3 Ways Entrepreneurship Education Can Elevate Economically-Challenged Communities

I have believed for a long time that entrepreneurship education could be used as a strategic empowerment tool to lift up those in poverty-stricken communities. I’m very excited to see social entrepreneurship strategies being used all over the world to elevate people and communities out of their financial and social distress. Unfortunately, I don’t often see the same entrepreneurial energy and intentionality utilized here in the United States to help those who are challenged will lack of access to resources and tools that can help create new avenues of economic opportunity.

Entrepreneurship education is just as valid a poverty-smashing solution in urban communities in the U.S. as they are in slums in India or villages in Africa. Even more, when entrepreneurship education is paired with Biblical principles, you have the makings of people who are not just skilled as businesspeople, they also develop the morals and character to operate a business that’s profitable and positively impacts others.

Here are three practical ways entrepreneurship education can elevate economically-challenged communities:

  1. Sense of Ownership: Embedded within an entrepreneurial mindset is a sense of ownership. Entrepreneurs who operate businesses within a community usually have a heightened desire to take accountability for what happens in that community, because they know they need that community to succeed if their business is going to be sustainable.
  2. Sense of Purpose: Without a revelation of their purpose and significance, people cast off restraint and run wild (Proverbs 29:18 NIV). When people have no sense of purpose, they lose hope and stop caring about themselves and the people around them. Entrepreneurship education helps ignite the purpose in people to pursue something greater than what they may see around them everyday. Entrepreneurship education is an incredible platform to transport people from where they are to their God-ordained destiny.
  3. Creative Energy: People in poverty-stricken areas don’t lack creativity, they are just using their creative abilities far below the purpose for which God created them. Entrepreneurship empowerment can help people use their ingenuity beyond just basic survival or even criminal pursuits. Creative energy that wasn’t being used previously or being used for the wrong things are now channeled in a positive, beneficial direction for themselves and others.

We’re on a mission to stimulate the creation of 1 million jobs. If you want to learn more about how we’re using entrepreneurship education to elevate urban and rural communities, check out The (Un)Employment Alternative. We’re raising money right now to bring entrepreneurship education to Cedartown, GA so we can create jobs, restore hope, and revitalize that community. We need your help. Please partner with us today!

What do you think? How can entrepreneurship education help your city or community?

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Fulfill your purpose in the marketplace!

Your true life does not have to be only a dream, it can be a dream manifested in 3D! Learn how to Discover, Define, and Drive your desires by unleashing the God given muse to help you envision yourself in a B.I.G. way. God designed you for greatness so stop dreaming small. Uncover your legacy. Now is the season for a Bold Innovative God-Inspired Life! You owe it to yourself to see just how far your true dream in life can take you.

KBU Partners with Local Community to Launch Innovative Jobs Program

What is The (Un)Employment Alternative?

This is Kingdom Business University’s (KBU) ambitious plan to stimulate the creation of 1 million jobs through faith-based, purpose-centered entrepreneurship education. We are starting in Cedartown, GA. Help us today at www.theunemploymentalternative.com.

The Impact
The vision of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Cedartown, GA – a diverse group including pastors, entrepreneurs, social workers, and city officials – is to use entrepreneurship education as a catalyst to bring social and economic empowerment back to a region that is challenged with crime, unemployment, poverty, and lack of opportunities. They have partnered with Kingdom Business University to provide entrepreneurship classes that will restore hope, launch new businesses, create jobs, and catalyze new opportunities for the unemployed, ex-offenders, and youth who have been unable to find viable work and sustainable income sources.

What We Need & What You Get
Our goal is to raise $2500 on IndieGogo, which will pay for the first 30 participants. The more we raise the more people and can teach. Our desire is to offer this program at a minimal financial cost to the participants, although they will be asked to invest in this opportunity in other ways, such as community service. The amount will go towards:curriculum, facilities, supplies, and other related expenses. Additional funds will also be applied toward establishing a business incubator that will provide on-going support to graduates.

We have some great perks for those who contribute at the $25, $100, and $250 levels. Just look to column on the right side of this page www.theunemploymentalternative.com ▶

Other Ways You Can Help
This project is just the beginning. We aspire to help communities around this country implement their own economic recovery plan. In addition to your donations, help us spread the word. We are more than willing to come to your city, community, or church to talk about this innovative program and how we can create a customized version for your city.

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Fulfill your purpose in the marketplace!

