You Cannot Reap What You Have Not Sown.
Pitch competitions, coffee meetups, a new venture fund – these are all tools of the startup community builder. But these are just a few of the proverbial tools of the community builder toolbox. Some argue that there is one perfect community building tool that will produce the breakout community outcome we all dream about. I argue that point passionately.
If there is not one individual tool that creates that breakout phenomena, then what are we to do to as community builders?
Let’s use a trick I use in just about every business building mentorship opportunity – let’s go to our targeted outcome, turn around, and look back to today.
One of my favorite starting points in determining where a startup community is in their journey is to determine the current and then optimal capacity # of entrepreneurs in the region.
The question to ask yourself is this, “what do we need to do to create an environment where thousands of entrepreneurs are operating in my city”? I am a crawl-walk-run guy and so I look at that question like this:
- How many entrepreneurs are in my town today?
- If the answer is 50, I would characterize the area as a “developing” community and focus on setting a target of 200 over the next 2-3 years.
- If the answer is 200, I would characterize the area as an “emerging” community and look to increase the number of entrepreneurs to 500 over the next 3-5 years.
- If the answer is 1,000, I would characterize the area as “self-sustaining” and focus on maintaining that number and letting a flywheel effect take me the rest of the way.
- What do we need to do to achieve our goal of getting to “thousands of entrepreneurs”?
- Developing communities should scale back expectations and focus on local, organic entrepreneurs. What tactics do you need to put in place to optimize every potential entrepreneur in region today?
- Emerging communities should focus on optimizing the current local entrepreneurs, provide frictionless access to early-stage local resources, and begin to celebrate early success.
- Self-Sustaining communities should make sure that the entrepreneurs have access to the resources necessary to super-scale their business (which potentially means reaching out beyond the local network).
In order to move the community ahead, you must plant the seeds that you wish to harvest years later. What seeds do you need to plant to reach your 2-3 year goals? You cannot harvest what you have not previously planted.