Entrepreneurial Networks

Babson Professor Candida Brush, Case Director and Case Writer

Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship

© Babson College, 2007.

Abstract

It’s often stated that “it’s who you know not what you know” that leads to entrepreneurial success. Networks provide a conduit for the exchange of information and resources that can enhance the success and survival of the business. Through networks, entrepreneurs gain access to opportunities and resources, save time, and tap into advice and moral support that may otherwise be unavailable. Networks can affect their social, emotional and material well-being. Entrepreneurs not only use their existing social network, but as they acquire information and resources to develop and grow their business, they create new ones.

Entrepreneurs with wide ranging, diverse networks are more likely to have contacts that connect them to financial resources and especially the private equity community. Most entrepreneurs start with a “built-in-network” - parents, siblings, spouse/partner, in-laws, friends and neighbours to gain the needed to access resources. But, to gain a variety of information, it’s wise to establish relationships with those outside their immediate circle, those that require less emotional investment. Such individuals can act as ‘bridges’ connecting them to non-overlapping sources of information or resources.

Teaching Objective: To help students understand the relationship between networks and networking as it relates to career planning, running an entrepreneurial venture, or working in any organization.

Key Words: network, networking