Last month, I attended The Chicago Network’s annual luncheon featuring a keynote by Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, whose latest book, Thrive, cautions entrepreneurs—and all of us—to take better care of ourselves. “We are living in a collective delusion that the way to build a successful startup is to burn out the founder,” she says. “If you look at the fact that three-quarters of startups fail, I think there is a clear correlation between the failure rate and the burnout rate.”
This summer, I reflect on 25 years of business. Having had a few near-misses at crashing and burning myself, the thought of thriving when I’m tired of striving to “have it all” is quite appealing. Huffington’s presentation encouraged more sleep, meditation and an electronic diet—slowing down the 24/7 multitasking.
A recent article in The Atlantic states that for U.S. entrepreneurs, it is the best of times and the worst of times. Even as statistics attest to a long-term decline in business dynamism and the rate of new business creation, we read of the importance of startups to overall employment growth, while millennials are often cited as the most entrepreneurial-minded generation in history.
How to reconcile this seemingly contradictory data? “The startup rate has likely declined in large part thanks to the victory of giant, national chains over smaller, local businesses,” writes Jordan Weissmann on slate.com. "When the Census Bureau tracks startup firms, it doesn’t just survey… the high-tech companies that give our economy the biggest jolt... it also includes your corner hardware stores and family-owned grocers. And those sorts of mom-and-pop businesses have been devoured by big-box stores and Internet retail."
Startups are special in part because they are located right here in our communities. Much has been written on the virtues of shopping local, including the multiplier effect upon the local economy. Turn to page 47 for a handy list, courtesy of our very own Running Central.
A 2012 national poll revealed that “having locally-owned businesses nearby” is the No. 1 factor in creating an ideal community—no wonder the “Shop Local” movement is on the rise around the country. As Startup Peoria helps lead the charge toward creating an ecosystem to support local entrepreneurs, among its initiatives in the works is Peoria Made, an online directory of regional startups and ecommerce platform for local products.
A program such as this could easily be leveraged alongside a “Shop Local” campaign with some teeth in it. There is a wealth of ideas out there for the taking and organizations ready to assist, from the American Independent Business Alliance (amiba.net) to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ilsr.org) to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (bealocalist.org). Or check out the Guide to Going Local, available for download at guidetogoinglocal.org.
Entrepreneurs are agents of change, but so are consumers. Working collaboratively, we can improve the climate for independent business here in Peoria—we can succeed without burning ourselves out. So take care of yourselves… and shop local! iBi