A recent Forbes article highlighted the growing rate of Americans who are leaving their corporate jobs to start their own business. In the piece, author Caroline Castrillon cites a survey conducted by Digital.com, which reported that 32 percent of respondents were doing just that.
Here on the Cape, a number of people have taken that leap of faith to pursue their passions and embark on their entrepreneurial dreams. It’s a path made easier with the support of CapeSpace member EforAll Cape Cod, which offers funding, workshops, and an immersive Business Accelerator Program that gives startups a support system that helps ensure success in the early stages of launching a business.
Program Manager Amanda Kaiser has been with the nonprofit for nearly three years, giving her an opportunity to positively influence entrepreneurs on their professional journeys. “I work with ambitious Cape Codders who want to turn their dreams into businesses,” she said. “I do that by connecting them to the tools, resources, and people who can help them build a solid foundation for the future of their business.”
Explaining the Entrepreneurship Boom
As to why more people are branching out on their own, Kaiser said, it comes down to two simple reasons – it’s a lifestyle choice, and it allows them to follow their passion.
As an entrepreneur, people can control the number of hours they work, choose their priorities, and be their own boss. There’s a real flexibility to being an entrepreneur that is attractive to many.
“And for some people, it’s a way to find their place in life when they have enough self-confidence where they feel like they are ready,” Kaiser said. “Most people who come into our program have been thinking about their ideas for months or years, or they’ve been doing it as a side gig for a long time. It takes a while for people to build up their network and self-confidence. It can be a scary thing to step out into that world.”
Recommendations for Starting a New Business
While launching a new business can be exciting, Kaiser said many people jump into less important steps, like designing a logo or signing a lease for an office first.
Instead, she said, people should test their idea to determine how it fills the needs for their potential customers. “They should really test it because they often think their business is what customers want when the reality should be looking at what their customers are really doing and how people are getting their needs filled right now,” she said. “How would their product or service take the place of what people are doing now?”
This is where EforAll Cape Cod can provide critical support. Its Pitch Contests are fun, short events that allow entrepreneurs to receive immediate feedback on their business concepts with the possibility of earning funding to move those ideas forward.
The nonprofit also hosts regular workshops. This summer Kaiser toured the Cape for “Ask Me Anything” sessions in which people could meet with her one-on-one to ask questions about turning their business concepts into a reality.
The Business Accelerator Program is a longer, more immersive opportunity for entrepreneurs to receive business training, mentorship, and access to an extended professional network over the course of one year. EforAll holds its Accelerator twice a year, in the spring and in the fall.
“One of the things we emphasize in our world is that entrepreneurship can be lonely, so finding a community and surrounding yourself with people interested in helping you succeed is a big part of being ready to take that step for people,” Kaiser said.
CapeSpace Supports Budding Entrepreneurs
Since March 2019, CapeSpace has supported EforAll Cape Cod’s efforts by providing participants in its Business Accelerator Program free access to our Business Lounge during regular operating hours. That support continues once entrepreneurs graduate from the program, as they can continue working at CapeSpace and receive a 25 percent discount on any Business Lounge membership for the first year.
Kaiser said CapeSpace’s support has been immensely important for her organization and the individuals who participate in the Accelerator. “A lot of folks who go through our programs are solopreneurs and it might not be cost effective for them to lease their own space,” she said. “Using a shared workspace like CapeSpace can be key to their success.”
In addition, CapeSpace offers the type of community that can help entrepreneurs thrive in today’s world. “We advise entrepreneurs to find a community of like-minded people, businesses, and organizations,” she said. “CapeSpace has the same philosophies that we have in wanting people and businesses to succeed and helping other people succeed. We’ve had a lovely partnership with Robbin and her team in Hyannis and Mashpee.”