Southeast Community College, NE
Growing up in a small Midwestern town, hunting was a part of life. Some people did it for sport, and some did it as a way to provide for their families. My father was a hunter. When I was a kid, he taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow. In his words, "Anyone can pull a trigger, but archery hunting takes skill.” It is an art form. I was never the "big hunter.” It was easier for me to pretend I was Robin Hood and shoot cardboard targets. What Dad taught me was that archery takes patience, the ability to keep one eye on the target and one eye on the horizon, a steady hand, and follow-though. If you think about it, that is true for any sport, business, or personal goals.
Luckily, hitting the target was never the issue. My problem generally centered on lack of patience, but that is another story altogether. Knowing and understanding the target market in the entrepreneurial world, as in any business, is the key to success. As entrepreneur educators, we must identify our proper customer and understand as precisely as possible what they want. We tend to impose the traditional educational standards of recruitment when trying to identify the correct customer for our services. We may also limit the number of potential targets with a scope that may be too narrowly focused. Identifying those with the entrepreneurial spirit may seem like a daunting task, but it is not impossible. Keep in mind there may be several targets for your services. Do not leave any to fend for themselves.
Always remember, the entrepreneur that we are looking to attract may not fit into the nice, neat package of "Small Business Owner.” Being an entrepreneur is more complex, maybe even ethereal, if you will. We want to be able to attract the person who is a risk-taker, imaginative, and flexible enough to follow through with their goals. Understanding these traits should help to create a strategy that will attract this seeker of entrepreneurial knowledge. Failure to see this person for who they truly are could mean the loss of a customer or, worse, the loss of an entrepreneurial soul.
Here are some basic entrepreneurial target markets categories to look for:
- The person who has the spirit, but would prefer to be entrepreneurial within someone else’s company.
- The person who has a skill or is learning a skill and eventually wants to have their own business.
- The person who has the entrepreneurial spirit, but does not know what to do with it.
- The person who had the entrepreneurial spirit, but has since lost it and needs to be refocused.
And the person I call a "Second Lifer.” This person has been working for 10–20 years at a job, but now wants to do whatever it is they want to do. They have the experience, but need the help getting started.
There are many possible targets for your entrepreneurship program. Your job is to first find those you know you can help. Then, figure out ways to help those who emerge that you did not know existed. As long as you are patient, keep one eye on the target and one on the horizon, have a steady hand, and follow-through, you will hit the bull’s-eye every time.