Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Building Start-up People for New Jobs and Economic Growth

Every day I get news releases about entrepreneurship and how important it is to create new businesses. Ok, I can agree with that, but I am very worried we are spending a lot of money, time and energy on creating new companies and worshiping entrepreneurs at the expense of supporting the many companies that exist, have products and that are trying to grow.

I recently read a blog that reported data showing 40% of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) say they are at risk of going out of business in 2013. The answer to this problem was suggested to be creating more companies through entrepreneurship.

Here's the deal -- I teach entrepreneurship. I am an entrepreneur. I coach entrepreneurs. I believe that entrepreneurship can be taught and is important content. But I don't think creating a lot of new companies, alone, will save the day.

Help Save More Small and Medium-Size Firms

There is another answer to the jobs, economy, and wealth creation problem. What if we help those 40% of the SMEs who are struggling to stay in business? Why is the answer only to create more companies?

Introducing the Science of Growth

We know how to help companies expand and grow. The team that I've been doing research with for the last 20 years has been doing extensive data collection and case study work on fast-growth firms. We're not the only ones, but at least I can say first hand that we know how to help small and medium-size firms grow. We know how to help companies turn around. There's science out there that has been applied to real-world companies and that can help save some of those 40% SMEs. We use work from physics, sports physiology, social science, management and organization, and more to accelerate growth and successfully build businesses.

Building Start-up People

At the grass roots level, we are training our students at UNL to not just be entrepreneurs but to be start-up people. Start-up people are individuals who know how to start a business, and they also know well how to support, change and grow a business. Start-up people can thrive in highly volatile, changing work conditions. Start-up people are confident to speak up even when it's risky. Start-up people learn to fight fair and know how to graciously lose. Start-up people are proud of being part of a winning team; they don't need the personal glory. Start-up people are successful in helping new ventures kick off, small start-ups grow, larger companies become more innovative and in starting up new projects that help businesses of any size meet their goals.

If you want to Grow, Hire Start-up People as a Starting Point

Where are we building start-up people? We're starting the movement to build start-up people at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Yes, we're not on the east coast or the west coast; we are dead center in the middle of the United States. And we're doing it at a university with a long and strong history in the science of growth. Of course, I'm talking about growing crops to feed the country. Today we're building strong employees to help grow the country's businesses.

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