New cities are constantly being recognized for their strong entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystems. But whether or not your hometown makes these lists, this type of culture exists everywhere, and there are ways for you to tap into it in your own city.
Social entrepreneurs and innovators find the resources they need through their peers, regardless of their location. You band together and make things happen. To learn how people can accelerate this process within their own communities, we talked with the following leaders from within Boston’s innovation ecosystem:
- Margaret Hall—National Executive Director & Co-Founder of the GreenLight Fund
- Geoff Mamlet—President of Impact Hub Boston
- David Brown—Vice President of Innovation Leadership for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
From these conversations, we identified three ways you can connect and share ideas with other entrepreneurial individuals in your city.
1. Research Local Chapters of Entrepreneurial Organizations
Whether you’re starting a social impact organization, or a for-profit company with a social mission, you likely possess the qualities shared by all entrepreneurs: the desire to start something new. This shared pursuit of innovation should bring you together with entrepreneurs from different fields. Margaret Hall explains,
Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs; there is something in their DNA, whether they are creating a business or creating a nonprofit. Being around other people who think that way—who think in terms of big and scalable ideas—can bring value to social innovations and organizations that focus on philanthropy. So find these people.
One way to connect with other likeminded individuals is to join an entrepreneurial organization. These organizations bring together entrepreneurs through networking, mentorship, and education opportunities. Some, like the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, have different chapters that can help you connect with peers in your area. The relationships and advice that these types of networks offer could be well worth the investment.
2. Join a Coworking Space
I would be surprised to find a community today that has more than a handful of entrepreneurs that doesn’t already have a coworking community for entrepreneurs, or some equivalent. We’re probably verging on 10,000 such communities around the world and in a few years, that number will be doubled or tripled.
Rather than sitting at your desk in your home all day, pack up your things and join a coworking space in your community. The synergy of working alongside other entrepreneurs can bolster inspiration, productivity, and perspective. According to one study, 71 percent of participants say joining a coworking space boosted their creativity, and 62 percent say it improved their work standard.
One of the greatest benefits of a shared workspace is that it allows you to collaborate with individuals and organizations from different industries, but with similar entrepreneurial values. You can swivel your chair and ask a neighbor for an opinion, or connect with a freelance designer or marketer for a quick brainstorm. Some of these connections could turn into something beyond just a conversation.
By bringing entrepreneurs together into one building, a coworking space becomes a natural generator of innovation and creativity. Get yourself inside the building.
3. Create an Innovative Ecosystem Yourself
Let’s find [these innovative communities] and go through them, or—create them yourself. A good portion of entrepreneurship is creating these ecosystems that are fundamentally already templated in other cities.
This can look like taking the initiative to start a local meetup. You can start by reaching out to your contacts. Ask if they know anyone who would be interested, or who would be a good connection to make, and invite them to a local spot for drinks and discussions. Be open to connecting with people with different specialties. This can help spark creative energy and feed the networking environment.
Social innovation is the product of new ideas. Ideas that exist in you and in the people around you—wherever you are. Bring these ideas to life by finding excited, likeminded individuals who can help elevate the inspiration, motivation, and creativity levels.
How do you connect with other entrepreneurs and innovators in your area? Join us at the 2018 Collaborative to discuss social innovation and impact in person.