When it comes to choosing a business location, it pays to look beyond the obvious.
Megacities might seem the obvious place to grow a business, but they do come with down-sides. Happily, there are several attractive alternatives if you know where to look.
How much does location matter? If you’re a producer of Champagne or Parmesan cheese, you've obviously got to be 'in the zone'. But what about the rest of us?
Now that technology lets us work from anywhere, is the location of your business irrelevant?
The rise of the megacity
Despite an increase in remote working, our cities are attracting more people and businesses than ever. There are now 31 cities — megacities — with a population of over 10 million. In 2012 there were only 23. And this rapid cityward migration is showing no signs of slowing.
If our businesses are now location-neutral, why do we all seem to want to operate from the same few places? And that includes tech companies – the very people we might expect to buck the trend.
Lessons from Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is proof that bringing related companies together can be good for business. But this famous success story also has a less optimistic sub-plot. The population boom here has shifted the balance of supply and demand in jobs and housing. The result is a region labelled by Business Insider UK as "unaffordable even for software engineers".
Beyond the megacity
Megacity inflation can be seen closer to home too. London is now impossibly expensive for many, causing more and more businesses to look for opportunities outside the capital. The savings on offer are substantial. The cost of living in Manchester or Glasgow is 35% lower than that of London.
Investment across the board
That's not to say that these 'standard' cities aren’t keeping up. Manchester has just doubled its infrastructure fund. Glasgow is leading the way in technology-driven growth, thanks to a £24 million investment from Innovate UK. For those looking to find a balance between urban infrastructure and out-of-town convenience, this is it.
MoneyDashboard's success story
Edinburgh's tech start-up scene has shown that you don't need a heaving metropolis to attract investment and build products.
We've got people from all over Europe, Asia and America. They're drawn to Edinburgh, and they stay here because they fall in love with it.
Steve Tigar, CEO MoneyDashboard
"Edinburgh's very much on the map for VCs", says Steve Tigar, CEO of MoneyDashboard. Despite not being located in a megacity, Steve found it easy to get the people he needs.
"We're fortunate to have a deep talent pool, and a constant pipeline of people coming through from the universities. And our workforce is international: we've got people from all over Europe, Asia and America. They're drawn to Edinburgh, and stay here because they fall in love with it."
Making the destination decision for yourself
When vetting locations for your overseas expansion, it's essential to look beyond the usual suspects. Many of the world's smaller cities offer the collaborative culture of Silicon Valley, but with an infinitely more affordable price tag. They combine opportunities, infrastructure and work-life balance.
Yet more proof that going against the grain gives you a competitive advantage.
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