Best Practices

NetWork Kansas: Seven Traits of Entrepreneurial Communities

Published Apr 08, 2013

As cities and states vie to be the “most entrepreneurial”, the question of defining and nurturing an entrepreneurial culture often takes a back seat to more quantifiable tasks. But, 21st century communities need to take a serious look at the idea of culture – and how to change it – before it’s too late.

According to the Kauffman Foundation, that holy grail of economic development – job creation – comes from startups that grow.  So, how can a community help foster a culture that leads to more successful entrepreneurs?

Increasingly, entrepreneurial communities are the ones who are most adaptable to new circumstances, whether it’s a changing market or new technology. An attitude that embraces change as an opportunity for growth trumps an attitude of fear and rejection every time. The market may not respond to attitude, but attitude does drive response to facts.

For example, if large businesses are being bought out of your area by tax incentives and other bait, attitude determines what strategy a community will adopt to combat this fact. Entrepreneurial communities are the ones who adapt to the change, develop strengths by networking and partnering with others, and forge a daring new path that’s founded on solid community values. What would that look like in this scenario?

While every community is different and what works in a large metro-area like Kansas City may not fly in a small Minnesota town, a few key themes emerge that unify “entrepreneurial communities”.

Entrepreneurial Communities are:

1.)  Value-based. They are distributed with key core values that guide – not decide

2.)  Connected to knowledge, talent, and capital. No entrepreneurial community is an island

3.)  Strong. They possess community fortitude- they celebrate success and treat failure as part of the learning process.

4.)  Daring. They adapt, change, and dare to try something new. Since failure is part of the learning process (See No. 3) risk-taking is easier.

5.)  Networking. They have built teams to network with others at the local, state, regional and federal levels – there’s no room for “I won’t work with them” and protectionist thinking in an entrepreneurial community.

6.)  Developing entrepreneurship assets. They set goals for asset building in the areas their startups and small businesses need.

7.)  Intimately aware of their entrepreneurship community. Entrepreneurial communities know their entrepreneurs. They have mapped existing entrepreneurial talent, defined strategies for economic development that make the most of their small (and large!) businesses, and they visit regularly with their startups and established companies to stay in touch with the heart of their entrepreneurial community.

These 7 traits are not an exhaustive list, but every community can strive to develop these attributes more fully.

Many of these principles were based on ideas shared by Steve Radley, CEO of NetWork Kansas (the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship), in a presentation titled “Entrepreneurial Culture: A 21st Century Imperative.” NetWork Kansas facilitates a 39-community network of “Entrepreneurship Communities” located across the state of Kansas.

Content contributed by Anne Dewvall, NetWork Kansas.
NetWork Kansas is a proud affiliate of U.S. Sourcelink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.