We are at a fork in the road. We can take the path to prosperity or go down the path of woulda coulda shoulda.
The latter of the two is comfortable and leads us to the town of same old same old.
What are we to do?
We have been given the gift of cyber and it’s up to us to take this gem and run as fast as we can with it to the finish line. If we fail to do this, the next 50 years will be similar to the past 50 years.
Do we want our grandchildren saying that something special happens in Augusta but one week a year? Or do we want them to say that Augusta is the Cyber Capital of the World and it is one of the best place in America to live and start a business?
The choice is ours and we will make the final decision as a group. It is a decision that cannot be made by only a few.
Here are some of the things that we need to address in order to make things happen in Augusta, sooner rather than later.
- Retain Talent
- Business Investment
The Augusta area consistently produces intelligent and ambitious people who finish up their military career at Fort Gordon or graduate from Augusta University.
At this point, these people are thinking about their next move in life. Should they stay in Augusta,GA? Should they move to a different location with more opportunity? What can Augusta do to retain more people after they retire from the military or graduate from college?
It boils down to two things: quality of life and opportunity.
The quality of life we have covered pretty well. For example, Evans,GA was voted the 43rd best place to live in America according to Money Magazine a few years back.
As of now, if you wanted to start a business, your options are limited. If we want to retain talent in the area, then we need to offer the opportunities these go-getters need in order to start and grow a business.
Entrepreneurship in Augusta is anemic at best.
This must change.
I speak to a lot of business people in Atlanta and other big cities and their opinion of Augusta, if they have one at all, is that the environment is not conducive to business growth. That is changing quickly. Businesses all over are familiar with the word cyber and their opinion about Augusta is also changing. You can hear it in their voice, they know that Augusta has the possibility to be a major player.
If we are going to make the changes needed for businesses to succeed, we must first build a framework so that entrepreneurs can flourish with their ventures.
Also, the stigma on failure must go away. While no one encourages failure, it is a sometimes painful, but very important part of the process. We need people to admit failure and teach the next guy what they learned from it. I did just this in my article called “Why Startup Augusta Failed and What I learned“. It’s OK to fail, just don’t repeat the same failed process again and again. Learn from your own and other’s mistakes.
Solution: Entrepreneurship needs to become part of the fabric of Augusta. This can be done over time. One way to do this is to attend local business events and reach out to the local business leaders that I talk about in this article.
It is flat out amazing that Augusta,GA does not have a professional investment network.
How can businesses grow without capital? Bootstrapping is possible, but it makes things 100 times harder. Imagine the health care industry without insurance. Could it function? Imagine college without school loans. How many people could attend? As with these industries, how can a business environment flourish without investment?
A business community without a professional angel investment network is dysfunctional at best. This must be addressed if we are going to make Augusta the greatest place in America to live and start a business. Do not confuse angel investors with venture capital. These are two different things as explained here. We need angel investors at this point in the cycle for Augusta.
Solution: Build an angel investment network. This is not rocket science. Contact Invest Augusta if you are interested in becoming a professional angel investor. Right now, we are having informal quarterly meetings until the network is completed.
I have been pretty rough on Augusta in this article, but that’s ok. Sometimes in life, we need tough love to push us to success.
I have lived in Augusta my entire life. I have a business here. Like many of you, I have a family and friends here. I want nothing but the best for our great city. We have a great opportunity in front of us. Are we going to walk the path of woulda coulda shoulda, or will you join me and help take this incredible opportunity that we have and run with it to the finish line?
The decision is ours to make.