Economic                                                                                                     Gardening    ...
Edward Lowe FoundationECONOMIC GARDENING                        development organizations                        that serv...
Edward Lowe FoundationECONOMIC GARDENING                        to fulfill commitments to customers;        that profile c...
Edward Lowe FoundationECONOMIC GARDENING                        Economic gardening at work                             A c...
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Eg Puzzle Story

  1. 1. Economic Gardening Economic Gardening An entrepreneur-oriented approach to economic prosperityI t may seem ironic in today’s global economy, but place has become more important than ever. Naturalresources, low-cost labor and taxincentives used to be key drivers to comes in — and why it takes a neutral third party like the foundation to get involved and be a catalyst for change.” Economic gardening takes an entrepreneurial approach to job strategies.” Economic gardening helps establish an entrepreneurial culture within communities and sets itself apart from other economic-development strategiesregional prosperity. Today, however, the creation. Sometimes referred to as a by its target audience, tools and timingability to support innovative companies “homegrown” or “inside-out” strategy, of services.and entrepreneurs is also a critical economic gardening focuses on helping For example, traditional economic-component to economic growth. existing growth-oriented companies development programs offer tax “We’re living in a period of become larger. incentives, workforce developmentexponential economic change, “We’re not saying that attraction services and infrastructurewhich means economic developers and recruitment activities should improvements to attract and retainand community leaders must serve be discontinued, but they’ve been companies that may be consideringbusinesses differently,” says Mark overemphasized due partly to relocation — strategies that emphasizeLange, executive director of the Edward competitive and political pressures,” movement rather than growth.Lowe Foundation in Cassopolis, Mich. Lange says. “A balanced approach is the At the other end of the spectrum,“That’s where economic gardening key to building effective programs and there are a variety of small-business-
  2. 2. Edward Lowe FoundationECONOMIC GARDENING development organizations that serve startups and small businesses by providing assistance with operations and management issues such as business-plan review, cash- flow analysis and succession planning. In contrast, economic gardening deals with growth-oriented companies and strategic issues like penetrating new markets, refining business models, developing teams and embracing new leadership roles. Economic gardening provides information and decision- less dramatic than gazelles but making assistance to companies that are remains impressive. transitioning from small to large, with This growth orientation is a services customized to meet the just-in- critical distinction that separates time needs of this audience. entrepreneurs from other types of Communities currently nurture small businesses. For example, some their economies through economic individuals may be self-employed • Market adjustments. development, workforce development because they like being their own boss, • Outgrowing early and small-business development. “But but job creation isn’t part of their game management teams and their role as there is a fourth dimension we need to plan. Then there are small businesses founders. add,” Lange says. “Growth-company that provide jobs in a community, but • Scaling business models to handle development is the missing piece, which their growth is somewhat restricted by growth. is why the Edward Lowe Foundation is the local trading area they serve. • Understanding capital requirements. an advocate for economic gardening.” In contrast, second-stage “It’s hard for entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs are significant job resolve these issues on their own — Second-stage benefits creators because of their focus on or even identify them accurately,” Some of the greatest returns growth. And because they often have says Dino Signore, manager of of economic gardening come national or global markets, they bring program development at the Edward from working with second-stage outside dollars into the community. Lowe Foundation. “For one thing, entrepreneurs — companies that have “It’s time we treat growth-oriented moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2 advanced beyond the startup stage with entrepreneurs differently than small brings on an entirely new set of the intent and potential for additional businesses — giving them their own challenges. Entrepreneurs face more growth. (Second-stagers typically have place in the overall scheme of economic responsibilities, and everything becomes 10 to 99 employees and generate about development,” says Lange. “The magnified. Their core competencies $1 million to $50 million in annual foundation can play an important role become stronger, but so do their revenue, depending on their industry.) by helping community organizations weaknesses.” Many people associate second stage collaborate more effectively to serve Making things even more difficult, with gazelles (companies with extremely this audience.” changes in markets, management, high growth). Although gazelles pass business model and money are through second stage, which makes it Understanding key issues interrelated, Signore continues. “Being a good place to find them, they’re only growth companies face out of sync in one area can cause you to part of the story. Second stage also According to Doug Tatum, author be out of sync in others.” includes: 1) companies with potential of “No Man’s Land,” entrepreneurs These conditions manifest for high growth and 2) companies face four key challenges as their themselves in a variety of ways. Some generating steady growth that may be companies transition from small to big: common symptoms: not being able
