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Gallup’s EAS Impact Summit honors growth and job creation for Nebraska

December 9, 2011 by

Gallup’s Entrepreneur Acceleration System 2011 participants at the EAS Impact Summit celebrating the their involvement with the program. Photo by Brittany Mascio.

“We need to out invent and out entrepreneur the rest of the world,” Jim Clifton, Gallup‘s chairman and CEO Jim Clifton said to the participants of the Entrepreneur Acceleration System (EAS) in Thursday’s opening video remarks at the Impact Summit.

“That’s why what you do is so important… that’s a touchdown. Nebraska gets better and America gets better.” 

The Impact Summit celebrated the culmination of the inaugural EAS program, a partnership initiative launched in March to provide business development assistance to early-stage entrepreneurs and to established firms with high-growth potential. One hundred twenty entrepreneurs and 25 mentors from across the state were recognized for their participation and progress with EAS in Nebraska, the first state to incorporate the small business mentoring initiative into its economic development for community and job creation. 

Members of Gallup’s leadership team and Gov. Dave Heineman honored the participants of the program and five representatives from the cohort organizations took stage to share their experiences, lessons learned and qualitative and quantitative results with more than 250 Nebraska entrepreneurs, program mentors and community leaders present at the LaVista Conference Center. 

The 120 participating EAS cohort organizations were honored for their leadership skills learned throughout the inaugural program that intend to help build the economic development for the state. Photo by Brittany Mascio.

About EAS

Todd Johnson, managing consultant for the global initiatives and job creation at Gallup, said EAS has equipped entrepreneurs with tangible tools to unleash their “human capital” which he said has been proven time and again through market research to be the difference between stagnation and growth. Or, better framed for the Cornhusker state: the difference between winning and losing. 

Through what developed into a full support system encompassing leadership from seasoned entrepreneurs, a commitment from government and university officials and a collaborative environment, the structure of the program incorporated workshops, action planning and one-on-one mentoring into the four categories for progress that were addressed at the Impact Summit. 

  • Aligning expectations – Identifying priorities and understanding the behavior economics of the company, including the social cognitive factors, were integral to EAS. “Feelings are facts,” Neil Johnson of Phoenix Web Group said, summing up the overall message of the program. “This whole thing is gold – when you understand this, then it changes the outlook and the way you perform.” 
     
  • Creating company visionDick Davis of Davis Companies made a resounding mark that he said rang true for his company and many others: “Without vision, we will fail.” The program helped realign and modify strategies for these early stage and established entrepreneurs. Through the data incorporated into EAS, the cohort organizations define their mission and direction for growth, using key metrics to specifically tailor these results to their business’ needs. 
     
  • Developing leadership – StrengthsFinder and Q12 Meta-Analysis served as personality assessment tools to maximize talents and build strength-based team members. This training forced companies to take an in-depth look at skills internally to sharpen management capacity and develop as leaders from within their organization. By fulfilling the needs of their company using complimentary skills, companies recognize where to fill the gaps and can capitalize on balancing strengths. In the first EAS, this method proved to develop teams with more engaged employees and a stronger shared company vision.
     
  • Cultivating customer connections – Engaging and actively listening to customer needs helped to transform customer interactions, build 1-1 relationships between the company and customer and result in higher rates of customer return. Companies learned to incorporate and personalize this strategy into their customer experience to help build their brand. For Dan Shundoff of Intellicom, this type of customer relations was “untested in terms of growing our company exponentially” before EAS and has since had a “serious impact on a very special place in Central, Nebraska.” 

Intellicom’s Dan Shundoff shared projected company growth as his company continues to grow with EAS. Photo by Brittany Mascio 

Quantitative program outcomes

The full impact scorecard is still to be updated with the newest data from the inaugural EAS, however below is a sampling of results from the presenting entrepreneurs at the Impact Summit: 

  • intégrow, a business leadership consulting agency, projects final 2011 revenues to increase to 50 percent.
  • Hurrdat Social Media, an online marketing strategies, has grown from four to nine team members and has seen a 1500 percent growth in revenue.  
  • Phoenix Web Group, a software design and application development company, booked 14 new projects in the last three months.
  • Princess Lasertron, a bridal design company, has seen a 64 percent customer base growth.
  • Intellicom, a business class technology solutions company, experienced 20 percent revenue growth in one quarter and anticipates a 70 percent projected growth in profit overall. 
  • Davis Companies, an independent insurance agency, has potential for double-digit growth in 2012.

Projections for the next 12 months

  • 87 percent of the firms expect revenue to increase in the next 12 months.
  • 58 percent expect to increase employee base by five percent or more (indication of potential job growth). 
  • 60 percent expect to increase capital spending in the next 12 months.
  • 72 percent report a good cash flow (50 percent ‘somewhat good,’ while 22 percent ‘very good’).

Left, Blake Lawrence said Gallup’s EAS faced him with the opportunity to grow and to build a team that would help his company succeed. Photo by Brittany Mascio. 

Big Picture – Community and Job Creation

“Because of Gallup,” Blake Lawrence, the CEO of Hurrdat Social Media and Kansas native said, “I’ve stayed in Nebraska and decided I’m growing my life and business here.”

Continuing with the many football references made throughout Thursday’s Impact Summit, Lawrence framed how EAS enabled the former Husker player to put his own team together, giving him power to recruit for his company and for the state at large.

The success of EAS proved to be a win for the psyche for many growing teams like, Hurrdat and Davis Companies, but Dick Davis said, “Ultimately the real win is the job creation and what that means for the community.”

Gov. Heineman addressed why EAS is important to the state’s entrepreneurs to keeping Nebraska as the second lowest unemployment rate in the country with 4.2 percent. Photo by Brittany Mascio.

In his closing remarks, Gov. Heineman used a winning football analogy that he said typified Nebraska entrepreneurs. Referencing a Michigan State fan impressed with the sportsmanship in Nebraska, Heineman parallelled the character of this state to its entrepreneurs.

“It’s evident how much we care about each other, how much we support each other, how much we want to be a part of a team and a community and what we are doing for our state and country.”

“We’re poised for exceptional growth,” Heineman said about EAS participants, and its effectiveness to foster encouragement and impact the state. “You can’t put a dollar value on the value and belief system here in this state.”  

Information sessions for next year’s EAS were held immediately after the recognition ceremony. For ways to participate in next year’s program, visit jobcreation.gallup.com. 

Left, Todd Johnson, Gov. Heineman Jim Krieger and Dan Shundoff after the Impact Summit. Photo by Brittany Mascio. 

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