Jan. 20, 2014
Nashville's growth helps Entrepreneurs' Organization chapter reach record numbers
EO Nashville Chapter tops $1B in revenue in 2013; collective employment expected to rise to 10,000 people this year
Jan. 20, 2014
Q&A: Joe Freedman
Members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Nashville Chapter topped $1 billion in revenue in 2013, reaching a record $1.09 billion as of mid-December. The 10-year-old chapter includes 147 companies, each with revenue that exceeds $1 million, that gather in small groups throughout the year to learn from one another on how to best grow their company.
The Nashville chapter is also expected to meet its goal of collectively employing 10,000 individuals this year, having grown to 7,738 people from 3,800 in 2013.
Joe Freedman, president of the Nashville chapter and founder of Music City Tents & Events, shared his perspective on what’s driving the growth, his expectations for 2014 and plans for the chapter’s Catalyst program for earlier stage companies.
What’s behind the revenue growth?
Nashville as a whole has been growing. Throughout the EO organization, I’m getting probably an email a week from other chapters who want to do their retreat in Nashville. For whatever reason in the last few years, Nashville has been put on the map. I’m not just talking about the U.S., I’m talking about Australia, New Zealand, people in South America, everyone wants to come to Nashville now.
It’s just a real pro-business community. It’s a great place to start a business. You’ve got no state income tax, you’ve got the Entrepreneur Center, that’s been fabulous. You have the robust economy in general. The tourism spins off, not only into business like ours, but you’ve got a tremendous amount of restaurants, you’ve got infrastructure related to all the hotels coming to town, the condos that have been built here. It’s a very vibrant community for not only entrepreneurs, but people in general to move here.
Are there any sectors in particular that are doing well?
I think the hospitality industry has gotten a robust boost from what’s going on in Nashville. I really think that the show “Nashville” has had a very, very positive impact on so many levels. Everybody wants to hang out in Nashville.
What’s your outlook for 2014?
I think we’ll probably grow by about 20, 25 percent. All of our clients have seen a tremendous uptick in their business. We’ll find a lot more folks who are able to capitalize on what’s going on in Nashville. All of the folks in the EO I’ve talked to, their business is trending higher.
What are the major challenges that exist for business owners in Nashville?
The biggest challenge, in particular in the tech space, is identifying key people with the skills. That’s a problem that most cities have. Because of the microcosm of what’s going on at the Entrepreneur Center, it’s a lot more of a place that some of the technology folks would be inclined to. There is a lot more condo development, there is a lot more of a younger, hipper vibe about Nashville. In years past it was tough to recruit individuals to Nashville. Now they seem to be coming, not necessarily for a job, it’s considered a high growth city where entrepreneurs and technology folks can live and be successful in.
What key points do you try to stress to companies joining the EO?
The biggest problem, in particular that young entrepreneurs have, is they don’t necessarily have the network to help them overcome some of the issues of their business. When you join the EO and get into a forum, you have eight other individuals able to share experiences that they’ve had that can help you tackle the issues you have.
What’s happening in the Catalyst program?
We are rolling out a program this month called Second in Command. If you are a CEO and you have a second-in-command and you want them to get an EO-type process, we are putting our second-in-commands in a process. We have a class of 12 coming up. The idea behind the program is the second-in-command goes through an eight-week program and it helps them allow the CEO to be much more strategic. It basically allows the CEO to be strategic as opposed to dealing with a lot of the noise. It helps them learn a process to where they will be more successful as a second-in-command and allow the CEO to be successful and also putting these 12 individuals into their own forum, so they’ll have that same EO forum experience with other seconds-in-command. It’s going to be a real cool program.