We’re just going to come right out and say it. We love entrepreneurs. Why, you may ask, is an almost 100 year old company so infatuated with the next new thing? Well, despite all the mushiness about how you’re inspiring and creative and innovative (which is all true by the way), we also feel there’s a great importance in entrepreneurship and what it does for our communities.
That’s where the importance of a local entrepreneurial ecosystem comes in. The entrepreneurial ecosystem “refers to the elements – individuals, organizations or institutions – outside the individual entrepreneur that are conducive to, or inhibitive of, the choice of a person to become an entrepreneur, or the probabilities of his or her success” (yes, we got this from Wikipedia, but you have to admit, it’s pretty good).
Now for some words (our marketing peeps will be so impressed) …
The elements – individuals, organizations or institutions
“Entrepreneurs operate largely at a local level, and regions are strengthened when entrepreneurs connect with one another.” – Kauffman Foundation
An entrepreneurial ecosystem must create an atmosphere of growth and collaboration, as well as connection on a local level. This connection cannot just come from entrepreneurs connecting to other entrepreneurs. Yes, this is vital, especially as you share experiences and insight into your sleepless nights, your caffeine induced great ideas and your struggles to make your dream a reality.
But, this definition doesn’t just stop at fellow entrepreneurs. It specifically calls out others, such organizations and institutions. Established organizations are vital to the success of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and helping local entrepreneurs succeed. We believe that when we all work together to create an ecosystem where any company can thrive, regardless of size, we all win.
Conducive to … the choice to become an entrepreneur
Early stage businesses need help on a number of fronts. Yes, sometimes it is financial assistance. But it can also be advice, guidance and mentorship. Just as you aren’t skilled at everything, neither are they. So find ways to foster collaboration early on and help these businesses get off the ground the right way, with a strong foundation. Network with them and hear their pain points and struggles and celebrate with them in their triumphs.
You also might learn a thing or two. Here are just a few things our local Fargo entrepreneurs have taught us:
- Think outside the box. Entrepreneurs know how to challenge the status quo and think differently about how things have always been done. This has enabled us to look at our business model and how we’ve always done things … and how we can change.
- Collaboration and connection. We didn’t get to be almost 100 years old on our own. Collaboration is key and the local entrepreneurial ecosystem has allowed us to collaborate on projects and community issues, as well as network with new startups.
- Be open and transparent. During one of our first meetings with a new entrepreneurial client, we got some pretty strong advice about some of our presentation materials. Instead of ignoring this comment, we asked how we could do it differently. Since then, we’ve fostered an open dialogue with several entrepreneurial and small business entities which allows us to provide honest and collaborative communication about issues (not just ours). We truly think we’re better when we all work together.
The probabilities of his or her success
Let’s face it, entrepreneurs and small businesses are vital to not only our local communities, but also to our economy.
Let’s illustrate this point with some numbers (we’re accountants after all):
- There are 28 million small businesses in America. These account for 54% of all U.S. sales. (source)
- Small businesses have generated 66% of net new jobs since the 1970s. (source)
- Over 50% of the working populations works in a small business. (source)
Now you may be thinking, what do we consider “small”? Well, the SBA defines small business as a firm with fewer than 500 employees. Also, take into account that of those 28 million small businesses, over three-quarters are self-employed with no additional payroll or employees (these are commonly referred to as non-employers). Small businesses have a tremendous impact on our economy.
Every business had to start somewhere. By helping foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem that enables entrepreneurship to not only happen, but also thrive, we can not only grow our local economies, but also make valuable connections … and learn a thing or two along the way.