One Million Answers
Over the last decade I’ve been blessed to travel 1.2 million miles in the sky, to places I would never have imagined earlier in my life, and I’ve learned from and interacted with wonderful people all over the world.
Those 1.2 million miles also mean that people in 60+ countries have been exposed to our work by my travels or their delegations coming to the U.S., and over 100 countries are in contact with ISM for the different programs that ISM has offered to these countries.
What stands out to me is this: in the entrepreneurship and small biz development world, we all know we are all developing talent, and yet not one city, region, or country defined it in the same way.
Every single person I have talked to speaks of entrepreneurship. When I ask “What does that really mean to you?” the challenges and opportunities that come with it begin to be defined. Is the entrepreneur someone who is starting a coffee shop next door? Someone innovating with a new product a service? Someone Creating a new technology? Copying someone else’s business or practice model?
What I’ve learned is that each person defines it differently, and depending on which groups of people you are talking to — support organizations for the tech space, or place-based, for example — you encounter different answers.
For the most part, most tech investors are looking for that breakthrough — the unicorn idea — and betting their chances on that idea, entrepreneur, or location.
Most place-based entrepreneur support organizations look at who is starting the business, the location, and what the business would add to the community.
There is no right or wrong in how you define entrepreneurship. I’ve flown a million miles and heard a million definitions! I like to challenge all of these conceptions and take us to the very basis of entrepreneurship — which is the mindset of the individual looking for an opportunity to create something, or looking to solve an existing problem.
As I reflect on the miles and opportunities, I think about how we offer support to entrepreneurs. These questions can help you determine what your organization might do:
- Does the entrepreneur have to open a business or are they choosing to open it? It makes a big difference!
- Is the entrepreneur starting a tech-based or a place-based business, or a combination of the two? I’ve also heard the term “tech-enabled.”
- Does the entrepreneur come from a minority group, an under-served or under-represented community, or do they come from the majority of your country’s population?
I ask these questions because it allows us to understand which programs are suited to the community and how/when to mix them up.
The truth is, the only reason any of us do entrepreneurial training is to minimize the risk they are taking, and expedite the success they might attain.
I share this with you in the hope that you will think about which programs you offer to each group, and how you can maximize the rewards they receive, and minimize the risk they might face.
BEFORE YOU GO
We see our blogs as opportunities for dialogue. Please share your thoughts as comments.
- What stage of entrepreneurs are you working with: startup, scale-up, or idea stage?
- What type of entrepreneur are they: tech-based, or place-based?
- What have you done to ensure you are supporting your entrepreneurs in the best way you can?
Faris Alami is Founder and CEO of International Strategic Management, Inc. (ISM). He works internationally, presenting Exploring Entrepreneurship Workshops and other entrepreneurial ecosystem — related ventures.