Entrepreneurship is not just about starting companies. It’s about giving individuals the means to take charge of their economic destinies.
The makers, doers and dreamers must be empowered to grow our economy sustainably and to improve the lives of millions of Americans. Communities must work together to eliminate barriers to entrepreneurship and instead, create and nurture entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Recent research demonstrates that the creation of more startups leads to higher productivity, wage growth and quality of life. New businesses not only support individual entrepreneurs, but lift surrounding communities, contributing to a new model of economic development that infuses more entrepreneurship into the economy.
For this to happen, ecosystem builders and community leaders should consider the following design principles when constructing entrepreneurial communities:

  1. Put entrepreneurs front and center: Innovators must be the most active participants.
  2. Foster conversations: Peer-to-peer interactions increase the vibrancy of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  3. Enlist collaborators: Inclusion is a core value of community.
  4. Live the values: The right behaviors shape the right ideals.
  5. Connect people bottom-up, top-down, outside-in: Overcoming parochial differences and collaborating across traditional hierarchies creates diverse networks of mutually advantageous relationships.
  6. Tell the community’s authentic story: Focus on its unique strengths instead of trying to be the next Silicon Valley.
  7. Start, then be patient: Ecosystem building is a long process and real change occurs well before statistics ever show it.

Visit the Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building Playbook to learn more about these principles, and leave your stories and feedback in the comments.
Your thoughts will help shape future iterations of the playbook — and help grow a more inclusive economy.
This content was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which works in entrepreneurship and education to create opportunities and connect people to the tools they need to achieve success, change their futures and give back to their communities. In 2017, the foundation hosted its inaugural ESHIP Summit, convening 435 leaders fighting to help break down barriers for entrepreneurs across the country.