  3. 3. Edward Lowe FoundationECONOMIC GARDENING to fulfill commitments to customers; that profile customers or show gaps in adds. “The ones generating today’s quality problems become more market coverage. breakthroughs will become either pressing; and decisions become • Search-engine optimization tools can updated or outdated quickly.” increasingly complex and no longer raise visibility in search-engine results intuitive. In addition, reporting systems and increase traffic on Web sites. The power of connectivity no longer provide good information, • Social-media monitoring The tools and techniques described and founders feel they’re no longer able applications can track Web sites, blogs here highlight the “one-to-one” to lead every aspect of the business. and online communities to see what approach in economic gardening and To help entrepreneurs resolve people are saying about companies set the stage for an ongoing relationship growing pains, economic-gardening and products — and reveal important between a support organization and organizations employ a variety of market influencers. individual companies. techniques. These fall into two broad “Yet it’s important to note that these Another important aspect of categories: decision making and tools aren’t a panacea to entrepreneurs’ economic gardening is connectivity (a information. problems,” Lange says. “one-to-many” approach), which uses Businesses are biological entities, peer-to-peer networks, recognition Making better decisions where there is constant flux due to events, just-in-time workshops and Entrepreneurs need help with employees, customers, markets and discussion groups to attract growth strategy, identifying what they’re good economic conditions, he explains. entrepreneurs and serve their at and finding a sustainable competitive Applying mechanical rules (where the immediate, pressing needs. advantage. same process always yields the same “Activities like these are critical to They also need to shift their output) won’t work. Instead, economic- launching and maintaining an overall leadership role as the company grows, gardening specialists leverage these economic-gardening strategy,” says build a strong management team, create tools to find new ideas and approaches. Lange. “They nurture the culture and a clear vision, and then communicate it “What’s more, economic-gardening connectivity that is so important to consistently. tools are constantly changing,” Lange growing regional economies.” This is where temperament tools can help. Understanding temperament (personality preferences, such as Working with entrepreneurs extroversion and introversion or how people process information), can help entrepreneurs recruit high-performance The need for speed teams that balance their own inherent strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of temperament can also ensure E conomic-gardening specialists function much like an outsourced team of experts. Their One challenge is getting up to speed with entrepreneurs. During initial meetings, employees are in positions that enable goal is not to dictate or implement considerable time is spent them to play to their strengths. solutions, but to help CEOs identify discussing an entrepreneur’s issues that might be hindering background, company structure, Sophisticated information growth — and point them to goals and growth issues. Then, as Economic-gardening specialists can new tools, business concepts economic-gardening specialists learn also provide valuable information by and information to make better more about each company, they using business-intelligence tools that decisions. become more efficient at delivering smaller or younger companies either “Economic gardening is about actionable information. It’s a back- can’t afford or don’t know about. For applying just-in-time, high-end and-forth, ongoing relationship. example: expertise rather than counseling,” To gain trust and truly make • Sophisticated databases can identify says Steve Quello, founder of CEO a difference, economic-gardening market trends, potential partners or Nexus in Winter Park, Fla. and organizations must act like the competitors and unknown resources an economic-gardening expert. entrepreneurs they serve. often buried deep inside industry “Entrepreneurs know more about “That means being nimble and information. their companies than anyone else. nonbureaucratic,” Quello explains. • Geographic information systems Give them a better view of the “Entrepreneurs need answers can track customer expenditures, big picture, and they can make in hours or days, not weeks or psychographics and demographics and adjustments themselves.” months.” then create color-shaded, density maps
