CARTERVILLE - Building an entrepreneurial spirit can help small business survive and prosper in a community, a business con-sultant says.
Burt Chojnowski, founder and managing partner of BrainBelt Consulting in Fairfield, Iowa, served as the main presenter at the 15th annual Southern Illinois Economic Development Conference Thursday at John A. Logan College.
With a theme of "Cultivating Growth through Economic Gardening," the conference explored the process of planting and growing business in the region.
The biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs include a fear of failure and negative reactions from others in the community, he said. When a person tries to launch their own business, people tend to think they shouldn't be, and if they become successful, those same people grow to resent the success their peers have found. When a business fails, people also tend to adopt negative attitudes.
"A failed business is not a failed business," Chojnowski said. "It's a step in innovation. It's an opportunity to get into something else."
Citing examples such as Sony, which was first created to market rice cookers, and Hewlett-Packard, which originally produced foul lane indicators for bowling alleys, he said every successful business venture has to start somewhere and support systems should exist to for entrepreneurs.
In Fairfield, Iowa, the community has developed a strong entrepreneurial spirit by creating organizations to aid prospective businesspeople and organizing a hall of fame to honor the pioneers of the past, Chojnowski said. Additionally, the city routinely hosts workshops and clinics focused on potential entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.
Demographics of modern-day entrepreneurs may also surprise many people. Inventors and those with advanced business degrees tend to fail in their start-ups. Most American entrepreneurs don't have college degrees, he said, adding most are in their 50s and women and immigrants are becoming more common in the field.
"There're all different kinds of entrepreneurs, and they hall different skill sets," he said.