Utah ranked #1 state for small businesses

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Utah surpassed its previous fourth place ranking in Thumbtack.com’s annual survey, ranking No. 1 in the nation for small business friendliness for 2013.

The Small Business Friendliness Survey is a nationwide survey that collected data from 7,766 small businesses. Utah moved up from last year’s ranking because of its business-friendly regulations and growth initiatives.

Tamara Masters, a business management professor, said the number of students going into business in Utah, as well as the quality education received, are contributing factors.

“I’m impressed with the level of skill and knowledge they come out with here at BYU, as well as students from other schools that I’ve ran into,” Masters said.

She also said there is a good work ethic in Utah and large levels of creativity. She said the government has also done a lot legislatively to make it friendly for small businesses. And the economic climate in Utah, with the high unemployment rate, helps consumers be more willing to spend more money on things.

Leslie Henderson has owned J Mart in Spanish Fork with her husband since 1962. Starting as a newspaper, the business has evolved to a copy center, with digital and offset printing. Henderson said their business appeals to people because they do small and large jobs.

“It’s a little business on a hometown main street and it’s really hard for small businesses to make it in that aspect,” Henderson said. “We’ve been here for so long because we’re established.”

People looking to start businesses in Utah don’t have years to establish themselves, so they need to be smart. Kristi Welch, owner of Karma, a boutique in Pleasant Grove, started her business in 2008. She said starting any kind of business is a risk and it helps to have business experience.

“I have a degree and I had been working in the corporate world working for over 10 years doing branding and marketing for a company,” Welch said. “I think without any business background it would be more challenging.”

Welch said advertising her business was difficult at first because she wasn’t Facebook savvy, so she relied a lot on word of mouth to spread the word. She said it helps that communities in Utah are tied closely together because of the prevalence of religion in the area.

“I call it (Karma) crazy blessed because I can hardly keep up with it,” Welch said.

She did some initial research when she came to the area and found what kind of prices would attract customers, making sure she didn’t make her products under or over-priced. One thing she has had a hard time with is competing with chain stores, which attract families with deals.

Welch’s advice for people thinking to start a business is to focus on simple goals and start a business you love. She said if you try to do too many things at once it will be more challenging.

“If we promise too much, sometimes we can over promise and under deliver,” Welch said.

Though ranked the No. 1 state for small businesses, Utah was followed by Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Texas, with the lowest rated states being Illinois, California, Hawaii, Maine and Rhode Island. For more information on the survey go to: http://www.thumbtack.com/survey#2013/states

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