Entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) have come under pressure to collaborate more to provide timely resources to entrepreneurs and reduce confusion caused by multiple organizations with similar missions. Assets2Action convenes regional ESO leaders to determine how their entrepreneurs are being served and to better leverage their resources. The goal is to address the duplication of services, assess the region’s assets and fill in gaps so ESOs can increase their impact — and strengthen their region’s entrepreneurial culture.  Together they identify specific projects and hold each other accountable to put those projects into action.

Get Smarter …

  • Get Smarter

    Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) are often brought together to explore a regional issue or opportunity. While these sessions can be meaningful, they often do not result in direct action, leading to frustration and an inclination to hit the delete key the next time an invitation hits the ESO’s inbox.

    In contrast, Assets2Action requires action. Conducted over a nine-month timeframe, the group spends three months with a foundation facilitator and six months working as a group to identify and implement a project that will drive sustainable change in their region.

    The purpose of Assets2Action is to:

    • Bring together like-minded ESO leaders who are committed to taking action.
    • Identify the strengths and gaps of the region in serving all business stages.
    • Listen to the entrepreneurs’ voices and compare their views with the views of the ESOs.
    • Discover how entrepreneurs are being served, paying close attention to gaps and duplicity.
    • Better understand the types, sizes and growth of regional businesses using data.
    • Establish trust among regional ESOs and identify tangible ways to work together toward a mutually defined goal.
    • Honor an accountability procedure for the group that enables the ESOs to stay focused and committed for a duration of nine months.

    Assets2Action is built on a firm foundation of knowledge gained from ESO retreats, techniques developed in PeerSpectives roundtables and retreat facilitation, and data from

    Learn more …

  • Why It’s Important

    Assets2Action is important to your organization and your region because:

    • As the convening ESO, your organization is positioned in a regional leadership role.
    • The process is different – lively, interactive, and ensures each participant has a voice.
    • You and other ESOs, who are often operating in a highly competitive market, come together around a common goal that is driven towards action.
    • By immediately identifying collaborative projects, your group takes the first steps towards substantive action early in the process. These tangible actions are key to preventing the activity from becoming yet another discussion forum with no visible outcomes.
    • Your group, not the facilitator or outside organization, owns the outcome.
    • The process ferrets out gaps and duplicity in services, enabling your organization and other ESOs to develop specific niches leading to a healthier competitive and collaborative environment.
    • Entrepreneurs have a voice, allowing you to see the region through the eyes of your audience.
    • By listening to the entrepreneur’s perspective, you will begin to understand how easy or difficult it is for them to access business services.
    • data analysis helps complete the region’s business picture by assessing business growth, as well as the balance of external and internal market companies.
    • Accountability is required, ensuring your group takes action leading to sustainable change.

    The process can be an essential best practice on its own or when combined with an existing or ongoing regional study.

  • Implement Programs

    Contact Penny Lewandowski, director of entrepreneurship development.

    • Program fee: $3,000 plus travel expenses for four site visits. (Don’t worry, Penny is not a big eater.)
    • Length of program: A commitment of nine months is required.

    Before making a contact about Assets2Action in your region, raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I swear to never ever use the phrase, ‘We have always done it this way.’”

    Whew! Okay, now with that behind us, please consider the following points to make sure this program is the right fit for your region.

    As the host organization:

    • You are passionate and open about driving substantive change that improves the business assistance and culture environment for entrepreneurs.
    • You are open to collaboration.
    • You are ideally a trusted source among the region’s ESOs and entrepreneurs.
    • You will be accountable to the Edward Lowe Foundation throughout the process and will participate in monthly calls to report progress and address challenges during the six-month working period.
    • You are responsible for ensuring there is equitable representation from the region’s ESOs and entrepreneurs.
    • You will send out regular notices for the meetings, track attendance, provide the meeting venue and any needed supplies, and record and transcribe notes from each session.
    • You will hold the participants accountable for regular attendance and progress on a mutually identified project.
    • You are responsible for paying the $3,000 program fee, plus travel expenses.

    If you are still interested and feel your organization qualifies as an Assets2Action host, we’d love to hear from you!

    Please note: Due to the increased interest in this program, we may not be in a position to immediately start your process.

What People are Saying

The introduction to YourEconomy was also very helpful. When I got back from the retreat I gave a presentation to our chamber of commerce and education committee, walking them through county and state statistics and comparing these numbers with national data. Everyone was pretty amazed. It provides hard facts to back up what we thought was happening. Although Montana has more stage 1 companies, it’s the second-stage companies that are generating more jobs.
Chris Parson, director of the Small Business Development Center in Kalispell, Mont.

Assets2Action Team

  • Penny Lewandowski

    Penny Lewandowski

    With experience in entrepreneur support, Penny comes in with just the right mix of gravitas and fun. Contact Penny.

"As a general rule, when you walk a straight line, everyone knows where you're going. "
— Edward Lowe