The Secret to Any Startup’s Success

November 11, 2015, 4:16 PM UTC
Courtesy of Vanderbloemen Search Group

The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How important is it for startups to be in Silicon Valley?” is written by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

Silicon Valley is the current darling of entrepreneurs. It’s where the tech sector has soared, the great IPO stories are forged, and it even has an HBO show named after it. Although the Valley may appear to be ideal, entrepreneurs often overlook an essential formula that contributes to determining the best location for their businesses.

Can the location be a home to your business’s cause?
For years, homebuyers have been advised to first consider three crucial factors in selecting a home: location, location, location. Business owners would do well to think the same way, especially by adding an ingredient: cause. Put those two together, and you’ll find that success comes easier.

I’ve learned that Silicon Valley isn’t always the perfect location for every entrepreneur. The best startups aren’t about the “how” of a business, but about the “why.” Every business starts as a cause, and I’m convinced that the cause is the secret sauce to a startup’s success. The founder needs to identify his or her cause, and do everything he or she can to protect it. Part of that process is placing the startup in a sort of petri dish that will be a natural growth environment for the cause.

See also: The One Myth Keeping Entrepreneurs From Success

Our business is a pastor search firm, helping churches and faith-based organizations find their key staff. I wish I could say that I studied the country and made a strategic decision to place our office in Houston, but the truth is, I just happened to live here.

In hindsight, I can see the factors that led to a consistently high-growth company. Being located in Houston has been a critical factor. It’s an incubator for new business. Ours was not only a new business, but also a new idea. Had I chosen someplace more staid, we might not have made it, and had I chosen Silicon Valley, it’s true that I might have received the same benefits as I do in Houston. However, there are a lot of other factors in the Houston equation that beat the Valley, hands down.

Does your location serve your clients well?
Houston is in the heart of the Bible Belt, so working with churches isn’t a foreign idea and is generally seen as a good thing. That has helped me recruit locally, and we’ve grown quickly as a result. There are far fewer churches in the Bay Area, where church isn’t the norm, and that could’ve made getting our startup running much harder. Because our “why” matches the intrinsic values of Houston, we are in a natural petri dish for growth.

Serving our cause means being near churches. Houston wins in that category by a long shot. Centrally located, our consultants can make a day trip to a very large percentage of churches in the country, effectively reaching more clients. This wouldn’t be the case if we were isolated on the East or West Coast.

Does your location serve your employees well?
Houston is incredibly affordable, which is essential to our work. Because we are cause-based, we can’t hand out lots of “mega salaries.” If we were in the Bay area, many of our people wouldn’t be able to afford to live without heavy financial stress, and attracting talent would be much more difficult.

The list could go on and on. I happened to fall into the right place at the right time. But the lesson I’ve learned is that startups need to consider the cause—the “why”—and fight tooth and nail to start in an area that will be conducive to that cause’s survival and growth.

When considering where to house your startup, don’t focus on the shiny Silicon Valley. Instead, focus on this equation: cause + location = success. It could make all the difference.


Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question:How important is it for startups to be in Silicon Valley?

The One Thing That Can Drag Your Company Down by Suneera Madhani, founder and CEO of Fattmerchant.

The One Thing More Important Than Being in Silicon Valley by Mollie Spilman, chief revenue officer at Criteo.

The Biggest Downside of Moving to Silicon Valley by Allison Berliner, founder and CEO of Cataluv.

What Virgin Mobile’s Cofounder Wants You to Know About Silicon Valley by Amol Sarva, cofoundera of Virgin Mobile USA and developer of East of East.

The Silicon Valley Myth: Proof Your Startup Can Thrive Elsewhere by Fayez Mohamood, cofounder and CEO of Bluecore.

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