Saturday, February 07, 2009

Simple ideas. Great startups

I was privileged to be invited back to Wisconsin Public Radio this week to talk about entrepreneurship.

I had to skip out of my first economic development conference to do the show. At first I felt bad about this. Then I realized that most everyone in the state of Wisconsin that knew anything about economic development were locked away in one room and none of them would be able to hear the radio show. I've been on this new job for 8 weeks. OK, not such a bad set up after all…

It was a really fun show to do. Kathleen Dunn is a wonderful, funny, thoughtful host, and people are so interested in discussing entrepreneurship. What a great hour to spend with Kathleen!

If I stopped to write about all the cool stories that flowed into the show, this piece would be too long.

The one that I'll pick to shine a light on came from a woman who told us about a simple idea they turned into a business ready to launch into greatness.

This is not meant as an example of starting a high tech, venture-funded startup. This is a story of an enterprise started from the love of an idea. What I want to emphasize here is how enthusiastic both Kathleen and I were about this idea.

Ready? A pet expo. Specifically focused on dogs.

Two couples produce the event. It's a yearly event. They design their expo to be a healthy and beneficial experience for the dogs and fun for all involved. It includes a 32 foot long pool for dogs to jump in. Can you imaging the publicity photos?

Here is the small business focus. One simple great idea had both the host of a statewide show and their guest (me) competing to gush over how cool we thought this was. Kathleen had exclamation points in her voice. We both said we wanted to visit.

So, you're a small business struggling with costs to promote an event? If it's a worthy, unique value proposition - does it solve a problem and fill a need - there are many, many low cost, creative ways to promote your venture. This one small example had an entrepreneur calling in to ask for help on a statewide show and having everyone involved on the radio side doing everything they could to support the effort. Her details are in the show, which is linked below.

If I didn't love my job so much I'd do this.

You do not have to be Rembrandt to start an arts enterprise. You have to love your art. You do not have to be Mother Teresa to start a social entrepreneur venture. You have to love your cause. You don't have to be Bill Gates to start a new enterprise. You have to use your skills and your knowledge creatively to create solutions that make peoples lives better in some small way.

This was a wonderful hour with Kathleen Dunn and the stories from the entrepreneurs who called in were magic. If you have the time, listen to the piece about the pet expo. It's in the second half of the hour. You'll be inspired as to how quickly a simple idea can be swept up into a multi-state radio program where both the host and the guest wanted to walk to the event.

Go get 'em, friend.

Listen to our entrepreneurship show on WI Public Radio. Scroll down to the programs listed for Thursday 2/5/09. 9:00 hour. Program number 090205D

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