Starting with People not Enterprise Targets

Many programmes designed to promote more enterprising cultures make the same mistake.

Because they are funded to create business starts and VAT registrations they use this as their starting point.  They lose track of the fact that they are being funded specifically because the communities that they serve have had a historically low level of start ups.  For sure they will find some people who respond to the offer of help to start a business.  And they can help this tiny minority to make progress.  But they would almost certainly have done it any way.  These are the enterprising exceptions.

For many in the community a lot more work will be required to build trusting relationships, nurture confidence and develop aspirations – based on the clients context and their perceptions of what constitutes progress – not the policy goals of the funders.  We have to engage our clients where they are in the enterprising journey – and not where we would would like them to be to fit neatly with our policy goals and our carefully designed programmes.

So instead of asking ‘Have You Got a Fantastic Business Idea’ we should be asking:

  • ‘Do you feel that there should be more to life?’ or
  • ‘Frustrated? Angry? Want things to Change for the Better?’
  • ‘Feel That You are Wasting Your Life Away?’

People who answer ‘Yes’ to these questions may not yet be ready to start a business – but they are likely to be open to support to become more enterprising.

And if we can start them on an enterprising journey, who knows where they might end up?

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