As a community-oriented business owner (COBO), running your own enterprise is about more than just making money – although that's nice too, of course. The fact is, small businesses give back to the local area not just by providing goods and services to residents but also by kickstarting the economy.
Small business creation decreased by nearly 6 percent last year in comparison with 2010 levels, according to the most recent Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. That said, entrepreneurs still started their own enterprises at a rate that remains above pre-recession levels, with approximately 543,000 companies created across the nation every month in 2011.
But what of the future? As the economy rebounds and more prospective small business owners find solace in working for someone else instead of trying to make their dreams of entrepreneurship a reality, the number of startups in the country will likely decrease.
It doesn't help that entrepreneurship isn't exactly an encouraged career field for young adults who are still in school.
"High schools are focused on the next step, which is usually college," Matt Smith, a Georgia Tech freshman who first became interested in owning his own business at the age of 13, told Entrepreneur magazine. "But they're not preparing you for the real world. They're making you live inside this bubble of secondary education. It doesn't have to be that way."
Smith already has two startups under his belt – GoRankem.com, which allows users to rank songs by their favorite artists, and Insightpool.com, which helps companies identify consumers who are following similar brands online and sets the stage for a conversion. He offered several tips for young people looking to join the world of small business ownership, including reaching out to entrepreneurs in their community.
So how can you, as a COBO, offer your assistance? It's simple – just be receptive to interested children and teens in your local area by taking the time to answer questions, give financial tips and generally show them the ropes. You can also help with another of Smith's recommendations – making connections. Chances are you belong to a local business group, such as a Chamber of Commerce. Even if someone you mentor wants to get involved in a different industry to yours, there's probably someone in your professional contacts who can offer more guidance.