Being a successful entrepreneur requires access to capital, a strong team, and the right marketing strategy. It also requires a deep understanding of your market, which often means conducting your own in-depth research and connecting with experts and entrepreneurs in your industry.
Though necessary, it’s exhausting catching flights around the world just to participate in the entrepreneurial scene. If you’re serious about making connections, you may want to consider moving to a location where you can meet up locally on the fly – like Chicago.
In recent years, Chicago has become a major hub for the entrepreneurial scene, so here are 3 reasons to consider making the move:
1. Chicago’s entrepreneurial scene is thriving
While other startup hubs attract entrepreneurs who want to play around with an extravagant lifestyle, Chicago attracts entrepreneurs with a “get it done” attitude. Chicago entrepreneurs reject the “fail fast, fail often” premise popular in the Valley. Instead of the shotgun approach, Chicago entrepreneurs don’t waste a dime of venture capital. They find paying customers to validate their business ideas.
“Whereas Silicon Valley attracts the most brilliant technologists, and New York City attracts those who value big living and opulence, Chicago attracts the get-shit-done, no-nonsense leaders,” says tech entrepreneur and Chicago native Yazin Akkawi. “It’s a big city with a small town feel, and its culture is based in values of hard work, discipline, and dedication.”
According to Yazin, most Chicago-based companies have the highest venture capital returns in the US. PitchBook found that 81% of Chicago exits had a 3-10x return – 10% higher than Silicon Valley.
2. Chicago is an affordable place to live
As an entrepreneur, your cost of living should be low enough that you’re not going into debt just to pay the rent. If you’ve been avoiding buying a home because you live in an expensive area, Chicago would make a great place for your first homestead.
Said to have a housing marketing with the best bargains, Chicago offers the second-largest supply of starter homes. According to Zillow economist Skylar Olsen, “If your goal is to slow down, buy a home and stay there for a while, this is a metro area where places are still affordable.”
Compared to other startup hubs like Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and New York City, Chicago is not only affordable, but you get more square footage for your money, even when you rent.
Buying a new home is affordable, too
If you’ve got a bit more capital to play with you don’t have to rent – you can buy. For instance, homebuilder Taylor Morrison offers affordable homes in some of the most popular areas of Chicago for the same price you’d expect to pay for a house already on the market. They’re a trusted builder and have been recognized by the independent market research firm Lifestory Research for three years in a row.
3. Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) has a Chicago chapter
If you aren’t familiar with EO, you should be. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is “a global peer-to-peer network of more than 12,000+ influential business owners with 170 chapters in 53 countries,” according to their website. “Founded in 1987, EO is the catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, leading to greater success in business and beyond.”
If you’re already a thriving business with at least $1 million in annual revenue, you can become a member. Members are offered exclusive benefits that help them achieve personal success as well as positively impact others and make their mark on the world.
Go where the support is
Although millions of startups are launched each year, 80% are destined to disappear within two years. Competition is fierce. There are obstacles to overcome, and financial challenges to meet. As an entrepreneur, you’ll find unparalleled support from likeminded entrepreneurs you can connect with in person.
It’s not easy being an entrepreneur. Sometimes it requires sacrificing more than you planned, but for those who make it work, it’s a sweet experience.