This article was originally posted by Business in Savannah
Entrepreneurship is a phrase we hear often, but unless you travel in the world as an economist, or work in the business or tech sectors, many people tend to stumble onto the word at a point in their life where they think “hmmm…maybe it can be different.”
The word was first dated as being used in 1723, traditionally as a loanword from French, and meant the organizing or operating of a business. Today, the term has larger social reach, grasping in all directions, from being conflated with small business, to representing traits of business leadership, risk-taking or innovation, to social entrepreneurship, to feminist or social justice entrepreneurship. It’s a term that is flexible, growing towards the future, while the main principles being rooted in the original past.
But it certainly isn’t new. Folks have been working for economic independence as long as America has been the land of the hustle, with results both beneficial, disastrous and systemic. America has a history of different ethnic groups and minorities immigrating to America, meeting barriers in gaining employment or being offered the worst of what was available, which communities countered by setting up their own businesses.
According to Inc. magazine, immigrants now launch more than a quarter of U.S. businesses. “Immigrant-owned businesses pay an estimated $126 billion in wages per year, employing 1 in 10 Americans who work for private companies. In 2010, immigrant-owned businesses generated more than $775 billion in sales.” In a time where fear is being heavily stoked around immigration (to also be noted, nothing new), now more than ever does it seem necessary to supporting these efforts as not just a matter of greater good or policy, but as economic sense.
At the 8th Annual Kauffman Foundation State of Entrepreneurship, President/CEO Wendy Guillies stated that “entrepreneurs are driving a resurgence of business activity in America but a long-term decline in entrepreneurship has prevented millions of Americans from achieving economic success.” So while the demand for entrepreneurship is higher than ever, the risks and barriers are too.
Guillies also stated that there are “three megatrends that are fundamentally reshaping entrepreneurship in America,” pillars which are driving their “Zero Barriers to Startup” initiative, which seeks to “remove the barriers that have been put in place and develop communities that will encourage, guide and reinforce startups”:New demographics of entrepreneurship: The U.S. is becoming more racially diverse, but entrepreneurs – 80.2 percent white and 64.5 percent male – do not reflect the changing population. That leaves many Americans without the opportunity to start and grow a business, with significant gaps for women and people of color. Underrepresentation of these groups hurts the economy by reducing the number of businesses and jobs they would create.
New map of entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is an increasingly urban phenomenon, and it is taking place in mid-sized metros and outside traditional hubs. But as people have migrated to cities, it has contributed to a decline in rural entrepreneurship.
New nature of entrepreneurship: Technology has made it possible for startups to grow revenue without as much hiring, and high-growth companies by revenue are not creating as many jobs as they did in the past. New and young companies have been the biggest job creators for decades, and continue to be, but technology may change that.
So, what does this all mean for us locally? It means that entrepreneurs here are on the rise, but barriers still exist. Just earlier this week, Patrick Bentley was quoted in Savannah Morning News on the transformative possibility of Savannah as a hub for innovation, not only citing tech entrepreneurship as a tool to tackle poverty, but the importance of having locals at the table.
Speaking of local entrepreneurs at the table, that’s exactly what is about to happen today at 6:30 p.m. at Bull Street Labs, 2222 Bull St. with Smoke, Ghost, Brick, Star, Yard: A Conversation on New Entrepreneurship Emerging in Savannah. As Savannah is quickly and visibly becoming a home for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses, it’s important to highlight those folks who are becoming leaders. The conversation features Darby Cox and Sean Geng of Smoke Cartel, Juwan Platt and Donny Slater of BCKYRD, Van-Elison Seales and Alfredo Martinez of 13 Bricks, Chris Sywassink of Ghost Coast Distillery and Clinton Edminster of Starlandia Supply as the evening’s facilitator. The one stop-shop event offers perspectives from new entrepreneurs and what they think is yet to come for Savannah.
And if you are interested in the future of Savannah, you should be at the table, too.