Building a City

The 9 Principles of

A Network for Entrepreneurs is an entrepreneurial network that brings sustainable and strategically impactful collaborative innovation to the credit union industry.

The scope of innovation spans new product introductions (NPI), business process improvements (BPI), and business model improvements (BMI).  The network connects partner CUSO’s, entrepreneurs and other strategic partners within a structured business process for the purpose of identifying strategic market solutions that will improve the value proposition for all credit union members, individual credit unions, and the industry.  While projects may differ in their benefits relative to members, credit unions, and the industry, they will be required to pass the requirement of being either a direct or indirect benefit to the member.

A Shared Business Opportunity assembles a pipeline of shared business opportunities to explore.  The effectiveness of this network depends on selecting the right projects to work on.  Projects are validated by network partner CEOs.  The initial pipeline will include projects such as:

  1. Building an HR Consulting Group
  2. Strategic solutions for digital assets
  3. Building collaborative data analytics business
  4. Create engine for “Never say No” lending strategy
  5. and many more!

A Process that Works

The network organization exists to move selected project ideas from early identification to implementation at some or all network partners.’s effectiveness depends on making this entrepreneurial process work.  The process is viewed as a funnel, reflecting that a broad set of possible ideas is narrowed to a few and reflecting that each of the selected initiatives proceeds from a broad uncertain state into a specific shared business initiative.

The Entrepreneurial Funnel

The phases of the entrepreneurial funnel are marked by decision points which gate entry to the next phase. The phases are: validate Market Space, form Steering Arm, build the prototype, start first movers, continue with second movers, and carry out ongoing support operations. Movement through the phases is supported by several network operating principles such as Fast Time to Market, default to action, due diligence and steering arms.

Active Partner Participation

The success of network depends on the active participation of network partners. Partner passivity is the primary enemy of collaborative network success.  The partner network does not endorse one size fits all and does not expect all relative partners to carry out all projects in their shops or with their clients.  In contrast, however, 100% of partners are expected to play a shifting set of roles in the entrepreneurial funnel process.  This includes playing a devil’s advocate role on projects that the partner may not choose to adopt or participate in.

Partner / Owner Responsibilities

The network partner/owner responsibilities include:

1. Partners contribute ideas for projects

2. Partner CEOs validate the need for selected projects in periodic pipeline evaluation

3. The partner CEO or a designated “bona fide” representative of the CEO attends the two bi-annual in-person meetings, the four quarterly update calls, and the periodic pipeline evaluations

4. Partner CEOs attend the bi-annual meetings with the expectation of deciding or committing something in every meeting

5. Network partners supply funds and sweat equity in steering arms, formal devil advocate session, building prototypes and implementing initiatives

6. partners fund the annual operations of in accordance with a mutually acceptable funding strategy.

Partner/ Owner Expectations

Partners are selected to make the funnel work and asked to leave when they stop playing the necessary entrepreneurial process roles. Partner CEOs are expected to identify and assist in the selection of potential new partners. Partner CEOs are also expected to assist in the decision to require a partner to exit.

Communication and Review

Because the entrepreneurial funnel projects and the roles to be played are in a constant state of flux, communication and management review is central to coordinate the actives of the network.

Research and experience show that as people use a network more, they communicate more frequently with shorter message lengths. In this spirit, relies on frequent and short communication modes and performance dashboards that are keyed to the funnel process.

We’re Here to Help staff are keyed to the effectiveness and efficiency of the funnel. This means we are answerable to partner/owners that:

 1. The active pipeline is what partners validate as the right projects

2. That the individual projects are progressing through the funnel in a satisfactory manner.

Our staff seeks to motivate and harness the expected contributions of many people inside and outside the network partners to operate the entrepreneurial funnel.