It’s entrepreneurship …not innovation that is the key to economic growth

Gallup Inc. has been using its StrengthsFinder methodology to look closely at what makes successful entrepreneurs tick, and its new book, “Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder” by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal, identifies some interesting strong suits.

The book is the result of 10 years of research across more than 4,000 successful entrepreneurs and describes the traits and behaviors that propel these entrepreneurs to create, build and literally change everything known about the world today.

Four ideas advanced by Clifton, Gallup’s CEO, in the forward of the book are important to share. These ideas underline the importance of identifying and cultivating the people that possess these strengths in all of our communities.

1.         The central belief that innovation is the key to economic growth is dead wrong — it is entrepreneurship that is the key to growth. Clifton argues that if innovation is the “cart,” entrepreneurship is the “horse” that creates the customers and value from any invention and innovation that occurs.

Universities and laboratories are full of invention and innovation. Patents abound. But until an entrepreneur takes an innovation and builds a business around it that solves a problem, attracts a customer and creates a job, innovation itself does nothing for economic growth.

2.         Entrepreneurship as measured by startup activity is in trouble. Despite growing confidence in the economy and a sense that we’ve seen economic recovery, for the first time since the numbers have been tracked, the latest census data shows that business deaths were higher than business births. That means that free enterprise as the engine of job creation and employment is slowing down and that can’t be good for our future. We need more successful startup activity and that means we need more entrepreneurs.

3.         Entrepreneurship is more about nature than nurture. The research shows that 5 in 1,000 working-age Americans possess the rare talents required of successful entrepreneurs. Identifying those with the skills and intentionally cultivating their talents with systematic support can accelerate growth of successful startup activities.

4.         Economic growth hinges on the ability to better identify and nurture entrepreneurial potential in children and working age adults. While educators identify and develop students with high IQs and those with great athletic talent, they are missing the estimated 150,000 blue chip entrepreneurs in today’s high schools and middle schools.

Similarly, there are lots of adults with this same talent that aren’t being cultivated. Finding these entrepreneurs and exposing them to curriculum, mentors and experiences that ignite their inborn talents will fuel the startup activity we need for growth.

 

As a reader of Smart Business Cleveland, you are most likely one of the 0.5 percent of the population with the gift of entrepreneurship in your DNA. As such, there is a role you can play in helping to cultivate the next wave of individuals that can shape our country’s growth. We are queuing up a conversation in September with Gallup in Cleveland. If you want to be a part of it, contact me at [email protected] and we’ll get you involved. — Steve Millard

 

Steve Millard is president and executive director of the Council of Smaller Enterprises. For the last 15 years, he has guided COSE’s work to support the success of small business owners and act as a nonpartisan advocate and resource for their needs on the state and national levels. Contact him at www.cose.org

 

 

 

 

Business owners need to take proactive steps for concerns to be heard

Small business is one of the most trusted institutions in American society. With politics in full swing prior to the 2014 midterm elections, it is becoming clearer that elected officials understand that small business issues are America’s issues.

Maybe it was the Great Recession. Maybe it’s the new normal of the 24-hour media cycle that has the ability to dissect people and issues with unyielding intensity. No matter the cause, elected officials in today’s world have fallen faster and farther than any other group in terms of reputation and credibility with the American public.

Confidence in institutions

You need to look no further than Gallup’s recent June 2014 poll of confidence in 16 of our country’s core institutions. Ranked last on the list with just 7 percent of those polled indicating a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence was Congress. And institutions — media, big business and organized labor — round out the bottom, peaking at just 23 percent confidence in the same poll.

So, in whom do the American people trust? In the last seven years, it has been the military and small businesses that have consistently led these rankings. With that kind of showing, it’s no wonder that folksy stories and photo opportunities featuring the small business owner next door and our uniformed soldiers dominate campaign rhetoric.

