New Year’s resolutions could help entrepreneurship grow in Oklahoma
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
As I talk with people about entrepreneurship, it’s always interesting just how many people from different walks of life express a heartfelt desire for entrepreneurs to succeed.
I’m not one for a long list of New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I’d like to suggest three that anyone in Oklahoma can do to give entrepreneurship in our state a boost.
Resolve to remember “why” innovation and entrepreneurship matters: jobs, wages, and revenue.
When it comes to jobs, startups are our rising stars. They are responsible for most of the net new job creation in the U.S. over the last 24 years.
Even during the Great Recession, as older and larger firms shed more jobs than they created, young, small firms (with fewer than five years and less than 20 employees) remained a positive source of net employment growth (8.2 percent growth).
High startup wages
In Oklahoma, new jobs created by startups pack a double punch. Our high-growth startups pay wages that average 150 percent of the state’s norm. Startups create exciting job opportunities for the graduates of Oklahoma’s colleges, universities, and our 29 technology centers, increasing the opportunity to keep more of our talented young people in state.
For established corporations, resolve to assist more startups.
For startups, market validation and product development are just the beginning. The real test is signing up customers. It’s never as easy as “put up a great website and they will come,” especially when the startup has a paradigm shifting solution for corporate America.
On the other side of the customer equation, established companies have problems they’d like to solve, costs they’d like to reduce, or new markets or lines of business they’d like to pursue. There are Oklahoma startups that can help corporations meet these challenges — for example Well Checked Systems for the oil and gas industry, or WeGoLook for companies that need asset inspections for fleets, heavy equipment, or property.
From creating revenue, to sharing development costs, to influencing product design and features, to spinning out ideas generated by innovative staff, early partnerships between startups and corporations can create mutually beneficial relationships that can last for years.
For parents, resolve to get your daughters and sons more engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) earlier. There are so many wonderful opportunities here in Oklahoma to get our children interested in STEM at an early age. From science and engineering fairs to specialized high school curriculum, to the Botball Educational Robotics competition, in which 55 of the 188 registered global teams for 2016 are from Oklahoma! If we want our children to be prepared for good jobs in the future, they must have more STEM today.
These are resolutions that each and every Oklahoman can embrace, regardless of what you do or what or who you know. If we do, the rising tide of economic growth from innovation will continue to lift all our boats.
If we want to create more state revenues to fund things like education and social services, we need to purposely invest in creating more Oklahoma business startups. We can’t just cut taxes and state spending and hope something good happens.
Read the full story at The Oklahoman. (May require subscription.)
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
Companies less than one year old have created an average of 1.5 million jobs per year.