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Choosing an Entrepreneurial Development System: The Concept and the Challenges William L. Smith, Ph.D. School of Business Emporia State University

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Presentation on theme: "Choosing an Entrepreneurial Development System: The Concept and the Challenges William L. Smith, Ph.D. School of Business Emporia State University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Choosing an Entrepreneurial Development System: The Concept and the Challenges William L. Smith, Ph.D. School of Business Emporia State University

2 Abstract This paper presents a discussion of the process of choosing an entrepreneurial development system for a local rural community and region. A later version of this paper is “in press” in the International Journal of Management and Enterprise Development

3 Entrepreneurship has been defined in a number of ways over the years From Schumpeter [1934] to the Internet of today – Google gives a page of definitions I have adopted the definition of the field of entrepreneurship as ‘the scholarly examination of how, by whom, and with what effects opportunities to create future goods and services are discovered, evaluated, and exploited’ From Venkataraman [1997] and Shane and Venkataraman [2000]

4 In Essence - the field involves: the study of sources of opportunities the processes of discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities, and, the set of individuals who discover, evaluate and exploit them.

5 Figure 1 Entrepreneurial research framework (1) Opportunities, plus (2) Individuals, lead to (3) Entrepreneurial event

6 Our Goal This paper seeks to explore the possibilities of creating an ‘entrepreneurial community’ environment in a rural setting within which individuals and groups of individuals may develop sets of skills which allow them to recognize opportunities for entrepreneurial activities that did not seem to exist previously.

7 Background Foundation support; Kauffman and Kellogg Government support, Federal and State Enterprise Facilitation Lichtenstein and Lyons [1996, 2001]

8 Seven unique challenges for rural entrepreneurs [Kauffman, 1999], p. 1 of 2: 1) culture that promotes entrepreneurship 2) distance to markets and services 3) capital availability and capital-ready deal flow 4) threshold of demand to justify the location of support services 5) absence of other entrepreneurs

9 Seven unique challenges for rural entrepreneurs [Kauffman, 1999], p. 2 of 2: 6) absence of industry clusters 7) independent spirit of rural population – i.e., balance the entrepreneurial desire to ‘be one’s own boss’ with the realization that successful entrepreneurs cannot ‘do it alone.’

10 Lichtenstein and Lyons [1996, 2001] The focus of entrepreneurial development should be shifted from programs to development of individual entrepreneurial skills. They proposed a comprehensive ‘needs assessment’ approach, To build on each of the existing programs in the community, and Identify additional training services required

11 The Proposed System Expand the population of entrepreneurs, not just the ‘right’ ones. Entrepreneurs need continuous assistance with many of the skills needed to move through the stages of business development. This suggests an ongoing mentoring program coupled with networking with others who have already been through the process themselves.

12 Truly creating an ‘entrepreneurial community.’ Bringing together, in a developmentally focused system, persons with entrepreneurial skills at various stages of development to share these skills Persons who help each other develop these skills, and Persons who will assist others in recognizing new opportunities for innovation in the community.

13 Table 1 The four entrepreneurial skill categories and 17 skill dimensions 1) Technical skills Operational – the skills necessary to produce the product or service Supplies/raw materials – the skills to obtain them, as necessary Office or production space – the skills to match needs and availability Equipment/plant/technology – the skills to identify and obtain

14 Table 1 The four entrepreneurial skill categories and 17 skill dimensions 2) Managerial skills Management – planning, organising, supervising, directing, networking Marketing/Sales – identifying customers, distribution channels, supply chain Financial – managing financial resources, accounting, budgeting Legal – organisation form, risk management, privacy and security Administrative – people relations, advisory board relations Higher-order – learning, problem-solving

15 Table 1 The four entrepreneurial skill categories and 17 skill dimensions 3) Entrepreneurial skills Business concept – business plan, presentation skills Environmental scanning – recognize market gap, exploit market opportunity Advisory board and networking – balance independence with seeking assistance

