The Pipeline of Entrepreneurs and Enterprises

Newly Published!

Gregg Lichtenstein & Thomas S. Lyons (2012): Lessons from the field: mapping Saskatchewan's Pipeline of Entrepreneurs and Enterprises in order to build a provincial operating system for entrepreneurship, Community Development, DOI:10.1080/15575330.2011.645044

This article describes the initial stages of a long-term change project, to implement a province-wide entrepreneurial development system in Saskatchewan, Canada. The project used a highly participative planning process to engage 300 stakeholders in a new method to meaningfully segment the marketplace of entrepreneurs and enterprises in a community or region. This process, referred to as the Pipeline of Entrepreneurs and Enterprises, guides economic development investments and moves them from a piece-meal approach of addressing entrepreneurial needs to one that is more systemic.

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Our approach to enterprise development is described in a number of publications:

The Entrepreneurial Development System: Transforming Business Talent and Community Economies, by Lichtenstein, G.A. and Lyons, T.S. Economic Development Quarterly, Volume, 15, Issue No. 1, pages: 3-20. 2001.

This article offers an alternative to the current paradigm for developing enterprises. We propose implementing a new approach, called the Entrepreneurial Development System (the generic name for the proprietary system we call the Entrepreneurial League System®), for transforming community economies. We lay out the specifications for the new paradigm, drawing distinctions between current practice and our proposal. The article then describes the major components of our proposed enterprise development system; details its benefits to entrepreneurs, service providers, and the community; and discusses challenges to its full-scale implementation.

This article was the inspiration for the 2005 W.K. Kellogg Foundation $12 million request for proposal that resulted in the funding of six rural Entrepreneurial Development Systems in the U.S. (at $2mm each) out of 183 proposals submitted.

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Managing the Community’s Pipeline of Entrepreneurs and Enterprises: A New Way of Thinking about Business Assets
, by Lichtenstein and Lyons, Economic Development Quarterly, Nov. 2006.

This article was expanded to book length in Investing in Entrepreneurs. For more information click here.

The paper offers a methodical approach to deciding when, where and how to invest in entrepreneurship as a cross cutting economic development strategy. To accomplish this, we present and operationalize the concept of a pipeline of entrepreneurs and enterprises in order to effectively segment the marketplace of businesses and differentiate among potential economic development clients within the community. We then describe three options for managing and intervening in a community’s pipeline of entrepreneurs and enterprises – performance-enhancement strategies, incubation strategies and selective attraction strategies – and discuss how the pipeline can help policymakers and practitioners make informed decisions about where to invest (in what segment) and which strategies to use.

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Building Entrepreneurial Communities: the Appropriate Role of Enterprise Development Activities
, by Lichtenstein, G., Lyons, T.S., and Kutzhanova, N. appearing in the Journal of the Community Development Society, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2004, 5-24.

This article examines how building entrepreneurial communities can be used as a strategy for community economic development. We first define the term “entrepreneurial community” and clarify how economic developers go about trying to create such places by helping entrepreneurs grow new business. The article then critiques the current approach to enterprise development and explains why it is incapable of producing entrepreneurial communities. We then make a case for change.

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Building Social Capital: A New Strategy for Retaining and Revitalizing Inner-City Manufacturers
, by Gregg Lichtenstein, Economic Development Commentary, 23 (3), 31-38, Fall, 1999.

A case study of an early prototype of the Entrepreneurial League System®, launched in urban Philadelphia in a territory of 330 manufacturers. This initiative achieved a 50% market penetration rate within three years, without the benefit of any pre-existing relationships. More than 160 firms were actively involved in a series of major improvement projects including new product development, industrial marketing, marketing internship, the creation of the first industrial district in the state (leading to the retention of over 350 jobs), training programs and human resource initiatives.

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The Entrepreneurial League System®: Transforming your Community’s Economy Through Enterprise Development,, by Thomas S Lyons, Published by the Appalachian Regional Commission, March 2002. A short piece that describes the system.