Your true life does not have to be only a dream, it can be a dream manifested in 3D! Learn how to Discover, Define, and Drive your desires by unleashing the God given muse to help you envision yourself in a B.I.G. way. God designed you for greatness so stop dreaming small. Uncover your legacy. Now is the season for a Bold Innovative God-Inspired Life! You owe it to yourself to see just how far your true dream in life can take you.

A Biblical Entrepreneurship Solution to Poverty

The Census Bureau just reported that in 2009 the poverty rate for all Americans jumped to 14.3%, the highest rate since 1994. And the 43.6 million Americans that fit this category is highest number in 51 years. According to analysts from the Brookings Institution, poverty is expected to continue climbing, reaching a high of about 16%, over the next 10 years. If this holds true, another 10 million Americans – including 6 million children – will be in poverty by then (Source: CNNMoney).

This is a very challenging situation for every American because poverty doesn’t just impact those in poverty, but the rest of our society who are called upon to support them through taxes paid to the government.

One solution for this crisis is morally-based with an economic twist. Biblical Entrepreneurship (BE) is a spiritual approach to business that provides a strong mix of Biblical principles and business best practices. BE teaches people how to do business God’s way with God’s resources to get God’s results. Biblical Entrepreneurs learn how to morally operate and grow sustainable businesses, create jobs, and empower people with critical skills that result in enriched lives and transformed communities.

Next week Nehemiah Project International Ministries’s Biblical Entrepreneurship Conference is taking place in Atlanta, GA. NPIM Weekend is an annual celebration for Biblical Entrepreneurs and other Christian business owners to learn, network, and grow. Some dynamic Christian speakers and business leaders will be there to present a Biblical perspective on business with a specific focus on entrepreneurship.

Learn more or register for Nehemiah Weekend at http://nehemiahproject.org/events-npim-week.htm

There is a viable solution to the poverty problem. We just need to start looking in a place that hasn’t been widely considered.

Live Passionately!

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Your true life does not have to be only a dream, it can be a dream manifested in 3D! Learn how to Discover, Define, and Drive your desires by unleashing the God given muse to help you envision yourself in a B.I.G. way. God designed you for greatness so stop dreaming small. Uncover your legacy. Now is the season for a Bold Innovative God-Inspired Life! You owe it to yourself to see just how far your true dream in life can take you.

If you are looking for purpose in your life and life in your purpose, this is the perfect book for you. Get your copy today at www.DreamBIGin3D.com.

Small Biz Firms Ahead of Goal for Stimulus Funds… Sort Of

Whenever there is a new government spending initiative, I’m always curious to know how small businesses will be included. GovernmentExecutive.com has a blog post that provides somewhat of a status update for how the federal stimulus dollars are being spent (click here).

It’s encouraging to know that $1 out of every $4 that has been spent by federal agencies so far has been spent with small businesses. However, there is still much work to be done with multiple large agencies coming up short of their goals.

According to Joe Jordan, associate administrator for government contracting business development at the Small Business Administration, in testimony before the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee:

“… small disadvantaged businesses have received 11 percent of stimulus contracts, exceeding the goal of 5 percent, he said. Meanwhile, firms owned by service-disabled veteran-owned firms and those operating in historically underutilized business zones have received 4 percent and 7 percent of Recovery contracting dollars, respectively. The goal for both categories is 3 percent.”

While these are good signs that the government is following through on its promises to intentionally include small businesses in contracting opportunities, pressure needs to be kept on underperforming federal agencies to ensure that all sizes and types of businesses are given an equal opportunity to compete for these contracts.


Dream B.I.G.,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Transform your dream from an idea into a purposeful, passionate, & prosperous lifewww.DreamBIGin3D.com

Small Business Workshop Survey

I would like to invite to participate in a survey that will help us to determine if our new supply chain workshops are something that would appeal to small business owners and employees.

Click on this link for the survey.


Background Info:
Based on the consulting work that I’ve done over the past few years with corporations and small businesses, I realize a major “understanding gap” exists between corporations’ procurement needs and how small businesses position their products and services to supply them. This realization has led me to develop a series of workshops that give small businesses a “behind-the-scenes” peek at how corporations operate their purchasing departments, so they can be more successful in obtaining contracts.

These workshops will equip small businesses to more accurately identify a corporation’s specific value drivers, purchasing needs, and performance requirements, so they can competitively position their products and services to provide the most value, i.e. get contracts. Topics that I intend to cover include:

  • Supply chain operations
  • RFP/Bid process
  • Sales strategies
  • Communication techniques
  • Diversity certifications
  • Tier 2
Thank you in advance for taking the time to participate in our short survey. We value your feedback. I look forward to engaging with you soon.

