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Excitement, Enjoyment, & Enthusiasm for Entrepreneurship in Action at Kaskaskia College

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Friday, August 29, 2014

Submitted by: Steven Groner, Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Success

Kaskaskia College, Centralia, Illinois

sgroner@kaskaskia.edu 

Kaskaskia College added new-for-us program delivery methods through the 2013-2014 Coleman Action Grant Project. We proposed three formats and have them all underway:

1)   Start Entrepreneur Clubs in two rural towns

2)   Deliver a concentrated, 16-hour business skill Summer Bootcamp

3)   Launch a CEO Roundtable targeted at 2nd tier companies- those having successfully progressed beyond startup

Each program has produced its’ own set of lessons learned and made our school stronger. As a result, we have increased our engagement with the entrepreneurs of our region. Our team wanted to share the experiences of one “E-club”- the one established in Salem, Illinois (population 7,500) last January. We have completed our eighth monthly meeting and can happily report on the growth and synergy of the group. In fact, you can follow the club on Facebook- Salem, IL Entrepreneur Club. You will find excitement, enjoyment and enthusiasm present.

EXCITEMENT:The group has two future-looking projects… tabletop displays at the Spring 2015 grand opening of a city walking trail, also a Christmas in July event for next Summer. We have a resource sharing/book lending meeting element that really opens up conversations too.

ENJOYMENT:We agree completely with Amy Schulz’s Feather River blog of a few months ago, where she observed “Listen to your entrepreneurs and don’t feel like you have to plan every minute. Build the framework for meetings, book the space, provide food, get out of the way and LISTEN.” The Kaskaskia College educational content for the meetings is brief and includes either a motivational video or an in-person guest speaker on a group requested topic. Our Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has donated interesting books that are used to reward those who “bring a friend”.

ENTHUSIASM:In addition to a club member starting our Facebook page, we have multiple volunteers each month that want to share their business story with the group. A “home run” for this club was catching the Salem Mayor’s interest. John Raymer has been a vocal supporter of the club and he sends his citizens our way. The E-club has expanded the Mayor’s vision of what our College can do for his community.

LESSONS LEARNED:

1.   It takes a core group of 15 to 20 club members to reach a sustainable inertia. We did not have this size initially so perseverance and follow up have been needed. Summer schedules are a challenge for all, yet we now have over 25 members. Keep prospecting!

2.   Involvement from diverse constituents and community groups is essential. For instance in our 2nd E-club, we are still hoping for a community champion or two. Have confidence and continue to press on.

3.   Allow the group to evolve and build its’ own personality. The first few meetings deviated from agendas and recent sessions are less structured. You are onto something when sessions are productive and group chemistry is building.

4.   Follow the Feather River College (California) philosophy of listening more and the college talking less!

5.   Make certain that your College commitment is sustained, supportive and long term if you want to earn community support.

6.   Proactively welcome participants and provide encouragement. Some entrepreneurs approached the initial club meetings with trepidation and are now actively contributing members.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  entrepreneurship  NACCE 

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Houston Community College Strengthens Internal and External Alliances With Coleman Grant

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Submitted by: Sandra Louvier, Director, Center for Entrepreneurship, Houston Community College, HCC NW  (2013/2014 Coleman Grant Awardee, NACCE Membership Ambassador, AACC Slingshot College) 

Houston Community College’s 2013/2014 Coleman Foundation Grant Project has been dedicated to Creating and Expanding Internal and External Teams Dedicated to Entrepreneurship.  In the past seven years our partnerships have been highly effective and dynamic and they have allowed us to grow our entrepreneurial offerings.  With our grant activities we sought to deepen our partnerships by creating an Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Consortium made up of internal and external partners. We collaborated to plan and hold five events as follows:  1) Business Plan Competition Reception, 2) Grow Through Exporting Seminar, 3) Enterprise Skills Faculty Development Workshop, 4) Small Business Growth Summit and 5) Veteran Entrepreneurship Workshop.  Our activities also served to increase entrepreneurs’ engagement at HCC, leverage both college and community assets and create buzz and broad exposure of HCC’s commitment to entrepreneurship.  

Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Consortium & Five Fabulous Events The EEDC was convened early in the grant timeline, broke into collaborative committees for event planning and the EEDC convenes again in August to wrap up grant activities and plan for the future.  The Business Plan Competition Reception was held in January in collaboration with some of our closest and most long-standing partners and served as a feeder event into the Business Plan Competition which is a working competition held from January through April each year. The EEDC met in February and included internal reps from varying HCC entrepreneurial initiatives (Office of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, 10,000 Small Businesses, Minority Business Development Agency, International Business and Entrepreneurship faculty).   External Partners included the SBA, SCORE, banks, local chamber and economic development council, Newspring (Business Plan Competition partner), local entrepreneurs and others.  We proceeded to plan and hold additional grant events in March, April and May and another is planned in August.   

