November 18, 2008

Global Entrepreneurship Week

As an entrepreneur and business consultant, one of my greatest career accomplishments is helping people realizing their dreams in starting their own business. Many entrepreneurs have a vision of running a business, but often lack the capital and technical expertise required to create a business.

November 17-23, 2008 is Global Entrepreneurship Week, which seeks to:
  • Inspire--Introduce the notion of enterprising behavior to as many young people under the age of 30 who otherwise might not have considered it as a path in their life;
  • Connect--Network young people across national boundaries in a global effort to find new ideas at the intersection of cultures and disciplines;
  • Mentor--Enlist active and inspirational entrepreneurs around the world to coach and mentor the next generation of enterprise talent as they pursue their entrepreneurial dreams; and
  • Engage--Demonstrate to opinion leaders and policy makers that entrepreneurship is central to a nation's economic health and culture and to provide different nations with the opportunity to learn from each other on entrepreneurial policy and practice.
In commemoration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, American Public Media's Marketplace® ran a segment called, "Starting a business in a bad economy." There are a few points that are worth discussing.

Although one of Global Entrepreneurship Week's objectives is to introduce people under the age of 30 to using entrepreneurship as career path, many people over the age of 30 are losing their jobs that they have worked for most of their adult lives. It is the latter who will find themselves becoming entrepreneurs to make ends meet and odds are, they may find other potential business partners who are confronted with a similar unemployed situation.

In addition to having a strong comprehensive business plan, one of the greatest obstacles to starting your own business is having enough cash. As the Marketplace® story says, using your credit cards as a means to finance your business is a terrible idea. As much as possible, try to borrow money from friends and family. Many investors who hold shares in large multinational companies are seeing their portfolios nosedive. Providing investor value in your small business may provide a sense of comfort for certain investors.

Despite the budget constraints on the international governments, several development agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to provide loans for start-up enterprises. Furthermore, aspiring entrepreneurs should investigate options through their state, provincial, and municipal governments, which often provide capital and technical assistance to stimulate local economic development.

It is very challenging to start your own business during difficult economic conditions, but as the Marketplace® story notes several Fortune 500 companies were founded during down times. Yes, credit conditions may not have been so tight compared to today, but it still takes a vision, determination, sufficient planning, and a little luck to create a business to grow during the good times and sustain operations during the bad. "And there are other advantages to starting up in recession. Rent is cheap. And people like web designers and graphic artists may offer their services at a discount. After all, they're hurting for business too."

In my next entry, I will discuss a few strategies on maximizing your potential and minimizing your risks to achieve your dream of owning your own business.

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