Only a small percentage of new businesses succeed after five years, so we’re grateful that McCownGordon Construction has reached 15 years in business.
Other entrepreneurs often ask how to avoid the startup burnout that seems to befall so many new business initiatives. The answer is more than luck, or even street smarts. For startups to survive, a careful combination of business confidence and a vibrant community is critical.
Our self-confidence is rooted in internal factors, including vision, mission and a business plan. Most important, confidence emerges from associates and partners who share a commitment to excellence and success.
But the community of Kansas City also offers a nurturing environment that creates unexplored opportunity. Our hometown has opened doors that we never could have imagined in 1999. Here are three.
▪ The downtown renaissance. The Power & Light District and Sprint Center were beginning to be developed when we started business, and they subsequently fueled transformation of Kansas City’s urban core and renewed the roots of the entire metropolitan area. We’re grateful to call downtown Kansas City our home and to have built or transformed spaces for the likes of Deloitte, UMB, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Stinson Leonard Street, Andrews McMeel Universal, Bryan Cave, Trozzolo Communications Group, Sprint and others.
▪ The arts. In 1999, ArtsKC – Regional Arts Council was founded, plans were completed for the Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the board of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts began interviewing architects. Kansas City’s role as a national arts leader was just a dream, but it also created projects for us at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kemper at the Crossroads and, most recently, the Museum at Prairiefire.
▪ Science and technology. Kansas City’s farm heritage traces to the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that economic development leaders formulated what has become a coordinated strategy to grow animal health and nutrition industries in the region. This touches everybody including, for us, construction of research and production facilities for several companies and universities.
When we opened our doors, we had no idea exactly where we would go. But with confidence and the Kansas City business climate, we have survived and thrived.
If you, as an entrepreneur, have trouble with recognizing the unexpected opportunity, or developing the courage to “go there,” remember that Kansas City also offers unprecedented and unique support, such as the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program, KCSourceLink and the Kauffman Foundation’s 1 Million Cups program, among many others.
We will persist with the Kansas City spirit that has sustained us, and we encourage all entrepreneurs to do the same.
Brett Gordon is president and Pat McCown is chief executive officer of McCownGordon Construction, Kansas City.