Getting access to America’s confidence in small business isn’t an easy play for our elected officials. Neither Republicans nor Democrats hold the high ground on small business. Recent national and local polling shows that among business owners, just 40 percent identify as Republicans, 25 percent as Democrats and 20 percent as Independents.

Yet, while they vote regularly, 85 percent don’t vote a straight party line and more than 40 percent say that neither party best represents their issues.

Time for real answers

Elected officials are realizing that they’ve got to get to real answers on tough issues to gain broad favor with small business owners. Businesses have to be more proactive in helping elected officials work toward solutions.

Sadly, less than one in four business owners report that their elected officials know who they are. If that’s the case, how can we take advantage of the position and potential provided to us by the confidence of other Americans? As business owners, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to get more engaged on what we believe are the right issues for our companies and our country.

The trust we have gives us the opportunity to carry the message, but we’ve got to tell our story. Find a way to make a call or extend an invitation to one of your elected representatives to visit with you and your business. Your perspective, your opinion and your experience can change the game — for every single American!

Dominion East Ohio, COSE offering free nonresidential energy assessments

CLEVELAND — Qualifying Dominion East Ohio customers who own or lease a nonresidential building may apply for free energy efficiency assessments (up to a $6,000 value) through a program offered by Dominion and the Council of Smaller Enterprises.

The program provides nonresidential customers in the Dominion territories, 35 counties across Ohio, including Marietta and Lima, with the resources they need to not only better understand their current energy use, but ultimately decrease it through energy efficiency improvements that can help cut utility bills.

“From our experience, the cost of the assessments and the cost of the resulting recommendations have been a barrier to small businesses in the past,” says Steve Millard, president and executive director of COSE.  “Those barriers have been removed with the free assessments and the fact that many of the recommendations coming out of the assessments are often at no cost or low cost suggestions.”

After participants apply for the program, COSE will schedule the assessment at a time convenient for the business owner or organization.  About two weeks later, COSE will present a detailed report that outlines all recommendations and an action plan for their implementation.

To qualify for the program and the free energy efficiency assessment, an organization or business must be serviced by Dominion on either the General Sales Service-Nonresidential or Energy Choice Transportation Service-Nonresidential rate schedule, and occupy a facility of no more than 25,000 square feet.  An online application can be found at www.DEONonResidentialAudits.org.  Those with questions can email at [email protected] or call (216) 592-2234.

Dominion East Ohio, COSE offering free nonresidential energy assessments

CLEVELAND, Feb. 18, 2013 — Dominion East Ohio and the Council of Smaller Enterprises have teamed up to offer free energy efficiency assessments (up to a $6,000 value) to qualifying Dominion customers who own or lease a nonresidential building.

The program provides nonresidential customers in the Dominion territories, 35 counties across Ohio, including Marietta and Lima, with the resources they need to not only better understand their current energy use, but ultimately decrease it through actionable energy efficiency improvements that can help reduce the costs of utility bills.

“From our experience, the cost of the assessments and the cost of the resulting recommendations have been a barrier to small businesses in the past,” says Steve Millard, president and executive director of COSE.  “Those barriers have been removed with the free assessments and the fact that many of the recommendations coming out of the assessments are often at no cost or low cost suggestions.”

Participants in this free program will experience a final outcome that can potentially save them significant dollars on their utility bills with little or no expenditures.  They will have a framework for long-term energy management.

After participants apply for the program, COSE will schedule the assessment at a time convenient for the business owner or organization.  Approximately two weeks later, COSE will present a detailed report that outlines all recommendations and an action plan for their implementation.

To qualify for the program and the free energy efficiency assessment, an organization or business must be serviced by Dominion on either the General Sales Service-Nonresidential or Energy Choice Transportation Service-Nonresidential rate schedule, and occupy a facility of no more than 25,000 square feet.  The quick and easy online application can be found at www.DEONonResidentialAudits.org.  Those with questions can email at [email protected] or call (216) 592-2234.