Kansas City is abuzz with entrepreneurial activity. Historically, it always has been. The last few years, though, have seen a renewed entrepreneurial energy that’s catapulted Kansas City into the national spotlight.
At Thinking Bigger Business Media, we ask ourselves every day how to best capture Kansas City’s entrepreneurial story, and three things come up consistently.
First, there’s no one way to tell the story. There are so many players, programs, events, and entrepreneurs at various stages of growth for any one media outlet or platform to get its arms around. But the good news is that there are more coverage sources today than there were in 1991 when our magazine was the only one exclusively covering entrepreneurs and small businesses. Today, all of us must play a role in the story telling—from traditional and online media, to resource providers that produce monthly newsletters, to corporations that publicly acknowledge the successes of their small business vendors. And each of you who attend business events also play a role, and even have a responsibility, to post to social media and share the stories as they unfold in real time.
Second, it’s important to keep in mind that we can’t tell the story by focusing on one group in the ecosystem to the exclusion of others. Granted, some businesses may generate more interest, some owners may exude more charisma, and some may have more well-established PR machines. Still, our entrepreneurial ecosystem is a collection of all different kinds of entrepreneurial “species,” if you will—startups, traditional businesses, second-stage companies, corporations, resource providers and others—and no one of them is more important to the ecosystem than another.
Finally, in the telling of the story, we must aim for providing more than visibility. We must strive to connect the various segments of the ecosystem so they can work with and learn from each other. The challenges and failures that occur in business building are as much a powerful and important part of the story as the successes. Traditional businesses would do well to pay attention to what’s occurring in the startup community – those businesses may be their next customers. Additionally, a startup’s way of approaching challenges may be different than that of a traditional business, sparking the traditional business to try something that could revitalize their business. Likewise, startups can learn from the practical blocking and tackling experiences that the owner of a more established, traditional business could provide. But these dialogues can’t take place unless part of the storytelling includes introductions across the ecosystem. Only then will the true growth occur that will allow us to write the next chapter of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial story.