We are at a turning point in history. The exponential increase in connectivity and technology is ushering us in a new economic era. As the Industrial Age comes to a close and a new economic system emerges, we face massive change and uncertainty. But there is also tremendous opportunity.
An opportunity—and an imperative.
We must make our economy more entrepreneurial, creating more growth, jobs, wealth and innovation. Communities need to think beyond stealing companies from other jurisdictions and retaining existing companies. Instead, they must concentrate on growing new companies. Entrepreneurship is about opening access to economic prosperity for everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from. We must forge a new American Dream that is more accessible to all.
Traditional methods of helping entrepreneurs aren't enough. We can't just give out more tax incentives, infusions of capital or access to a business incubator. There is no silver bullet that will address the entrepreneurship deficit or the barriers to entrepreneurship that many face. We must address the entire system. We need to change the way we think about helping entrepreneurs.
People are the new companies.
Traditional economic development focuses primarily on attracting, retaining and growing existing companies. However, those techniques seem increasingly limited in impact. We need to focus more on the people who bring ideas to life—the entrepreneurs. It's time to update our economic development paradigm to a human-centered one, concentrating on people who create economic value from scratch. That is, entrepreneurs.
Every entrepreneur has distinct stories and unique aspirations. They all face barriers in their own way. Our task is to help them start their businesses and give them the individualized assistance they need to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Ecosystems are the answer.
Entrepreneurship doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's the result of countless complex interactions in a community. No single organization can provide sufficient help to all the entrepreneurs in a community.
We have to build the ecosystem that surrounds entrepreneurs. Ecosystems help entrepreneurs thrive at each step. Just as the complex biological system of soil, water, sunlight, flora and fauna in a rainforest allows individual plants to flourish, so the ecosystem for entrepreneurs is essential to their success. Healthy ecosystems allow talent,
information and resources to flow quickly to entrepreneurs as they need it.