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Building a Better Bullpen

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | May 10, 2017
Entrepreneurs are people that spot an opportunity and find a way to take advantage of it. They are problem solvers.  Entrepreneurs are the “doers” of a community.  Beyond the concepts of building local wealth, creating local jobs and improving the local economy- the mindset of an entrepreneur provides necessary problem solving skills that allow a community to remain successful in a rapidly evolving economy. Problem solving (the act of identifying a problem and then IMPLEMENTING a workable solution) is a skill that is vastly underrated.  A lack of entrepreneurship in a community means a lack of problem solving, and devaluation of entrepreneurial mind sets can have negative consequences for businesses, organizations, cities and regions.


People talk about problems.  Lack of profit, lack of customers, dilapidation in community sectors, changing leadership, evolving economic trends, shifting demographic trends, etc…  Identifying the shortcomings in any area is relatively easy. Stating that things are “changing” is obvious (things are always changing).  The “buzz word bingo” that accompanies a discussion about “change”, “leadership” and “problems” does little to move a business, organization or community forward without the entrepreneurial mind set. Recasting “problems” or “change” as opportunities that can be taken advantage of, with creative solutions, provides local entities a sustainable path forward.  Without entrepreneurs, entities get stuck in the same trajectory because they are hesitant to change the leadership, structures or decision making process that put them into their current situation.


To the entrepreneur, challenges are met with the implementation of strategies that overcome perceived obstacles.  Entrepreneurs natural tendencies to disrupt static existing systems in favor of fluid and elegant solutions can make some uneasy, but that’s okay.  Existing systems are generally “upset” by the will of the entrepreneur.  Taxi drivers are upset by Uber, chain stores are upset by Amazon, “big” beer manufacturers are upset by craft breweries, traditional power generation plants are upset by solar and wind, bookkeepers are upset by Quickbooks…  In each of these instances, the entrepreneur figured out a way to take an industry with a problematic element (an opportunity) and provide the consuming public something faster, cheaper or better by changing the SYSTEM behind product or service delivery.  Instead of something slow and hierarchical, entrepreneurs created organic decision making that ceded some control to users and realized the inefficiency of the current system.


As the economy continues to evolve, governmental programs change and demographics (and psychographics) continue to shift, entrepreneurial capacity may be the deciding factor between communities that succeed and those that don’t.  So, if you know people in your life that have an opportunistic mind set and need to create a business concept- do us all a favor and have them sign up for the Start Your Own Business Class.  Even if they don’t start a business, I believe the entrepreneurial problem solving mentality will help our organizations, community and region succeed.


CLICK HERE for the scholarship form for the Start Your Own Business Class, sponsored by ESB Financial.  For additional information on the Start Your Own Business Class, please contact Kim Dhority at Flint Hills Technical College- 620-341-1345 [email protected].  The Start Your Own Business Class is a collaborative effort between Flint Hills Technical College, The Small Business Development Center at Emporia State University and Emporia Main Street, with a generous financial contribution from ESB Financial for scholarships.

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.