Over the last three years, I’ve talked to more than one hundred and fifty champions, cheerleaders and advocates for entrepreneurs in their communities.
Some of them work at startup accelerators and small business incubators. Others operate coworking spaces. Yet others are economic developers, investors, community builders, policymakers, academics, mentors, advisors, and service providers to emerging small business and startup founders.
While they work in different official capacities, they all have one thing in common: they want to see their communities thrive, and they believe that entrepreneurship is one viable vehicle to achieve that.
In those conversations, we talked about the mindsets and professional skills we need to be effective in our efforts. With many of them, I’ve talked at length about the personal and emotional toll that this work takes.
Many of them admitted that they had brushed shoulders with burnout and came close to quitting. Some of them did.
What is it about this kind of work that makes it so hard and yet so rewarding?
If ecosystem builders lose steam and burn out because they’re unsupported and exhausted, then who’s going to support the changemakers at the front line?
Who is going to help us tilt the playing field in favor of ALL entrepreneurs and who will continue to work behind the scenes to re-envision our future, and actively work towards it?
In this first episode, I want to share with you how I transformed from social enterprise enthusiast to ecosystem builder. Join me as we zoom out of your role as a lone wolf and together, take a systems view of supporting entrepreneurs of ALL backgrounds.
Listen to the full episode to hear:
- How the nonprofit and social enterprise worlds silo information to the detriment of their stated missions
- How the dominant scarcity mindset pits do-good organizations against each other
- The trip that made me realize that scarcity thinking and lack of collaboration were a systemic issue
- The power we unleash when breaking silos and focusing on the needs of entrepreneurs
- What ecosystem building looks like in practice
Fellow Ecosystem Builders:
- Debbie Irwin, Shenandoah Community Capital Fund
- Grace Belangia, Make Startups
- Jay Cooper, Freelance Media Producer
- Rob Williams, SourceLink
- Eric Parker, Make Startups
- Cecilia Wessinger
- Mark Lawrence, Inncuvate
- Tom Chapman, Chapman & Co.
- Michelle Parvinrouh
- Steven Rodriguez, 1863 Ventures & Suego