EntreCon

EntreCon: Finding your place in the business lifecycle

Quint Studer will open Entrecon Thursday morning at the Pensacola Little Theater. Bruce Graner/Special to Studer Community Institute.

Change is hard, so do one thing at a time and do it well.

To help business owners and entrepreneurs in the Pensacola metro area do that the University of West Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship and the Studer Community Institute are hosting EntreCon.

The two-day session will give business owners access to experts in the fields of managing change, growing companies from scratch, accessing venture capital, hiring and more. The idea is to nurture the small business owners that Quint Studer called the “backbone of this community.”

He also asked a little of them in return.

As they work on improving their own skills, Studer told the crowd in the Rex Theatre in downtown Pensacola that he wanted them to use the center as a way to share their experience with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Mentorship, Studer said in the conference’s opening address, is a critical — but often overlooked — component of economic development and the lifecycle of the entrepreneur.

The UWF Center for Entrepreneurship hopes to support the entire life cycle of an entrepreneur. Credit: Ron Stallcup/Studer Community Institute

The UWF Center for Entrepreneurship hopes to support the entire life cycle of an entrepreneur. Credit: Ron Stallcup/Studer Community Institute

The center, he said, will be key to growing that culture in Pensacola, with the private business community and the UWF community working hand-in-hand.

“We’re trying to do something different,” Studer said. “There are centers for entrepreneurships all over the country, but they are very focused on the college setting. I believe this is a community center for entrepreneurship.”

That relationship benefits UWF by attracting and retaining students who are interested in entrepreneurship. Giving them access to a network of mentors in the community who have been there, and are doing that, will be a unique piece of how Pensacola develops the center.

Give those students a community to grow into, the idea is, and they will be more likely to stay in the Pensacola metro area.

That way they will benefit from a community that is supportive of their efforts and wants to help them grow. And the community gets the economic benefit of their time and talents.

Give those business owners an avenue to share their experience and wisdom, and they’ll feel more fulfilled. Give them access to experts who can help them know when and how it’s best to grow the company they may have started at their kitchen table, and they’ll be more successful.

Their company will have a better shot at long-term sustainability.

And that’s a pretty good win-win.