Random Thoughts, Questions, Observations & Commentary

To start, a shameless plug. If you’re a business owner and resolve to be better and smarter in 2010, consider the Coleman Center’s peer roundtable program.

For the record, I met only one entrepreneur all year who started a business because of the current recession. I came across many others who lost jobs and were trying to generate income on a self-employed basis, but only one who admitted seeing an opportunity in this economy to start a company.

I am one of the biggest fans of Crain’s coverage of Chicago business. No other media organization in town covers entrepreneurship and small business like them, and their “Entrepreneurs in Action” video series is a good example. But I was admittedly disappointed in the most recent video, a four-part roundtable with local entrepreneurs discussing their experiences and the state of small business in Chicago. Don’t get me wrong – the purpose was admirable, the topics were right on, and the experiences interesting. But couldn’t they get a more diverse panel that more accurately portrayed the Chicagoland community of entrepreneurs and business owners?

As an entrepreneurship educator, I found it humbling that the findings from a recent study on entrepreneurial success concluded that virtually all of the contributing factors were experience-based. One more reason to make the argument that entrepreneurship cannot be taught.

I’m teaching a new course next quarter called New Venture Lab. It’s for students who are already in business or have demonstrated a commitment to pursuing a particular venture, with the goal of having them learn how to set and achieve important milestones. In other words, they get to work on their own businesses, and are graded (by themselves, their peers, and me) based on how much progress they make vs. their expectations. Isn’t that what life, and business, are really all about?

This year, I became a big believer in doing things differently. As an educator, mentor, consultant, and manager, I’m expected to teach, coach, and guide others. However, as I was exposed this year to the process of using clarifying questions and experience-sharing in our peer roundtable program, I discovered new techniques to manage relationships, discussions, and teams. I can’t wait to put it to use in many facets of my work and life.

Best wishes for the holiday season, and for a joyous, prosperous 2010!

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