I recently did a workshop with some aspiring entrepreneurs funded by a local council. The workshop was run in a brand new council building (so new that the boiler did not work and we froze all day).
The refreshments featured a mouldy carton of orange juice and the lunch that was provided was very poor.
- What messages did the aspiring entrepreneurs pick up about how they were valued by the council?
- Were they made to feel that the work they were doing to set up new business is important?
- Did they feel that they were respected and taken seriously in what they were trying to do?
- Or did they just feel like more numbers in the performance management sausage machine that in some cases is the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative?
Whenever we try to educate entrepreneurs there is a curriculum (stuff that we intend to teach) – in this case cash flow forecasting, understanding income and expenditure and recognising that success comprises more than just a healthy cash flow.
There is also a hidden curriculum (stuff that we did not intend to teach – but is learned anyway). I think in this case this might include the lesson that actually we don’t value aspiring entrepreneurs – we will keep costs as low as we can – and count the numbers.
Now I am not arguing that we should cosset would be entrepreneurs and treat them lavishly. However I think that we should extend all of the professional courtesies and standards that we would extend to already successful entrepreneurs who chose to partner with the council on helping to improve local economies.