16 Table 1 The four entrepreneurial skill categories and 17 skill dimensions 4) Personal maturity skills Self-Awareness – ability to reflect and be introspective Accountability – ability to take responsibility for resolving a problem Emotional Coping – emotional ability to cope with a problem Creativity – ability to produce a creative solution to a problem

17 Volunteer Entrepreneur Corps (VEC) mentoring program A volunteer group to be formed in the community (region) who offer their experience to provide assistance in their specialties to other entrepreneurs, for the betterment of the ‘entrepreneurial community.’ Share their experience using a skill with others rated ‘medium’ on that skill. Annual volunteer recognition/citations

18 Evaluation (p. 1 of 6) Motivation of rural entrepreneurs: There is a significant difference in motivation between rural entrepreneurs and their urban counterparts. All the adaptations have been made with this issue in mind, and they will be regularly reviewed to assure compliance.

19 Evaluation (p. 2 of 6) Culture: Rural culture has multiple and conflicting personalities; it is ‘anything goes’ and ‘can do’ on the one hand, and very conservative overtones on the other, that often discourage risk-taking and inhibit entrepreneurial activity. The networking and mentoring process will be built on this dichotomy, with continuous attention to making it a strength, not a weakness.

20 Evaluation (p. 3 of 6) Networks: Networks are even more important to rural entrepreneurs. In fact, they are essential to entrepreneurial success – but providing adequate forums to share experiences, explore new opportunities, and seek reinforcement – are the biggest challenges to promoting entrepreneurship in rural America. Networking is at the heart of the proposed system. Providing the correct forums, the best mentors, and the most effective balance of outside trainers and experienced entrepreneurs to provide guidance and skills development to less experienced entrepreneurs will be critical to success of the system.

21 Evaluation (p. 4 of 6) Capital and deal flow: There is both a lack of equity capital and a lack of ‘capital literacy’ in rural areas. Skills related to understanding and obtaining appropriate funding are integral to the skills development system proposed. New funding sources will be available based on recent legislation in the state.

22 Evaluation (p. 5 of 6) Workforce: Both skilled workers and management skills are often miles away. Identifying ways to access these skills is a continuing challenge. This identification and matching to the benefit of area entrepreneurs is the reason for the creation of the proposed system. Skills not available will be created, brought in, or otherwise made available as an integral part of the entire entrepreneurial development system processes.

23 Evaluation (p. 6 of 6) Youth: Rural America’s most significant export has been its children – which are recognized by community leaders as among the greatest threats to the viability of many rural communities. Rural entrepreneurship can address the aging of rural communities in two ways: 1) Discussion with rural youth about the value of closeness to their rural hometowns and finding ways to allow them to remain. 2) Promoting rural communities as attractive to youth and young families with a pro- entrepreneurship environment.

24 Action Steps, 1 & 2 Enhancements of entrepreneurial education at all levels are already under way through closely coordinated efforts of related programs of the university and other educational entities. An AgriTourism initiative is being undertaken in the region which will provide mutually beneficial activities and increased opportunities for entrepreneurial tendencies to act upon.

25 Action Steps, 3 & 4 Implementation will require wide political and social cooperation among a broad spectrum of service providers, governmental units, and members of the general community. Appropriate information sharing and input from interested members of the public in general will be critical to successful system implementation.

26 Action Steps, 5, 6 & 7 Organize the Volunteer Entrepreneur Corps (VEC) and begin the networking process Create the “needs assessment” process by validating the Skills Sets to be measured and the process of measuring them. Support the infrastructure to allow this systematic process to be sustained over time.

27 Conclusion From the conclusion section of Lichtenstein and Lyons [2001], a great quote: “H. L. Mencken once said that ‘for every complex problem there is an easy answer, and it is wrong.’ Community-wide enterprise development is a complex problem; therefore, any useful solution is bound to be so as well.” [p.17]


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