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Monday, July 7, 2014

Come on and Start Me up

I love the idea of business incubators. Some communities hoping to help inexperienced business people actually put them together as a resource. They are comprised of professionals from various fields who can help the entrepreneurial types get on the fast track to a successful venture.

A while back I read about a variation on this concept. It’s called “1 Million Cups.” The program is a couple years old and is run by entrepreneurs. Several cities have adopted this method of helping others.

It was started by Kauffman Laboratories for Enterprise Creation out of Kansas City. Founders Nate Olson and Cameron Cushman both have entrepreneurial minds. They wanted to help startups succeed but were frustrated as they were unable to name five from their local area. (

One of these men read a blog suggesting that building a good business took about a million cups of coffee with a lot of connections. Thus, the name of their organization. They tested the plan to invite start ups to the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City for idea sharing. It worked. In just over two years they are now operating in 30 midsize and small American cities with a lot more invitations coming.

What has resulted from their efforts to help businesses grow by helping each other is quite remarkable. Not only are business owners learning how to present their objectives clearly and effectively, but the relationships have proven quite valuable. And there are significant community benefits as well. Imagine that!

It was Thomas Merton who made the wise assessment of our great need for others in his work, No Man is an Island. His words: “It is therefore of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others. When we do this we will be able first of all to face and accept our own limitations. As long as we secretly adore ourselves, our own deficiencies will remain to torture us with an apparent defilement. But if we live for others, we will gradually discover that no expects us to be ‘as gods.’ We will see that we are human, like everyone else, that we all have weaknesses and deficiencies, and that these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another.”

In writing to a body of Christ followers in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul wrote these important words to develop a strong family of believers: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (Thessalonians 5:11).

If you’ve come to an impasse in some situation at work, or your company seems to be stagnant, perhaps it’s time to invite others to your party. See if there’s a 1 Million Cup group in your city. Who knows? You might find some needed personal help there, too.

Five cents, please.

That’s The Way WE Work. To connect via Facebook, click the link to the right.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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