Monday, November 26, 2012

The Attractive Landscape of the Entrepreneurial US

Written by Evie Francis, former Kansas City business specialist.  

Entrepreneurship is a form of art—the skillful balanced acts of one, who willfully undertakes business, applies innovation as well as finance activity with the aim and effort to transform any kind of innovation into economic goods. A startup company offering the most basic service or produce is entrepreneurship in its most obvious form.

However, some of the fastest-growing or smartest US entrepreneurial performers of 2012 managed to do much more than just that. With major players on the entrepreneurial field of social media, engineering, food services and environmentalism—the biggest success stories of 2012—we have seen astonishing growth and expansion figures from startups over the past two or three years, some increasing their profits with more than 4000%.

Major players diverse and widespread
A recent study done by the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation shed some light on where entrepreneurial companies and franchises have been experiencing the biggest growth spurts in the United States. As a whole, Texas, Washington, California, Florida, Illinois and Michigan are some of the states which have shown the most growth in innovation and entrepreneurial growth, but quite a few Kansas City area-based players have been mentioned as well—Strategic AR, UnitedLex, Nextaff, Rhythm Engineering and Sweet Spot Marketing.

The Kauffman study also found that women made up almost 14% of new startup entrepreneurs over the past 18 months, a prime example being the “Mompreneurs” phenomenon, in which mothers use the internet as a driving force for a national (not just local) reach.

Although Kansas or Missouri did not rate amongst the top 20 entrepreneurial states in the US, there has been substantial growth in terms of revenue made and steady year-on-year growth, rather than just the amount of new companies started.

Accelerating US economic growth
Entrepreneurship has been a major key driver of the US economy. The majority of jobs and wealth are created by small businesses which were started by individuals with entrepreneurial mindsetsmany of whom ended up creating very big businesses.

The entrepreneurial visionary website has highlighted the following industries as the biggest influencers currently on the entrepreneurial map: technology, apps, food and beverages, travel, health, geek chic (digitalised comics), invention, retail, social media and social music or art.

Over the past 18 months, many products and services represented by the US’ annual roundup of 100 Brilliant Companies, as published on, have come from entrepreneurial individuals. It should come as no surprise that these innovative startups were mostly focused on digital technology (apps, development platforms and gadgets related to mobile phones, social networking and health care).

An entrepreneurial future
The United States Department of Labor statistics show that nearly 80 percent of would-be entrepreneurs in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 34. A recent poll from Junior Achievement (JA) found that 68.6% of the teenagers interviewed wanted to become entrepreneurs, even though they knew that it would not be an easy path. Despite this overwhelming interest, however, youth rarely receive any information about entrepreneurship as a career option.

A report published by the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Corporation shows a wealth of  positive outcomes from implementing entrepreneurship and innovation-focused training from an early age leads to increased problem-solving and decision-making abilities, improved interpersonal relationships, teamwork, money management, and public speaking skills, enhanced social psychological development (self-esteem, ego development, self-efficacy), and perceived improved health status.

For the love of the game
You can’t view the statistics on business startups all as one. A small business such as an independent taxi driver cannot be considered in the same statistics as a Silicon Valley startup with $15 million in backing. An accountant in Wisconsin starting a personal practice can’t be equalized to a new battery-powered car manufacturing company in Houston. However, when viewed in context, first-time entrepreneurs all learn the same lessonssometimes painfullyover time, no matter how groundbreaking the product or the guaranteed return on an investment may be.

Even with all training and experience considered, there are thousands, if not millions of “wantrapreneurs” going under every year. Well-known former entrepreneur Mark Suster has publicly spoken against those who glamorize startups. “I don't think the big shocker for most people is the prospect of disappointment or outright failure,” he has stated. Suster believes most entrepreneurs underestimate how much hard work is involved to start something new. “This is because most people's hard work meter is calibrated to 10 and entrepreneurship requires you to often go to 11.”

Still, Suster says he would love to be back in the game. His attitude is shared by thousands of serial founders who run the marathon and (maybe) fail, but after another year’s strong practice, head back to the starting line. “Entrepreneurs don't have to be the bravest or smartest or most persistent people in the room. They have to be the most psychically tough.”

Written by Evie Francis.  Evie Francis is a former KC resident and business specialist who has covered everything from specialist business vehicle cover to startup capital.

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