Everyone has some level of motivation, what is yours?
I have argued that there is room for everyone at the proverbial startup community leader table. Though we believe that you need 8-10 entrepreneur leaders on the team, most communities have a cadre of non-entrepreneurs stirring the pot. The issue is that non-entrepreneur leaders sometimes fade away after some initial participation.
To that end, what are you going to do once your initial involvement fades away?
Most non-entrepreneur community leaders are motivated first by their job. Examples include a:
- city staff who are driven by the notion of job growth in their city,
- angel investors who yearn for better deal flow,
- corporate executive who realize that a thriving startup community helps their company,
- real estate leader who sets up a coworking space,
- lawyer who holds group meetings and gives away free advice to first time founders,
- economic development executives who now have an entrepreneur charter,
- elected officials (at any level) who see a growing role for more entrepreneurship.
Let me be the first to thank you for joining us entrepreneurs to create a better future for our community. We need you in order to create a more inclusive discussion. And we need the resources you bring to grow smarter, better and faster.
I recognize that your initial motivation is your job, I also recognize that you bring a level of passion to this community-building effort and even give much of yourself during non-working hours. Again, thank you for your #givefirst attitude.
But now that you have a new job, or got really busy, or achieved your near-term job goals, what are you going to do now?
My partner Brad Feld reminds us that community-building is a 20-year effort that restarts every day. He also reminds us that community leaders need to be involved for 10+ of those years.
When you as an important leader in the startup community make your mark at any given stage of the journey and then fade away, we miss your leadership. You leave a void. And the community just slips back a little (or a lot).
My ask, don’t fade like a light switch; fade a little over time (like years). Show up at a few meetings, personally and publicly support others in their projects (which help foster the next generation of leaders), and maybe even join just one more project (instead of the 3 you were involved in previously.)
Doesn’t this just prove Brad Feld’s original hypothesis that only entrepreneurs can lead a community?
Yes – and no.
Brad and I believe that there are leadership roles for non-entrepreneurs. First of all they have to put aside their business agenda and sign up for the greater mission. My point here is that during and after they do that – dont fade away just because you have a new job. The community still needs you.