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

Click on this link for the survey.

Online Small Business Summit

For those of you who would love to go to a small business conference, but don’t have the time or the money, here’s the perfect solution for you. The Microsoft Small Business Summit is a FREE online conference that will provide powerful advice and valuable secrets to help you start or expand your business. The dates of the summit are March 24th – 27th, 2008. Visit www.sbsummit.com for more information and to register.
This event is not about Microsoft (although I’m sure they will be hocking some of their wares). Over these four days, a diverse group of small business experts will be conducting workshops via the web, providing their expertise and insights in multiple areas including:
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Technology
  • Public relations
  • Web advertising
  • Work-life balance
  • Mobility solutions
  • Human resources
  • Financial management
  • Business planning
  • Online security
  • Blogging 
  • And more…
The best part about this whole event is that you can join in from the comfort of your home or office. And did I mention that it’s FREE!
Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to gain some new insights and perspectives to help you launch or grow your dream.
Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.
Register and view online at www.sbsummit.com.

Grow or Die!

Healthy Companies Grow

It is a fact of nature that healthy things grow. As human beings we understand that infants grow into toddlers into children into teens into adults, and so on. We identify the transition from one stage to another as an indicator of growth. In fact, we expect these growth stages to happen. And when they don’t happen or are delayed, we suspect something is wrong and we start investigating, whether through our own research or going to a doctor.

Of course for a human to grow, the individual systems that comprise our bodies, such as the skeletal, immune, digestive, and nervous systems, have to function properly. If any one of these systems is out of sync or degenerative, we will be unhealthy and our growth could be stunted or we could die.

Systems are also the foundation of every business, large or small. These systems, which could also be called operating processes and procedures (written or just understood), allow the business to function effectively (accomplish goals and make money) and efficiently (use as few resources as possible). When any of these systems are dysfunctional or non-existent, the business will be unhealthy and eventually could die (i.e. bankruptcy, liquidation, acquisition).

Good but not Growing

While it’s great the number of minority owned firms has increased exponentially over the past 20 years, the focus now needs to shift to growing exponentially more healthy businesses. As I reviewed the recent small business growth statistics, I was astounded to see the high percentage of minority owned firms that earn less than $50,000 per year (see table below). Amazingly, 85.9% of black owned, 76.8% of Hispanic owned, 78.5% of Native American owned firms fall below the $50,000 revenue threshold.

Healthy Systems are Required for Healthy Growth

From my years of experience as a small business consultant, it is evident to me that a lot of businesses are running without properly functioning business systems. While many entrepreneurs excel in their craft or specialty, some of the essential systems that need to be in place to operate a healthy business are lacking. Many small business owners, whether by choice or ignorance, are not doing enough to position their business for long-term growth.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the essential systems that need to be in place for a business to be healthy and positioned for growth:

  • Strategic Planning – The on-going, ever-evolving process of structuring the business internally and positioning the business externally to take advantage of current and future opportunities. This includes managing your business according to your long-term vision, mission and values.
  • People & Culture – People are the most important asset of any company. How are you creating a culture in your business that values, develops and celebrates people? Whether you have 1 employee or 100, your culture should be inviting and empowering. This also relates to how you engage suppliers, customers and business partners.
  • Products & Services – Utilitize creativity and innovation to keep your products aligned with your customers’ desires and expectations. You must be able to offer attractive products/services that agree with what your target customers are willing to pay.
  • Customer Relations – Without customers you don’t have a business. It is essential that you have a strategic and tactical approach outlined for acquiring, serving, satisfying, retaining and rewarding your customers.
  • Financial Management – For a small business “cash is king“. Strategically manage your finances in order to maintain a strong financial position that meets currents needs and positions your business for future growth.
  • Marketing & Advertising – Your company’s brand communicates your value to customers. It becomes the launching pad for growth opportunities. Building a strong brand within your target customer market is crucial to growing your company. If potential customers don’t understand the value that you provide, then you won’t be in business very long.
  • Technology – Don’t use new (or old) technology just for technology’s sake. Leverage technology to reduce costs, improve products/service, increase productivity, and enhance customer interactions.

Get a Check-up!

Many people refer to their business as their “baby” because they have grown it from it’s infancy. As I mentioned earlier, when the human growth stages aren’t happening in our children as expected, we take them to see a doctor. It’s interesting that with our children, although we know them better than anyone else we still go to a baby specialist, i.e. doctor, when something is wrong.

