Saturday, March 21, 2009

Unleashing talent

I had a wonderful experience this week speaking with a group of energized citizens.

There is nothing that can focus your attention on the good in life better than hanging around with people working to make that happen.

We got to share some stories about the kinds of businesses people were starting; why people were starting them; and importantly, how energized citizens can participate and help.

I'd been thinking about a NY Times piece from this past week called "Weary of Looking for Work, Some Create Their Own".

Matt Richtel reported from San Francisco, and Jenna Wortham from New York.

It was decidedly downbeat about people being pushed into "forced entrepreneurship", as described by Mark V. Cannice, executive director of the entrepreneurship program at the University of San Francisco.

However, he also described reality as I see it, “If there is a silver lining, the large-scale downsizing from major companies will release a lot of new entrepreneurial talent and ideas — scientists, engineers, business folks now looking to do other things,” Mr. Cannice said. “It’s a Darwinian unleashing of talent into the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

A Darwinian unleashing of talent. An unplanned opportunity to create real solutions to real problems.

I wouldn't restrict the new entrepreneurs to just those categories described above. I'd throw in all the rest of us. We all need to participate in the economy directly. We all need the opportunity to build more economic security into our lives.

So how do we help?

The NY Times article talks about the remarkable availability of resources and tools for entrepreneurship. Barriers to entry are falling away on many fronts: marketing, financing, accounting, vendors, etc.

The article also drilled down to the most pressing issue for new startups. It will seem obvious when you see it in print, but it is painfully lacking too often in the world of entrepreneurship. That is, for any enterprise to be sustainable, it has to solve real problems.

New enterprises that solve real problems must be nurtured. We need their solutions. They need our help.

That's what my new energizing friends did for me at the presentation this week. They gave me a chance to talk about nurturing the smart ones. The green ones. The problem solvers.

Most important of all, they listened and then took action steps.

Steps that will lead to a local, independent, micro-loan fund dedicated to helping new and existing enterprises nurture and grow their smart, sustainable solutions. My friends didn't just listen, they began taking concrete steps to help their local economy and in many small ways, change the world.

The economy needs and wants new smart startups and growing small businesses. There is no shortage of entrepreneurs though there are plenty of barriers to the unleashing of that talent. It's the job of all of us to break down those barriers.

It couldn't have been more exciting to be among good people taking steps to enable talent and enterprise to flourish. That's how we help.

NY Times article. "Weary of Looking for Work, Some Create Their Own", by Matt Richtel and Jenna Wortham Published March 13, 2009

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