Our Friend Steve Rucinski asks about entrepreneurs:
Entrepreneur seems to be the hottest buzzword going around, the hero, the savior of economies worldwide. How do we spot one when we see one? How do we spot youngsters and support them in their journey to business success?
Steve asks because he is involved in a startup entrepreneur club. Let’s get some insight from another entrepreneur club, this one focusing on developing rural entrepreneurs. The Future Rural Entrepreneur Development Group (FRED) of Indiana was profiled in the Terre Haute News.
Jim Roudebush, the Rural Entrepreneur Network director, facilitates the FRED Groups. “Entrepreneurs, who are found in both city and country, are people who perceive new opportunities and create and grow ventures around those opportunities,” he said. “Rural entrepreneurs are especially challenged in finding ready resources and networking opportunities.”
I like this concept. It fits with Steve’s conclusion, “Maybe it is all of the above, a role, an attitude and a title.” Whether entrepreneurs are on their own or part of a bigger company, in government, or in nonprofit, they perceive new opportunities and create ventures around them.
How do we spot an entrepreneur? By looking for those two qualities: perception and creation. Potential entrepreneurs might show only one of those qualities, and need help developing the other. Look around at who is creating new projects, groups, or events, even if they do not succeed. Listen to who talks about the opportunities, even if they aren’t executing around them.
How do we support young potential entrepreneurs? Training, especially training in how to put ideas into action. One more topic for training: basic business skills. If you can perceive an opportunity, create a venture around it, and execute your business well, you are very well equipped as an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneur training is now available to schools (elementary through university) as prepared curriculum, and it is available to communities and organizations to provide as special events and workshops. Our Friend Ben Yoskovitz has seven suggestions for universities to develop more entrepreneurs.
How do we get youth into training?
Have you heard of the Kalamazoo Promise? It’s a program to pay college tuition for any student of the local schools. Here’s the entrepreneur’s version. The Michigan Spirit of Entrepreneurship Initiative offers free tuition for college entrepreneur courses and grants for high school students to participate in Junior Achievement. It was found by Our Friend Jack Schultz. Jack says:
Every town might not be able to offer free tuition to every student in their schools, but I’m guessing that everyone should be able to figure out a way to do so for entrepreneurial education. Imagine the impact that this could have in the development of new businesses for the future. New businesses in your hometown!
Examples of Entrepreneur Training and Support
My news feed constantly brings me stories of entrepreneur training events and support initiatives. Here are three examples.
Utah’s Rural Business Conference: Workshops will focus on some new rural opportunities and basic business skills. This is a model you can adapt into any development organization.
Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network, New Hampshire: WREN provides an astoundingly comprehensive set of services to both women and men entrepreneurs in rural areas. Training is just the beginning. Computer labs for learning and working, a photo shoot area, retail space, networking, an art gallery, collaboration with other groups, and on and on. Read this newspaper profile for more ideas.
India’s Self-Help Groups: Local people band together to save money and learn financial management. Their group funds can be used to make micro loans to members and finance business projects they can work on together. Some groups receive training on basic business skills, can access information on opportunities, and can link to the formal banking system. You can learn more in this newspaper profile. I’ll bet you can adapt some of these ideas to any self-organized group, anywhere.
How do you spot an entrepreneur? Do you meet your own definition, or are you “just a small business person”? What actions are you taking to promote youth entrepreneurship in your community? I’d love to hear from you!
In a comment on Steve’s original post, a reader pointed out another interesting article, “Is Entrepreneur Still A Dirty Word?” by Our Friend Anita Campbell. Anita points out that entrepreneur has had a negative connotation in Europe, but that may be changing!
Steven E. Streight, a friend from Twitter, adds this insight:
entrepreneur = “one who undertakes” thus an undertaker, a tender of the morgue of missed niche opportunities, visionary.
entrepreneur = seer of unmet consumer needs, who assumes risk of starting new biz venture, courageous, no anonymous troll.
[Photo from my Flickr: This entrepreneur perceived an opportunity at the World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, and created a venture around it.]
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.