Is your community old and tired and in need of Gazelles and stimulation?
Key attributes of an entrepreneur
It is a well-known fact that it is the businesses and non-profit organisations in a community that drive its development. It is the Small-Medium Enterprise sector that creates the most jobs, particularly in a regional, rural or remote community. And it’s the creation of jobs that underpins prosperity. Entrepreneurs know how to ‘join up the dots’. If not the entrepreneurs, particularly the young entrepreneurs (Gazelles) who else will do it?
For generations, the great promise celebrated in our national anthem (wealth in exchange for work), has given us an enviable lifestyle. Yet Australians are beginning to doubt that promise, they have become distrustful of government and nervous about the future. It’s time to unleash the power of entrepreneurship on our communities.
No matter their age, an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur and can add considerably to a community’s success. Unfortunately, just like other older people, many have been put out to pasture. Don’t waste this valuable asset in your community, put them to work.
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy. They’re innovators, experimenters, and can join up the necessary dots that governments and other organisations have proven they can’t do. Entrepreneurs are the driving force behind most thriving communities.
“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near”. Jack Welch
In today’s rapidly changing business world the community businesses and non-profits need to be very agile to cope with changes and align with the community’s goals and pursuits. People and organisations that are unable to adapt to the changing environment perish in the competitive globalised world of today.
‘Gazelles’ is the nickname that’s been applied to small, new, fast-growing entrepreneurial businesses. Small, efficient, profitable and innovative businesses that are driving economic growth and creating new jobs. Rarely do I hear anyone talking about Gazelles.
- Gazelles generate more than 70% of all new jobs.
- Gazelles are not captives of the old industrial order; they are its critics.
- They object to government policies and regulations that unfairly favour (and subsidise) the older and bigger that act as barriers to innovation.
- They have little time for slothful bureaucracies.
Unfortunately, too many people still think that anyone in a business is an entrepreneur and some misguided individuals still think that all entrepreneurs are crooks.
What is an entrepreneurial community?
An entrepreneurial community is one where the entrepreneurs of the community are brought together to help solve the community’s problems, frustrations, wants and needs.
The overall business climate and opportunities to learn and grow are simple to find and available. The problem is that it takes an entrepreneurial mind to make all the pieces of a community puzzle fit together and align with the future the people of the community want.
A new approach is needed where positive, enthusiastic attitudes can permeate the culture of the community, and this will not come from the top down. It’s not as if people resist change, they just resist being changed by outsiders.
Communities need the practical advice to make the necessary changes
Most SMEs are not prepared for economic downturns or disasters of any kind and lack an understanding of business continuity and growth plans. This is where a helping hand from an ‘old entrepreneur’ can be of great assistance.
The cooperation and support of an old entrepreneur to enhance the business, from start-up through to maturity, can have a big impact on a community’s prosperity and it can happen quickly.
The SMEs hold untapped potential for economic growth in general and in more disadvantaged regions in particular, but this ‘engine’ of the economy still needs the attention and support of the community’s entrepreneurs
“In most communities, there is a wealth of entrepreneurial talent tied up in older and retired business people and farmers. Paying it Forward is a concept they will understand but it will require a catalyst to involve them”. Peter Sergeant
At the same time, SMEs entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly important for educational institutions, to provide valuable practical experience to supplement the theory. Having entrepreneurs involved is a valuable way for education institutions of all shapes and sizes to encourage a richer environment where enterprise and real-world SME issues are understood, felt and experienced.
The local government policy environment needs to take every opportunity to demonstrate, in real terms that everyone can understand their contribution to economic growth and justify the public investment in them.
Government funding and programs for SMEs must be viable and not dish out the same old and tired stuff. Create part-time opportunities for ‘old entrepreneurs’ to make careful evaluation and development of programs would make a worthwhile change.
It’s not all about technology and innovation
Older, more experienced entrepreneurs may sense difficulty in getting the attention of investors, especially in the cloud, mobile, social media and big data management. Meanwhile, seemingly younger and younger entrepreneurs who have never had a job, let alone run a business, in their lives, find themselves sought after by venture capitalists, incubators, angels and all sorts of other sources of capital.
The common reasoning is that young entrepreneurs make up for their lack of business and management experience with a mastery of the new world of technology. Many people claim that older entrepreneurs, people who really aren’t all that old but didn’t grow up with the new technologies don’t have the intuition that is necessary to make the brilliant growth companies of tomorrow. Entrepreneurs are the business growth accelerators.
Despite the sensational headlines, that doesn’t mean that the more experienced, the older entrepreneur is completely out of luck. While the young, inexperienced, social-product visionary may be more likely to stumble onto the one-in-a-million consumer app. They might experience explosive viral growth without any consideration for a revenue model.
However, the more consistent winners are likely to be backed by an entrepreneur who use their prior experiences and industry knowledge to build stable, well-executed, high revenue-generating businesses. There is something to be said for the fresh outlook and innovative ideas that come from youthful entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs know how to create activity
Practical knowledge and experience equate to wisdom, and wisdom shared inspires others to do great things. Older entrepreneurs probably know the assets in their community better than most and if they don’t they certainly know how to find out about them and move projects along, and helping people with their aspirations. They can be a very practical and inexpensive resource for both new start-ups and established organisations.
We’re operating in challenging times. One day the economic outlook is good, but tomorrow it may crash and when you don’t know what the future holds, it’s intimidating, risk tolerance is low and people start conserving their money and delaying decisions.
The community’s success hinges on its ability to deal with this economic volatility. Unfortunately, many of the traditional approaches no longer work when it comes to generating the right kind of activities. Just throwing money is not the answer, it must be more carefully targeted.
Truth is, there’s a whole lot of difference between knowing and doing and this is where the entrepreneurs come in. These are the people, who like challenges, problem-solving and learning new things. They are the people who instinctively know how to overcome struggle, failure and feelings of inadequacy before ultimately emerging with the solutions.
How to go about creating an entrepreneurial community?
It’s not easy to adjust to today’s challenging community downturns, but if you don’t take immediate action, your community may sink to a point where it becomes too difficult to recover and people start leaving for greener pastures.
So as communities can take action to support entrepreneurship, it is critical that community leaders and governments change their conversations. The more we strive to empower individuals with entrepreneurial-minded policies, the sooner we can begin to view our national issues as opportunities waiting to be met, and challenges as bumps in the road to creating successful and valuable communities.
A good place to start might be to do a detailed Community Health Check and then identify the real entrepreneurs in the community and bringing them together. Research tells us that real entrepreneurs make up less than 10% of the population.
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The concept of entrepreneurial communities and economic gardening should be embraced not only by the people who live and work there but also by all those people in governments and universities and other institutions who are prepared to assist as the community wishes.
Everyone wants things to happen quickly. But when I think of about speed the Cheetah immediately comes to mind, it is unmatched for speed and rapid acceleration. The Cheetah is not considered the fastest animal on the planet, for nothing and it teaches us a valuable lesson.
When it comes to hunting, it focuses entirely on its core competency – speed. When communities leverage the core competencies of its entrepreneurs, powerful things start to happen. The movers and shakers get into gear again.
Everyone should become motivated to learn about these concepts and start some new conversations. It is unfortunate, but I believe that entrepreneurs and born not made, so let’s seek them out and get our communities really moving again.
Keep in mind that there is no one solution fits all. While there many common issues, each community needs to be treated differently, and according to the wishes of the people who live and work there.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the social entrepreneurs they can make a huge difference to the non-profit organisations in the community. They can also make a real contribution to encouraging businesses and non-profits to work together.