What guarantees business success? To be blunt, nothing can guarantee a business will go from startup to enterprise overnight. But the literal and metaphorical foundation of any business is its location.
For those dreaming of opening a business with a New York address, the options are plentiful. With over 6,000 miles of road in NYC, finding the perfect chunk of square feet to operate a business out of can be daunting.
But startups and entrepreneurs have found the perfect combination of business elements in Brooklyn. Compared to Manhattan, it has more people, more space, and it’s more affordable. But before you open a business in Brooklyn, ask yourself the following five questions to ensure you’re ready.
1. Do I belong Here?
You just might have the best business idea in the history of products and services. But if you set up shop in the wrong part of town, your business will never take off. Before you sign on the dotted line for a space in Brooklyn, spend a few days scoping out your target location. Look for signs that your ideal customers are going to be walking past your window.
For example, if you dream of opening a wine bar and find that most of the foot traffic on your target street consists of strollers, you most likely need to reconsider your ideal location. On the other hand, if your dreams involve a children’s boutique, those strollers are a great sign.
2. Do I know (and understand) the demographics?
One of the best reasons for opening a business in Brooklyn is the fierce sense of loyalty residents develop to local brands and businesses. But this loyalty must be earned and if you don’t know who you’re opening your doors to, you’re much less likely to click with clientele.
With dozens of neighborhoods in Brooklyn and a population of over 2.6 million, there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all approach to connecting with the locals. Instead, you’ll need to conduct a bit of research first.
It’s smart to start by looking into demographic records. Learn the median age of those living in your proposed business location, along with median household incomes and family statuses. Does your product or service match the needs of residents? For example, opening a daycare in an area with a heavy concentration of retired residents may not be a service that’s in demand.
But don’t be afraid to step outside of demographic charts and let your intuition lead the way. If there seems to be a need for a product or service in a neighborhood, explore it.
3. Do I need help and if so, can I find it?
If you’re flying solo in a successful business, you can expect the need for employees sooner than later. As of March 2019, Brooklyn’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, a bit higher than the national rate of 3.7%.
This means that, depending on the required skills, finding employees for your business is more likely in Brooklyn than in other parts of the country.
Just keep in mind that each neighborhood’s unemployment rate is unique and that New York requires workers’ compensation for part-time, full-time, and leased workers.
4. Do I know how to market to a Brooklyn audience?
If you tend to follow more traditional marketing techniques, you’re going to need to adjust your style. Brooklyn isn’t alone in its gravitation towards social media marketing and good old word-of-mouth. Make sure you cater to both preferences if you want to boost your brand reputation with locals.
Choose a social media platform to start with. This will depend on your product or service and your target audience. Go where they spend most of their online time. Consider Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Once your account is set up, focus on creating valuable content, posting regularly, and authentically engaging with your audience.
Content can work wonders. But in Brooklyn, talk is king. Developing a word-of-mouth marketing strategy is required when opening a business in Brooklyn. Organic word of mouth can put a business on the map overnight (or erase it). The only way to influence organic word of mouth is to provide a superior experience for everyone who walks in through your doors, whether they become a customer or not.
But working on your amplified word of mouth strategy helps you start and control the conversation. First, know what your brand is all about. Find what makes you unique and then work on finding a personal way to show your target audience what makes you different than the competition. It sounds simple but can be more difficult to achieve than businesses first realize.
Here’s an example to consider. A new coffee shop opens in Brooklyn. There are plenty of other coffee shops nearby and competition is steep. They want to be known for their dedication to minimizing waste, but they are unsure of how to prove this to customers when using so many disposable products.
They commit to using biodegradable coffee cups and start a reward program that donates a monetary gift to ocean cleanup efforts with every tenth coffee a customer buys. Customers feel like they’re part of something important, and quickly spread the word.
5. Do I know of Brooklyn’s unique challenges?
Brooklyn offers you more space for less money, all in an area with more people compared to other parts of New York City. But this doesn’t mean you’re not faced with unique challenges. For example, navigating throughout the busy city if your business offers delivery services can consume a lot of a small business’s resources. And while it’s more affordable, it’s still expensive to open a shop of any sort in Brooklyn.
It’s also rare to find a spot with minimal competition and finding employees with talent and passion to match your business can take time. But don’t let these possibilities talk you out of opening a business in Brooklyn. Knowing about the challenges you’re likely to face is the first step to tackling them.
Opening any type of business comes with risk. But when you choose to open a business in Brooklyn, you have additional resources to pull from. If you’re ready to make the leap, start by heading over to the NYC Business page. Answer the listed questions and you’ll get a customized list of City, State, and Federal licenses and permits you’ll need to get your business registered and legal.
For those in need of a bit of direction, the Brooklyn Small Business Development Center has helped over 16,500 Brooklyn businesses discover funding sources, develop marketing plans, and find business success. Opening a business in Brooklyn is tough, but with enough grit and determination, you can find success.