During a pleasant lunch at the Petroleum Club, I noticed three things from my seat 12 floors above the city: How flat Bakersfield is. I noticed how many trees adorn our city and how the dust clouds congregate along the hills on every side.
I jokingly commented to a friend sitting at the next table, "Isn't it nice how the dust obscures those unsightly mountains?"
Despite the dust, this is a pretty friendly place to live and do business. There's enough green to pay the bills, but over time you realize that sales remain pretty flat. To really grow your business, you need to pass through those dust clouds that obscure your vision and overcome the mountainous barriers that stand in your way.
I sat with Mike Ross, a locally born stockbroker with ties to investment bankers in Silicon Valley. As the server tempted us with the dessert menu, I recalled seeing a bit on TV where a girl had over-nighted a banana split to her boyfriend across the country. It wasn't a joke, either. The ice cream arrived appetizing and ready to eat the next day.
With trucks, rail, air-freight, telephone and internet communication links, there is very little to keep us from doing business anywhere in the world. We can connect with experts, bankers and suppliers using social networking sites like . The real barrier is our own dusty vision.
Often a little altitude can help us see reality more clearly. Again the Internet offers perspective without leaving your seat. Using GoogleEarth.com you can pan out from our parochial town and see the world around us. Biggestuscities.com will show the closest cities by size. If you can make money here, you should be able to earn a similar amount in a city of similar size.
What the Internet can't readily do is introduce you to customers in the new city in sufficient quantities to make the money you do here. The way investment banks access new customers in new cities is through acquisition. For the small business owner, an investment bank may be out of reach, but you can research businesses to buy, by city and type, on Internet sites like BizBuySell.com and Sunbeltnetwork.com. Acquiring a business is the fastest and least risky way of increasing sales exponentially and the seller will often finance your purchase.
You may never find a friendlier place to do business, but you can find more green if you look past the dust.
, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors; the views expressed here are his own.