There really is no shortage of support for people who want to have a go at starting their own business. Just take a look at this website that offers 99 free sources of on-line support for would be entrepreneurs. And while the web is packed full of advice and guidance the real world marketplace is pretty crowded too with advisers, mentors, coaches and trainers all queuing up to offer advice and support.
But how much of this stuff is really useful? For most entrepreneurs the barriers are not intellectual or technical (although often these are presented as excuses for not making things happen ) they are really about self confidence, self belief and a strong conviction that a better reality can really be brought into life.
So a couple of words of advice on choosing and using people and resources to help you with your entrepreneurial dreams:
Make sure that they really are interested in helping you do what is best for you – including walking away from entrepreneurship as it is certainly not right for everybody.
Make sure that they are not under the influence of external goals and targets to encourage people into entrepreneurship. If they are employed by a project that has to encourage entrepreneurship to get funding then make sure that they put your best interests before the outputs of the project.
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
But what if I am employed to encourage people into enterprise and entrepreneurship?
Always practice from a client centred (rather than a policy centred) perspective. ie make sure that you use your knowledge and skills to help your client to do what is best for them given a range of options available to them – entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, employment, work experience, skills training etc.
It is almost certain that in fact the project that you work on is designed to develop an ‘enterprise culture’ and the best way to do this is to help entrepreneurs to go into entrepreneurship having fully considered all other options. Sure a number will decide that there are other ways to achieve what matters most to them – and many of the people you work with will put their enterprise dream ‘on hold’. Once you start helping people to make really informed decisions based on their own self interest and an objective analysis of the pros and cons of enterprise not only will the start-up rates improve but so too will the survival rates for small business. And this is the metric that really matters in building an enterprise culture.