Ditch the inland grind and chase your dreams to the coast.

By Steve Strauss
January 09, 2018
Kay Sommer
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Oregon-based small-business expert Steve Strauss offers tips on what to know before hanging your shingle in the salt air.

Zero in on Friendly

Business-friendly, that is. Look for a vibrant town, which means residents are doing business with locals, and businesses are succeeding. If you find a place that works with you, not against you, your odds of succeeding are much better.

Live Like a Local First

You’re investing time and treasure, so part of your business plan should include spending time getting to know the residents and tourists who will make or break your profits. Learn what they need here versus other beach towns you’ve visited. It might surprise you.

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Have an Off-season Plan

If the locale is busy four months out of the year, moderate for two months, and wet and cold the rest, you need to create multiple profit centers. Is there an online component to your business that will keep profits up after the tourists leave? Or a business-to-business side that services commercial clients? Finally, consider alternate offerings: something residents need in the off-season that you can provide.

Be Frugal

Your primary duty is being a businessperson. That means keeping overhead low and knowing how many pieces you need to sell to turn a profit before you open your doors.

Ace Your X Factor

If you’re entering a new market, you have to have something that differentiates you from the competition—especially in beach towns where tourists return for generations. There’s often built-in loyalty there. Whether it’s your level of experience, a convenience the others don’t offer, or a technological upgrade, identifying and promoting this X factor is central to your marketing plan.

Steve Strauss writes the USA Today small-business column and is the author of The Small Business Bible. Find more of his tips on his website, theselfemployed.com.