Starting a business takes a lot of hard work. You’re creating something from nothing and building it up piece by piece. But sometimes, mistakes are made along the way due to various factors, including inexperience in business, the industry or local methods. San Francisco, for example, has a number of region-specific peculiarities to a growing local business that many founders might not know from the start.
Unless you have experience in starting a business in San Francisco (or know someone who has) these insights might be new to you. In order to start a business in San Francisco that is optimized for success, we asked members of the Forbes San Francisco Business Council to explain their favorite local business hacks and how it has helped them expand their company. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Create win-win situations.
Cultivating win-win situations is my favorite, which a lot of times might involve going out of the way to build a relationship. An example is co-marketing and co-branding opportunities. We are currently in the process of building co-marketing partnerships with regional businesses, as well as some geographically diverse businesses to create strong network effects. – Nishant Aggarwal, BlueWander
2. Make friends in your industry.
When you’re just starting out, create allies with your competitors and friends in the industry. This is one way to make sales initially and build based on word-of-mouth. Then, you can focus on expanding to other areas once you have built the initial customer roster. This will help you keep expectations with your investors as well. Focus on expanding to other customers as you receive feedback. – Sweta Patel, Startup Growth Mode
3. Find a focused crowd to work among.
Instead of a traditional co-working setting, aim to establish a workplace at an incubator. This increases your chances of working among like-minded businesses and entrepreneurs in the same industry. It also opens you up to accessing experts and professionals, such as investors or service professionals with experience in your sector and whose advice will be more directly relevant to you. – Vic Shao, AMPLY Power
4. Experiment until you find the right path.
I think it’s important to keep in mind that “hacking” growth is really important at all stages of a company. By “hacking,” I simply mean experimenting rapidly to find the most effective paths to market. Building and testing ways to reach more people who need your product faster and easier is the function of a growth team, an increasingly important role within technology companies. – Cameron Jacox, Lark Technologies, Inc.
5. Leverage search engine optimization.
The best way we’ve been able to expand our business and clientele has been through optimizing search. It’s how clients look for partners; if you’ve leveraged search engine optimization (SEO), clients come to you. We get 90% of our new business leads now through SEO and have worked for nearly 20 years to optimize our online results with daily, fresh content, real backlinks, a robust blog and more. – David Landis, Landis Communications Inc. (LCI)
6. Don’t be afraid to hire outside of San Francisco.
San Francisco is the best and worst talent market; you can find amazing people, but you’re competing with top tech companies for that talent. My advice: Be comfortable hiring a distributed team, and be thoughtful about which positions should be in San Francisco versus in other areas. If a particular role doesn’t require the person to be in San Francisco, post the job without a specific location, and see who applies. – Zach Supalla, Particle