Over the past several years, there has been an emergence of entrepreneurs who have played a very important role in local, national and international economies.
Entrepreneurs have a great ability to create new, expanding and innovative markets, create jobs, contribute to the tax base and improvie the quality of life in communities. It is important to better understand entrepreneurs and the needs they have to keep them in the community.
Entrepreneurs are an elite, motivated, creative and capable group of community members who see the value in innovative ideas and who create successful businesses around those ideas. They recognize the need for new products or services where others do not. Revitalizing, growing and reinventing a business are inherently entrepreneurial.
Things Entrepreneurs need to be Successful
Studies on entrepreneurs consistently indicate they have very specific needs to be successful? Overall they need community leaders that encourage the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit and presence within the community. That type of support is manifested when the community can provide specific types of assistance. Examples include:
- Access to capital i.e. Small Business Administration loans, venture capital or revolving loan funds.
- Ability to invest and manage their money.
- Market information and support for their products and services.
- Formal or informal networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs, trade associations, universities, think tanks and other alliances to discuss their ideas and share their innovations, and their frustrations. Dedicated community and local leadership involvement, i.e. action item roundtables with local government officials.
- Assistance with business planning (in some cases), accounting and legal services.
- Incubator programs which tend to increase success rates of entrepreneurs.
- The availability of classes for business start-up and innovation, such as:
- Accelerator programs, i.e. boot camps
- Learing how to speak to investors successfully
- Hands-on learning with mentors, coaches and experts from the community/universities. Idaho has six Small Business Development Centers that provide services to entrepreneurs.
- Forward thinking leadership by gearing infrastructure for planned future growth
- Zoning and annexing for innovation parks
- Community programs with meaningful volunteer opportunities such as the Boys and Girls Clubs.
- Young entrepreneurs are innovative and motivated and will consider staying in the community if there is sufficient opportunity, such as mentoring programs, sponsorships, and apprenticeships.
Having programs that build on leadership skills can be a tremendous asset to a community or region. Programs should be highly visible. Do community members know what you are doing? Newspaper articles, service club presentations, and getting on the city council agenda are just a few examples of how to effectively inform the public on available programs.
When developing your public relations message, involve entrepreneurs you have supported to assist you. Celebrating successes and progress can be done in a variety of ways. Celebrations can range from ribbon-cuttings, to social events and awards to stories about local entrepreneurs and their businesses.
Evaluating your assistance program is important to assess your effectiveness and stay on track. What is the return on investment for your public relations activities? Include community leaders, members and businesses in your evaluation.
Community resources should be customized to the type of entrepreneur, business and their specific needs, i.e. website development or how to tap new markets. If these services are not available, a network of service providers in an area close by should be developed. Be strategic in connecting resources between urban and rural areas in the community.
The bottom line is to assist each locally owned business to be first class, stand out and continually innovative!
What experiences have you had with entrepreneurs?