The Age of Metapreneurship: 21st Century Entrepreneurship…

safe_image.php… or “What Has Been Happening With Me in the Last 5 years”.

“Entrepreneurs are surrounded by such institutions – economic development organizations, universities, incubators and accelerators, advisors and mentors. Like our union lady, they were once beautiful, attractive and effective. These institutions are teaching techniques and tools that are becoming duller and duller. Leaders of these organizations are like our generals. They are intelligent and determined to win the next war – but the terrain is changing too fast. Being an entrepreneur in one of these institutions can be like being a soldier trained to defend the Maginot line.”

“In many ways, he observes, it’s not that regional economic development organizations can’t do enough to foster entrepreneurial growth – it’s that they may be trying to do too much. Economic development agencies work with the only tools they have at their disposal: Taxes: Tax breaks, tax credits and other similar incentives. Real estate: Specially zoned buildings, office space, and manufacturing plants and incubators. Funding programs: Grants and contests; subsidizing tech transfer [and in certain cases – investment in tech sectors] Marketing: advertising and branding of the region, designed to attract companies to relocate. These all are formidable initiatives, visible and high profile – complete with ribbon cuttings, speeches and handshakes. And the impact on the prestige of the participants and organizations is also significant. But for the entrepreneurs who create scalable, growth companies that produce jobs – the impact is minimal.”

“If you’re an entrepreneur, the prospects of getting “no strings” attached money from the government can be alluring. Who cares if the government’s economic developed efforts are successful, as long as your start-up gets the cash it needs? The counterintuitive irony is that financial incentives can actually hurt startups. Pursuing grants, contests and participating in other funding programs can delay success. Those programs invariably move slowly and sometimes take years to complete – causing startups move at the speed of government, at the expense of other opportunities.”

“Most economic development agencies seem to rely overly on the relocation part of their toolkits. It’s not surprising, since there is relative instant-gratification for those running the program, and the formula is more tangible: advertise and market the benefits of your region, offer all the incentives you can to a prospect; get them to agree to relocation, and you’ll be able to announce 200 or 10,000 local jobs overnight. But this style of economic development alienates startups already in the region (whose founders presumably are taxpayers too). When their local government offers incentive resources to companies outside the region, it discourages local entrepreneurs from starting companies. The practice encourages local entrepreneurs to seek the same relocation incentives from other regions.”

“It’s a familiar meme: A large organization shovels money and resources in a misguided attempt to recreate success they’ve seen somewhere else. Outwardly everything looks like they’re achieving the outcome. But just like our cargo cults: when they try to recreate the successful ecosystems they have seen thrive elsewhere, they rarely succeed. They recreate all the same elements and components but something is different, something is missing. This “something missing, something different” is due an interesting dilemma: The skills and expertise it takes to create and run these economic development programs are almost the opposite of those required to be an entrepreneur. Like our cargo cult tribal leaders, administrators and government officials rarely have spent time as entrepreneurs themselves. Their main experience is in observing entrepreneurs. So, when they try to recreate a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem, the result is usually a surreal cargo cult recreation of Silicon Valley: Lots of appealing and well intentioned activities, but no cargo dropping from the sky.

“Building startup communities isn’t easy, even with a blueprint. And Brad Feld observes something important: how startup communities fall into typical traps that can condemn them to mediocrity. He describes ‘classical problems’ such as: The Patriarch Problem (‘old white guys with money’ still running the show); being too reliant on government; bias against newcomers, and attempts by a feeder to control the community.”

“T-Ball Entrepreneurship happens when a startup community just tries too hard. They begin with the best of intentions. Participants and leaders want an encouraging, nurturing environment where everyone is included, and where everyone can be an entrepreneur. But these good intentions transform the startup community into a T-Ball game where everyone is a star, no one fails, and everyone feels good. Everyone gets a trophy – but no one is ever ready for the major leagues. Here are the four pillars of the T-Ball Entrepreneurship community: The Cult of Cheerleaders The Cult of Contests The Cult of Coaches The Burning of the Heretics See if any of these describe a startup community you know”

“If an entrepreneurial community doesn’t have a concentration of seasoned professionals with intimate startup experience, then the pool of qualified contest judges is slim. Making matters worse, the sponsoring organization – usually a government agency, university or a large company – chooses the judges. Few inside these organizations have enough experience with entrepreneurship to judge a competition much less know how to identify a qualified judge.”

“In a T-Ball Entrepreneurship community, the most dangerous butterflies are feeders posing as entrepreneurial leaders. These are mentors and advisors who never started a successful venture nor have been directly involved with one. Again, these are usually people from other professions: services, large companies, institutions or those who have run a successful consulting or small business. They may have recently taken a Lean Startup class or a few workshops. Even more common are T-Ball cheerleaders, who end up running regional entrepreneurship organizations, by virtue of their ability to make everyone feel like a star.”

“But what if you do have the talent to be a successful entrepreneur? What if you’ve already been a successful entrepreneur? What’s it like to be a “pro” and walk into T-Ball game? Would you immediately be a star and a role model to everyone else? Probably not. If a pro-baseball player joined a T-Ball game he’d probably be kicked off the field after hitting the ball over the fence every time. His presence would be highly disruptive to the other players. His knowledge and talent would be a threat the T-Ball coaches. His advice would be ignored, since everyone is playing a much simpler game with different objectives. Eventually the pro-baseball player would be relegated to the bleachers. This is what it’s like for experienced, accomplished entrepreneurs in a T-ball Entrepreneurship community. Alienated because they are playing a different level of game, they are drowned out and silenced by the cheerleaders: Ostracized.”

Qualquer semelhanca entre isto, eu e Portugal nos ultimos 5 anos nao e’ pura coincidencia. Talvez escreva algo em Portugues sobre isso.

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