How to Start a Business in a New City: 10 Steps to Follow

It sounds overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to start a business in a new city

Starting a business can be extremely exciting: you’re putting in the effort, day in and day out, and watching an idea you had for a product or service come to life. And, as you begin to find your audience, you watch people start to embrace and endorse the very thing you fought so hard to create.

As rewarding as that may be, however, launching a business is no walk in the park. Ask anyone who’s ever done it!

So, whether you’ve recently relocated to a new city and you’re looking to start a business, or you’d like to launch your business in a different state than the one you live in, read on: these are 10 steps you’ll need to bear in mind to make the process a little bit easier.

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with local laws

Even if you’re already running a business or have started a business in the past, doing the same thing in a different state can differ significantly.

Depending on your situation (whether this is your very first venture or you’re looking to operate in multiple locations), you need to familiarize yourself with the kinds of business licenses and permits you’ll need in the state you intend to work out of.

You’ll eventually need to register your business with the Secretary of State, decide who your company’s registered agent will be (if you yourself are not moving there), trademark any logos and slogans, and understand state-specific tax rates and tax filing requirements.


If another limited liability company or corporation is already using the legal business name you had intended to use, you’ll need to register your business under a fictitious name.

Step 2: Explore local resources

This refers to exploring private investors and mentors alike. Setting up your business and operating in a new location can come with a set of challenges you haven’t had to grapple with before, even if you’re no stranger to entrepreneurship.

Before you take any next steps, consider what type of support you’re going to need, and then look into startup incubators in your new area, explore potential ways to fund your project, or join a local chamber of commerce.

Bear in mind that, while this will not be the case every time, some lenders prefer to only fund projects within their local area.

Step 3: Research potential partners

Depending on the type of business you intend to run, you may require collaborators in your new area. This could include suppliers, technology partners, distributors, and more.

It’s a good idea to start this process early, as you will want to start contacting your leads and discussing the terms to potential agreements. The more options you explore, the better, as you’ll be able to compare different proposals and ensure that you’re getting the best possible value at the most reasonable price.

Step 4: Identify relevant local platforms

Interacting with a local audience successfully can make all the difference in determining the outcome of your efforts. Depending on the type of product or service you’ll be offering, try to identify appropriate channels to establish an online presence in and get the word out.

For example, if you’re going to be operating out of a physical location, make use of community job boards, local real estate marketplaces and Facebook groups to find office spaces or shops to rent, announce your arrival in this new area, and attract local talent for potential hiring.

Step 5: Analyze local competitors

You may be a leader in your niche back in your hometown, but the same may not apply in a different state. As competition can differ greatly from place to place, it’s important to know who — and what — you’re up against.

Knowing what your competitors are offering will allow you to differentiate yourself from them, turning the spotlight onto what makes you and your service unique.

If this process is new to you, these are the main points you’ll want to investigate where your competitors and their offerings are concerned:

  • Key features of their products
  • Price range
  • Marketing tactics
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Audience
  • Your main differentiators

Step 6: Understand the local economy

In order to get the pricing of your product or service right in a new state, you have to understand the local economy. Knowing how much money the average person makes (within your target audience, that is) and how much they would therefore be willing to pay for a product like yours is essential in striking the right balance between being profitable and remaining competitive.

If your business requires you to hire staff, you’ll also have to consider the salary ranges you’ll be offering for each position.

Step 7: Finalize your business plan

Once you’ve carried out your research and given your next steps careful thought, it’s important to add your findings to your business plan.

An analysis of your (potential) local customers, industry and competitors should be included in your business plan, as it will help inform your actions. And, the clearer you are about your next steps, target milestones and any potential challenges you may find along the way, the easier it will be to stay on track and also convince potential investors to help fund your business.

Step 8: Apply for licenses and permits

According to the US Small Business Administration, you’ll most likely need a combination of state and federal licenses and permits to operate your business. This (and the accompanying fees) will vary depending on your business activities.

Some types of business activities commonly regulated at the local level include restaurants and retail shops. Meanwhile, there are specific federal agencies that issue licenses and permits depending on the type of business, such as the US Department of Transportation, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Step 9: Expand your network

Networking is as essential to business owners as it is to jobseekers. When relocating a business, your professional contacts can help spread the word, share advice and even give you a few pointers for living in the area if you’re also moving there.

The US Chamber of Commerce shares the following advice for networking with fellow entrepreneurs:

Step 10: Spread the word

Social media and online advertising can be of immense use when moving your business to a new state or starting one from scratch. It’s one of the most immediate, cost-effective ways to promote your product, especially if you crack the (sometimes elusive) code of organic reach.

Knowing your target audience will help you select the most appropriate platforms and posting times to reach the people you want and share details about what you do, as well as teasers for your upcoming grand opening.

Continuing to make strategic use of marketing campaigns even after you’ve launched your business can increase and maintain healthy traffic to your website or actual foot traffic to your location.

Final thoughts

Starting a business in a new city requires far more work than ringing up a few moving companies and shipping your things across. It takes detailed planning (which, as we’ve seen, won’t be limited to calculating moving costs), as well as patience, time, and a bit of trial and error.

However, a move to a new location might end up proving to be just what you need, both in terms of improving your own quality of life and growing your business.

Can you think of any more tips to share with other business owners looking to relocate? Let us know in the comments section below!