Building Entrepreneurial Community

The Basics - Resource Identification and Assessment

Communities all over the world are looking to build economies through entrepreneurship.  As more entrepreneurial resources emerge from a region’s academic, business, government and nonprofit organizations, it is extremely important to give entrepreneurs fast, easy access to a “clearinghouse” that can help them find the right resource for their challenge, industry and business stage.

Many communities have an abundance of business development resources, but often entrepreneurs can’t find them or they reach out to the wrong one and have a bad experience.  With the multitude of different kinds of businesses – whether they are technology, main street, second-stage or microenterprise – and a multitude of resources available to serve them, a central point for visibility and connection can help strengthen businesses and accelerate their growth.

From a basic listing to a centralized online hub, it is important to improve the visibility and value of the resources available to entrepreneurs, providing entrepreneurs and the community with:

  • Access to resources
  • Access to networks
  • Coordinated community engagement
  • Access to capital and capacity-building funding

Assessment. Over more than 15 years, SourceLink has developed robust technologies and methodologies that allow us to work with a community to quickly understand and assess regional assets available to the entrepreneur.  We believe that the best way to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem is to start with the basics of knowing what you have, then understanding and filling gaps. Continuous improvement comes from reassessing and filling the next gap. Therefore, our asset maps and assessments always result in gap identification and powerful recommendations for strategic data-driven decision making for next steps. 

Maria Meyers

"Not all entrepreneurs are alike and not all resources support all of them. They cluster around the type of entrepreneur they serve."

SourceLink Resource Identifcation and Assessment Tools

SourceLink Baseline Reports

In just the last few years, SourceLink has supported the cities of Seattle, WA, Denver, CO, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, Tampa Bay, FL, Phoenix, AZ, St. Louis, MO, Albuquerque, NM, Winston-Salem, NC and Sacramento, CA with categorizing and assessing the local entrepreneurial landscape and entrepreneurial ecosystem, producing baseline reports that uncovered new insights into community assets and surfaced gaps.

In 2018, regional and statewide projects have been completed for the University of Nebraska System, a multi-county region in Southeast Michigan and even in rural Northwest Missouri. Whatever the size of your community, SourceLink is here to help.

When coupled with our expert recommendations and best practices for next steps, these communities have been able to put this new intelligence to work facilitating job creation, improved networks of support, and in many cases, have even included ongoing measurement tracking for continuous economic development improvement.

Entrepreneurship Performance Data - City Alive, Albuquerque

The Resource Navigator®

The Resource Navigator is an entrepreneur-friendly, online database that organizes your community’s resource partner programs. Entrepreneurs go online, answer just a few questions about their business stage and need, and find a local nonprofit with the specific resources they need. The Resource Navigator is much more than a static directory- it is a decision support software, a platform, and network building tool for entrepreneurship ecosystem builders and a system that forward thinking community leaders can put to immediate use for entrepreneurship-led economic development.

Once a community has a Navigator, their resource assets are mapped and entrepreneurs using the system provide valuable insights into gaps in service offerings. Our Network Navigators also become part of our community and are able to tap into our expert network of best practices, funders, and practitioners from all across the county leading the charge on "grow your own" approaches to entrepreneurship support. A powerful API layer allows for communities to build their own innovations on top of the SourceLink data backbone. Several regions have built mobile apps, and our most cutting edge members are using SourceLink to do data sharing from external sources like Salesforce for community-level tracking / improved case management of entrepreneur technical assistance services for economic impact reporting.

For instance, the MicroEnterprise Collaborative of Inland Southern California, launched their Resource Navigator, to help startup and high growth entrepreneurs discover just-in-time help to accelerate growth and job creation for microenterprise owners. Other regions, like the State of Minnesota, leverage the Navigator to better facilitate match making and network building for the food and ag industry. The methodology and technology is so flexible that SourceLink has successfully pioneered its use in the healthcare industry, broadband access, talent development and even in the affordable housing sector. 

The Resource Navigator helps power communities of any geographic size. Our network spans from Seattle to San Juan and is used to help a diversity of audiences from the entire entrepreneurial stack- from Spanish-speaking owners in Puerto Rico to innovative rural regions and urban core communities. City examples include: Baltimore, and Kansas City. The Resource Navigator is statewide for Iowa, Minnesota, Puerto RicoKansasMissouri, and Wisconsin. We have regional implementations in Northwest Indiana, and can accelerate multi-state collaborations, like with SHARPhub.

Watch a demonstration video.


Entrepreneurship Community Visualizations & Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Maps


In partnership with JPMorgan Chase, SourceLink developed the SourceFinder™, a unique print representation of available, regional resources that serve local entrepreneurs. Through an innovative infographic design, aspiring and existing business owners can readily navigate the resource maze to find the one they need, along with key contact information to complete that valuable business connection. Columbus, OH; Phoenix, AZ; Tampa Bay, FL; Seattle, WA; Denver, CO and Dallas / Fort Worth, TX all introduced SourceFinder during Startup Week in their community.

SourceFinder™ makes the perfect hands-on companion piece when paired with The Resource Navigator® online search system.  If your community needs to visualize hundreds of resources, we recommend reviewing our Resource Rail™ (see below).

Resource Rail™

What happens when you want to visualize an ecosystem with many, many resources, all serving different types of entrepreneurs?  The Resource Rail™ graphic map puts the information all in one place, in one image.

KCSourceLink's 240+ member SourceLink system solved the problem with the Resource Rail.
In honor of a new metro trolley system, KCSourceLink used its Resource Navigator information to create the Resource Rail, an advanced infographic designed to organize and highlight hundreds of resources in a community that help entrepreneurs and small business owners.


850-Phoenix SourceFinder


KCSourceLink Resource Rail


Interested in learning more? Reach out to Dara Macan and tell us what you are excited about in your community; we'd love to learn from your expertise and feature you as one of our forward-thinking leaders in our emerging industry.

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