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Success can be built with ‘cans’ not ‘can’ts’

Economic transformation can be achieved by people making the difference. It worked for San Diego and it can work here too

On behalf of Small Business Can, I’ve just had the pleasure of spending 10 days in Boston and San Diego courtesy of the US State Department and Boston College.

It was a fascinating trip, studying the best breed in entrepreneurship, networking, technology- transfer and business education.

I learned a lot. Not difficult when you meet smart people from Harvard and MIT.

The really smart people
But the really smart people were the people from San Diego. San Diego was a sleepy town, completely dependent on the military.

In the 1980s they were hit by a 70% lay-off that should have left San Diego decimated.

What happened instead? They did not waste a good crisis and transformed the city into what is now a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship and a vibrant economy of mainly small businesses.

What were the ingredients of this success? ‘Can do’, leadership, networking and collaboration.

Literally a handful of people decided to get together to make a difference.

And then they ‘joined the dots’. Universities got involved, business got involved, agencies got involved.

“Can do”
All those parts are availablehere – we have the universities, we have businesses already collaborating on Small Business Can and other networks (we particularly claim the ‘can do’ attitude), we have the agencies and we are better at networking, including a diaspora that is second to none.

We can do what San Diego has done and transform our economy.

That is the big stuff out of the way. What can you do as a small business?

You can step up to the plate. Show leadership. Get involved.

Join Small Business Can. Visit our next Business Live events  (details are on

But the best thing you can do is to remain focused on your business and make it a success.

It’s the best time to start
If you are thinking of starting, start now (you might not believe it, but this is the best time to do so) and if you need support, let Small Business Can and over 10,000 other business people help you. We will.

And through success, we will breed success.

And eventually transform our economies.

Let’s not waste the crisis.

Ron Immink is the co-founder of