Category: Community

“We don’t need economic development. We need economic reinvention.” – Gov. John Kitzhaber

This quote came from Oregon’s Gov. Kitzhaber at the 2013 SSTI Conference.  It was a gathering of technology based economic development organizations and the speech was right on topic but there is a much deeper meaning.

Gov. Kitzhaber acknowledged that the pathway to growth and wealth creation has indeed changed and the same old tricks to attract and encourage this growth will no longer work.  So much is different; timeline of technology adoption, sources of capital, pervasive access to world markets, instant communication anywhere on the planet…

The cool thing now is markets are wide open for anyone to play.  You don’t need $100 million to get started and although there are still a few closed monopolies like cable and media companies, they can’t last forever.

Chambers and local governments are finding the returns of traditional economic development strategies will continue to  diminish as small startups take root, grow and churn.  The community may get this for free as it is the nature of entrepreneurs to overcome their obstacles and chose for themselves where they do it.  But how much more could these communities benefit if they could figure out how to create an environment that attracts and nurtures startups?

Hint: it won’t come from a standardized package of programs, rules and constraints.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

I’m reading an interesting book by Chris Guillebeau called “The $100 Startup”.  Chris is encouraging all of us to consider starting a business around a hobby or passion that could help other people.  Among the points he makes are that it doesn’t have to cost a ton of money to get started, nor does it require any highly specific skills.  Just the willingness to try and learn.

Our culture has less patience for people who do not adapt than ever in history.  This is no doubt fueled by technology’s rapid advancement and the globalization of our society.

The good news is that there is more information at hand… just a few milliseconds away…that can provide guidance and access to education through online training and mentoring through social networks; in many cases for absolutely free.  This will have profound consequences for our traditional forms of education.  The resume will be judged by how many startups you’ve done rather than the letters behind your name.

Meanwhile, there’s no reason for any of us to be hindered from pursuing a startup opportunity merely because of a lack of knowledge.  Your customers will tell what they want and that will lead you down the right path.  All the rest is a search engine or a phone call away.



Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy.” – Jim Collins

Jim Collins on Discipline – part 2 of 3

Rules generally mean one thing: people can’t be trusted to do the right thing.  Their presence also indicates ineffective leadership.  It’s easier to make rules for everyone than it is to deal with to root cause of a problem.

When you have rules, you have to enforce them and keep track of them and update them.  Before long, you have people whose job it is to enforce, keep track and update the rules.

Then it’s the rules that become the main thing.  Then we have the Federal Government.

Hire the right people.  Make sure they know the mission and their contribution.  Fire the wrong people quickly.



“Advertising is a tax for having an unremarkable product.” – Robert Stephens

You will have to let the world know about your product.  The easiest and cheapest way to do that is to let your customers do it for you.  They will if you delight them and solve their problem.

If your prototype is drawing a mediocre response, find out why.  People don’t rave about so-so.    You could release anyway but convincing people to buy mediocre takes a boat load of cash.

Delighted customers create community.  People like to join communities.

Be remarkable.

“Creating a healthy ecosystem is about churn. Whether companies grow, fail, leave or succeed is all part of it.” – Scott Case

The fact that somebody took a risk, got funded, hired some people and tried something is a good thing…for everybody.  We need to embrace our innovators and entrepreneurs and celebrate their failures as well as their successes.  A community that tolerates risk attracts more entrepreneurs and better companies.

The supreme challenge is typically not a lack of good ideas nor is it capital.  It’s experienced entrepreneurial talent.  You can’t gain experience without a few mistakes and at least a failure or tow.  That’s when you learn the most.

Churn is good.

“Entrepreneurs are the spark plugs in the engine of the US economy” – Grady Vanderhoofven

Money is of course the fuel but entrepreneurs are the fire.  Communities need to embrace their entrepreneurs.  They are the ones hiring and creating new jobs.  It’s great to have a new manufacturing plant move in but most likely, they left somewhere else and they can leave you when the economics dictate.

But it’s a long term play.  It may be two or three or four years before startups reach 25 employees.  So, have a lot of them.

And failure?  So what?  If a company forms, raises $2 million, hires 25 people, pays them great salaries for 5 years and does’t make it, why is that not a good thing?  They payed taxes, bought cars and refrigerators, office supplies and paid office rent.

Then again, they may grow to be worth $billions.

Home grown companies tend to be sticky.  After all, they chose your community to get started.  They must like it there.  Make sure they don’t leave.

“The death of the entrepreneur is solitude.” – Ernesto Sirolli

No matter how good you are or how much confidence you have, or how good your idea is…

You can’t get there alone.  You’ll need:

  • mentors
  • advisors
  • investors
  • partners
  • staff
  • commuity
  • customers

Surround yourself with good people.  Take them to lunch or buy them a $2.10 cup of coffee.  That’s important!

Join entrepreneurial support groups.  Share your time with others.  Be humble and ask for advise.

Say thank you!