When we started the Queen Street Commons back in 2005, we were like many Co-Working places - mainly focused on offering very small businesses (1-5 people) a very good space to work in that had all the features of a large office with non of the politics and bullshit. We also hoped that there would be fellowship.
But now as the traditional economy craters and the "Job" in a large company is a dying idea with now 40% of people being "Free Agents", we are seeing a new role emerging for us. Here is the context.
For the last 50 years, the idea behind "development" on PEI was to bring large employers to PEI. Other than the triumph of VAC and the Tax Centre, none of these efforts have really transformed our economy.
Our kids leave because the big city is this dense network of opportunity. Big firms don't come or stay on PEI because we are not. This network diagram shows our reality. We have but one main connection to the main system - Ottawa!
So what then is the better course for PEI to take? I think it is to create a dense network of opportunity here at home. A dense network of the very small firms linked and connected in a network. For on our own, we are weak. But in a network we can be strong.
The Queen Street Commons is going to do its part here. One of the acts that we are taking right now is to set up a school of best practice for the very small business - where the focus is to share best practices in a number of critical fields that will make a very small business more successful.
Here is the first line up.
Here is what his session will be about:- It's all about doing more for less and faster.
Part 1. Products/Services that save you money:-incorporation (corpcanada.ca)-VoIP (Skype, Vonage)-PBX (evoice)-online fax (myfax.com)-e-commerce (paypal, evo)-mentors instead of hiring consultants (GCACC, GSACC, CYBF, or on your own)-co-working spaces (QSC)-online invoicing (Freshbooks)
Part 2. How to be tidy when on the run:-access documents from anywhere (Evernote)-CRM (Highrise, SugarCRM)-Project management software (Basecamp, On-Trak)
Part 3. Delegate to save you time:-virtual receptionists-crowdsource (crowdspring.com)-hire freelancers per project-outsource social media (Social Media Ghostwriters)
Suggested readings if you like this presentation:The 4 Hour Work WeekThe E-MythRe-work
What we can do is this:
Here is some research that reinforces my point:
“Local ownership matters in important ways,” says Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural and regional economics at Penn State. “Smaller, locally owned businesses, it turns out, provide higher, long-term economic growth.”
Straight from the Source
The ability of small businesses to enhance economic growth in communities, regardless of the community’s population size and density, is statistically significant, Goetz says.
Small local businesses are defined as standalone firms with 10 to 99 employees owned by residents or businesses with headquarters in the same state.
The presence of large firms that employ more than 500 workers and that are headquartered in other states was associated with slower economic growth. They have internal systems for services such as accounting, legal, supply, and maintenance that are not necessarily based within the county or state.
In addition to outsourcing services that were once provided by community businesses, nonlocal large companies may displace more entrepreneurial small firms.
Small businesses and startups provide more than just jobs for community members, Goetz says. They also improve innovation and productivity on a local level and use other businesses in the community such as accounting and wholesalers, while larger businesses develop their own infrastructure.
For the study, published in the journal Economic Development Quarterly,researchers studied data from the Edward Lowe Foundation on the economic growth and residence status of business owners in 2,953 U.S. urban and rural counties.
“This is really a story about startups,” says Goetz. “Many communities try to bring in outside firms and large factories, but the lesson is that while there may be short-term employment gains with recruiting larger businesses, they don’t trigger long-term economic growth like startups do.”
The economic benefit of locally owned businesses appears to diminish as the firm grows. Medium-sized and large-sized businesses owned by residents are not associated with faster economic growth in later years.
“We can’t look outside of the community for our economic salvation.” Goetz says. “The best strategy is to help people start new businesses and firms locally and help them grow and be successful.”
More news from Penn State: http://live.psu.edu/