One deterrent to would-be new businesses is the fear of not being prepared in the beginning stages before the company has even made a name for itself. Scale Up Milwaukee is one local organization working to aid entrepreneurs and innovators at the early stages of their business plan. Its "Scalerator" program is a six-month, seven-session training program that aims to teach business owners how to inject growth into their ventures. The program focuses on three primary areas: sales and marketing, organizational development and entrepreneurial finance.
The organization has been successful enough to attract attention from across the Atlantic.
The Danish Ministry of Business and Growth dispatched their chief advisor, Søren Boutrup, to Milwaukee for a month to participate in Scalerator. Boutrup had asked his employer for a learning opportunity in lieu of a bonus for his work for the Ministry. His employer subscribes to the entrepreneurial ecosystem idea advocated in Scalerator.
"Everything has to be in place for companies to thrive and to grow," says Boutrup. "So, like in biology, you need the small fish and the big fish and the water and the sunlight for everything to be perfect."
Boutrup says that he interacted or visited with about two thirds of participating Scalerator companies. While the efficacy of the program still can't be tested because it is still rather new, Boutrup conducted an interview of the conference participants. Three out of four indicated that the course has "changed their mindset." This was good news for the companies, per Boutrup, who contends that mindset is more indicative of success than skill development.
"If you compare business to sports, and you go into the big finals, everybody has exceptional skills, but the winners have the mindset of winners," explains Boutrup. "When I look at the companies with big success in Denmark...they always have had the same mindset of conquering the world and doing something for the world or doing something to change the world, and then money comes as a side effect."