It’s unfortunate that many entrepreneurs don’t do the same with their businesses. Whether out of pride, ignorance or unwillingness to spend the money (invest in their own well-being), they often avoid having a qualified specialist come in and assess their business condition/situation so they can get a prescription for healthy growth.

At some point, every business needs a check-up with a business doctor, because no business – large or small – can stay in a stagnant, unhealthy position for very long. Either you’re advancing and growing or declining and dying. And with the way that business and the world operates today, you can’t be satisfied with what you have accomplished up until today, because that may not be enough to survive for tomorrow. So, what are you doing to grow your business?

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Resources:
1) Mirror Mirror
2) Suggestions for Small Biz
3) The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth by Steven S. Little

Small Biz Overrated?

Do small businesses really drive the U.S. economy?

Just as they say that there are two sides to every story, that can also be true with statistics. Sometimes multiple conclusions can be drawn from the same data, especially as it relates to small businesses.

A couple of years ago American Enterprise Institute (AEI) visiting scholar Véronique de Rugy made the controversial statement that small businesses didn’t play as large of a role in driving the U.S. economy by creating jobs as the government and other organizations had claimed for many years. Based on her research, she believes that governmental policies predicated upon these deep-seated beliefs are not only wrong but actually damaging to small businesses and the economy at large. You can read the article, “A Talk with a Small-Biz Heretic“, to get a better understanding of her perspective.

Earlier this month Brenda Porter, a journalist with Black Enterprise Magazine, wrote an interesting article about a recently released government report that stated small businesses indeed are an economic engine for the U.S. However, she notes that although the government is touting the growth of small businesses, some are taking exception to the findings. The article quotes Roderick Harrison, demographer at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, as saying that on the surface, the report’s conclusions can be somewhat deceiving. In the article he says:

“The report was issued by an office whose job it is to promote small businesses and create an environment that is more favorable. And they’re doing a good job presenting some of the ways small businesses have been successful. But I think the picture is a bit more complex.”

In terms of how minority owned businesses are incorporated into this discussion, last summer I discoverd an interesting statistic in a report provided by the Minority Business Development Agency. In 2002, 4.1 million minority owned businesses had 4.7 million employees, which is an average of 1.1 employees per business. This means that a high percentage of those small businesses had only one employee (although I don’t know how a business can have 0.1 employees… maybe it’s those who are physically but not mentally present, but I digress).

That report also included an analysis that compared the number of minority owned businesses to the percentage of minorities in the population. The analysis revealed that if the number of minority owned businesses mirrored the minority population, i.e. “parity”, there should have been 6.5 million small businesses that should have provided 16.1 million jobs. There’s a big difference between 4.1 million and 16.1 million.

Another focus of their analysis was a parity study of minority business revenues. Actual revenues for all minority businesses in 2002 was $700 billion. According to their parity projections, actual revenues should have been $2.5 trillion. That’s a difference of $1.8 trillion!

Now, there are plenty of reasons and factors why there are gaps between what these employment and revenue numbers are versus what they could/should be, which have been outlined in many studies, including the one here. And of course that was 2002. Still, how much has really changed since then? I wonder how those numbers would look for 2007-2008.

Interestingly, in the Black Enterprise article, Harrison actually points out that many of the small businesses in the government’s report are really one-person operations, which he says might be one of the reasons that the unemployment rate is at the point that it is. So, instead of going to look for another job after getting laid off, many people may now go try to start their own business, which would impact employment statistics, especially if there are so many one-person firms.

The conclusion of all of this is that there seems to be a lot of differing perspectives and opinions by those who are looking at the same or similar information as it relates to small business’s true impact on the U.S. economy.

What do you think? Does this argument challenge your perspective on entrepreneurship and its overall value to our economy? Do small businesses really drive the economy as much as is purported and promoted? Has the government done enough to create an environment for small and minority owned businesses to grow and create jobs? Should it do less or more? I look forward to hearing from you.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Resources:
The Small Business Economy for Data Year 2006” by Small Business Adminstration
http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/sb_econ2007.pdf

Is Small Business Driving the Economy” by Brenda Porter
http://www.blackenterprise.com/smallbiz/smallbizopen.asp?id=3982

A Talk with a Small-Biz Heretic” by Stacy Perman
http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/dec2005/sb20051219_495192.htm

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

I am excited to tell you about two of my upcoming speaking engagements. Both topics will be one of my four Empowerment Engagements (tm). If you are in the Atlanta area, hopefully you will be able to attend.

