top entrepreneurs talk about why cle is the best place to grow a business

The Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), a global business network of 10,000+ entrepreneurs in 46 countries, recently held its annual conference, Thrive!, in Cleveland. Top entrepreneurs came from around the world to talk about best practices for startups, how to grow a company and the potential stumbling blocks in being an entrepreneur.

While conference attendees – all EO members – are successful in their own rights, two local business owners highlighted why Cleveland is one of the best places in the world to grow the thriving business. Brendan Anderson, co-founder and managing partner of Evolution Capital Partners, a small business consulting and investing firm, shared what the top one percent of entrepreneurs are doing differently than everyone else.
“The top one percent has figured out a way to find access to capital and free up their time to focus on their goals,” Anderson explains. He cites four main components as critical to success -- developing and sharing current financial statements, a solid business plan, transparency and accountability. “Once you've got all these things, you can attract the people you never dreamed you could.”

Anderson also emphasizes the amount of support for entrepreneurs in Cleveland. “I think this is a great place to be an entrepreneur because of organizations like the EO,” he says. “We have pockets of entrepreneurs who are willing to share and give. I would never be where I am today without the EO.”
While EO members must gross at least $1 million in yearly revenues, Anderson points out the wealth of incubators and accelerators available to smaller companies. The key is the willingness in Cleveland to mentor and share advice among entrepreneurs.
“You got to be a continuous leader – keep your head up and keep meeting people,” advises Anderson. “In the entrepreneurial community, most of us remember how painful it was to have the door slammed in your face, having banks say no.”
Mike Berlin, founder of Briteskies, an IT tech services company that helps customers bring their products to the online market, also sees Cleveland as having a wealth of resources for the entrepreneur. “There is a great support network here,” he says. “There are a significant number of large companies we can work with here. Organizations like COSE are a good resource. They do a good job of promoting small business.”

“The Northeast Ohio EO gave me the opportunity to do what I’m doing,” adds Berlin. “I’m not sure if I could do it anywhere else. There are big companies here who have taken the leap with us, and there’s a willingness of mentors to partner million-dollar companies with small upstart companies.”
Almost 500 people from as far away as Australia and China came to the EO Thrive! conference earlier this month to hear Anderson’s and Berlin’s thoughts on entrepreneurship. Other keynote speakers included Jodi Berg of Vitamix and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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