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A Publication of WTVP

Since the 1980s, the Peoria Metro region has added over 50,000 new jobs. That is proof positive that the entrepreneurship spirit is alive and well in the region. An entrepreneur can be anyone—man or woman, young or old, two guys with a briefcase, or one woman with a dream. Entrepreneurship is not just about starting a business—it’s about having the desire and drive to do something innovative, and it almost always comes with some risk.

In a report by the Kauffman Foundation, the United States continues to be near the top of the list of innovation-driven economies when it comes to early-stage entrepreneurial activities. This activity focuses more on business service sectors and is less concentrated in the transforming sector, indicating a trend toward a business service-based economy and away from a manufacturing-based economy.

There are also some striking differences when comparing female and male entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Foundation reports that women start ventures with eight times less funding than their male counterparts. Men are more likely to start a business-service type of venture than a consumer-oriented one (47% vs. 24%). Women, on the other hand, are more likely to start a consumer-oriented business rather than a service-oriented business (52% vs. 26%). Men are more motivated than women by opportunity (93% vs. 68%) as opposed to necessity (5% vs. 21%). Finally, female entrepreneurs have a greater fear of failure and lower perceptions that business success leads to higher status than male entrepreneurs. That may be one reason why there are more men than women entrepreneurs.

The recent recession did take a toll on entrepreneurship. A recent global report showed that the number of people trying to start businesses declined 10 percent between 2008 and 2009. However, the global recession has actually created opportunities for American entrepreneurship because many who were laid off took this opportunity to go out on their own. Entrepreneurs and the companies they create are the driving force for job creation and our eventual economic recovery. So, what does our future hold and where should entrepreneurs focus their energy?

The growth areas for the Peoria Metro area include technology, green initiatives, healthcare and transportation/logistics. All signs point to the majority of new businesses in the next decade being considered a small business having fewer than 300 employees. Thus, this is the perfect time for entrepreneurs to flourish.

This region has been working hard to provide a climate for entrepreneurs and has received accolades for the progress made. In fact, Peoria was named the fifth best midsized city in the country in which to launch a small business by CNN/Fortune Small Business. The Peoria Metro Region has all the resources a successful entrepreneur needs, if one knows where to look. Unfortunately, many great ideas don’t take hold or last more than a few years, so regional resources are important. Consider these organizations to help you get started: The Heartland Partnership, Peoria NEXT, Central Illinois Angels, Bradley University’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, SCORE, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and NOVUS, to name just a few. There are no limits to what an entrepreneur can do if they have the right tools in their toolbox. You can find more resources at heartlandpartnership.org.

The largest and most successful corporations started somewhere. Many started as one person’s dream and grew into a company of global recognition. That could be you. iBi

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