Since I joined MaRS in 2007, I have to admit that it has felt at times as though we are somehow moving against the grain and that what we are doing maybe isn’t that important (despite being fully convinced otherwise). Like the outside world just didn’t get it. Know what I mean?
Not that it matters much, though. As an organization made up of unreformed entrepreneurs we are used to having to punch well above our own weight and forging our own paths to move forward. Undeterred, we have kept on working away.
Recently, however, things have started to feel different: as though more people have opened their eyes to entrepreneurship; as though they appreciate what we do to help entrepreneurs; and as though entrepreneurship matters not just to budding entrepreneurs, but that it also matters in the “grand scheme of things.”
Let me share some numbers from our entrepreneurship programs last year that I believe will illustrate my point.
I could go on. All of our program metrics show the same pattern of growth. Clearly, entrepreneurship is important to Ontarians and we are pleased with the increased demand and the positive feedback that we are receiving from participants. (Our workshops are rated an average of 9.1 out of 10 by participants.)
The Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series and our experiential workshops are both part of what we call the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, a highly curated collection of resources available to entrepreneurs across Ontario. These resources include articles, videos, workbooks, templates, best practice events and workshops all put together to help entrepreneurs who have strong technical expertise acquire the business skills needed to move their ventures forward.
A field experiencing rapid change
Increased demand from entrepreneurs who are starting new businesses is why we are experiencing such growth. To help them, a lot of effort is made at MaRS to ensure that our content is both relevant and accessible to the diverse needs of Ontario’s entrepreneurs. On the content side we are working hard to ensure that the most relevant trends in “entrepreneurial management” are reflected in our offerings.
With most of the academic research relevant to startups having been conducted in the last decade, the field of entrepreneurial management is advancing fast and is very dynamic. For us, it is clear that the emergence of new research and best practices within this field is making entrepreneurship a more appealing choice for many. Examples of important publications in the field include:
At MaRS, our job is to both contribute to the field with our own experiences and act as translators and curators to help Ontario’s entrepreneurs understand and use new approaches in their businesses.
Entrepreneurial management is not just for startups
Interestingly, medium-size and large-scale businesses that are seeking to improve their innovation efforts have taken a keen liking to the new entrepreneurial management practices, with companies like General Electric even adopting the lean approach. As BlackBerry, Canada’s leading technology company, is currently trying to find new owners, I’m left wondering whether other established Canadian companies are starting to feel the need to sharpen their entrepreneurial practices.