Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Accidental Entrepreneurs

At our first Faith Venture Focus Event on October 16, 2008, we asked an enthusiastic group of 9 entrepreneurs what ignited their desire to start a new business venture. We were looking for insight that could be applied to other faith venture start-ups that seek to provide opportunity for disadvantaged communities through business. Several of them shared how they were entrepreneurs by accident. They found themselves in a situation where they had to start their own business because of life circumstances.

Hal Goble, the founder of Water Technology Group, shared that early in his career as an engineer, he went to work for a company that ended up going out of business. He then found a job in another company and the same thing happened again. After having two companies close on him, he decided to never put himself in that same predicament and he opened his own company.

Bruce VerSteeg of Omni Building Corporation found himself in a similar situation only it was one where he was having a hard time finding work. He started his contracting business because he needed to support his family. In the same way, emerging faith entrepreneur Steve Van Diest shared how he was right now building a business because of brokenness. After returning to Colorado after a tough season as a missionary in Mexico, he is starting a venture, as a way to combine his ministry desires with the need to support his family.

Because so many found themselves in entrepreneurship by accident, the group found common agreement around the idea of providing help through a board of technical experts for business start-ups. A common regret voiced by the group was the necessity of having to learn by making all of the mistakes. A group of experts to provide assistance could help shorten the learning curve and make success more likely.

There was much enthusiasm about Anson Garnsey’s suggestion of creating 5 member boards to provide technical advice to new faith venture entrepreneurs. This seemed to affirm Belay’s desire to move from traditional microenterprise as a way to help emerging faith venture businesses towards creating teams of experts to provide technical expertise. Where traditional micro-enterprise doesn’t seem to work very well in domestic settings, providing entrepreneurial coaching offers a more organic way to promote faith venture development. These faith venture forums are a first step toward creating a faith-based version of the Small Business Administration’s SCORE program.

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