As a business builder, I was apprehensive about relocating my business to the Central Coast 13 years ago. Coming from Atlanta, where I had a strong foundation of relationships, I wondered about the business climate of a college town, particularly if I would have access to like-minded entrepreneurial individuals. I quickly discovered a few Central Coast nuances during my path to success that differed from those in a larger urban area.
There are four distinct aspects to evaluate as you build a profitable, sustainable business in San Luis Obispo. I call these the 4 Ps of not just surviving, but thriving in this unique business climate.
The first P is People.
Many people who chose to live here had to create their own businesses to support themselves since our area lacks large employers. This generated an amazing community of driven entrepreneurs who value building their business as much as they value maintaining a high quality of life. You may find individuals surfing or mountain biking first, before attending to their business’ needs. Volunteering occurs in immense levels here; if you want to thrive, volunteer in one of the 1,000 non-profits in our community to do some good and also connect with business leaders.
Population is the second unique aspect of this community.
Because of our population’s low-density (which is why people love it here), you need to think differently about how you grow your business. An expanded geographic reach may play into your marketing or sales plans, and you may find the need to grow your market throughout our county, and even into neighboring counties. Many local firms have multiple presences in San Luis Obispo county as well as those to the north, south and east.
Next is profit, the ultimate output for businesses.
You will need a strategic plan to ensure a solid return on your business. Find the balance in your budget between paying head-of-household salaries for housing affordability and higher costs of certain goods and services. Also, evaluate if you can automate or streamline your operations to manage against the sometimes-limited employee pool.
Lastly, patience is required.
You need patience for the planning and building processes, patience with the number of flights in and out of San Luis Obispo, patience with the pace of business and patience with locating the right employees. Sometimes, you may want to move quicker, but you need to realize that the pace is actually a healthy component of the Central Coast quality of life.
The Bottom Line
Bring your desire, ideas and work ethic to create or move a business to the Central Coast. You will find a receptive, open and strong business community driven by success. Is it perfect? No, but no community is – yet, the business community here shows a willingness to overcome any obstacle or challenge that prevents businesses from thriving while also maintaining our great quality of life.