  4. 4. Edward Lowe FoundationECONOMIC GARDENING Economic gardening at work A closer look at helping growth companies I n November 2008 the Edward Lowe Using the Keirsey Temperament PlayStation or Xbox console. Foundation hosted an economic-gardening Sorter, Santos and Gibbons determined McAlindon was initially trying to workshop led by Chris Gibbons, director of the manager was an “artisan” (liking find game developers in alpha-stage business and industry affairs for Littleton, Colo., freedom and movement) while a development and convince them to who pioneered the concept of economic gardening “guardian” (who has a preference for include Switchblade in their products. in the late 1980s. Assisting Gibbons was the details and deadlines) was better suited to The JumpStart team began researching JumpStart team (experts in different economic- his assigned responsibilities. blogs, portals and other community gardening disciplines who work on projects outside In response, Santos diverted some of sites looking for concentrated groups of of Littleton.) The three-day event focused on the manager’s tasks to others, allowing the people that influence a market. Instead of helping second-stage entrepreneurs from different manager to play to his strengths. Santos game developers, the team recommended industries. Below is a quick look at challenges also brought in a computer programmer that McAlindon target end-users by faced by two participants. to design a software application that setting up competitions between gamers improves communications between the who use keyboards and gamers who use For Victor Santos, CEO of NaturePlex firm’s production and sales departments. controllers. LLC, strategy was a key issue. With many employees contributing “In the gaming world, it appears to Based in Memphis, Tenn., NaturePlex information, the application makes it easy be about bragging rights,” Gibbons says, produces nutritional supplements, to see where NaturePlex is — and where noting that opinions run hot and heavy medicated creams, and other health- it needs to be, Santos says. “It contains all in online blogs — peppered with plenty related products for dollar discount stores. the small details that can get overlooked of four-letter words — as to whether The JumpStart team helped Santos realize when communicating with someone a keyboard or controller provides the that while NaturePlex is in a commodity verbally or even through e-mail.” The superior gaming experience. market, the company has established a payoff: fewer meetings and less confusion. After working with the JumpStart niche of higher-margin, natural products Since working with Gibbons and the team, McAlindon began working with that it can expand to bolster growth and JumpStart team, things have improved a company that specializes in online profits. substantially at NaturePlex. “I didn’t competitions to build an “arena” for Blue Orb’s Web site, with keyboard-controller contests “ I like the specificity of the JumpStart team’s reports. It’s one thing to suggest viral marketing on Web sites. That’s very different than saying: slated to begin in fall 2009. He expects the competitions Here’s the link, here’s what they do and here’s a contact for you. — Pete McAlindon ” to accelerate both visibility and sales for Blue Orb. “Once PC players know they can compete with a controller, they’ll want to download our With that in mind, Santos is launching change my core strategy, but I’m refining software so they can compete,” he says. a line of all-natural, EPA-approved it,” Santos says. McAlindon says the economic- biopesticides. Santos is also using Temperament was also an eye-opener, gardening program differed from sampling to increase sales for high-margin Santos adds: “I knew something was off, other types of business assistance he items, such as including trial-size portions but I thought it was a matter of me not has received — with speed being a key of vitamin E cream with antifungal foot communicating, which proved not to be hallmark. For example, when McAlindon ointment. the case. After meeting with Chris, it was found the Web-competition developer, he Another concern for Santos: Although like a bolt of lightning hit me.” asked the JumpStart team if there were talented and hard-working, one of his For Pete McAlindon, another program other firms he should investigate. managers was not detail-oriented, which participant, mining social media provided “They got back to me the same day, was causing production problems. new insights into business development. saying “Here are two other companies, “Temperament is a slotting problem,” CEO of Blue Orb in Maitland, Fla., but the one you found appears to be best Gibbons explains. “Every job has certain McAlindon is targeting the online gaming and here’s why,” McAlindon says. requirements, and every temperament industry. His company’s Switchblade “Could I have done this research? has certain strengths and weaknesses, software maps the functions of a mouse Perhaps, but it would have taken me depending on the situation. The idea is to and keyboard into a controller (joystick) two days or longer. They got back to me match the strengths of your employees to that allows people to play online games within a few hours, which was a huge their job requirements.” on their computers as if they were using a benefit.”