photo of City Alive's Henry Ra

Meeting People Where They Are – City Alive Partners Launch Community Navigator Program

Thema Blog, Entrepreneurship, Racial Equity, Talent and Skill Development

Meeting People Where They Are –
City Alive Partners Launch Community Navigator Program

By Henry Rael, Program Officer, McCune Charitable Foundation| April 26, 2018

 

By Henry Rael, Program Officer, McCune Charitable Foundation| April 26, 2018

It’s next to impossible for an entrepreneurial ecosystem to help entrepreneurs and small business owners work IN their businesses. But a healthy support ecosystem can more effectively assist with the work they do ON their businesses.

Dr. Shelle Sanchez, the current Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of Albuquerque, once told me about an important distinction she discovered as she learned about entrepreneurship: there is a big difference between working IN a business and working ON a business.

The work done IN a business is the work that directly creates value. It is the work that can be monetized to drive revenue and build a business. For the business to be successful, this work IN the business must be done. For a barber, it’s the work of cutting hair. For an architect, it’s the work of designing a building. Associated with this “IN” category are also the day-to-day tasks like paying the bills, managing the staff, finding new clients, making sales etc. Work IN the business brings in revenue and keeps the enterprise afloat.

A business, however, is not static. New businesses in particular exist in a state of flux, constantly evolving and developing. Initially, founders must work ON the business, before the work IN the business can truly begin. This is the work of planning and launching a company. Once it is launched, most founders immediately start working IN their business and often, these efforts completely replace the on-going work that needs to be done ON the business. It’s a real dilemma because if the work IN a business stops, revenue does too; but in order to ensure the business thrives there must be time to work ON the business (e.g. work on budgets and banking, work to ensure compliance with laws and regulations and the myriad other non-revenue generating tasks).

It’s next to impossible for an entrepreneurial ecosystem to help entrepreneurs and small business owners work IN their businesses. But a healthy support ecosystem can more effectively assist with the work they do ON their businesses. In Albuquerque we have strong, effective organizations supporting economic development efforts. However, through our City Alive planning year, we learned that we also need to more directly connect business owners to resources to work ON their businesses. This is why City Alive has supported the creation of a series of navigator programs to bolster entrepreneurs as they work ON their businesses.

Essentially, we need to minimize the extent to which the entrepreneur has to choose between the work they do IN their business and ON their business. At City Alive, we believe that if we work together to build on inherent entrepreneurial assets and create a culture of entrepreneurial energy using best practices, we can support and encourage entrepreneurs to build businesses that succeed.

Two City Alive-connected programs have been actively building assets and a culture of entrepreneurship: the Business Navigator and Tech Navigator programs. This month, with funding support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Albuquerque Community Foundation and Wells Fargo, City Alive and its partners are now launching the new Community Navigator program to work alongside. The Community Navigators will bring entrepreneurial support into Albuquerque communities that are hungry to receive this kind of one-on-one support that is culturally responsive, assisting with business planning, systems development, capital access and other challenges.

The New Mexico Dream Team and the Juntos/Molino Collaborative comprised of Encuentro, SVEDC, WESST and the City’s Navigator Program (formerly Small Business Resource Collaborative) will each implement a Community Navigator program focused on supporting entrepreneurs in Spanish-speaking immigrant, refugee and other marginalized communities. City Alive is excited for the progress we can make together with this kind of high-touch support that meets people where they are.

City Alive leaders participating in the Community Navigator program (from both a programmatic and funding perspective) include Lisa Adkins, Robin Brulé, Kelli Cooper, Robert Del Campo, Josue Olivares, Vanessa Roanhorse, Alvin Warren and myself. Participating organizations include Encuentro, WESST, SVEDC, City Navigator Program, UNM, FatPipe and the New Mexico Dream Team (NMDT). Together, they seek to make it as easy as possible for business owners in multiple Albuquerque communities to work ON their enterprise while maintaining the ability to work IN their business as well.

 

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