Beginning in the 1990s, entrepreneurship has become a legitimate career pathway for more and more young people who have abandoned the traditional corporate career path in favor of the increased autonomy and financial rewards that are possible through entrepreneurship.
Since March of 2020, with the onset of Covid-19, many low wage workers in the hospitality, sales, and restaurant industries have lost their jobs and many of those jobs are not coming back. In addition, many small neighborhood based businesses have not survived the multiple lock downs and capricious twists and turns of county and state regulations.
Consequently, the concept of entrepreneurship has emerged as an option for a new group of folks. However the philosophy and goals of this new group of entrepreneurs is very different from the social networks that were formed in the 1990s. Unlike the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (founded in the 1990s to offer educational opportunities to young business owners) whose membership was open to companies grossing over $1 million annually, this new group of entrepreneurs is focused on community based entrepreneurs rather than the size of their operating budget.
“Prosperity is the belief that we can make do, find a way and provide for ourselves,” John McKnight, Peter Block, The Abundant Community.
The goals of this local neighborhood based entrepreneurship is to focus on the gifts and talents of ordinary residents and create a path to economic security that is not dictated by outside forces but rather by the determination, hard work, and grit of neighborhood folks who want to create and invest in their local marketplace. And while individual effort is a driving force behind folks’ success, these entrepreneurs recognize that the power of their community grows out of ever- increasing cooperative relationships and connections.
Self-determination, access to opportunity, innovation, access to capital, a willingness to take risks, and a dose of good luck are pivotal factors on the road to success for this emerging group of entrepreneurs. So is a sense of community and a supportive social network because as we all are learning in this time of Covid19, the local economy and our community each derive their power from maximizing opportunities for all local residents to use their skills and contribute their gifts.
The road to this new brand of entrepreneurship begins with an analysis of what gifts and talents each person has to work with. This journey requires a supportive partner who will provide a structured learning environment with strategies that are connected to each individual’s talents. This approach is uniquely different from the approach of the current Workforce Investment Boards and the state Employment Development Departments. These institutions have a formula for success that is standardized and requires the individual to comply with a set of criteria that has been developed by so-called experts in the field of economic growth who have never walked in the shoes of the folks they are assessing and who do not see the local marketplace, i.e. community, as relevant to the development of these aspiring entrepreneurs.
In this grassroots organic approach to entrepreneurship, an individual’s family relationships, history, culture, values, social connections, and gifts and talents are the drivers of the strategies that will pave the road to success. Consequently, these new entrepreneurs require different partners with different values anchored in a new definition of economic success. A definition that includes a recognition of the fact that the local exchange of goods and services supports the community’s competence, the community’s health and well-being matters, and that local entrepreneurs invest their gifts and talents in support of the families in their neighborhood. The social networks of these emerging local entrepreneurs must value equity, diversity, and fellowship and the model that creates a culture where everyone can provide for themselves.
SBCC has developed a model of investment in resident’s gifts and talents which allows residents to pursue their dream of a small business and prosper. A model which will support their family and community and assist them in moving closer to economic security. This model of entrepreneurship is one example of SBCC’s definition of Strength Based Community Change.
On Thursday November 5, 2020, SBCC will be hosting the first group of new entrepreneurs who will be pitching their plan for their small business. These entrepreneurs will be making their case to a panel of judges with experience in entrepreneurship. SBCC is hosting the first Creative Entrepreneur 2020 Business Pitch Challenge. SBCC will be hosting this event on Zoom and will be streaming it live on SBCC’s Facebook platform. We invite anyone who is interested in SBCC’s model for economic development through small business to join our event.