Enterprise Professionals Missing the Point?

I am amazed by the wonderful work done by so many enterprise professionals that is not:

  • recognised
  • valued, or
  • paid for

Sometimes the only things that seems to count in the world of the Enterprise Professional are:

  • businesses started/expanded/retained
  • jobs created/retained
  • GVA (Gross value added)
  • Percentage of people who have ‘thought about’ starting a business/going self employed
  • numbers engaged in 6 hours (or more) of training

Sometimes even obviously important measures are no longer tracked because they are not directly called for in the policy frameworks within which enterprise work is commissioned and delivered.  These include measures such as the survival rates of the new businesses and also the number of people who thoroughly investigate a business idea and then decide to walk away from it because it is not ‘right’ for them at this time.  These are the clients who put their enterprise dreams ‘on hold’.  It is likely that they will have learned a lot about enterprise on the journey and they will often return with a better business idea after a while.  They will have got the enterprise bug and should certainly be counted as successes.  By putting the ‘dream on hold’ they have almost certainly been saved from future misery and debt.  It is ‘dreams on hold’ clients that we should really be counting as the percentage of the population who have really thought about enterprise.

Failure to collect data on survival rates can lead to an increase in poor start-ups destined to struggle or fail, often leaving a trail of debt, despair and depression with enormous social costs.  Indeed there are often perverse incentive schemes that ‘reward’ enterprise professionals for the facilitation of such start-ups as they are seen as ‘countable’ successes in the short term at least.

However these are not the main points I want to make in this rant!

There are a ream of other measures that are valuable in both social and economic terms that many enterprise professionals fail to track and remain unrecognised.  These often relate to the development of social capital in the course of the enterprise journey.  Tracking social capital or social return on investment is not a massively difficult task – but it does need some planning.

The kind of indicators that could be tracked  and reported on by enterprise professionals include:

  • number of social groups belonged to and frequency and intensity of involvement
  • perceptions of ability to influence their own future
  • feelings of self worth and self esteem
  • how well informed they are about enterprise opportunities
  • frequency of engaging with relatives/friends/neighbours/professionals to explore aspirations and dreams
  • invovlement in virtual networks and frequency of contact
  • exchanges of help and advice
  • perceived control of, and satisfaction with, life
  • trust in people of similar backgrounds
  • trust in people from different backgrounds
  • confidence in ‘institutions’ that might help
  • engagement with crime and anti-social behaviour
  • health gains (reduction of reliance on prescription drugs, mental health improvements etc)

I am sure that the list of good work done by enterprise professionals could go on and on (feel free to let me know any you think I have missed).

The important challenge is how we go about recording the true impact of our work – both socially and economically and making sure that the full value of this is recognised and paid for.

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