Some years ago I wrote a training exercise with a site selector. It was based on a parody of Paul Simon’s 1975 hit, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.
I called it 50 Ways to Leave a Community. Terribly witty, I know. The goal of the exercise was to identify what communities do that cause a business to leave town.
If you are a millennial and have no idea who Paul Simon is (I am looking at you Adam) it had a catchy little refrain to it. To save you time Googling it, the lyrics went something like this: Slip out the back, Jack / Make a new plan, Stan, / Hop on the bus, Gus, / You don’t need to be coy, Roy, / just drop off the key, Lee…”
Our parody paralleled it:
Ignore the biz, Liz,
Raise the tax, Max,
Write a bad reg, Meg,
Just need more space, Grace,
Limited talent pool, Jewell…
I won’t bore you with all the lyrics that were written. You’ll just have to wait for my upcoming release of the song on EcoDevo Records. Suffice it to say, it was a great exercise. People in the class told stories about what they could have done to retain a business they eventually lost and how they were going to change their practices when they got back to the office.
Many, particularly those in rural communities, recognized that they needed to pay more attention to their existing businesses by doing the little things needed to help small business start and grow rather than trying to recruit a company from somewhere else. A “grow from within” strategy may not be the sexiest strategy, but it is the most productive and lasting one.
In November, thousands of events and competitions in 160 countries will inspire millions to engage in the ultimate “grow from within” strategy – entrepreneurship – while connecting entrepreneurs to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors.
Known as Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), the Nov. 13 to 19 celebration was created a decade ago by the Kauffman Foundation and has since grown from a dozen or so celebrants to more than 25 million participants. (There is also a Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) being observed, discussed, and celebrated November 29 in 144 different countries.)
Since 2013, Washington State has been a leader in GEW. The state hosted more than 200 events in all 39 counties during November 2014 and 2015. We had so many events that we couldn’t fit them into a week so Governor Inslee issued a proclamation and claimed November “Global Entrepreneurship Month”.
Frankly, entrepreneurship should be celebrated 365 days a year. But GEW and WED give you a great excuse to give entrepreneurship a little extra love in your town, increasing its visibility and importance in creating and sustaining a local community and also providing another reason why your small businesses and entrepreneurs should not leave the community.
Now, I can hear you lamenting, “Maury, November is a long time away! Blog me closer to the date”. But November really is sneaking up fast, at least from an event planning perspective. I’m sure you don’t invite people over to Thanksgiving on the Tuesday before. As my grandmother Bubba Bluma used to tell me, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth planning five months out.” Or something to that effect. (it gets lost in the Yiddish translation).
But, I can also hear you saying, “Maury, what does this have to do with Paul Simon?” Well, Paul Simon claimed to have 50 reasons to leave a lover but only gave us 5. In my quest to identify truth in economic development, and in the interest of spurring ideation for this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, I have compiled “50 Ways to Start a Business” where success requires advanced planning.
These are actual events coordinated and promoted from the Kauffman Foundation’s Idea Bank and Washington State’s own GEW celebrations. The intent is that you begin to think about, refine and coordinate GEW or WED in your own community now.
The “50 Ways” include different events and activities directed at all ages. The idea of starting a business can begin with our youth and continue well into retirement years. The rewards are many, but for rural communities, perhaps the most important reward is that you may retain all that intellectual and financial capital that may otherwise move to urban centers.
I strongly encourage you to start planning for GEW/WED right now. I can safely tell you that from my own experience, it will be one of the highlights of your community’s economic development activities even if my entrepreneurial music career never gets off the ground. Of course, just as there are more verses I could serenade you with, there are also many more ways to showcase entrepreneurship in your own community.
50 ways to Start a Business (to the tune of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover)
Learn how to bake, Blake,
Invent a new toy Roy
Just learn to sell, Belle
Recruit a great crew, Drew
There are 50 ways to start a business…