Work isn’t a place, it’s something you do. That activity could take place in any location world-wide as long as the resources needed to complete the job are available.

Startup Anywhere is about startups for the rest of us

That activity could take place in any location world-wide as long as the resources needed to complete the job are available. In today’s increasingly connected world, that means an industrial designer could be working from her home in rural Sweden just as easily as she could be sitting at a desk in Los Angeles, CA. We all know about telecommuters. Non customer-facing workers are already telecommuting, albeit on an often short leash, for many major corporations. Others, whose jobs include significant travel to meet with customers, have been working from home for decades. Nothing new there. The new thing is the idea that today new ventures can spring up–for example Saiff Solutions, a technical writing provider in the Philippines–and flourish while addressing the needs of real markets worldwide.  This can happen and it IS happening.

Today entrepreneurs can literally choose to startup anywhere.

There’s always a reason to start and grow a business in a particular place. While it’s nice to think that entrepreneurs strategically choose to locate their ventures near important resources–access to suppliers, labor, targeted customers, capital–the reality is that much of the time location is entirely personal and not at all strategic.  Perhaps the entrepreneur has family ties to an area; maybe the technical founder teaches at a nearby university; perhaps the entrepreneur would like to start a business in the USA but visa restrictions on family members or domestic partners preclude the move.

When I was taking my MBA coursework at Wharton in 1999, I became involved with the founding of a virtual business incubator as part of a class project.  The goal of the incubator was to provide support to high growth potential companies located in small towns and rural areas.  At the time, in the USA, I could see that increased transaction costs and lack of support in terms of technical and business services were prime drivers for these ventures to relocate to major metropolitan areas.  I was personally very empathetic to the plights of these entrepreneurs and the small towns they were abandoning in order for their businesses to succeed.  What I learned from that experience and from my more recent business ventures is that–specifically for high growth rate ventures–location is key.  Access to capital and talent as the company grows exponentially must be low-friction. During the high growth phase, location is very important to achieve success. There is, however, more to the story:

Yes, many startups today are tech-centric but the reality is that the majority of business plans are not addressing huge markets or creating new ones. To succeed, these ventures don’t need to frantically grow and occupy the market space as quickly as possible; pushing aside all competitors.  They aren’t the next Twitter, Google, or Facebook.  To them, location is less important to survival.  And then there are all of the non-tech startups that traditionally bootstrap and experience manageable growth rates based upon their ability to reinvest profits back into the business.  Broadly, in many of these cases the entrepreneur has the ability to decide where he or she would like to work and live.  Today, that could be anywhere.

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