Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Great football players make great coaches or great coaches make great football players. I call these circular arguments but they are actually causality dilemma’s and they drive people crazy.
In startup communities I believe the same argument or dilemma exists but with another anchor to the circle. Great companies.
My circular argument goes like this: Great leaders build great companies which build great Communities which build great leaders which build great companies.
For some of you this makes a lot of sense. You are probably the more vision & abstract type of thinker. For those of you who skew to a more precise and factual point-of-view, your head probably just blew up.
“You want answers! I want the truth! You can’t handle the truth.” (Insert Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men or Rudy Giuliani, “truth is not truth”).
Well I have a little surprise for you. While laying out this framework I have tricked you by getting you to eliminate the things that are not necessarily catalysts for a great startup community (space, capital, government programs or even Startup Weekends – all of which can help tremendously).
The one catalyst for a startup community are the entrepreneurs themselves.
I have a pet phrase I use every day, “no entrepreneurs – no entrepreneur community”. They are the center pivot for everything. Without them the rest is just noise. Without them the rest of us are useless. I think it’s funny and sad when I hear community leaders working hard to help spawn, grow and accelerate their startup community and never once spent more than 15 minutes with a local entrepreneur.
Let me repeat – everything starts with the entrepreneur. Serve them. Build your community around them. And when you are conflicted with multiple choices of what to do next, ask yourself this one question – “what action of mine would help the entrepreneur the best”.