Growing Hunter’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
We need to be more entrepreneurial is a call we often here and rightly so.
But what does that mean and how do we do it as individuals and as a community?
Entrepreneurship is often narrowly defined as the process of designing, launching and running a new, often a small, business. A better definition is someone who turns ideas into gainful opportunities by accepting risk and uncertainty. Professor Howard Stevenson from Harvard Business School defines it as the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled.
With traditional jobs eroding, high youth unemployment and people looking for income opportunities until they are in to their 70s, entrepreneurship is important to people of all ages. Businesses and organisations need their workforce to be more entrepreneurial to effectively compete in our fast and ever-changing world.
Having entrepreneurial skills and an entrepreneurial mindset is needed if the Hunter is to be a smart region and remain an economic powerhouse. Entrepreneurial people have initiative and self-drive, takes calculated risks, are flexible, adaptable, creative and innovative. They aren’t just critical thinkers but problem solvers. They have relationship building and communication skills, emotional intelligence and take ownership.
We have a very entrepreneurial ecosystem with many organisations doing great work in a range of areas. We have Council, government supported and private start up incubators.
The Australian Government funded Hunter Futureprenuership program is fostering the development of entrepreneurial skills. Piloted in the Hunter, this program has been extended from three to more than 20 areas in Australia.
The program offers more than just workshops and individual mentoring for people starting their own business. We refer people to the many other services on offer to budding entrepreneurs. We need to work together to collectively boost our entrepreneurial capacity because other regions are now focussing on entrepreneurship too.
We are also working to build entrepreneurial skills in the next generation by working with local schools, other tertiary institutions and businesses. The recent Hunter Young Business Minds Awards are a good example of what can be done when we work together. We saw some amazing ideas and projects by young people recognised that have business potential and will benefit our community. One example is Newcastle University student Jack Torr who has designed a device to filter plastic microbeads, hair and other foreign bodies from entering drains and waterways.
Being entrepreneurial is something to be encouraged and fostered in our region.
Cheryl Royle is the Australian Government appointed entrepreneurship facilitator in the Hunter. Hunterfuturepreneurs.com.au