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When you start a new business, it’s important to branch out and integrate with your local community. Your friends and neighbors are not only potential customers but also collaborators and brand ambassadors. Here are some tips for forming a successful new business and connections.

Establishment

Before you head out and begin to shake hands, it’s important to get the fundamentals of your business right. If you’ve recently moved to the area, it’s important to ensure that all of your paperwork is in order - this means setting up your business structure, bank account, registering for taxes, securing web domains, applying for licenses & permits, calculating financial projections and, of course,
writing a solid business plan. Some of these are regional-specific (for example, business structure) meaning you’ll need to observe state regulations during proceedings.

A business plan is crucial for attracting investment in your business and for its long-term ambitions. You can use this document to structure, run and grow your business - detailing the company, its mission, competitors, structure, products, and financial requirements. There are plenty of resources online to help you nail down this important step.

Networking

Once you’re legal, the next step is to get the word out. It might fall outside of your comfort zone but going out and networking in person is still an important part of establishing yourself in the local community. A simple introduction goes a long way but it helps to go a step further. By giving a hand at community events, for example, you can contribute to a cause whilst developing a report with
potential business prospects. Or, by sharing your services, you’ll be getting the word out about your business and lending help to those who need it.

Almost as important as your physical presence is your digital one. Take the time to reach out and connect with those in your local community via social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin. You may find it helps to join some of the local groups and just engage in conversations/introduce yourself (although it helps not to make discussions so business-centric).

Marketing

Even with the word out, promoting your business takes precedence if you want to establish yourself in the minds of your local community. Marketing can help with this and encompasses everything from designing a standout logo to paying for advertisement. Often, it’s a good idea to start small with placements in local newspapers, free samples in other shops, sponsoring local events, or even hiring out nearby billboards. The key here is to get yourself as thoroughly involved as possible.

If you have the budget, you may also decide it makes sense to pay for online pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns or with Google placements. Digital marketing is one of the most cost-efficient ways to promote your business and it can help you to expand your reach across the whole community and beyond. Especially in sparsely populated areas of the country, it can be difficult to get eyes on your product but with smartphones and social media, you can tactically place your brand in a digital space where it’s bound to be seen.

In business, having the locals on your side is an advantage that is difficult to measure. If anything goes wrong or if you need a helping hand, you can be sure that your neighbors have your back. Just make sure that whatever goodwill you receive is reciprocated.

Author: Linda Chase of AbleHire.org. Able Hire's Mission is "Helping people with disabilities build rewarding, successful careers."

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