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How do I get more from my entrepreneurship board?

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, December 09, 2013

In the movie Field of Dreams (circa 1989) the message is "if you build it they will come”, but is that really true in the world of community college entrepreneurship boards? Can we get the substantive engagement needed by simply building the program or do we need to build a better board to get better outcomes?

Now I remember running our entrepreneurship center at Dakota County Technical College and how thrilled we were to have an entrepreneurship board of more than 20 committed individuals. We did the invitation to join, we rolled out the red carpet for the meetings, and we even had a school issued handbook on how to be a good advisory member. But what we failed to do more often than not is invest in their participation as a board member with professional development. We all know that you can be a great technician and still fail in business. The same can be said for our entrepreneurship boards.

Here are 5 tips to provide better board member professional development:

1. Invest some actual funds in professional development. Nominal cost often directly results in nominal outcomes.

2. Carve out time that is specifically devoted to getting the group on the same page with mission and vision of the college.

3. Get participation from internal and external members- it can’t just be for the volunteers, you must get senior administration participating as well.

4. Use a process that actually results in achievement of a product, such as an action plan.

5. Reward the participants with some achievement, award, certificate or other notable note so you can promote them and get buzz for your program.

NACCE’s new Entrepreneurship Specialist Certificate online training is one way to infuse national best practices for entrepreneurship program success into your professional development plan. Your board can take part in an online training where they work asynchronously and then bring them together for regular "wrap” sessions face to face to solidify your action plan. For more information, visit www.nacce.com/?OnlineTraining. 

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