Along with Paris and London, New York City is one of the world’s premier business destinations.
The prestige, the footfall and the lifestyle of working and living in New York can be hard to resist – particularly when you’re looking for a place to expand your business.
While the Big Apple is a great place to do business, it also has its unique challenges, particularly if you are expanding there from overseas. Here then are five crucial tips to help with successfully expanding your business to New York City.
Read up on rules & regulations
New York City is an extremely accommodating city for new or expanding businesses. However, it also has some some strict requirements that may impact on how and where you do business. Zoning regulations, environmental laws and the sheer density of property can all affect your proposed expansion, depending on the nature of your work.
Aspects that may require consultation or licensing include:
- Producing odours, smoke or other emissions
- Gathering upwards of 75 people indoors, or 200 outdoors
- Operating a high pressure air compressor
- Renovations to the inside or outside of the building
- Replacing or renovating the signage
- Hired security, guard dogs or firearms
- Operating commercial vehicles
Have a robust business plan
New York is a great place to do business, but it’s also a busy one. The city is huge, the startup ecosystem is strong, and things are hyper-competitive. If you can imagine a business, it probably exists somewhere in the sprawl of stores and skyscrapers.
The trick, then, is finding a niche that works for you. If your business sells a certain kind of product, you might look to diversify slightly, or shift the focus to a certain service. Conduct some basic market research, and consider what your prospective customers will be looking for and expecting. Your brand may be well-known elsewhere, but a move can present the opportunity for a fresh start, and a refresh of your brand image.
Before any potential move, you should strongly consider returning to and rewriting your business plan from scratch. This will give you the best possible idea of what you’re selling and what your goals are. Having clearly defined goals, targets and contingencies will also help you to highlight potential issues ahead of time – and give you something to fall back on if things go wrong.
Do the math
As one of the world’s most beloved destinations, New York can also be an expensive place to live and trade. As a result, it’s absolutely crucial that you calculate everything before you move, weighing up the various costs with your current earnings, expected earnings and worst-case scenarios.
Rent is particularly high in the city, and wages may be higher too, as a result of the general cost of living. Starting in the new year, the minimum wage in NYC will rise to $13, or $12 for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. This is due to rise year-on-year, too, so bear this in mind.
Some costs are also unique to New York, or relate to specific regulations that might not exist in other states. Costs that may be unique to or higher in New York City include:
- Pest control
- Sales tax on repairs
- Recycling and waste removal
- Disability benefits
- Acquiring permits
If you’re moving to the United States to set up your New York business, you may also wish to bring employees with you. There are a number of visas available, but these will depend on the industry you are involved in, with technology companies (or those looking to fgill tech based roles) having the easiest time. This post will give you a more comprehensive guide.
Make use of funds and grants
While New York can be expensive, there’s also a reason why it’s one of America’s startup hotbeds. Numerous provisions are made to attract and nurture small businesses, and your expansion may well be able to benefit from them. These include employee training grants starting at $10,000, and the Energy Cost Savings Program (ECSP) for cheaper utilities.
If you are a female entrepreneur or business owner, you might be applicable for the Contract Financing Loan Fund, offering substantial business loans at half the average rate of interest. The city has also set several targets to increase the number of minority and female-owned businesses. These include 30% of its contracts going to M/WBEs by 2021, the certification of 9000 such businesses, and the awarding of $16bn in grant funding.
New York isn’t quite Silicon Valley, but it’s barely lagging behind when it comes to investment. Venture capitalists, angel investors and seed accelerators are all present in force in the city, constituting 36% of all business investments in the US. VentureMap NYC offers an interactive map of these investors, who will be of particular interest to expanding tech companies,
Consider your location
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably decided that the benefits of moving to New York City outweigh any risks. However, do you know which part of the city you want to move to? The metropolitan area is enormous, and spans far beyond the glitzy confines of Manhattan.
It’s worth thinking about exactly what your business offers, and what kind of space you need to accomplish your goals when expanding. If you’re contingent on heavy footfall, then a central location may be best.
But think about what your product offering is, and who you’re targeting it at. Can you sell it quickly enough to cover your costs, or is it something that requires demonstration and a harder sell? Are you aiming to sell primarily to residents, businesses, or tourists?
Business types that are more contingent on the cachet of being in New York, rather than the people of New York, may want to base themselves in one of the cheaper boroughs, further out from the city. You may even consider investing in a virtual office, and focusing your bricks and mortar expansion on a more modest city location.
As the founder of Start An American Company.com, Heather Landau has honed her skills in service advisory from the pragmatic to the practical. With 25 years’ combined experience in international marketing and business development, Heather is a leading voice on company formation in the U.S., and operates similar services in Europe and the rest of the world.