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Building Entrepreneurial Communities

Successful Entrepreneurs Benefit Us All

Those who follow economic trends frequently look at entrepreneurial activity as an indicator of economic health. While opinions vary on the current health of entrepreneurship in the U.S. and around the world, there is agreement on the importance of this business sector. Economists applaud the job creation and economic activity that startups and young businesses provide. The following reports bring us up-to-speed on the current conditions of entrepreneurship:

"State of Entrepreneurship 2017- Zero Barriers: The Three Mega Trends Shaping the Future of Entrepreneurship"; Kauffman Foundation, February 2017.

"Recapping America's New Entrepreneurial Growth Agenda", February 2016. The New Entrepreneurial Growth Agenda is a Kauffman Foundation two-year initiative started in 2014 that provides a collection of essays by experts.

"Dynamism In Retreat- Consequences For Regions, Markets & Workers", the Economic Innovation Group, February 2017.

While just a small list of reading from the plentiful amount of material available, I appreciated these selections for helping focus on current affairs and issues. For me, the challenge presented is this--- after the research, do I need to change the assistance and advice that I give to entrepreneurs?

After careful thought, I will emphasize a tried and true process learned several years ago[i]. Through current challenges, I will steer people to the five core principles of Effectuation as identified by Dr. Saras Sarasvathy. Please see information supplied by the Society For Effectual Action at

  1. Start with what YOU know, who you know and what is within your control.
  2. Define what you are willing to lose. What is your affordable loss?
  3. When things don't go as planned, pivot and turn a challenge into an opportunity.
  4. Involve others since you cannot predict where help will come from, and in what way.
  5. No one can see the entire path that an idea will take, so get underway.[ii]

Using these core principles, I updated my "Startup Basics"- a January 2017 workshop recorded and posted on Youtube. The audience was food-related entrepreneurs, however most of the content pertains to all start-up ventures. Key topics universal to all:

  1. Reality checks are necessary. Don't start a business just because others think you should.
  2. Use planning tools that work for you. It is important to shift into effective action and learn from real responses.
  3. Of course there are responsibilities for getting organized and keeping records. Discipline is good.
  4. Money really matters. Start-ups must be strong enough to survive, then accelerate.
  5. Ownership and leadership must go together. Know your personal strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Marketing strategies are vital. Creativity, planning and execution must meet.

I am an educator for University of Illinois Extension, specializing in community and economic development. Please contact me using this e-mail address: Entrepreneurship has been an area of focus since 2009 and I strive to add strength to our entrepreneurial ecosystem through teaching.

[i] Dr. Saras Sarasvathy identified the thought processes followed by numerous successful entrepreneurs and shared them under teachings she named "Effectuation". Dr. Sarasvathy is on the faculty of the Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia. I completed a master class led by her on 10/12/14 with follow-up tutorial provided by Sara Whiffen of Insights Ignited, LLC.

[ii] "Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther" Thomas Carlyle, 1795 to 1881; Scottish philosopher, writer, historian and teacher.