Program managers face some tough reporting challenges when it comes to entrepreneurship support programs. These efforts take time to generate hard impacts. Traditional job creation metrics help, but only over the long term. Yet, funders and elected officials want job results right now and they aren’t willing to wait for better data. We need to tell a different—and better—story.
Smart program managers need to think differently and develop more sophisticated and multi-faceted ways to track their program impacts. This can often be easier said than done, but there are resources to help. My good friend Cathy Renault of Innovation PolicyWorks has just produced an excellent guide to these issues: “Metrics for Entrepreneurship Centers.” While the guide is specifically targeted for business incubators and entrepreneurship centers, its tips and guidelines have much wider relevancy. This is a good primer for anyone thinking about doing program evaluation right. The report was developed in partnership with the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) and a download is available for purchase ($25) at the InBIA bookstore.