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Entrepreneurship Misunderstood; A Vision for Entrepreneurial Mindset in Southeast Kansas

Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas 

I think I've underestimated the potential of entrepreneurship (now, I call it entrepreneurial mindset) since 2006 when I learned how to spell the word after accepting the position of facilitator/business coach of the Successful Entrepreneur Program at Independence Community College. 

For many people, the term "entrepreneurship" implies business ownership or business "start-up." Certainly, that is true sometimes, but entrepreneurship can be interpreted as a way of thinking of new ways to solve problems for others, many times with limited resources. Successful entrepreneurship includes continuous innovation as successful entrepreneurs knowing they always have to be looking for the next greatest way to serve their customers or coworkers.  Innovation sometimes means new inventions and/or new technology but many times it means a new twist on an existing idea. 

Today I'm starting to realize that a goal of developing the "Mindset" among everyone in a region has a great potential—indeed, the only hope--to provide economic prosperity and overall satisfaction with life. 

The overarching objective the Entrepreneurial Mindset class, featuring the Ice House Entrepreneurship curriculum is to learn how successful entrepreneurs recognize problems as opportunities and figure out creative ways to solve them. Pretty much, no matter what any of us do with our lives, we are involved in solving problems for others, or at least we should be. This can be as a self-employed business person, or as an employee in someone else's company or organization. Entrepreneurial Mindset should go far beyond that; our social, civic and government programs should seek to solve problems for others with Entrepreneurial Mindset. 

The eight life's lessons in the Ice House curriculum provide the central themes of the "Mindset." They are timeless and really have more to do with a way of looking at life and interacting with others than they do with specifically starting or running a business.   

 So, while we do talk about business start-ups in this class, what we really emphasize is how to learn to become better problem solvers. Entrepreneurs can be at work both within other companies and organizations as well as within their own businesses.  Employees that understand the "Mindset" will do a much better job at taking care of customers whether they are external to the company or internal customers within the same organization. 

As more and more companies strive to be more innovative in our current entrepreneurial economy, look for more and more employees to come to the "Entrepreneurial Mindset" class and sitting down beside those with a goal to open their own businesses. All are looking for a new mindset to better view problems as opportunities and find innovative solutions. 

The next class begins on January 9 and will occur on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8 PM. The cost of the class (non-credit) is $135 with a $100 rebate available for successful completers. The class involves no heavy reading and no lecture. We view videos of successful entrepreneurs and bring local/area entrepreneurs to class to tell their stories of getting started. The class will include all ages, from a few traditional college students to a few young adults. There will be middle and retirement age adults. All will be looking for inspiration and new ways to solve the problems in the student, work and personal lives. 

Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349, by email at or Twitter @jimcorrellks. 

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