After about six years of successfully creating a network of small businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, with over 600 members, at the time, I was invited to Sweden to help Sweden get new businesses started.
Sweden had a poor record for start-up businesses. It was common to build housing projects with several thousand housing units and not even one private laundromat or convenience food store.
I showed the Swedes how to get small businesses started. They paraded me around the country where I would talk to small business people and potential start-ups. The first place I talked was to a group of about 30 in Filipstad.
After talking for an hour to an audience that only pretended to know English, I had the group take a break and stand up. Then I had them go around the room and announce one thing their business needed. They each had one thing that they needed badly: 'Some one with a truck who goes to Stockholm once a week', ' some one with a commercial grade wood plane', ' a good bookkeeper who can work part time'....etc.
What happened then?
Chaos ensued. They all went to talk to each other about how they could help. The din of noise was all in Swedish. The group finally broke up for lunch.
The lesson for small business start-ups? Every business needs a little help and every business can help another business. Cooperation is the key ingredient in helping businesses get started and surviving.
Within four years Sweden had its first burst of new small businesses, 4,000.
The Swedes taught the Germans. The Germans brought the Phillips (me) small business start-up approach back to the U.S. with funds from the German Marshal Plan. A small circle.