Business Plan Competition Reception  01/09/14:  Past Contestants, BPC Leaders and Prize Sponsors gathered to mix and mingle with Applicants for the 2014 Competition at Wallis State Bank.  BPC leaders spoke of things to come in the 2014 competition and past contestants gave testimonials about how the competition propelled them forward.  The event strengthened our applicant pool and helped lead to our best competition ever!  Check out our photos:  https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/5969367356903362577 

Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Consortium (EEDC Mtg) 02/26/14:  Dr. Zachary Hodges, President, HCC NW welcomed an outstanding team of internal and external partners to the Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Consortium held at HCC Spring Branch on February 26.  Top leadership support continued throughout the entire grant period in that Zach Hodges, Maya Durnovo (Chief Entrepreneurial Initiatives Officer –HCC District) and Evelyn Velasquez (Interim Dean of Workforce & Economic Development, HCC NW) supported and played roles in the planning and execution of every grant event.   Check out our photos: https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/5986726293210428721

Grow Through Exporting  03/21/14:  The registrant list was as follows: 56 small business owners, 10 small business employees, 31 Students, 40 aspiring exporters, and 3 graduates of 10,000 Small Businesses, including 20 business owners doing over $150,000 in revenues, 22 already exporting & 52 who indicated specific products they want to begin exporting.  All made great connections for follow-up with presenters from the Department of Commerce-International Trade Association, Small Business Administration, HCC International Business Dept., HCC Entrepreneurship, Export-Import Bank and Wallis State Bank.  Each attendee chose next Action Steps to pursue their exporting goals.  Check out our photos:  https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/5993700898163629665 

Power of Choice – Faculty Development Workshop   HCC faculty joined Professor Linda Koffel for a thought provoking seminar on “Enterprise Skills: The New Survival Mindset.”  Koffel stated “Entrepreneurial skills are the survival skills of the new economic environment including the ability to direct one’s fate, to create one’s future, to develop one’s talents and potential.  The new survival skills all revolve around one major trait — controlling one’s own fate through creative problem solving, persistence, risk taking, being proactive, educating oneself and gaining the appropriate knowledge to reach goals.”  HCC faculty from across the system gathered to share and brainstorm about how they teach students 21st Century enterprise skills in academic and workforce classes.  Instructors participated in interactive exercises, shared creative lessons and inspired each other as they planned new lessons for fall classes.  Check out our photos:   https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/6002132610087904913 

Small Business Growth Summit  HCC surrounded entrepreneurs with the might of the Houston entrepreneurial eco-system on May 16 at the Spring 2014 Small Business Summit.  The purpose:  Ignite entrepreneurial thinking through owners, leaders and employees as the catalyst that will drive 21st Century economic growth. Keynote speakers Liz Townsend and Anthony Milton grew My Fit Foods into a national chain and these serial entrepreneurs are now launching and/or growing multiple concepts.  The platform: inspiring, insightful, interactive presentations, panels and workshops and networking with empowering resource partners.  The auditorium was filled with nearly 100 existing and aspiring entrepreneurs who benefited from the 16 experts featured on the agenda and from networking with representatives of 20 resource support partners from the Houston entrepreneurial eco-system.  Check out our photos: https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/6017733677951544657  

Veteran Entrepreneurship Workshop  For Veterans who want to start a small business and for Veterans who are Solopreneurs or Micro-Entrepreneurs and want to grow. Presentations: HCC Center for Entrepreneurship and HCC Admissions Adviser/Counselor., SBA, SCORE, Women Veterans Business Center.  Progressive Roundtables - Featuring Veteran Entrepreneurs and Veteran Instructors (5 Tables).  Each Veteran Entrepreneur leader leads a table by talking about past success as an entrepreneur and their business and/or ties to HCC Entrepreneurship (BPC or class, etc.) for 5-7 minutes, and then leaders takes Q&A from those at the table for 7-10 minutes for a total of 15 minutes at the roundtable. The bell rings and each leader moves to the next table and does the same thing with a new table of attendees for the next 15 minutes.  This will repeat for five 15-minute intervals. Lunch and Exhibitor Networking What NACCE resources are helping you reach these goals?  

Key Takeaways: 
NACCE/Coleman Foundation’s Community of Practice benefitted us greatly. Monthly group calls allowed the eleven winning colleges to share best practices and helped us resolve some challenges and avert others.  One-on-one calls with the NACCE appointed EICA leader who was also a former grant recipient college helped colleges understand and meet grant requirements. One example: we expanded  our internal and external partner list to include more knowing that some might not be able to attend EEDC meetings but would appreciated being included and that they would collaborate via phone and through one-on-one meetings when necessary. 

Survey and Measure Before and After. On-Line Registration form for events can be leveraged to collect meaningful data for target audience and build a database for future related events.  If enough information is collected up front, the college can market to attendees and no shows for future events.  Although time consuming, measurement can lead to more business and opportunities later. 

