Welcome to Digital Homesteading.
This collection of resources from 9 Clouds helps you build your business and community.
This month, my home of Brookings, S.D. was chosen as one of 25 startup communities to win the Startup in a Day competition.
Seeing my small community of 25,000 alongside entrepreneurial powerhouses like Austin, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. was a boost of pride and a great recognition of the work we have done in our community.
But how can a city of 25,000 compete with large communities and be chosen by President Obama as a national winner? By showing up, building up and dreaming big.
The Startup in a Day competition came to my attention just one week before it was due. With this short turn around, many communities would have said, “we can’t do it.”
Fortunately, our community leaders rallied together. Our city council passed a resolution in support of the effort, the economic development corporation began working on the proposal and our city manager jumped on board to encourage the application.
In five days, we went from not knowing about the competition to committing to making it possible for any entrepreneur to launch a business in 24 hours.
Most businesses and communities fail to step forward when opportunities arise. It might seem too hard, too quick of a turnaround or just unlikely to succeed. By showing up, Brookings was already ahead of most communities.
Communities must show up.
This means excitement to share successes, leaders ready to say yes, (even if all the details are not yet clear), and a willingness to take risks for the growth of the community. Your story will never be heard if you keep it to yourself.
Be willing to show up and stand in the spotlight, even if you’re not quite ready.
Lacking a foundation may be a reason many communities and businesses are not ready to stand up and take risks.
In Brookings, we have been working at the grassroots level to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem for over two years. From our first TEDxBrookings event with 100 attendees to our first 1 Million Cups event with 20 attendees, we have slowly and consistently offered opportunities to share ideas and collaborate.
Two years ago, we may not have been ready to show up. Now, however, with a foundation of activity and excitement, it is easier to claim our place among the most innovative cities in the country.
Your community or business should start building a foundation now, not when an opportunity arises. If you already have leaders, entrepreneurs, creatives and community activists engaged and working on making your community or business great, you have the pieces in place to take advantage of opportunities that come your way.
How do you start?
Create a regularly scheduled event that is open to anyone who wants to make the community or business better. This might be a structured event like 1 Million Cups or simply a coffee meet up. For a business it might be a regular brainstorming session for new ideas or ways to improve. Be radically inclusive so everyone feels welcome, not just the traditional decision-makers. In this way, you will uncover potential leaders and build a foundation for future success.
Last fall, we proclaimed Brookings the Creative Capital of the North (N.D., S.D. and M.N.). This audacious goal was idealistic enough to capture people’s attention and vague enough to allow anyone to help work towards the goal.
We hosted Creativity Week, the largest crowdsourced creativity festival in the country, and attracted thousands of attendees. This year, Creativity Week is back (you can sign up and host an event) and has already attracted attention from the largest magazines and radio broadcasters in the state.
In your communities, you need to dream big.
As Steve Diamandis argues in Bold, think 10x better, not 10% better. Few people get excited about a few dollars or programs going on in town. Everyone gets excited (or has an opinion) when a grand vision for the future of a community is presented or the President mentions your community as a leader.
With a big dream, you inspire community members to push themselves and the limits of possibility. You demand attention from the media and you attract collaborators with the same audacity.
We are dreaming big by naming ourselves the Creative Capital of the North. By putting a name on this goal, competitions like Startup in a Day are easier to apply for because they are a piece of the overall vision, not an end in itself.
Oprah Wasn’t Built in a Day
My wife showed me a t-shirt that said this last week. I laughed hysterically. Then, I included it in this article because its true.
Whether its Oprah, San Francisco, Coca-Cola or, well, Rome, it wasn’t built in a day. No community or business is guaranteed to be the leader a generation from now. Diamandis claims that 50% of Fortune 500 companies won’t exist in 50 years.
His point is clear: change is ever-present.
Now is the best day to start. Show up, build up and dream big. You may be the next big thing.
Photo: Huffington Post, SBA.