Best Practices

Network Kansas: Cultivating Entrepreneurial Culture

Published Mar 11, 2014 by
By: Steve Radley.

Recently, I gave a presentation to a recently-formed committee of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. The committee focuses on entrepreneurship in Wichita, Kansas and the surrounding area. While there are many specific and interesting challenges in a large metro area like Wichita, I find it makes sense to start any conversation on entrepreneurship with the big picture before getting into the details of a particular community’s situation. What does an entrepreneurial community look like? What is the makeup of entrepreneurial culture? The answer to these questions provides the framework for an entrepreneur-focused economic development strategy and a more entrepreneurial community.



The Look of Entrepreneurial Culture

The look of entrepreneurial culture is very different from a traditional economic development based model because it starts with a different viewpoint. Stan Ahlerich, Director of the Governor's Council of Economic Advisers, has become known for using the phrase, "Every business matters!"  This sentiment is at the heart of entrepreneur-focused culture. Whether it's the quirky restaurant that helps give downtown Wichita a unique vibe or the high-growth business creating new high-paying jobs, an entrepreneur-focused culture takes a holistic approach: all businesses are vital to creating a vibrant community. Does this mean that all businesses matter to the same degree? Certainly not. Some businesses matter more. The market itself tells us that certain types of businesses provide varying levels of opportunity to access both private and public sector resources. Resource limitations also mean that resources must be allocated and/or invested in a manner that creates the most economic opportunity.

The Makeup of Entrepreneurial Culture

How do we deal with the fact that "every business matters" but resources are limited? At NetWork Kansas, we start with one premise. Our premise is this:  entrepreneurs and businesses need three types of resources at some point in their business life cycle. They need education. They need expertise. And they need economic resources. This premise guides our mission: increasing connectivity between businesses and resources. The makeup of an entrepreneurial culture involves continuously increasing the connectivity between the two.

More About Connectivity

The distinction between "connectivity" and simply making connections is significant. One definition states that connectivity is the quality, state, and capability of being connected. The implication of "being connected" is that it's an ongoing process. It's why creating an entrepreneurial culture is hard work. It's not one project; it's not working with a few businesses. It is an ongoing process of identifying education, expertise, and economic resources and creating a culture in which they are organically connected to the businesses that need them. But, it must start with specific, intentional thought by each community on how they can become more entrepreneurial.

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