Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen! Back »

TED Talks have some really interesting topics by well-educated people. I just finished watching Ernesto Sirolli, a noted authority in the field of sustainable economic development, talk about the best ways to help entrepreneurs. Sirolli has spent years discovering some of the wrong ways to offer assistance, such as coming in with the answers, or expecting that calling a public meeting will bring out the right people. His humorous stories about listening first seem spot on as an educator working in communities.

Sirolli advocates for one-on-one work with entrepreneurs. By listening, he tries to bring out the passion, determination, intelligence and resourcefulness of the local people. Instead of arriving in the community with ideas, he comes in ready to hear their ideas. He listens to figure out what they are searching for, and then offers the assistance he can to connect them to resources.

One of my favorite parts of the talk was to hear Sirolli say “Planning is the kiss of death of entrepreneurship.” In our culture, we are often encouraged to plan out every detail we can in order to avoid confusion. In reality, we need to leave some room for things to develop naturally and spontaneously in order to get the best results. We need to allow time for others to come into our lives and add to the ideas or project.

The best ideas are never developed by one person. Building a strong team around an entrepreneur can support them throughout the launching of a great new business, or retaining an already-great business.

Stay tuned for an opportunity to attend a video-conference “Small Business is Everyone’s Business” that SDSU Extension Community Vitality will be holding this spring.

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