Director of JoinSourceLink.com. Covers all things related to growing entrepreneurial infrastructures.
It’s the pulse of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a supportive community anything seems possible. Grow and fuel your entrepreneurial community into a thriving hive of igniters and supporters by empowering their ability to connect, collaborate and build on a solid entrepreneurial ecosystem.
What is one of the most important steps in building a strong entrepreneurial infrastructure? It happens when entrepreneurs and supporters meet others with the same entrepreneurial mindsets and make connections.
While you can’t force these types collisions, you can provide the opportunity.
Facilitate partnerships by hosting events like Startup Weekend or 1 Million Cups. These types of events bring together a wide range of entrepreneurial minds and set the tone for exchanging ideas and solutions. Do your Resource Partners already host events like these or know of an event going on in the area? Inform your network and entrepreneurs through a comprehensive event calendar, your newsletter or social media channels.
Spotlight your entrepreneurs
Go ahead and brag about your entrepreneurs. Share their story and recognize how driven/venturesome/enterprising/visionary they are with your entire network and beyond.
Do this through a regular Entrepreneur Spotlight or Entrepreneurs in Action section of your blog and then share again on your social media channels. Not only are you recognizing the efforts of your entrepreneurs, you’re also shining the light for angel investors and venture capitalists. Everyone wins when you share stories.
In addition to sharing upcoming events in their newsletter, SourceLink affiliate LoudounSmallBiz of Loudoun, Virginia, always provides the latest news on local entrepreneurs and companies in their monthly newsletter.
Meet network needs
Empower your economic organization to both identify gaps and forge collaborative solutions to address unmet needs in your ecosystem.
Facilitate gatherings of Resource Partners to discuss available services, identify service gaps and formulate sub-committees with working strategic objectives to ensure that opportunities for advancement in the ecosystem are addressed in a timely and impactful manner.
Lessons from the front
With more than a decade of global practitioner experience, the SourceLink network has grown to now cover many different parts of the country, from Seattle to San Juan. Our affiliates have wasted no time innovating on the base platform SourceLink provides, and from this front-line network, some of the most impactful best practices have emerged.
In Kansas City, KCSourceLink has developed the We Create Capital report now used to benchmark entrepreneurial access to capital and provide an action plan that significantly increased the capital pools available to early-stage entrepreneurs.
In Iowa, a “Business Concierge” service was developed and made available offering free market research in addition to hotline referrals. IASourceLink features a list of business licensing information on their Iowa Business License Information Center where entrepreneurs are able to access a directory of licenses and permits along with a licensing fact sheet. Baltimore City SourceLink also provides a comprehensive database of Baltimore City licenses and permits.
In Kansas, NetWork Kansas has expanded their statewide reach by empowering local cities with resources via their E-Community program.
Colmena66, one of SourceLink’s newest affiliates, provides a multilingual website for the entrepreneurs of Puerto Rico. Utilizing The Resource Navigator, users are able to connect to the resources that they need and administrators receive search reports so they are able to truly identify what their entrepreneurs are searching for.
Over in Denver, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, Commons on Champa provides their entrepreneurs a visualization of all of the area’s resources with SourceFinder℠. This extensive infographic-like visual allows aspiring and existing business owners to readily navigate the resource maze to find the one they need, along with key contact information to complete that valuable business connection.
How do you empower your entrepreneurs?
Once you have the entrepreneurial infrastructure in place—that connected network of resources ready to be activated into meaningful collaborations—you can start to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that empowers entrepreneurial service organizations and, as a result, the entrepreneurs who create job and strengthen local economies.