We hear a lot in these times about how critical it is to nurture entrepreneurship to keep the state and country economically competitive. And, I am very excited to be a part of a groundbreaking new initiative to be a part of this challenging, yet gratifying, objective.
Last fall, I was asked to serve as a mentor in the Gallup Entrepreneur Accelerator System. As many of you know, I’m an independently certified Gallup StrengthsFinder coach, but EAS is different.
Though not entirely “new” – the program has been going on for five years outside of the U.S. – it’s making its domestic debut now, and Gallup is rolling it out stateside as a joint venture with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Greater Omaha Chamber and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The whole point of EAS is to identify small businesses, entrepreneurs or start-ups with high growth potential, pair them with a mentor (that’d be someone like me) and then immerse them in a curriculum designed around research and business models in behavioral economics (talent, employee and customer engagement and the like). Their organizations experience leadership development training, including the well-known StrengthsFinder talent assessment tool, and employee and customer engagement measurement resources.
The hope is, with these tools and guidance, leaders and businesses will go on to grow and be successful. Look at it as “economic gardening.” You cultivate these smart business minds, and their ventures will bear fruit. Revenue growth, business expansion, and job creation.
The program is just a seedling at this point. Each mentee organization plugs in for three years; the first year involving a series of intense workshops for their leadership team, along with follow-up planning and mentoring. For the last two years, the organizations are also subject to data measurement, where key performance indicators — revenue growth, engagement and job creation – are measured, and follow up mentorship and development training continues.
Those organizations that have measured improvements in some of these metrics will then be selected to showcase their results at a best practices symposium and during the graduation ceremony.
Pretty motivating stuff!
Right now, we’re about half way through the first year, and it has been an exhilarating journey thus far! I look forward to seeing my five mentees (and their ventures) grow. It is immensely gratifying to have an outlet where I can mix my passion for talent and equipping leaders with the tools to succeed, with my passion for entrepreneurship.
Stay tuned for progress reports and best practice sharing to come!