical and environmental benefits could be an added bonus too.

Leather Jackets Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Your Customers Could Soon Be Asking for Lab Grown Leather” was first published on Small Business Trends

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4 Steps to Dealing with Addiction in Your Business


For some of your company’s employees, the struggle may be very real.

Variegated data from 2008 to 2012 suggests that on a yearly average 8.7 percent of full-time employees between the ages of 18 and 65 have abused alcohol within the past 30 days; 8.6 percent have used illicit drugs in the past month; and 9.5 percent have become dependent on alcohol or other substances during the past year.

Employees that come to work hungover, or otherwise impaired in their ability to function fully and productively are a problem in businesses across the board. This is NOT a private or personal matter that employees must be left alone to work out for themselves — not when it impacts your business.

Professionals in the field of addiction behavior suggest following these steps to deal with substance abuse in the workplace:

Know the Level of Risk in Your Business

Not every job carries the same amount of stress or satisfaction. Every profession varies when it comes to opportunities and motivations to abuse chemicals. Treatment centers such as Futures of Palm Beach have developed detailed profiles of addiction by profession. Lawyers, doctors, food and accommodation services and law enforcement personnel are more at-risk than accountants or scientists.

Check the latest job description of your employees to see where they stand when it comes to incidents of substance abuse.

Be Aware of Substance Abuse Signs

According to the NCAAD, these include, but are not limited to:

  • Bloodshot eyes, or constricted pupils
  • Nose bleeds
  • Sudden weight loss, or gain
  • Unusual body odors or halitosis
  • Sudden obsession with money
  • Poor grooming
  • Chronic tardiness and increased use of sick days and sudden emergencies
  • Sudden mood swings; increased irritability or unexplained fits of laughter
  • Complaints from co-workers of sloppy work, unsocial behavior or alleged impairment

Preliminary Steps

Before confronting an employee you suspect has an addiction problem that is impacting their work, check out the resources in your community that offer help for addiction and abuse.

Your employee may actually open up to you when you talk to them and if you can offer some specific places to go for help, it will reassure them that you really do care about them.

Call your insurance company to see what kind of coverage your employee has when it comes to rehab. This can be very reassuring to them if they are having financial problems. And talk to your business lawyer before you have any contact with an employee. Make sure you understand your workplace policies concerning alcohol and drug use on the job and what you can and cannot tell or offer an employee.

It may not be a bad idea to have your attorney or some other reputable second party with you when you finally talk to your employee.


You may be the one initiating the discussion with an employee, or they may be the one who comes to you demanding to know why they have been passed up for promotion or why their last job performance review was so negative. Either way, experts suggest you begin the discussion with some general questions, such as “How are you feeling lately?”

Listen to what your employee has to say. They will probably begin sensing where you are going to take the discussion, and may become anxious or defensive. Make sure you have scheduled plenty of time for this important conversation. You are about to influence someone’s life and career in a major way.

Be gentle, but be firm. Let your employee know that their problem has real costs for your business.

Offer them options and let them respond to your offer. Decide ahead of time, with your attorney and HR people, just what is an acceptable response from the employee.

Make it clear and sincere, and then let the employee have the final word and make their decision.

Act appropriately. And document everything that has been said in the meeting. If you are keeping the employee on probation, make sure to schedule a follow up meeting no more than five days later.

Intervention Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “4 Steps to Dealing with Addiction in Your Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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EnMast: Drop Consulting Costs, Make More Money

brad farris

Can you make more money from your consulting business by offering lower costs?

No, this is not suggesting that you cut prices on the services you already offer. But is it possible to develop new less expensive services for potential customers who couldn’t afford your current services anyway?

That’s just what Brad Farris (pictured above), founder of Chicago-based Anchor Advisors, Ltd., did. About four years ago, he launched EnMast. Today, it functions as an online extension of his small business consulting firm.

“I was getting a lot of calls from people out of the Chicago area and small companies that can’t afford to hire a consulting firm,” Farris told Small Business Trends.

Eventually, Farris hit on the idea to found a “self-service” website to assist these companies unable to work with Anchor.

Small business startups stand to benefit the most from hiring consulting firms.

But in one of the many paradoxes of life and business, startups also are less likely to hire consultancies because of cost.

For these businesses, EnMast offers resources such as document templates, advice and motivational content, videos and webinars. And all of this is at a lower cost than working one-on-one with a more traditional consultant.

Both entities — the website and the consultancy — provide small businesses with assistance and strategies to help them grow and operate more effectively.

EnMast is for small businesses that have hired 2 to 10 employees, Farris said. It is designed to serve as a tool to help “accelerate growth.” Anchorage, meanwhile, is for small businesses with 10 or more employees. But the companies are connected. Anchor Advisors’ now offers EnMast as an additional service to its prospective clients.

The companies also are connected via the naming strategy. As EnMast notes on its website:

“The mast of the ship is the connecting point. The sails are attached to the mast to drive the ship; in stormy seas sailors lash themselves to the mast to keep them from falling overboard. “En Masse” means all together, as a group. So we put them together to create a place where we can come together, as a group and get connected.”

Small businesses, by nature, are accustomed to navigating stormy seas. They face many uncertainties early on.

“There are so many ways to do it wrong,” Farris added.

In fact, EnMast has even used that fact to create some helpful content on things that can go wrong when  starting a business. Creatively packaged, the website offered it one year as a holiday content selection the New York Times described as “business horror stories in honor of Halloween.”

EnMast is there so small businesses are don’t to start with a blank piece of paper, Farris explains. “There is a template for a job description, in case they have never written one,” he says. Also available are templates for sales plans and for other key documents that small business owners need to write.

“The templates are only a starting place. Business owners can customize from there,” Farris said.

EnMast began as a blog. But today the website also offers a comprehensive assortment of these templates and tools numbering at around 70 and growing. Also offered is a steady flow of small business related articles, ebooks, videos and webinars.

“We are starting to really build it out now,” Farris said.

Interested parties can visit EnMast and gain access to the site’s five most popular tools for free.

Then, if they want to dig deeper and use more of the site’s resources, they can pay a onetime fee of $300 for full access.

Farris said around 1,500 small business owners now subscribe to EnMast.

He added that the site’s clients generally are service providers rather than product companies.

“We have a lot of writers, graphics designers, Web designers,” he said.

Podcasts are an additional resource EnMast is working on providing soon.

Image: Brad Farris, EnMast

This article, “EnMast: Drop Consulting Costs, Make More Money” was first published on Small Business Trends

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