Lighting the entrepreneurial spark
Being an entrepreneur is frustrating. We begin with a fabulous idea, no money, a great desire to conquer the world (or at least our part of it), and enough energy to send a spaceship to Mars and back. But then life steps in. Everyone we talk with wants a business plan before they will discuss anything (mostly money), and in of spite our knowledge about our proposed business, we haven’t the slightest idea of how to write a money-getting business plan, and even if we did write one, what would we do with it?
In our local communities we have a number of people who have money to invest. For the most part that money is going outside the community due to a lack of local investment potentials. Let me tell you of one such community and how a very few people lit the spark that’s building a bonfire of entrepreneurial spirit.
More than 480,000 people live in New Orleans. Tulane University is heavy into health care, and Xavier University is strong in pharmacy. Both are looking to become players in the new health care/bioscience/biotech world. The Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species is super-freezing embryos of just about every critter in our world to make sure they don’t go the way of the passenger pigeon; and they are winning the game.
But there was a challenge. There was no local start-up money available for entrepreneurs, and no venture capital funds available for second-generation growth. Outside of a few general-focus federal programs, there was little one-on-one help.
This allowed entrepreneurs (and the jobs they would create) to be wooed away to the venture capitalist’s cities. This may be good for the venture capitalist, possibly good for the entrepreneur, but disastrous for the community.
To top it off, there was no really powerful help for entrepreneurs to learn the skills to build the business plans to attract local money for their start-up. A circle of challenges. So what to do?
Now back to our towns. No matter how small your community, there are local people who are extremely interested in helping your town succeed _ people willing to put their talents, energy, and money to work, and people who want to invest their money locally.
By PAUL TULENKO
Scripps Howard News Service
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