I was going to write this post a few weeks ago, but decided to wait. I was inspired after hearing Karen Kerrigan speak at a business luncheon in Baton Rouge, LA. She’s the CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, and listening to her that day got me thinking. I started taking notes and realized there were far too many topics for one post, so I’ve decided to make this a four-part series. This post (part one) will give an overview of the speech Ms. Kerrigan made at the luncheon, and the next three will cover the related topics: Women Entrepreneurs: Why don’t we think BIG, The Entrepreneur vs.  the Job Creator, and Lifestyle of the Broke and Hopeless: What it Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur.

Part One: Lessons From An Entrepreneuraship Maven

My father was a businessman, and I remember even at a young age being fascinated by his work. Although I was very young when he passed away, I feel as though I inherited from him an innate business sense.  Thus, it’s no wonder I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’ve wanted to run my own business for as long as I can remember.

Sometimes I hear older, established businesspeople or career people talk about ‘entrepreneurs’ like the term itself is a joke. Maybe the perception has changed some now, but previously it was perceived as the new “it” word young people used to describe themselves when they were unemployed, and didn’t know what to do with their lives. Career-minded people don’t know how to react to someone whose plan is to try out as many jobs and “ideas” as it takes to find one that fits, with little concern for money. Maybe that’s part of the problem that older businesspeople have, it’s a “cool generational thing” that’s only temporary.

I go back and forth over whether to call myself an entrepreneur or not… maybe ‘businesswoman’ is more accurate? I feel like I’m very much both and maybe they are one in the same though I’m tending more and more toward ‘entrepreneur’. It fits my generation and me much better.

Getting back on track here… I was invited to hear Karen Kerrigan speak at a luncheon, and was truly inspired by her words. I am an entrepreneur! Not only that, but a woman and minority entrepreneur too, and that is something to be proud of!

As she reviewed the latest statistics from the employment industry, I was not surprised to learn that:

–          600 million people will need jobs in the next 15 years

–          200 million people are currently unemployed

–          There are 1.2 billion ‘good’ jobs available, as determined by compensation and benefits

–          3 out of 7 people are looking for this kind of job(that’s 3 billion out of 7 billion)

What does this data tell us? It tells us that job creation is more important than ever, especially in the next 15 years. Entrepreneurs can be the engines that drive this growth!

Next, Karen talked about what an entrepreneur looks like.

–          There are roughly 400 million entrepreneurs around the globe

–          140 million of them are active job creators

–          40% of entrepreneurs are over the age of 60

Karen also pointed out that only one in thirteen women consider starting their own businesses, compared to one in five men. This could be related to the recent and ongoing financial crisis, as there’s nothing stable about starting a business. As we all know, being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle. It’s a commitment.

Karen also talked about the confidence gap between men and women. Did you know that studies have shown that men who are less knowledgeable on a topic are generally more confident than women who are more knowledgeable on the same topic? What is it that stops so many women from thinking big? How do we give minorities access to the education, resources, and experience they need to take their business idea to the next level? Some of Karen’s suggestions included:

–          Reform regulations

–          Promote proper governance

–          Create early education and young adult entrepreneurial curriculum

–          Promote lifelong entrepreneurial education

–          Empower entrepreneurial women and minorities

–          Create entrepreneur-friendly institutions

–          Foster positive entrepreneurial attitudes

Karen Kerrigan speech gave me a renewed since of ownership around the “dirty little word”  entrepreneurship. I hope you’ll stay tuned over the next few weeks as I expound more on the other topics surrounding this conversation, and give my professional and personal views. Up next, Women Entrepreneurs: Why don’t we think BIG?

 I’m curious to know your thoughts. Write me and tell me your entrepreneurship story? I may feature a quote from you, or your story in my upcoming blog post. sevetri@sevetriwilson.com