Top five: WalletHub reveals best US states to start a business
According to the United States Small Business Administration’s 2018 report, the United States is reportedly home to over 30mn small businesses, accounting for over 99.9% of all the businesses in the country.
While small businesses make up the vast majority of all businesses in the US, the number of people employed by these firms only accounts for about 47.5% of the population. A Guardian report published in September 2018 quotes US Census Bureau employee Adam Grundy as confirming that only about one third of small businesses in the US actually employ people. As Grundy explains, the 76.2% of businesses that have no employees accounted for just 4% of sales of all small businesses. These ‘businesses’, according to the report, are typically “self-employed individuals operating a very small unincorporated business which may or may not be the owner’s principal source of income.”
Whether or not these operations can truly be considered businesses is still up for debate; while a ‘side hustle’ wasn’t necessarily considered a business a decade ago, the gig economy has driven so many, particularly in the US, to maintain several jobs that an argument can be made for moving the goalposts of public perception with regard to such enterprises.
Regardless of where the line between business and monetized hobby is drawn, a staggering number of businesses (mostly small - also sometimes large) are created each year in the US, across every one of its 50 states.
This week, personal finance website WalletHub released its 2019 rankings of Best & Worst States to Start a Business. The report notes that one in five startups fail in the first year, and half of all new businesses don’t make it to their fifth year. “But startups fail for different reasons, a “bad location” among the most common. Choosing the right state for a business is therefore crucial to its success. A state that provides the ideal conditions for business creation — access to cash, skilled workers and affordable office space, for instance — can help new ventures not only take off but also thrive,” the report says. Here are the five best states to establish a new enterprise, according to the report.
A combination of the lowest business costs in the nation and a top 10 ranking in the Business Environment category allowed Oklahoma to snag the number five spot. The state’s traditionally agrarian economy means it came in the bottom-middle of the pack for Access to Resources.
4. North Dakota
One of the least populous states in the Union, North Dakota ranked second in the nation for Business Environment, 19th for Access to Resources and 32nd for Business Costs. The WalletHub report also consulted several experts, including Joseph Fox, MBA – Visiting Assistant Professor of Practice, Management, Director, Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of North Dakota. According to Fox, “States should understand that entrepreneurship ecosystems are dynamic systems with a tremendous number of factors interacting simultaneously. When policy-makers decide to pull one string, they should ask themselves if they really know what other strings it is tied to within the system.”
Fast becoming the second home of the US movie industry, and the air freight capital of the world, Georgia’s capital city Atlanta has become a rising heavyweight of the nation’s economy. Georgia ranked fifth in Business Environment, 17th in Access to Resources and 13th in Business Costs.
With a largely diversified economy, Utah has a presence in the tourism, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, information technology, finance and petroleum production industries. The state came seventh in Business Environment, second in Access to Resources and 26th in Business Costs.
Home to massive tech campuses belonging to the likes of Apple, a large portion of the US oil industry and vibrant startup scenes in Austin, Dallas and Houston, Texas tops the WalletHub list as the best state in the nation to open a business.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.