Jean publishes a blog called the Enterprise Corner. It features articles on entrepreneurship, local industry trends, manufacturing news and periodic ‘toolbox’ articles showcasing assistance, incentives and other resources for local businesses.
I attended an entrepreneurship conference last week in Kansas City, MO and learned some interested things about entrepreneurship. The conference was sponsored in part by the Kauffman Foundation, one of the leading institutions on entrepreneurship.
The three most important things I personally picked up were: 1) Networking is the most important factor to entrepreneurs and a successful entrepreneur network; 2) A number of successful entrepreneurial-type businesses started in a recession (think Microsoft) and these businesses are vital to driving job growth. Over half of the 2009 Fortune 500 companies started in a recession. Small businesses with less than 20 employees generated 80% of net new jobs in the last 20 years; and 3) Yakima County is on the right track with our Entrepreneur Network. (Remember, these were my personal takeaways, not scientific rankings.)
Many similar sized communities are just starting to realize the importance of building an entrepreneur network and guess what? We are already on the way. It was exciting to take part in a conference where the importance of entrepreneurship is realized and learning that other areas are the country are scrambling to implement entrepreneur networks like we have recently started in Yakima County.
Are we there yet? No, we still have a ways to go to reach the likes of larger metro entrepreneur networks such as the Northwest Entrepreneur Network. However, we should be encouraged because we are part of something new that can positively impact the business make-up of Yakima County. How can you be involved? Take part in networking events, business development classes, volunteer to be a business mentor and offer your expertise and most of all, let us know what we are missing. I will be posting a survey soon for entrepreneurs to tell us what they want out of a network, but if you have an idea, email me - we are open for your suggestions.