Sunday, April 19, 2009

You are not alone

I really love the work of the Kauffman Foundation, the foundation for entrepreneurship.

In my talks I quote one of my favorite Kauffman Foundation statistics. That stat has just been updated and I'd like to share it. I think it puts the discussion of entrepreneurship in a good perspective.

The Kauffman foundation has been keep a running tally of startups called their Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. I use one particular stat from this in most of my talks. The most recent full year data available is 2007.

In the United States in 2007 there were four hundred ninety-five thousand new startups. Every month. Month in and month out. And this rate of entrepreneurship, 0.30% (about 300 people out of every 100,000 adults) has held steady for more than a decade. My friends and I working in economic development see an uptick in the number of people engaging in 'forced entrepreneurship' due to the current economy so it's probably higher now.

Almost half a million new startups every month. Those are just official startups. The number of folks thinking about it or planning to open some kind of enterprise are probably 3 times that, filling the funnel with about a million startups per month at some stage of being birthed. You are not alone.

I was fortunate to hear a great keynote presentation given by Mr. Burt Chojnowski of Fairfield, Iowa this week. Anyone following these posts would love Burt (linked below). He is the only other person I've heard beyond me saying that it is scarier NOT to start a new enterprise than to start one, especially under the circumstances we're in now. Why would you trust all of your economic security to the vagaries of other people?

Burt also tracks these posts strongly in telling people that entrepreneurship is not a pathway toward quick money. He agrees that it's a matter of delivering well-crafted services and products that are executed at the highest levels. This doesn't require Silicon Valley type enterprises. It requires entrepreneurs doing what they love passionately and professionally, working in an environment designed to support them personally and professionally through their successes AND failures.

About a half million startups occur in the U.S. every month. Most are bootstrapped. Most are grown to solve problems the entrepreneurs are passionate about. If you count in partners, investors, employees, people planning a startup, what is that? One million people per month? Two million people or more per month wouldn't be a stretch.

You are not alone. You can do it. Reach out and look for help, mentors, tools, and advice. This stuff must come first. Money comes after this.

It will take longer than you think so start working at it now. Work cheap, act quickly, make as many inexpensive mistakes as possible, but most importantly, start to create action steps then take them.

Burt Chojnowski has run with some of the big dogs (Guy Kawasaki) and has a terrifically impressive entrepreneurship CV. I loved what he brought up during a discussion of planning for small scale startups. He said, (and I agree) "Entrepreneurs learn from on the job training." That is, get going, get in the game, and learn what you can as fast as you can and put that knowledge to work each new day.

Entrepreneurship is not an isolated activity undertaken by geniuses in labs. It’s a social movement with unbelievable depth and breath across all levels of our society. It is indeed the Renaissance age of entrepreneurship. And it's just beginning.

You can do it. There is plenty of help and plenty of peers available. Get going on your new enterprise, friend.

The time is right. You are not alone.

Read executive summary / Download full Kauffman Index to Entrepreneurship

Burt Chojnowski's Brainbelt Consulting

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