Dear Editor:

I believe we need to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in Pagosa Springs to become vibrant again. As Mikal Belicove said in his keynote address in October 2011 at the Pagosa Springs Entrepreneurial Marketplace, “Entrepreneurs love to solve problems. And every town has an entrepreneurial base. As a result, officials in Pagosa Springs — a town that most anyone with an affinity for the outdoors would kill to live in — should be enticing entrepreneurs to set up shop, work and live in the community. “

Look deeply into any prospering small town and you’ll find an entrepreneurial spirit manifesting itself in any number of ways. In fact, I don’t believe that a town can have too many entrepreneurs because they help it thrive.

Two characteristics set successful entrepreneurs apart from other citizens: 1. their ability to see opportunities others don’t and 2. their acumen in knowing when to take calculated risks to achieve their goals.

Taking calculated risks necessitates leaving your comfort zone at times. When you are willing to take calculated risks, your chances for success and rebounding from failure improve dramatically. Towns trying to expand their comfort zones face two great challenges: 1. blindly clinging to the status quo and 2. fear of failure. To be captive to both is like trying to run in a chest-high pool of water. You just can’t get anywhere quickly. What I think people fail to realize is that staying with the status quo brings its own risks. Although comforting, the status quo can lead to isolation and decline.

I believe, knowing when to take a risk is as important as having the courage to do so. There are two times to consider taking risks: 1. when there is clearly trouble ahead that we seek to avoid, we should take a risk to sidestep the danger or 2. when things are fine, but you see opportunity for much greater things.

To minimize the chance of failure, before taking risks, consider carefully the pros/cons, how hoped-for benefits weigh against the costs and what risks are involved. We need to maintain balance and control when we take risks. We shouldn’t “put all our eggs in one basket.” But ultimately, if a risk does result in short-term failure, be flexible and make adjustments, but learn from it. As W. E. Hickson wrote: “Tis a lesson you should heed. Try, try again if at first you don’t succeed.”

To cultivate entrepreneurial talent, our community needs to nurture, value and engage with the talent we have here already. To attract more entrepreneurs we should do away with much of the bureaucratic red-tape tape that hinders progress — choosing instead to work hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs as partners. As Belicove said, “Entrepreneurs love to solve problems.” There is right now, today, a tremendous opportunity for our community to effectively recruit and retain the young, hungry, visionary and highly productive talent that can impact and accelerate our town — those talented entrepreneurial folks that make really big things happen and make our community vibrant again.

Muriel Eason

This story was posted on April 11, 2013.