Opportunities and Challenges for Small Businesses in Montana

Financial website Wallet Hub recently published two articles showcasing the opportunities and challenges of small businesses in Montana.

KGVO News reached out to Wallet Hub financial analyst Jill Gonzalez, who said Bozeman and Missoula scored high on the “Top 15 Best Small Towns to Start a Small Business,” where Bozeman ranked No. three and Missoula came in at number 13.

“We looked at three main categories, namely business environment, access to resources and business costs,” Gonzalez said. “Bozeman and Missoula actually ranked well for different reasons. Bozeman ranked number three out of over 1,300 small towns and Missoula ranks 13 out of so many companies. That’s great, and they do very well in that resource access category. There are a lot of higher education assets coming there, which means highly educated people are looking to start businesses there.

KGVO reminded Gonzalez that median home prices in Missoula are over $400,000, while in Bozeman median home prices are nearly $900,000, however, she said those numbers are not high enough to keep small entrepreneurs away.

“It’s still definitely cheaper than most big cities,” she said. “It’s always an advantage for these small towns. But with the arrival of more affluent people, that means there is also a demand for more small businesses, and perhaps some at an even higher price. So this really lends itself to even more opportunities for small business owners.

On the other side of the coin, Wallet Hub also released research on Wednesday that Montana employers face the sixth-largest hiring struggle in all of the United States.

Gonzalez said Montana has too many job openings for small businesses that have to compete for fewer employees.

“Just looking at the last month alone, Montana ranks sixth in terms of job openings,” she said. “Then it’s not a good thing. You want to have less job offers here. Montana is currently at 7.2% over the past year, so it’s more like 8% today. Just to compare, states that are doing very well right now, including New York, Connecticut, and many northeastern states, are down about 5.5-6%.

Gonzalez said many people moving to Montana want to work remotely from home while having easy access to all the outdoor attractions the state has to offer.

“It’s more of a rural place,” she says. “There are not as many work-from-home opportunities as many of these other states. So because of that, there are a lot of jobs where you have to show up and work, and that’s not what a lot of people want. They want work from home, those remote jobs. So, unfortunately, these are the jobs that are being filled compared to a lot of the ones that currently exist in Montana.

The Wallet Hub website offered the following statement:

‘If we are going to spend so much of our precious time – and sacrifice that time which could be spent with family, pursuing hobbies or exploring other non-work related goals – then that time and energy spent at work is worth worth it.’

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