This post comes from Maria Meyers, CEO of KCSourceLink and MOSourceLink. Maria is heading up the strategic initiative for economic growth in Missouri.
The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Leadership Exchange last month was a big success. I joined an envoy of Kansas City entrepreneurial experts to check out what Austin has done to transform their government- and university-centered economy into a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
We spent two and a half days immersed in the city that embraces all things weird. The best practices trip included community discussions surrounding Austin’s achievements and success as they relate to Kansas City’s opportunities and challenges.
Here are some of the main take-away points.
1. It pays to plan and stick to your plan: The Austin business community worked together to create a regional job creation/eco devo strategy; then leaders worked that strategy; they surpassed their goals; and then did a phase 2 followed by a phase 3.
2. Don’t be afraid of failure: A diverse entrepreneur ecosystem that nurtures success and is not afraid of failure is necessary to build and sustain a vibrant knowledge economy. Time and again we heard that Austin embraces those who try new things and “picks them up when they flop.”
3. Austin’s business community asks “Why Not?” instead of “Why?”: In three or four messages we heard that the Austin business community is not afraid to take risks and do things differently. Its success is so recent that it is not hampered by preconceived notions of what drives achievement.
While I’m not interested in duplicating what they’ve done, I am interested in how their “lessons learned” can help us here in Missouri create something that is uniquely our own and based on our resources, culture, and economic character.