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The idea of opening your own business may seem intimidating. But for teacher-turned-entrepreneur Lisa Burton, who moved from Wisconsin to Texas with her husband, having the dream of being self-employed made it attainable. Her advice to those who are determined to start a business is to choose one that is unique to the location and at the same time, truly worth investing in, both in terms of time and money. In her case, she was disappointed to find out there was no Culver’s restaurant in the area, so she and her husband researched heavily and decided to put up a franchise in 2008. Five years later, they opened their second Culver’s restaurant.

They were able to do it in Atascocita, which proved to be one of the most challenging times in their lives, and Kingwood. Well, so can you — and in a city like Houston, where it would be much easier to do business.

A Thriving Startup Scene

In a study covering 100 cities in the U.S., using the five-year business survival rate and office space affordability as some of the metrics, Houston ranked 4th. This ranking has also taken into account startups per capita, average growth in business revenue, and the length of an average work week, among others. The startup-friendly climate can be attributed to incubator and accelerator companies, such as the Houston Technology Center and SURGE Ventures, which aim to help startups succeed. The state even offers events dedicated to startups, like the Houston Startup Week and the Houston Startup Weekend. Events like these bring together speakers for seminars and workshops covering startup pitch development, product design, SEO, and more.

Strong State Support

The city and the state both offer startup incentives, such as the Houston’s Enterprise Zone Program, the Texas Enterprise Fund, and the Texas Capital Fund, just to name a few. Incentives like these offer cash grants and financial resources to new businesses that qualify based on their projected job creation and retention. Houston also offers strong infrastructure and workforces in energy, health care, nanotechnology, aerospace, and IT, to support growing businesses.

A Favorable Tax Climate for Small Businesses

Texas is one of only seven states that do not have personal income taxes, making it truly business-friendly. This is good news for sole proprietorships and partnerships, as their income is legally considered personal income. The same can be said for entrepreneurs looking to start an LLC in Texas, as their business income is generally passed through the legal entity and is considered personal income, too. What businesses in general will have to contend with, however, are sales taxes depending on their chosen industry, as well as a set annual franchise tax. But if you are just starting out, the other bit of good news is that businesses with less than $1.18 million in total revenue are exempted from this tax burden.

Among the Most Diverse Cities in the Country

Houston remains one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., ranking 10th this year in a study released in February. Language, ethnicity and race, and birthplace were the key indicators of ethnic diversity used in the study. As of last year, about one-third (31.6%) of Houston businesses are minority-owned — Asians own 17.6%, Hispanics 10.1%, Blacks 3.5%, and Native Americans, Hawaiians, and other groups make up 0.4%. The same year, Houston ranked as the top city for minority entrepreneurial success.

Hopefully with all the variables we’ve laid out in this article, you will probably never hear yourself say, “Houston, we have a problem.” The city is a melting pot full of innovation, and it’s a great city to start a business.


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