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BizReport : Ecommerce : June 14, 2017

Survey shows Southern US an SMB haven

There is new data out that shows small business owners in the south are more optimistic about their businesses. Not only that, but the data is an indicator that the south could be a haven of sorts for SMBs. We asked Vistaprint Digital why this is.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What makes the south a haven of sorts for small businesses?

D. Scott Bowen, VP & GM of Vistaprint Digital: There are some significant tax advantages in some southern states that make them attractive for small businesses, such as lack of sales tax or corporate tax. The cost of living in southern states is also much lower than other parts of the country, allowing entrepreneurs to have lower expenses and a greater opportunity for profit. A recent Vistaprint Digital customer survey found that the top five states with the most website builder users per capita were all in the south. While this data does not necessarily mean that the south is the best location to start a business, we have seen concentration in customers looking to grow their business through online channels there. Small business owners can be successful regardless of their locale - we have customers all over the country and the world who are thriving by taking an omni-channel approach to marketing.

Kristina: What things are southern SMB owners doing that northerners should adopt?

Bowen: It is evident in the results from our recent survey that small business owners in the south are certainly focusing on their digital marketing strategy by establishing and nurturing a website. Regardless of whether they have a brick-and-mortar location or are an online-only business, digital marketing is a core element of their strategy, as it allows business owners to create relationships with local customers as well as customers throughout the country. But, of course, small businesses can establish these relationships from any geography. It comes down to having a smart business plan and taking advantage of all the tools and resources available to effectively market to customers.

Kristina: Are these findings a bit of an anomaly or have you been watching this trends for a while?

Bowen: The South is known for its charm and it certainly has many alluring qualities for small business owners. It's not surprising that the recent MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index found nearly half of small businesses in the South (49%) said their local economy's health is "somewhat good or very good." Our internal data, which shows a high concentration of website builder customers in the south, reflects that optimism.

However, the truth is that small businesses can thrive in any climate if they act strategically. Again, no matter their home state, small business owners can take advantage of the right resources and tools to compete against their local market, southern counterparts, and even the big box stores. One of the most important factors for any small business to succeed, regardless of location, is an effective on- and offline marketing strategy that helps the company expand its reach and connect with audiences both inside and outside a local area.

Kristina: In your opinion, why do southern SMB owners believe their economy is stronger than that in the northern part of the US?

Bowen: While we don't have data to support this, one guess as to why small business owners in the south may believe their economy is stronger is because of their relative cost of living. The northeast and the West Coast are significantly more expensive locations in which to live and operate a business, so budgets and spending are two areas that are likely managed very differently in these parts of the country. It could be that the southern states believe their economy is stronger because they can spend less and get more. However, small business owners not located in the South should keep in mind that while factors like cost of living and tax regulation can seemingly provide a leg-up for businesses in certain states, there are plenty of affordable tools that put everyone on the same playing field when it comes to digital marketing.

Tags: small business trends, SMB trends, SMBS tips, VistaPrint Digital

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