Be Willing to Adapt Plans as good feedback and advice comes in from internal and external partners.  Example, we revised our Small Business Summit to showcase HCC’s wide breadth of entrepreneurial initiatives, rather than focusing solely on start-ups and micro entrepreneurs as initially planned. We created sub-committee planning meetings between events to stay focused on specific goals.  We adjusted dates to accommodate internal and external partner needs.  

Collaborative Promotion Builds Success. External and internal partner alliances to promote events to our databases built registration and attendance and celebrated our success internally and externally to the broader business community. 

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  economic development  entrepreneurship  Houston Community College  NACCE 

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Listen to Your Entrepreneurs and Don’t Feel Like You Have to Plan Every Minute

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, June 30, 2014
Updated: Monday, June 30, 2014
Submitted by Amy Schulz, Director of Career and Technical Education, Economic Workforce Development
Feather River College
aschulz@frc.edu  

Feather River College received a Coleman Entrepreneurship in Action Grant at the 2013 NACCE Conference to Increase Entrepreneurs' Engagement in Community Colleges through an entrepreneurship succession planning and internship project. Since this was a grant-funded project, we initially thought the activities should be very structured and planned. It doesn’t always work that way in entrepreneurship. We learned that entrepreneurs enjoy the space to be able to reflect. Monthly planning meetings turned into a time of reflection and wonderful unexpected collaborations across sectors. Our advice for engaging entrepreneurs from the community: Build the framework for meetings, book the space, provide food, get out of the way and LISTEN.

So, here is the story of one of our program participants so you can see what it really means to engage with your entrepreneurs and be ready to take the journey with them.

Roxanne Valladao is a living legend in Plumas County. As executive director of Plumas Arts, she is known for bringing in top notch talent to perform in rural and remote Plumas County for over 30 years. Under her leadership at Plumas Arts, she has saved a 150 year-old theatre which earns revenue from playing first run feature films while serving as the cultural heart of community and a venue for live performances. She converted a run-down dive bar on Main Street into a beautiful gallery and retail space, providing entrepreneurial opportunities for local artisans. Her efforts in promoting the arts as a key to cultural and economic development have not gone unnoticed. Tiny Plumas Arts is one of the highest ranking arts commissions in the whole state of California.  When Roxanne and board president, Kara Rockett, participated in the Feather River College Business Succession Pilot, funded by the Coleman Foundation, folks became concerned. Rumors swirled around town. “Is Roxanne retiring?”  “What is Plumas Arts going to do without her?” “Are we still going to get the great talent to come to Quincy?”

Roxanne just turned 60, and she is planning to retire in the next 2-5 years, but not now. The Business Succession Planning pilot was the perfect opportunity to explore succession and to be proactive about how the torch is passed. Like many entrepreneurs, Roxanne has poured her heart and soul into Plumas Arts, building an organization over decades and sustaining it during lean times. Plumas Arts is very personal to her—it is her legacy. It’s not so easy to hand over to just anyone, and it’s not so easy to think about either. After some prompting from the state arts commission, which ranked Plumas Arts as excellent in every category except in succession planning, Roxanne decided to jump on board the Feather River College project.

The Business Succession Planning pilot combines the resources of the college’s entrepreneurship program with those of the internship program. By pairing student mentees with established mentors, the process could be facilitated and documented through the infrastructure of the college programs.  After enrolling in the internship class, Kara as board president was in a good position to participate as a mentee. Kara brings in the perspective and practical concerns of the board and to understand what needs to happen for an eventual transition. Kara could possibly be Roxanne’s successor when and if the time is right. Together Roxanne and Kara have explored delicate issues, such as staffing on a budget and transferring institutional knowledge that Roxanne and her veteran staff know innately. They have also faced the emotional side of succession together. Kara’s sensitivity and good intentions have made this a welcome and joyous process for Roxanne, which she was originally dreading.  

An unexpected benefit of this pairing has been their influence in the community. Just the fact that Roxanne was participating got the community to take notice. What started as concern for the future of Plumas Arts has turned into a healthy dialogue around the future of our local economy and the number of aging entrepreneurs. Who will be the next generation and take over established and beloved businesses and organizations, from non-profits to appliance repair? The magic of the grapevine has been the most powerful marketing tool, and entrepreneurs have approached the team at Feather River College for help with their succession planning. After reviewing and documenting the results of this pilot which included a total of three mentor/mentee pairings, Feather River College and NACCE are releasing a video to share this and more results from our project as well as making information available through our website. In addition, we are planning to continue this project in the Fall 2014 Semester through internships. For more information, please contact Amy Schulz at aschulz@frc.edu. 

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  economic development  entrepreneurship  Feather River College  NACCE  Plumas Arts  succession planning 

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