How to Support Missouri Entrepreneurship . . . in Just 1 Hour
Before we dig into “how you can support entrepreneurs in Missouri,” let’s tackle the “why,” “where” and “who.”
Why does entrepreneurship matter in Missouri’s farming communities, the Ozarks or the Bootheel? And who, beyond innovation-led companies, startup founders and wealthy equity investors, needs to care?
The answers to “where” and “who”: everywhere and anyone. The “why”: because entrepreneurship matters.
Here’s the deal: Entrepreneurs create our main streets, they define our culture, they support existing industries, provide support services to our communities’ largest employers, nurture talent and, plain and simple, create jobs.
In fact, according to the Kauffman Foundation, entrepreneurs create the bulk of net new jobs in the United States. Let’s bring that stat a little closer to your Missouri home. KCSourceLink, which connects Kansas City entrepreneurs and business owners to the resources they need to start and grow, has drilled that number down for its 18-county bistate region. It found that KC startups—companies with fewer than 20 employees who hired their first employee—created some 58 percent of new jobs from 2013 to 2017; that’s approximately 80,000 jobs—more actual jobs than Amazon’s promise of 50,000 for its next HQ.
The moral of that particular story: Whether you’re in Kansas City or Kahoka, we Missourians can’t afford to wait for someone from the outside to save our communities and our economies. We have to take the lead.
> > > (Stay tuned: We’ll be reporting on this data for Missouri in the months to come. Subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like us to let you know when that data is released.)
So, yes, that’s some serious economic impact—and yet, many communities, in Missouri and elsewhere, focus all their efforts on attracting business from far and wide. Strategies around attraction and retention are critical to a region’s growth, but we also need to have a strategy to grow our own and to support entrepreneurs who are already part of our community.
Here’s what we know: In a thriving ecosystem, entrepreneurship empowers individuals to solve problems, it improves standards of living, it creates jobs and transferable wealth, it stokes innovative ideas, and it fuels our economy.
But, a caveat and nugget of truth (and I’m borrowing from the Kauffman Foundation’s State of Entrepreneurship address): “The success of an entrepreneurial ecosystem can’t be bought. It has to be built.”
A thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem takes all kinds of entrepreneurs, and it takes us—consumers and investors, innovators and makers, civic leaders and lawmakers—to step up and support entrepreneurship.
Every month, the Kauffman Foundation tells us, just 3 out of every 1,000 people in the United States leap into entrepreneurship and start a new business. In Missouri, we know that 292,997 people are thinking of starting a business. So some rough math: about 878 of those, across the state of Missouri, will actually take the leap.
But, you know what, entrepreneurship—the sustainability of our economy, closing the wealth gap, supporting innovations and bold ideas—it’s not just up to those who want to start a business. It’s up to all of us. Seeding the hope and success of entrepreneurship isn’t solely reserved those 878 risk-taking entrepreneurs.
Everyone can—scratch that—everyone needs to get involved to create a vibrant ecosystem.
So what can you do? Let’s be real about it.
We have some ideas—and most of these would take less than an hour a day or less than an hour a week —even less than an hour a month. In fact, you could take one of these simple steps in the next several minutes. And, I’m thinking that’s a pretty do-able investment for the health, wealth and hope of your community and the state of Missouri.
Make a connection.
Be prepared to open your own network and make a connection. And if you don’t know how to help entrepreneurs where you live, refer them to MOSourceLink. We will create a Personal Action Plan for any entrepreneur or business owner, from anywhere in Missouri, at any stage in their business journey, to guide them through their next steps and next resources to help their business. Our services are free (we’re funded by the Missouri Technology Corporation and the University of Missouri System) and our referral network is comprised of low- and no-cost resources (you can DIY and access them all here) that are committed to building businesses and building communities.
Keep your community’s startup process in your back pocket.
Know your community’s startup resources, and refer them freely to anyone who needs a connection. If you don’t readily know that path of startup and business resources, reach out to us and we’ll send it to you. That was easy.
Two words: Shop local.
Investing in a “startup” doesn’t always mean Kickstarter or equity. Sometimes, it simply means making the choice to buy your coffee at a local coffee shop or getting those nuts and washers at a local hardware store. Make the choice to seek out locally owned shops and services and choose them when you can.
Improve someone’s social network.
Social networks are everything to a startup. It’s often the make-or-break introduction to first customers, investors and mentors. Be the last mile: Introduce people you know to their next resource, mentor, investor and customer.
Attend (or sponsor or convene) a meetup.
Make your next mid-year’s or full moon or Monday or morning resolution to attend an entrepreneurial event in your community to learn who’s taking the leap into entrepreneurship and how you can help them. Our MOSourceLInk calendar is a great place to find (or list) those events. (In minutes, you’re done.)
Walk in to any of those events with the simple question (which we borrowed from 1 Million Cups, an entrepreneurial networking event that happened every Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Columbia, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Sedalia, Springfield and St. Louis.): How can our community help you?
Share an entrepreneur’s story in your communications. Feature the success stories of your community’s entrepreneurs on your business blog, in your newsletter or with your local media. Talk up your new businesses at the salon, barber shop, grocery line, Rotary Club or on Facebook. Make it a feature, and priority, to share your community’s businesses forward.
Don’t have a blog, newsletter or media connections? We and our network of 500+ resource partners do. Just give us the details, and we’ll follow up. Who needs their story told?
Build your business in Missouri.
So maybe you’re the 3 in 1,000. We’re ready to support you with our network of 500+ statewide resources. Reach out and let us know what you need. What’s your next challenge or milestone? We’ll help you find the resources, coaches, mentors and investors you need to get there. Just give us some info about your business here to get your Personal Action Plan started. And, I think I mentioned? Our services = free.
Not sure where to plug in? Have more you want to do?
We can make Missouri the state for entrepreneurship between the coasts. But we need you. Maybe you’d like to invest in Missouri startups or start a fund; maybe you’re a corporate leader who can sponsor, be a first customer or host an event? Or maybe you’re one of the 3 in 1,000 and just need a boost in the right direction?
Our links are there, our number is at the top of the page and we’re ready to connect you to Missouri entrepreneurship.