Best Cities for Entrepreneurs – an Historical Perspective

start a business - entrepreneurs - startups

When I first founded this site, Small Business Trends, back in 2003, I published the piece below as my first article. I’ve kept this page as a historical reference for that reason. I’ve also kept it as a historical record of a past list of best cities for entrepreneurs.

If you’re looking for a more recent list of best cities, check out our Best Places lists hub.  We regularly update the Best Places hub page with lists from various sources.

I’d like to share two quick perspectives about how to think about best places lists. Looking back after 15 years of covering them on this site, I see some people take them as absolute truth, cast in stone. Instead, here is how I look at lists of best cities or locations.

First, lists of best places have become somewhat overused in recent years.  Sometimes lists from two different sources will wildly conflict. Take them with a grain of salt.

Second, there’s still value in best places lists — regardless of overuse. Why? Mostly to see the factors considered.  You can learn something from the reasoning behind why a particular place made the list.

What you learn has a clarifying effect.  It helps you identify what’s important to you. It opens up possibilities beyond your current circumstances.

Remember, though, successful businesses are everywhere. In the United States or across the world – startups are being founded in rural areas, suburban enclaves, farms and ranches, small towns and big cities. Most startup entrepreneurs and small business owners I know try to spot opportunities in their own backyards whenever possible.

Treat best places lists as additional data points.  And nothing more.

— Anita Campbell, Founder of Small Business Trends

Original “BEST CITIES FOR ENTREPRENEURS” Article as of 2003

According to a report in Entrepreneur Magazine, the top ten cities for entrepreneurs in the United States are:

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Washington, DC
  • Atlanta
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Salt Lake City
  • West Palm Beach
  • Norfolk
  • Miami
  • Charlotte
  • Orlando

Makes you wish you lived in one of these cities, doesn’t it?

However, successful small businesses exist in every city. So don’t let lists like this interfere with your perseverance. Good business owners find opportunity in their own back yards.


Note to readers: Yes, that’s all of it. The original piece was only 75 words! I was just thrilled to be able to publish so fast. I originally posted this on my old Blogger site. A year and a half later in 2005 we moved to WordPress and this domain. This piece was last updated January 1, 2019. 

More in:

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.