*September 25, 2007
Small Business Workshop
Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council
Strategic Supply Chain Selling: How to Create Value & Win Corporate Contracts
Click here to register.


*October 1, 2007
Conference Breakout Session
2007 Annual Conference for Utility Purchasing Management Group (UPMG)
Best Practices in Utility Supplier Diversity
Click here to register.

If you are interested in bringing one of these or my other Empowerment Engagements ™ to your organization, please send me an email to empowerment@biznovations.net.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Visioneering Diversity Value

I first heard the term “visioneering” a few years ago, as it was used by author Andy Stanley for a book which he wrote using that word as his title. He defines visioneering as the engineering of a vision, and he defines vision as a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.

I believe a lot of people have the ability to envision a picture of what they think something should be. Unfortunately, a lot fewer of them are able to transform their visions into reality. Visioneers on the other hand have the ability to visualize incredible value in opportunities that others may not see. However, they don’t stop at “pie in the sky” thinking and ideas. They are able to engineer practical solutions that bring value and success to the situations that they encounter.

My vision for Supplier Diversity is that eventually there would be no need for this department, because it would be so integrated into a company’s operations that oversight and advocacy would not be necessary. This vision is driven by my conviction that diverse businesses, when given the right opportunities, are just as capable of providing high quality, competitive products and services as majority owned businesses are. One way to engineer this vision is to have more effective Supplier Diversity programs in corporations.

Based on the changing demographics, increasing buying power, and upsurging business growth in minority groups, companies today should be even more embracing of Supplier Diversity than they currently are. Yet from my experience as a Supplier Diversity coach and consultant, many hearts and minds still need to be convinced of the value that Supplier Diversity adds to corporations.

Supplier Diversity is one of the main areas in organizations that is often overlooked in terms of adding value to the bottom line. Consequently, it is often relegated to the back burner as it relates to a company’s corporate strategy. This initiative still gets the compliance treatment in many companies, i.e. “we’re doing it because we’re being forced to do it.” Nevertheless, this area is an untapped source of value and innovation which corporations need to explore, especially with the constantly increasing pressures to grow in this demanding global business environment.

One of reasons that Supplier Diversity is in this situation is the fact that the success of most of these programs is too often determined by performance measures that are irrelevant and detached from the company’s other operational and financial goals. This only does Supplier Diversity a disservice and further alienates it from other “important” initiatives that are happening in the company (this is also one of the key reasons why human and financial resources are scarce for most Supplier Diversity departments). It’s no wonder that the employees and minority businesses associated with this area carry the stigma that this is a just social program or is only driven by compliance requirements.

If planned, developed, and executed with the right perspective, Supplier Diversity can be a significant contributor to a company’s operational, financial, and economic development goals. To make this happen, though, the same rigor and intensity in terms of developing and executing a strategic plan has to be applied to Supplier Diversity just as it is in other areas of the company. This initiative must be given the same consideration and held up to the same standards as other departments in regards to structure, processes, productivity, systems, standards, resource allocation, and performance measures (especially those other than spend dollars).

If visioneered effectively, Supplier Diversity can be an incredibly powerful vehicle to drive creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. Just like other suppliers, diverse businesses increase supply chain capacity and flexibility, drive innovation, deliver cost savings, and provide market intelligence. Key initiatives that can be enhanced through Supplier Diversity’s intentional integration are strategic sourcing, marketing, product design, operational improvements, organizational change, economic development, and community outreach, among others.

With this being the case, companies can actually gain a competitive advantage by developing and adhering to purchasing processes that are inclusive of all types of qualified suppliers. The more open a company is to allowing diverse businesses to compete on a level playing field, the more they will prosper from the power of inclusion.

Supplier Diversity is one of the greatest untapped resources for economic growth in corporate America. Right now, though, the onus is on Supplier Diversity to prove their value to corporations beyond the social and compliance aspects. I will steal a line from one of our former Presidents and say, “Ask not what your company can do for Supplier Diversity. Instead ask what Supplier Diversity can do for your company.” Don’t just say it, but prove to those with the financial resources that Supplier Diversity adds significant value.

Supplier Diversity managers and minority business owners need to figure out new, creative ways of thinking, operating, and working together so that they can to help make these programs contribute more measurable value to corporations’ operational, financial, and economic development goals. Only then will Supplier Diversity get the focus, respect, and resources it needs to operate as a truly strategic, value-adding initiative.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

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