Building the Atlanta Tech Village community has introduced some unique balancing acts to me that most startups don’t have and are, in some areas, new to me. Being a triple bottom-line organization, we are trying to maximize impact on the community. This means working to leverage the platform, the building, the brand, the energy to do more than we can do on our own. Of course we have an amazing staff and lots of resources, but we can still only do so much. The advice we’ve gotten from so many other great entrepreneur centers and coworking organizations is to resist the urge to directly manage the logistics of everything and let the community step up and organize and lead its own programs.
We are absolutely bought into this. We are partnering with others that share our core values and our common vision for the City. I’ve seen this in associations for years: the ones that tightly control everything and are overbearing often bring limited value to their membership, where the ones who have found the sweet spot of curated open community thrive and soar.
So many variables I’ve observed in search of this balance:
- Quality Control – you have to accept that some programs will bomb, and that’s ok. But you don’t want anything to bomb so badly it can affect other programs.
- Sub-Community Cultures – there will be some variety of personalities and groups, that can trigger great serendipitous interactions if done right.
- Competition – healthy competition within the community is good, but it shouldn’t create any negative attitudes or destructive intentions.
We are still juggling hundreds of ideas for the Village and how to fit them all together and squeeze them into our calendar and our space. I love the energy and motion in Atlanta right now.
The point of all this? While entrepreneurial communities should be led by other entrepreneurs, there are some entrepreneurial instincts that must be resisted and put aside for community building. Control is probably the hardest one to resist. The best skills we used to build our companies aren’t always the best for building a community.