Winston-Salem was recently nationally ranked as a “best large city to start a business.” The study was conducted by Wallethub, an online source providing tools and information consumers and small business owners need to make better financial decisions and save money.
In order to help aspiring entrepreneurs — from restaurant owners to high-tech movers and shakers — maximize their chances for long-term prosperity, WalletHub’s analysts compared the relative startup opportunities that exist in the 150 most populated U.S. cities. They did so using 16 key metrics, ranging from businesses’ five-year survival rate to office-space affordability to educational attainment of the local labor force. Winston-Salem came in 11th overall out of 150 cities, and came in 3rd for the highest average growth of number of small businesses.
One of the things that makes this small town with skyscrapers a great place for business is it is a great place to live. Winston-Salem’s cost of living is below the national average. Combine that with the amenities the city offers: a bustling downtown, parks and greenways, live theater, a symphony and opera, the Children’s Museum and SciWorks, RiverRun film festival, Black Theatre Festival, museums like SECCA and Reynolda House, an arts district and Innovation Quarter – and you have a great city with small town appeal.
Being in the right city when starting a business is important for a more reasons than just how nice it is to live there. Chief among these factors is access – to talent, investors, office/manufacturing space, and training. Winston-Salem excels in these areas.
With four colleges/universities and a nationally recognized community college within the city limits, the Camel City is regularly attracting and producing top talent in fields as wide-ranging as medicine to the arts.
Access to funding is supported by a variety of banks, including locally based BB&T, providing small business loans, and entrepreneur funds such as the Piedmont Angel Network, providing investment funds.
Winston-Salem has high-quality office spaces all along the spectrum from co-working spaces to single occupancy buildings. There is also manufacturing space available in multiple locations around the city. The city boasts a great arts district with artists studios, and retail facilities downtown and throughout neighborhoods and shopping areas.
In addition to these necessities, there are multiple opportunities for training and mentorship available to entrepreneurs. Flywheel a co-working space located in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, regularly offers free and low-cost events and trainings for those seeking to start or expand a business. The Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech offers regular free ongoing business education, including assistance in creating business plans, peer mentors, and clinics. The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship in Greensboro offers a business incubator as well as SCORE mentoring programs. Winston-Salem Business Inc provides assistance to businesses desiring to re-locate or start here. The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce also provides assistance to entrepreneurs and established businesses, providing research, data, and networking opportunities as well as legislative and policy advocacy on behalf of business.
Allan Younger, Director of the Small Business Center at Forsyth Technical Community College, stresses the importance of both startup and ongoing business education. “All current and prospective small business owners should commit to on-going opportunities to enhance their skills. This is true whether they are considering starting a business, have recently started one, or have been in business for many years.”
If you are thinking of starting a business in Winston-Salem, be sure to click on the links provided above, and check into these upcoming opportunities to access some of the great supports offered to entrepreneurs:
The Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech
A variety of presentation-based educational opportunities. Topics include social media, marketing, starting a business, grant seeking/writing, and more. The expected outcome is the acquisition of business information.
Interactive discussions about a variety of topics such as customer engagement, networking, productivity, business growth, and more. The expected outcome is the acquisition of best practices leading to increased success.
These experiential learning opportunities allow business opportunities to practice their skills regarding presentation, business research, sales, LinkedIn, and more. Clinics are designed for repeated participation. The expected outcome is business skill development.
In addition to our face-to-face opportunities, online training is also offered. HP LIFE (Hewlet Packard Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs) is a free, online training program. HP LIFE is a global program that offers aspiring entrepreneurs and small business-owners valuable business skills. HP LIFE offers participants a path to realizing their business dreams. This program is self-paced, making it possible for more aspiring entrepreneurs to participate. It will help you gain the real-life business and technology skills you need to start or grow your business.
For more information, visit their website HERE to learn about various educational events. It only takes about two minutes to register for the opportunities of your choice.
An example of the events hosted by Flywheel at 525@Vine include:
Idea Tap is one part networking, one part pitch refinement, and a heap of startup support in one event! Presenters are selected in advance and have 5 minutes to pitch their startup. It can be an up-and-running company, the seeds of a someday-company, or an idea for a product—the stages of development are all over the map. With potential partners, investors and clients in the audience it’s a great opportunity to get feedback in a low pressure environment. Light snacks, drinks and great company provided!
Register to attend Idea Tap Tuesday, May 10th, from 5:30-7:30 HERE.
“How to Finance a Startup” featuring Troy Knauss, professor in the Wake Forest entrepreneurship program and one of the most successful investors in the region.
This course will provide an overview of what every founder needs to know about financing options, setting financial milestones and attracting investor capital. Learn how to get your startup investor-ready and what investors expect at seed and later stages of development. You can register for each session separately, or take the whole series at a discounted rate. More Info & Registration for these classes in June HERE.
Title III Crowdfunding Crash Course:
What entrepreneurs need to know before startup financing changes forever.
Starting May 16th, small investors will be able to purchase securities from startups through registered crowdfunding portals. This means that startups will have a whole new market of potential investors to woo. However, with this new opportunity comes a slew of new rules and regulations.This is a crash course in what you need to know as a small business owner who may be interested in using this revolutionary new form of financing.
Jon Mayhugh, attorney and clinical fellow with the Wake Forest Community Law and Business Clinic, will present from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday May 11th. This presentation is sponsored by Wake Forest University and the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. This course is free, but please RSVP if you plan on attending. Register to Attend HERE .