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Updated: Apr 1, 2017
While New York may be known around the world as a hub for national and international corporations, at its heart, the state of New York thrives because of its many successful small businesses.
From bodega owners in Brooklyn, to winemakers in the Finger Lakes, to the emerging startups of Tech Valley, small businesses rule in the Empire State. So here’s to you and the rest of the no-nonsense business owners who make New York the state we’re so mad about.
Here are the 12 indisputable signs that you run a small business in New York.
Many national corporations, like M&T Bank in Buffalo and T.G.I. Friday’s in NYC, have their headquarters in New York. But you’re not afraid of a little competition. In fact, small businesses make up 99% of all the businesses in New York. It’s no wonder the state is often named one of the most entrepreneurial in the country.
Whether or not you actually live in the city that never sleeps, whenever you meet people from out of state, as soon as you mention New York they automatically assume you hang out on Broadway and can see Central Park from your window. But real New Yorkers know there’s more to New York than New York City. In fact, Governor Cuomo recently announced $55 million in funding for New York State tourism, with a special focus on the craft beverages industry.
With a new restaurant opening on your corner every other week, New York City might be a foodie paradise for consumers, but it’s one of the most infamously tough restaurant scenes if you’re trying “make it” for the first time. With high rents and plenty of competition, even local favorites aren’t guaranteed to last. In fact, city-wide restaurant closings nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014. Even if your business is firmly rooted in the ground, chances are pretty good your scenery won’t stay the same.
Going carless is good for the environment. And while a whopping 56% of families in NYC are car-free — the highest density in the nation — families outside “the city” are ditching their wheels too. Out of nearly 800 major American cities, Buffalo and Syracuse respectively rank 22nd and 23rd for the percentage of carless households.
As a small business owner, you know how crucial it is to pay your employees a livable wage – especially in a state with such a high cost of living. While paying a few dollars above the national minimum wage can cost more in the short term, supporting well-paid and happy employees can actually help you save money by helping you recruit better talent and decrease turnover. Whether or not you align yourself politically with Governor Cuomo, everyone needs to start preparing as the minimum wage steadily increases towards $15 over the next several years.
Looking for financing to cover payroll for new employees that will help take your business to the next level? A Funding Circle term loan offers small business owners affordable rates with fixed monthly payments.
As a business owner, you know how important it is to rely on local networks for clientele. With over 238 four-year colleges and 472 total higher education institutions, student life is always thriving in your state. SUNY even engages students and local businesses in its “Adopt A Business” program, which gives students real-world experience for their resume and helps small businesses harness the marketing power of social media.
Fast fads like Cronuts and Black Tap milkshakes may get tourists in the Big Apple waking up early to stand in line, but you know the value of long-standing appeal — and you know how much work it takes real companies to get there. Independent restaurants like Prune, which has been grinding it out for nearly two decades, know how to build a loyal customer base that shows up for brunch well before the doors even open.
Did you know that more than one in four New York business owners are foreign-born? Just like almost every other place in the country, the New York immigrant population is thriving and playing a vital role in the state’s economy. The state government, through the Office for New Americans, provides valuable resources for recent immigrants who want to start or expand a business.
NYC may be internationally famous for its foodie culture, but everyone knows Buffalo is where you go when you’re looking for finger-licking chicken wings. Upstaters are also starting to convince the rest of the world that Utica tomato pie deserves a seat at the table alongside NYC’s thin-crust pizza slices. The city may be flashier, but upstate food culture — with its garbage plates, chicken riggies, and half-moon cookies — refuses to be ignored.
City dwellers know that sharing is a fact of urban life, and the sooner you embrace it, the better. You may have to share an apartment with a roommate or a cab with a coworker, but you can’t imagine living anywhere else. That’s why coworking spaces have become so popular throughout the five boroughs. While coworking spaces are usually filled with early stage startups, established businesses can book a fully furnished conference room to set the stage for a meeting with important clients.
Diehard Mets and Jets fans are matched in their zealotry only by the likes of Yankee’s, Giants’, and Buffalo Bills’ followers. Fortunately for local business owners, loyal sports fans often translate into loyal brand followers. That’s one reason Brooklyn residents were so ecstatic when a Rochester-based grocery story, Wegmans, announced it was opening a new location in the old Navy Yard.
With over 7,600 freshwater lakes, it’s no wonder that recreational boating in New York is a $2 billion industry. Some people claim that it’s better to be friends with someone who owns a boat than to own a boat yourself – but you know you don’t have to own a boat to become that friend. When you need to host an event for your business, you know it’s as simple as renting from one of New York’s many boat charter companies to get people in the door.
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.