Change happens and it can be unpredictable. Creating financially sustainable Entrepreneurial Support Programs (ESPs) and Entrepreneurial Support Organizations (ESOs) helps to ensure that they can survive the loss any revenue stream–and continue to serve clients and generate results, whether those are jobs, new business starts, etc. Sustainability is defined as the ability to cover expenses with predictable, reliable sources of funding. To create a sustainable ESP or ESO requires the adoption of 5 best practices. First, 6 to 8 revenue streams should be developed over time. Second, the sources should be diversified, meaning a balance of public and private, and then different sources within those two very broad categories. Third, client fees are a revenue stream, but remember that entrepreneurs (especially those that are prerevenue) cannot pay full market rate. Fourth, practice long term planning. Financial sustainability is not achieved overnight. Fifth, the ESPs/ESOs that are most successful at financial sustainability are adept at continuous innovation. Creating new programs and services for your ESP/ESO will attract new sources of funding. And, in my experience, the keys to sustainability are planning and persistence. Get organized and keep working at it!
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