A New Golden Age For Oklahoma Business?
We just might be living in one of the most exciting and transformative times in Oklahoma's economic development history. Many positive signs point to this being a new golden age of business in our state. Our proverbial ducks are lining up in a row.
It's been said for years and years that Oklahoma was missing key elements to be a true entrepreneurial hotbed. In true chicken/egg fashion, Oklahoma didn't seem to have enough funding sources and/or investable startups to support "serious" venture capital action from outside the state.
But what about local money? What were successful Oklahomans doing with all of the profits from energy (oil/gas) or other traditional midwestern business profits? They were investing in more oil/gas or real estate but not tech, biomedical or anything radically new or disruptive.
This is not the case today. Right now, in this potential new golden age of business, the Oklahoma business community has increased funding sources, changed attitudes about how/what business types to invest in and created a wide field of potential startups, partnerships and investable businesses. This was the vision of the Oklahoma Venture Forum founders back in the 80's. Today, we're seeing that groundwork, follow-though and continual pushing in the right direction pay off hard-earned dividends.
In this golden age, we have a variety of funding source options. Traditional lenders, angel investors, venture capital and public/private partnerships supplemented with online resources such as crowdsourcing, sweat equity partnership and micro-loans. We also have an entrepreneur support system of incubators, accellorators, co-working, professional groups, networking opportunities, business plan competitions and recognition events like the OVF Venture Of The Year / Most Promising New Business (shameless plug).
We also had to make changes. We had to inform and educate each other. We had to change laws and regulations. We had to get outside of traditional comfort zones. We had to experiment and fail - so we could learn and improve. We had to create opportunities where there previously were none. We had to reward those who took a risk and celebrate the attempt, not just successful outcomes.
Now, we have success stories. It's one of the biggest indicators we're on the right track and a big part of building even more success in the future. We have watched startups evolve into thriving businesses, reinvented failing corporations, modernized traditional sectors, solved problems no one else in the world could solve, created entirely new industries full of opportunities in our state and ultimately rewarded founders and funders with fruitful exits. Taking the risk can lead to rewards.
These are exciting times for business in Oklahoma. Is this a new golden age? Only time will tell. Like the song says: "you're doing fine Oklahoma" so let's keep it up!