Why Start a Business in Tennessee?

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Opening a business is never easy, but in Tennessee, entrepreneurs can expect a supportive environment where angel investors are always looking for the next exciting venture. Tennessee is teeming with entrepreneurial spirit. Small businesses make up 96.8% of businesses in the Volunteer State. And they’re still growing.

  • Tennessee-2.1% growth rate
  • Overall U.S.-1.9% growth rate

There Are Over 1 Million Small Business Employees in Tennessee

Total small firms by sector:

  • Retail trade-54,485
  • Healthcare and social assistance-45,799
  • Construction-69,646
  • Manufacturing-10,862
  • Finance and insurance-17,166
  • Real estate-41,340
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation-30,224
  • Information-7,794
  • Educational services-11,669


Business in Tennessee: Success Stories

Here are a few local success stories straight out of Tennessee.


Hair & Body Image Salon

Stephanie Cofer, Kingston

This salon was opened in 1998 by Cofer’s uncle, and Stephanie eventually took ownership in 2008. Now, the business employs 12 stylists.

Roger Henson Trucking, LLC

Roger and Shirley Henson, Whiteville

The Hensons started their trucking business in 1975 and in 2009, they opened a second location. Gross sales in 2012 reached a spectacular $14 million.



Fortune 500 Businesses in Tennessee 

  • FedEx
  • HCA Holdings Inc.
  • Community Health Systems
  • Dollar General Corp.
  • Tractor Supply Co.
  • Autozone


Why Choose Tennessee?

All of these companies met success by utilizing the benefits of laying a foundation in Tennessee. This includes:

  • The strategic location of shipping and distribution lanes
  • No personal income tax
  • Low regulatory burdens
  • The booming healthcare and automobile manufacturing industries
  • The history of entertainment in the state’s economy
  • The need for highly skilled technical workers and startups
  • The various incentive programs run by the state government


So How Did They Make it Happen?

From small loans to sizeable private investments, capital programs and angel investors in Tennessee help entrepreneurs get their startups running.



LaunchTN is the host for a number of investment opportunities for Tennessee startups, including:

  • The INCITE Co-Investment Fund, which matches private investor dollars.
  • The $1.71m Impact Fund invests in startups that focus on social, environmental and economic challenges.
  • An angel investor program that matches select startups with financiers, who inject private money into small businesses.



This fund program includes:

  • The Tennessee Angel Fund (TAF), a co-investment fund focused on early stage ventures.
  • $200 million in tax credits for small businesses and investors.


Top 5 Places to Start a Business in Tennessee 

  • Alcoa-Many hotels, conference centers, residential space and retail buildings
  • Pigeon Forge-Home to major entertainment attractions like Dollywood and the Elvis museum
  • Crossville-The “golf capital of Tennessee,” a known retirement and tourism destination
  • Lebanon-Local businesses can find help here at two small business development centers
  • Brentwood-The state’s wealthiest suburb with the an annual median income of $100,954, as well as the lowest unemployment rate at 2.8%


Defining Traits of Success Businesses

50% of small businesses fail after the first year. And while investors are important, what’s even more important is YOU. A successful entrepreneur is…

  • Motivated
  • Creative
  • Persuasive
  • Versatile
  • Driven
  • Open-minded
  • Decisive

Successful businesses take savvy owners, smart investors and an environment where they can thrive. Thinking of starting your own business? Think Tennessee.