Engage entrepreneurs early to grow with Sunshine Coast, study finds

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Business owners new to the region need to be channelled into support networks early to help them grow along with the Sunshine Coast population, a new report has found.

The USC School of Business partnered with Sunshine Coast Council in preparing the report Sunshine Coast: The place to be: Encouraging an entrepreneurial culture which draws on data from both organisations and the insights of more than 100 local entrepreneurs.

USC lead researcher Dr Retha de Villiers Scheepers said the report showed that while the Coast had great business networks, new arrivals were not always aware of the support available.

“It might look like a sleepy hollow from the outside, so our challenge is to bring new people in to see these networks when they arrive,” Dr de Villiers Scheepers said.

“There is a high degree of early-stage entrepreneurial activity on the Coast and these businesses will grow, along with the population, over the coming years.

“We only have a population of around 300,000, compared to Brisbane’s 1.16 million and, in terms of entrepreneurship, we really are punching above our weight,” she said.

The report will be used to inform programs to channel and support new migrants into business networks as the region prepares to swell to a predicted population of 550,000 by 2040.

The report is also expected to guide the delivery of the $1 million Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Program, a 26-partner collaboration for local economic impact with Advance Queensland.

Focus groups and interviews with entrepreneurs allowed researchers to develop 14 ‘personas’ that exemplify entrepreneurial approaches on the coast, from experienced industry leaders to owners of small part-time businesses.

Sunshine Coast Council Head of Industry Development Anne Lawrence said the identification of the various personas would help organisations such as Council in tailoring business and entrepreneurship programs.

“Our research shows that different entrepreneurs need different types of support,” she said.

“We can use these personas to further the design and delivery of events and programs in order to create an even greater impact.

“This research is unique and has a practical outcome, helping further the economic growth of this region by providing a baseline for supporting entrepreneurs through a deeper understanding of the different types of entrepreneurs,” she said.

USC teaches entrepreneurship as part of its business degrees. It also hosts the Innovation Centre on campus, which is a hub for innovators, entrepreneurial start-ups and high-growth companies.

A link to the report is available here: http://digitalsunshinecoast.com.au/ecosystem

The report is an outcome of the USC and Sunshine Coast Council Collaborative Research Grant.

 
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