Start a Business: Why Choose Denver
by Dominic Basulto, contributing writer
Over the past several years, Denver has emerged as one of the top cities in the nation to start a new business. In survey after survey, Denver scores highly for its fast growing economy, pro-business climate, and dedication to helping entrepreneurs launch new businesses. Forbes magazine, for example, recently named Denver “Best City To Do Business,” while the Kauffman Foundation Index for Startup Activity named Denver the No. 2 city in the entire nation for new startups.
Government support for new startups
One of the biggest factors supporting Denver as a top city for small business is the phenomenal amount of support provided by both the state and city. Under Governor John Hickenlooper, the state overhauled the rules for starting and registering a business. As a result, there’s much less red tape and bureaucracy involved in starting a new company in Denver than in other cities. And if you do encounter issues with getting the right permit or the right license, you can work directly with the Small Business Development Center Network to resolve that problem.
In a recent CNBC op-ed, in fact, Gov. Hickenlooper outlined all the reasons why Colorado is the best city for small business. (And Hickenlooper should know – before he became Denver mayor and then Colorado governor, he was one of the co-founders of the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver). During his tenure as governor (2011-2019), Colorado made extensive efforts to make small business a centerpiece of the state economy. As a result, 97 percent of all businesses in the state are small businesses. Thanks to initiatives such as the Colorado Innovation Network, it’s easier than ever before for entrepreneurs to collaborate around ideas, talent and capital. Other cities might have great talent or ready access to capital, but it is the combination of both that really makes Denver stand out.
Private sector support for new startups
And it’s not just the government getting behind small business growth in Denver – it’s also the private sector. There’s a good reason why Denver routinely shows up on the lists of the best cities for startups – it has a vibrant co-working scene, a number of startup campuses, and an even greater number of accelerators, incubators and networking organizations. If you have an idea for a business – whether it’s a coffee shop, a restaurant, a retail store or a software company – it’s likely that you can find someone to support your business.
In one survey, Denver ranked No. 9 overall in terms of its small business lending climate. In general, access to capital – one of the true keys to success for a DIY entrepreneurial venture – is easier to find in Denver than in just about any other U.S. city.
Strong local economy and good future growth prospects
Denver also has a very diversified economy. Unlike other cities, which might be very dependent on a certain industry or a certain type of company, Denver has a very diverse startup ecosystem. No matter what type of company you are looking to create, you can tap into the insights and experience of other business leaders. You can also tap into online resources such as My Business Coach, which includes coaching advice, mentoring and plenty of business tools for the first-time entrepreneur.
Colorado’s economy is routinely ranked among the Top 5 state economies in the nation. And, as an added bonus, Colorado has one of the lowest state income tax rates in the nation and very low unemployment rates in cities like Denver. Both of these factors help to create very vibrant conditions for starting, launching and growing a business. The relatively low tax rates mean that you will be keeping even more of what you make, and you’ll be able to reinvest that money into the long-term success of your business.
Low cost of living and high quality of life
Of course, starting a business in Denver is even more satisfying, due to the high quality of life. If you’re an entrepreneur, in how many other cities can you hold afternoon strategy sessions with a stunning backdrop of the Colorado Rockies? Where else can you live and work in close proximity to the Great Outdoors, in the form of skiing, hiking, rock climbing, camping and rafting adventures?
At the same time, Denver has a relatively low cost of living, as measured by the cost of housing, transportation, and daily living expenses. You can really stretch your dollars further in Denver, and that really leads to a DIY mentality, where bootstrapping a company to future financial success is easier than in other cities.
The Denver entrepreneurial spirit
Once you’ve spent a week or more in Denver, you’ll start to appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit of the city. Maybe it’s the clean mountain air, but there really is a sense of DIY optimism in Denver, a real sense that anything is possible. Your peers will be not just business leaders, but also mountain climbers, skiers and outdoor enthusiasts unafraid to blaze new trails.
That entrepreneurial spirit translates into a number of practical, real-world advantages for new startup founders. For example, Built in Colorado is a hub for Colorado startups, profiling all of the amazing companies being built in Denver as well as other cities such as Boulder and Ft. Collins. There are plenty of Denver-area tech startups that are included as part of Built in Colorado, covering just about every vertical or industry possible, including those related to food and beverage, healthcare, software, travel and retail e-commerce. So if you have an idea for a new mobile or Internet company, you can build it in Denver.
Starting a business in Denver
As you can see, there are a number of significant advantages to starting and launching a new business in Denver, CO. Most importantly, there is strong support for new ventures at both the state and city level, as well as a robust, thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs within the Denver metropolitan area. If you’re thinking of starting a new DIY entrepreneurial venture, Denver should definitely be at the top of your list of potential cities.