Think about the community you live in. What kind of people do you see walking around? What are their jobs, or roles? What sort of news does your community focus on? What, or who, does it celebrate? What are your community's values?
These answers will vary widely from person to person. Lots of people live in rural areas, where farming is prevalent and the land is most important. Others are receiving an education while living on a college campus, where learning is obviously most important. Some live in a growing hubbub where start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurship are valued most of all.
Think of the Silicon Valley. In the Bay Area, it's almost quite weird if you haven’t started a business or been involved with a start-up. These things are highly valued there, so it’s no wonder that the norm is successful entrepreneurship. You can see highly successful folks at the local coffee shop or bump into at least a few entrepreneurs every day. What we value is what we become good at.
If the community you're surrounded by focuses highly on entrepreneurship and business, that means you are in an entrepreneurship ecosystem.
What is an entrepreneurship ecosystem?
Entrepreneurs are most successful when they have access to the human, financial and professional resources they need, and operate in an environment in which government policies encourage and safeguard entrepreneurs. Healthy entrepreneurship ecosystems have these qualities.
How can you tell if you're in an ecosystem?
Are you not sure if you're in an ecosystem that will support or escalate your entrepreneurial dreams? Well, it's all about what your community values. Value systems are important as they express the shared beliefs, desires, and hopes of the region. Here are six important values.
Education increases the skills of the human resources available to entrepreneurs. More educated individuals will generally be more skilled, but will also cost more to employ.
Places like Boston have a high level of local scientific and medical technology startups because of M.I.T. and Harvard. Meanwhile, an agriculture school or an arts school would provide for different types of entrepreneurial opportunities.
Communities achieve identities. Does your community share a common understanding of who they are? Are decisions that affect the community achieved agreeably?
Is there pride in your community? A community of pride can make the work of entrepreneurs less difficult as it rallies customers around their products or services.
Are the regulations created supportive of entrepreneurs? Is the path to approval to open a business easy to understand and execute, thanks to the government? Do government officials go out of their way to embrace entrepreneurs, or are they only attentive to bigger companies?
Are there entrepreneur of the year awards in your region? Do the regional media cover the successes of entrepreneurs? Are entrepreneurs highlighted at Chamber and Rotary events?
In general, does your region share optimism about the future? Does the populace consider the region a good place to live? Do the people feel confident things will continue to improve?
Entrepreneurs by nature are optimistic. They must be optimistic to take on risks and sacrifice several years of their lives working hard to launch a business, with little money for themselves!
Legacies, pioneers, and boomerangs
Regions are composed of three types of people.
Legacies grew up in the region and never left (except maybe to go away to college). Pioneers grew up somewhere else but “chose” to live in the region. Boomerangs grew up in the region, left for a significant number of years, and then came back. A balance of all three is ideal for a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Legacies tend to resist change, but have a deep understanding of the community and its members. Pioneers bring many new ideas to the community, but lack an understanding of how the idea will be received over the short and long run. Boomerangs bring new ideas to the region, but often assume the region has changed little since they left.
So where does this leave you?
If you are starting a new business or focusing on entrepreneurial skills, hopefully you have the ecosystem to support and back you up. If the entrepreneurship ecosystem is not in front of your face, you may be surprised to find a group of like-minded individuals with a little searching.
So what is your entrepreneurship ecosystem like? Leave us a comment or reach out on Twitter to let us know!