Small businesses succeed more often in San Francisco

Co-owner of Citi Pets, Barbara Werger, stands in front of the store at West Portal Avenue on Monday, May 6, 2013. Photo by Gabriella Gamboa / Xpress

Co-owner of Citi Pets, Barbara Werger, stands in front of the store at West Portal Avenue on Monday, May 6, 2013. Photo by Gabriella Gamboa / Xpress

Much like marriage, small businesses have a high failure rate. According to statistics by the U.S. Small Business Administration, 56 percent of small businesses are destined to fail within their first four years.

In San Francisco small businesses can breathe a little easier. According to a study released by Thumbtack, a website where people can find and hire local contractors, and the Kauffman Foundation, San Francisco is the most small business-friendly city in California.

“We think that small businesses end up the subject of speculation for many,” co-founder of Thumbtack, Sander Daniels, said. “We’ve done a lot of research to see what matters to small businesses and how cities all around the country rate.”

Almost 8,000 small businesses in the country were asked questions dealing with categories such as the ease of starting a business, ease of hiring, training and networking programs, regulations, health and safety and zoning. From there, cities are given letter grades for each category.

San Francisco received the average grade of a C, which is the highest grade in California. The city excelled in categories such as “ease of starting a business” receiving a C+, and “training and networking programs” earning a B+.

Jennifer Corrales, founder of Happycake Facepainting, a one-and-a-half-year-old business that aims to decorate the faces of San Francisco, believes that the rankings are realistic, especially when it comes to networking opportunities.

Luna reaches for a treat while her owner shops at Citi Pets on Monday, May 6, 2013. Photo by Gabriella Gamboa / Xpress

Luna reaches for a treat while her owner shops at Citi Pets on Monday, May 6, 2013. Photo by Gabriella Gamboa / Xpress

“San Francisco is known for doing its own thing, so I can believe that it’s the most small-business friendly city in California,” Corrales said. “One of the things I enjoy about working in San Francisco is that so many people are open to networking and connecting with each other.”

These rankings come as an improvement. Last year, San Francisco received a D+ as an overall grade. Daniels believes that there are economical factors that come into play with the grade improvements between this year and the last.

“Part of it may be the economy improving,” Daniels said. “Last year we saw many people dealing with economic challenges. This year we saw an easing in that effect.”

The 2011 American Express OPEN Small Business Saturday Consumer Pulse found that consumers are also doing their part to support the local economy. According to the survey, 93 percent of consumers believe it’s important to support small businesses, and that 73 percent consciously supported small businesses.

Thumbtack is also doing their part to help out small businesses.

Happycake Facepainting is one of the many businesses listed on Thumbtack. According to Corrales, Thumbtack has contacted her numerous times, but she doesn’t use Thumbtack because of the money that you have to sink in to be introduced to potential clients.

Corrales prefers to do things her own way.

“I left a career in sales and marketing because I wanted to live my own dreams and (not) somebody else’s,” Corrales said. “Working on my own company has allowed me to explore San Francisco. Every job that I take up is different.”

Michelle Lopez, an SF State Freshman, is one consumer that supports self-sufficiency through small business.

“I believe that shopping at small businesses supports the middle class and their families,” Lopez said.

Alison Werger has been operating her pet care and retail franchise, Citipets, for over a decade. She loves her job, but stresses that running a small business is hard work.

“One of the obvious perks to owning a small business is that you get to make your own hours, but people often fail to recognize that you have to work twice as hard to run a good operation,” Werger said.