Entrepreneurship is building a high growth, scalable business. It's different than general business ownership, which can be a lifestyle business, earning a living or the like. Entrepreneurship involves a lot of risk, challenges, trials and tribulations. It's not easy. However, the act of entrepreneurship is one of the greatest ways that one can demonstrate his or her optimism in the future. For that reason, it's an act that is inspiring and something that we should support in our community. It can often lead to bigger and greater things for both the entrepreneur and surrounding community. That's why we need more entrepreneurs in the region and to continue to build the ecosystem to support them.
An entrepreneur doesn't always have to be optimistic, but does need the will to battle through challenges and to know that things will get better in the future. There are so many obstacles to overcome, problems to solve, and pivots involved that entrepreneurs have to have resolve to battle through. Without such resolve, they would simply give up. That's what separates entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack – not everyone can do it.
There are various ways our community can support the entrepreneurial ecosystem and make things slightly easier for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. One way is to get the word out to others – outside our area – that Wilmington is about more than tourism, and that we have great entrepreneurial companies here. Some high-profile ones such as Live Oak Bank, nCino, Next Glass, Castle Branch and others are definitely on the regional and national radars, and several have attracted capital from all over the country. These companies have generated hundreds of desirable, high-paying jobs. We also need to get the word out about up-and-comers that are just popping up on the radar and will be the next batch of success. I personally do so by writing for ExitEvent, a Triangle-based online platform that highlights entrepreneurship across the state.
We need to support organizations and events that are promoting entrepreneurship in the region. The UNCW CIE has recently undergone a revamp to focus on student entrepreneurs and the business community in general with monthly events. Jim Roberts is holding monthly entrepreneurship events at Ironclad Brewery. Elite Innovations Makerspace is a great resource for early prototypes, product development and turning an idea into a proof-of-concept.
It's not about picking sides or a specific individual or organization. We need to keep our eyes and ears open to support other great things that will pop up. There are a good number of people from the Raleigh-Durham startup communities keeping an eye on the area and exploring ideas for Wilmington. It's about building an entrepreneurial community that supports each other and builds momentum for current and future entrepreneurs.
We can get behind and attend Cucalorus Connect, which will be held November 11-15. Cucalorus Connect is the Cucalorus Film Festival's effort to expand and involve our growing entrepreneurial community through events that are focused on entrepreneurship. The model of marrying the arts with entrepreneurship and innovation has been very successful at Austin's South by Southwest festival. Hopefully, Cucalorus Connect can have a similar impact on a smaller scale.
We also need to continually remind the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and local government officials that supporting entrepreneurship efforts and organizations is important for the economic future of the region. They have supported some of the efforts and need to continue to do so. Just ask the Raleigh-Durham folks what entrepreneurship has done for their region. Governments do need to choose wisely where they spend their money and expect an ROI like any other investor would.
I am optimistic about the future of entrepreneurship in the Cape Fear region. I hope that after reading this article that you are too.
Adam Shay, CPA (NC License Number 35961), MBA, is managing partner of Adam Shay CPA, PLLC. He focuses on minimizing taxes and improving the financial results of entrepreneurs, and is actively involved in supporting the Wilmington entrepreneurial and startup community. For more information, visit http://www.wilmingtontaxesandaccounting.com/ or email him at [email protected]. He can also be reached by phone at 910-256-3456.
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