When people hear the word ‘entrepreneurship,’ they tend to think of Silicon Valley: streets full of commuters, offices so large you need a moped to get around them and tech gurus in every corner office, preaching the doctrine of progress. It may be a stereotype, but it’s there for a reason.
Though a lot of businesses begin in basements and college dorm rooms, life in the big city offers experiences that are crucial to building a business that lasts. Here are just a few reasons why you, as an entrepreneur, should practice your trade in a big city for at least a little while:
1) You’ll Be Uncomfortable
There’s nothing quite as horizon-broadening as getting tossed into a completely new place. The adage that there’s no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone is true, and entrepreneurs should know that better than anyone.
Big cities have a culture of “new.”
They’re always changing, and with that change comes innovation. Sometimes the city moves so fast that it seems impossible to ever settle down and get comfortable. If you’re looking to retire, that may be a bad thing. But as an entrepreneur? Great. You won’t be slipping into any ruts.
2) You’ll Be Inspired
Entrepreneurs need inspiration like a plant needs sunlight.
One good idea is never enough—growing companies are constantly evolving and requiring innovation. What worked last week may not work today, but sometimes it’s hard to step away from the grindstone and purposefully seek inspiration.
Margaret Mead said cities are places “where there is no need to wait for next week to get the answer to a question, to taste the food of any country, to find new voices to listen to and familiar ones to listen to again.”
In the city, you’re just a few minutes away from an endless supply of energy and diversion, day or night. Laughter yoga? Salsa dancing? Art exhibits? Chocolate tastings?
Move to the big city and those are all possibilities—not to mention the general excitement that comes from living in a place that never sleeps.
3) You’ll Feel Small
There’s a reason Frank Sinatra’s song about New York said, “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”
When you get to the big city, it’s not uncommon to realize that your old town was a bit of a small pond. No matter how amazing your accomplishments, no matter how original your ideas, move to the city and you’ll quickly be eclipsed.
It might hurt to realize that everyone around you is doing your thing better than you, but you’ll heal. There will always be someone better than you. And because of that, you’ll be better.
Realize that no idea is as amazing and unique as you think it is, and you’re automatically more likely to succeed. You’ll understand the obstacles you’re facing, build mental resilience, keep an open mind to new possibilities, and bounce back quicker in failure.
4) You’ll Build a Network
Successful entrepreneurs partner with people more successful than themselves.
Everyone needs a mentor in their journey, and what better place to find one than a big city? Cities are full of inspiring and motivated people—innovators, up-and-coming twenty-somethings, and go-getters can be found everywhere.
It’s these people who are the heartbeat of big cities, and you need them in your life.
Use sites like Meetup and Eventbrite to find out about local events. Join local Facebook and LinkedIn communities. You can even network as you work by going to co-working spaces.
5) You’ll Get Street Smart
Even if you’ve got a degree, the old adage says “there is no better education than that which comes from experience.” In the city, you’ll learn basic street smarts: how to keep yourself out of danger, how to avoid scams, and how to get around without making waves or looking like a tourist. These skills have a lot of practical value, but they also transfer easily to the business world.
The road of an entrepreneur can sometimes seem a little like a dark alley bristling with hidden thugs. Big city survival principles, like presenting yourself correctly and watching your money are also part of Kuhn and Mullins’ 7 Key Disciplines of business success. With a little effort, living in the city will help you make these principles instinctive in both the street and the office.
6) You’ll Disappear
At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is about hard work, discipline, and focus.
When you need to buckle down, drop off the map, and get some work done, the big city is actually one of the easiest places to find solitude. Even if your neighbors know you, you can walk down the block and become instantly anonymous.
Up all night trying to sort out a problem or communicate with outsourcers in India? The city’s up, too, and no one will be asking you about it in the morning. When you need to cut out distractions and really focus on getting your business off the ground, it’s just as effortless as closing your door.
Walt Whitman said, “a great city is that which has the greatest men and women.” Entrepreneurs are the “greats” who are changing the world every day, and they’re in that city, waiting for you to join them.
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