What is the most effective way to impact the entrepeneurial culture of a region?
Helping start-ups and my region grow economically is a huge passion of mine. However, what has always challenged my thinking for my career path is the following: is it more effective to (1) focus a career on being a "facilitator" of sorts (i.e. working with accelerators/incubators and as a consultant) or (2) focus on working for a start-up/starting a company to understand the demands more directly, and then use that experience to give back to other start-ups?
Or is it possible that a blend of both (1) and (2) is most effective?
I run an organisation called SA Startup Academy, based in Pretoria, South Africa. Our business is basically cultivating entrepreneurial culture amongst SA youth through education, skills development and coaching. What I have found is that a combination of the two approaches are essential. If you are looking at carving a career for yourself out of helping startups, you would be best served by and of better service I suppose, if you have an in-depth understanding of the inner workings and challenges faced by of a startup. As a team we have contemplated the same questions before establishing our organisation and consequently, our entire team is made up of entrepreneurs. In my experience I can also tell you that there is often a shortage of skilled facilitators and mentors. You do not always require extensive experience for these roles, a good dose of common sense and a sincere desire to help the entrepreneur achieve success is often enough to make a great facilitator. The materials and training is usually provided. I say, go for it! All the best to you!
Why not just join your local chapter of SCORE. www.score.org. Previously referred to as "Service Corps Of Retired Executives", SCORE has no limits on members age or entrepreneurial status. SCORE is a non-profit resource of the U.S. Small Business Administration staffed by industry veterans willing to "Pay It Forward" by volunteering their time and expertise mentoring new and existing business owners along their pathway to business success.400 local chapters and 12,000 volunteers.
Straight answer: Succeed. Nothing breeds success better than success. Nothing you personally attempt works without a supportive network, however.
Think about what it takes: Not only capitalization and persistence, but government permission, industrial infrastructure, paying clients, smart graduates. It's wise to follow the herd to the fertile meadow, locate where other enterprises like yours have thrived.
Business is built on innovation. A common misconception is that people will buy anything you produce. That only happens when you first fulfill their needs. When you recognize a niche and take on responsibilities others won't, you do well. There are all sorts of neat items that fail in marketplace. Ego serves nobody.
A very short answer: Check the Startup Chile program, this was a government pushed initiative to impact the entrepreneurial mindset of Chilean Entrepreneurs.
There are a lot of papers on how this program was successful in Chile.
I recently saw the following and know that great power can emerge from the combination of like minded forces.
Matthew...Most people are looking for advice based on real time experience..experience can only come one day at a time...before becoming an advisor or facilitator to start ups you need to build a portfolio of experience which will be the basis of your credibilty and advice
Read the section in "Closing America's Job Gap" authored by UCSD's Mary Wolshok, which details what San Diego did to create the thriving entrepreneurial cluster they have today. They got it right. Few do.
Matthew, I think both can work if you manage your time wisely.
It is noble and hopefully done with sincerity.
Know that all Businesses need to be consulted and to humble merchants itll be appreciated?
Facilitators and consultants require experience, and that is accomplished ONLY by being in the shoes of a business woman/man. Consultants with no practical experience are of no use. Start you company, feel the pain, risk your money, and later you can couch, consult, facilitate or teach.
Matthew-- You pose an interesting question. To better understand, I have a related clarification question. What's in it for the region and people in the region to take entrepreneurial actions? Best Regards, Rich