What is it? Communities are increasingly recognizing that new businesses do not succeed and thrive in a vacuum. By identifying and training a network of coaches or mentors, localities contribute to a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem. Entrepreneur coaches work with people interested in starting a business by providing one-on-one advice and assistance. A coaching program provides new and potential business owners with support and concrete direction. Coaches share experiences, connect with resources, and ask questions to help budding entrepreneurs carefully consider the specific aspects of business ownership.
How has it been used? The Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaches Institute has been working to help strengthen entrepreneurship in rural Kentucky communities working to diversify their economies due to job losses in their historically strong economic sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and resource extraction. The heart of the Institute’s work is matching people interested in starting their own business with coaches who can guide them through the process. Most significantly, the Institute trains coaches and provides them with a learning and peer network, so as to increase their effectiveness in supporting aspiring entrepreneurs. The project also works to help create community environments conducive to entrepreneurship. As of 2008, over 90 new businesses and 130 new jobs can be traced back to the work of the institute. (Source: Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaches Institute)