Are you doing your part to help speed climate change?
I hope so. You can’t just sit around and pray that everything works out.
You need to get involved.
Maybe you’ve been told that climate change is a bad thing.
Not in this case.
That’s because the kind of climate change I’m talking about has nothing to do with displaced polar bears or Swedish teen activists. It’s not about record heat waves or sea level rise.
The kind of climate change I’m interested in is less about global warming and more about the local economy.
I’m talking about changing your business climate.
Business climate is broadly (and blandly) defined as the “general economic environment comprising of the attitude of the government and lending institutions toward businesses and business activity.”
In simpler terms, business climate is the overall measure of how easy it is for companies to operate profitably in your city or county.
In the MOST simple terms: Are you part of the problem? Or part of the solution?
Favorable business climates lower risks, reduce costs and connect companies to customers and quality workers. Unfavorable business climates do the opposite.
If you frequently hear complaints about high taxes, excessive regulations and poor communication… I’m sorry, but you’ve got your work cut out for you.
The good news is that your business climate is not a fixed item. It’s not an immovable force.
Your business climate is an economic engine with moving parts that you can learn to repair, tune and upgrade yourself.
Of course, some factors will be out of your hands (or above your pay grade).
Legislation and regulation, tax rates, and state and federal incentives are changed by the slow-moving machinery of political bodies. Major changes to infrastructure take time and can happen at an almost glacial pace.
My suggestion? Don’t wait around for politicians and government agencies to make things happen.
Do everything you can with what you have.
If you’re willing to take a proactive approach to improving your business climate, even the smallest changes can make a big difference.
Here are five ways to build a better business climate:
When it comes to workforce, think bigger. Don’t put all your eggs into one Millennial basket. Don’t settle for a single pipeline that leads from community college to the skilled trades job market. Expand your workforce efforts to help retirees, veterans and stay-at-home entrepreneurs. Or skew younger and start the career conversation with programs in elementary and middle school. When it comes to growing your talent pool, the more the merrier!
Don’t forget about quality of life. Business is done by companies. Companies are run by people. And people like to live in places that are fun and interesting. It may not seem like BBQ restaurants, music festivals or bike trails have much to do with a healthy business climate, but everything is connected. Think about what people want to do outside of the 9-to-5.
Nobody likes red tape. You can’t snap your fingers and make every rule and regulation disappear. You can’t clear all the hurdles and eliminate every obstacle. But you CAN make the process easier for people who are trying to do business. You can make it easier to apply for permits. You can build a website or an app that saves time and trouble. You can be a more helpful human being and deliver killer customer service with consistency throughout the entire process. Business-friendly beats bureaucracy every single time.
Infrastructure is essential. With the exception of certain James Bond bad guys, nobody can do business completely cut off from society. Infrastructure is a key part of building a favorable business climate. Roads. Utilities. Wireless networks. Police, fire and EMS. Schools. You need to have the basics in place to make an economy work.
Micro-manage your money. Big tax breaks and corporate incentives steal all the headlines. But, depending on what study you read, incentives aren't necessarily all they’re cracked up to be in closing deals. And many don’t actually benefit the locality who provided those corporate incentives.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to show up with a dump truck full of cash to be seen as “business-friendly.” Great business climates offer a wider range of options when it comes to capital. Work with local banks, investment groups and existing companies to come up with creative ways to help finance smaller startups and business expansions. For a one-person cookie company ready to move out of their garage, a $10,000 loan might feel like a million bucks.