Various surveys have shown that a majority of Americans believe entrepreneurship will play a significant role in shaping the 21st century. A new poll funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation reveals, for example, an up-and-coming entrepreneurial generation of 18- to 34-year-old millennials—54 percent of them want to start their own businesses. On the other side of the generational divide, research suggests that the U.S. might be on the cusp of an entrepreneurship boom due to baby boomers who have started companies in record numbers. And an Against 2011 feature in the Wall Street Journal named Kansas City one of seven up-and-coming innovation centers in the nation.
Against this backdrop, Kansas City has recently announced the lofty goal of becoming “America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.”
So what does it mean to be an “Entrepreneurial City”? What characteristics must such a city possess? It strikes me that a city with such aspirations likely possesses some of the same traits as individuals with entrepreneurial ambitions. Let’s take a look at just a few of them.
Vision. An entrepreneurial type must be able to come up with new ideas, challenge assumptions, and shatter traditional ways of thinking to create new and innovative products and services.
Drive. Entrepreneurs are change agents. They see a problem or a challenge and set about to solve it themselves. They charge themselves with coming up with the solution, of making something happen.
Passion. Entrepreneurs not only have a vision, they have fire in the belly. And when they talk about their ideas, their passion comes through and infects others. That’s part of how they build followers and supporters.
To be sure, there are other characteristics to consider as well, but the bottom line is that most successful entrepreneurs share the ability to see opportunity where others see only risk. They possess the passion and drive to push through when the going gets tough. And they are an optimistic lot, believing they will succeed despite the nay-sayers and non-believers.
So what do you think, Kansas City? Does Kansas City have the entrepreneurial traits it takes to make us “America’s Most Entrepreneurial City”?