Achieving business success today may depend on whereyou locate your business

felt the economic pinch.

Before you choose a home for your business, Boston advises business owners to ask these critical questions:

  • What is the extent of growth and economic activity in the area?
  • Is it growing in your field of expertise?
  • How hospitable is the region to African American entrepreneurs?
  • Have black entrepreneurs successfully gotten access to financing and credit?
  • Have they broken into business networks and connected with top-level decision makers?

Boston counsels entrepreneurs to contact business leaders and representatives from organizations like the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. (www.nmsdc.org) as well as community organizations that can give your company visibility. “Talk to established businesses in the area,” says Boston. “They can tell you right off if one business organization is important to [join] so you can get the information. You have to get into the network or you will not be successful.”

When moving to a new location, Wilson-Starks of Transleadership says business owners should reach out and begin the process of establishing relationships instead of going into a community “cold.” She maintains that places like Atlanta offer a critical mass of black achievers that provide a baseline of credibility. “When people have gotten used to excellent work from that group, then it’s up to you to establish your personal credibility and business credibility,” she says.

“A place like Colorado Springs [also] possesses advantages,” Wilson-Starks asserts of her company’s western presence, citing visibility in a small city and the ability to gain referrals and access to multiple networks. In fact, the city’s small airport affords her the opportunity to connect with local political and business leaders at a moment’s notice. “In our case, we were interested in building more of a presence in Christian-based businesses through the Christian Management Association groups. It doesn’t take long to be known in the local Christian community. In Atlanta, there is more competition in pursuing business oppo

Whether African Americans set up shop in cities densely populated with blacks like Atlanta and Chicago, or those absent of color like Bangor, Maine and Boise, Idaho, they must still be prepared to face myriad business and cultural challenges. “Given our heritage in this country, we have a legacy of creativity, surviving against odds, and forging new territory; finding alternate ways to do things,” says Wilson-Starks. “This is how we’ve survived in the United States [and it’s] the very same things you need to thrive in business. Even some of the difficulties we’ve been through have given us the skills and abilities that can take us through hard times.”

How’s that for a geography lesson!

Top 10 Detail Industries for Gazelles

Computer and Data Processing Services 19.7%
Management and Public Relations 6.9%
Services to Buildings 6.6%
Engineering & Architectural Services 6.6%
Trucking & Courier Services, Ex. Air 3.7%
Residential Building Construction 2.6%
Electrical Work 2.6%
Personnel Supply Services 2.6%
Legal Services 2.6%
Nonresidential Building Construction 2.0%

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