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A Story of Entrepreneurship and a Region’s Successful Economic Transformation.

This article, focused on the topic of how to build entrepreneurial regions, is written in the form of a story. It presents an image of what is possible in transforming struggling regions. But these processes of cultural and behavioral transformations are long-term and results take years to emerge. In our work with stakeholders, it has been enormously powerful to share our vision of the process in this form, so that they are able to “see” how this would work once it is up and running.

The central message of this article is that entrepreneurs are made and not born, and because of that fact we can, by methodically cultivating entrepreneurs, intentionally build a more entrepreneurial community, region or corporation. While this point may sound obvious, as a reading of the article will demonstrate by counterexample to existing behavior, it is rarely put into practice.

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Incubating New Enterprises: A Guide to Successful Practice by Gregg A. Lichtenstein and Thomas S. Lyons, Aspen Institute, 1996.

A comprehensive reference on incubating startups. Contains tools for diagnosing the needs of entrepreneurs and describes more than 115 practices that can be used to successfully address them. Available through the Aspen Institute and on Favorably reviewed in Planning Magazine; two years on Planners Book Service Bestsellers List.

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Incubando Nuevas Empresas by Gregg A. Lichtenstein and Thomas S. Lyons. 1996. (Spanish Edition of Incubating New Enterprises). Uruguay: Libros En Red, September 2003.

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Skill-Based Development of Entrepreneurs and the Role of Personal and Peer Group Coaching in Enterprise Development by Nailya Kutzhanova, Thomas S. Lyons and Gregg A. Lichtenstein. “ Economic Development Quarterly. August 2009. Vol. 23, No. 3, 193-210.

This article argues that skill building lies at the heart of entrepreneurs' success, and it examines how skills can best be developed. The authors begin with a discussion of skill building and why it must be the focus of productive enterprise development efforts. They then examine a unique enterprise development program in central Appalachia (the Entrepreneurial League System
®) that uses a combination of personal and peer group coaching to develop the skills of its client entrepreneurs. By triangulating the results of in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs, coaches, and the managers of the program, the research reported here creates a set of comparative case studies that sheds light on how coaching can affect the way entrepreneurs learn. The findings have implications for how entrepreneurs can be more effectively assisted.
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Revisiting the business life-cycle: Proposing an actionable model for assessing and fostering entrepreneurship, by Lichtenstein, Gregg  A. & Lyons, Thomas S. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 2008. Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 241-250.

In this article, the authors offer a critique of 26 different models of the business life-cycle. They find that the models lack clarity in the specification of their stages, blur the distinction between the entrepreneur and the business, suffer from inconsistencies and biases, and suggest that movement through their stages is inevitable. The authors maintain that a new model is needed that unmistakably bounds these stages so that a company’s position can clearly be assessed in order to facilitate efficient and effective business development. With this in mind, they propose an actionable six-stage  constructivist model and discuss its implications for improved practice and research.

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Economic Development: Strategies for State and Local Practice, 2nd Edition. Steven G. Koven and Thomas S. Lyons. ICMA Press. Hardcover. 2010. 225 pages.

This book is highly recommended as a resource for all individuals involved in economic growth and development at the state and local level, as well as a comprehensive foundation in techniques and theory for students of development. This book includes a chapter on the role of entrepreneurship in economic development, including a case study of the Entrepreneurial League System® of Central Louisiana.

No other textbook written for state and local leaders has the comprehensive approach taken by Economic Development: Strategies for State and Local Practice. Highly recommended for courses in Economic Development, Nonprofit Management, Public Policy and Administration, Public Finance, and Urban Studies, this book provides a comprehensive foundation in techniques and theory of development. The case studies make this book an effective learning tool for students, as they demonstrate how policies have been applied in different settings in the real world. Learning objectives, study questions, and additional resources for each chapter guide students and provide suggestions for further thought and research.

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