On March 29, 2016, the winners of the SBA Lean for Main Street Training Challenge met with presidential advisors from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Tom Kalil, Deputy Director of Technology and Innovation, Douglas Rand, Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship and Daniel Correa, Senior Advisor for Innovation Policy, invited Lean Challenge teams to exchange perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of teaching lean methodologies to traditional or "Main Street" business owners.
Jane Herndon of McLennan SBDC shared why adopting a lean approach may be even more critical to traditional business owners. "Unlike a tech startup, the majority of Main Street entrepreneurs not only 'seed' their startup but continue to fund their businesses with their own money or that of friends and family. Families, communities and local economies suffer when a small business has to shut its doors because its business assumptions don't pan out." So, instead of launching one's company with a business plan full of unproven assumptions (guesswork), lean startup de-risks new venture or product introduction by emphasizing experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over guesses, and placing "small bets" over big, up-front investment.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a national network of resource partners who are uniquely well positioned to make lean tools and methodology accessible to small businesses in all corners of the country. Through a partnership with the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps ("I-Corps") program, the SBA is training and building the capacity of five of its field assistance centers to become experts in I-Corps instruction and will work closely with them as they adapt and deliver new variations of the program to targeted audiences in their regions. I-Corps, the curriculum developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), provides a framework of principles and practices challenging conventional notions about business model planning.
Link to the SBA's Office of Entrepreneurial Development original announcement.