Get a glimpse into the true future of your business in Kansas City

Get a glimpse into the true future of your business in Kansas City


A record number of people quit their jobs in May, following 4 million who went out in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many people are considering whether they are starting a business.


Who are these new builders and what motivates them in this mid-pandemic era? When I recently visited Kansas City to speak at the Chamber of Commerce, I met three people who looked very different from the billionaire amateur astronauts who recently dominate the headlines.

The two business owners I met were launched last year and the other was launched in the recession last year. Recessions often give people the energy of an unexpected launch: if life is full of topsy, why not ride some of those waves to your next stage?

As I strolled around the city, I saw evidence of economic energy 100 years ago. This is somewhat similar to our time (and this summer’s hedonism doesn’t just make a comparison with the Roaring Twenties).

Civic Saint

EEntrepreneurs all over the United States It’s more like Godfrey Riddle, Jenifer Hart, and Elina Page than Jeff Bezos, or a new generation of SPAC millionaires. (I deliberately bring the word entrepreneur back to small businesses, which is to reserve the word entrepreneur for white men at the top of technology companies, a circle of power for women and colored races. It’s another tool to keep you away from.)

Black Riddle is typical of millennial entrepreneurs motivated by the idea of ​​influencing the world. Wealthy millennials are already changing the investment market by investing in so-called ESG investments that seek double bottomline returns, profits and impacts. In fact, according to a 2019 survey by Fidelity Charitable, 87% of millennials believe that “business success should be valued not just for financial performance, but for more.”

Riddle launched the up-and-coming fashion brand Civic Saint in October 2020. When he was a child, his family lost their home due to foreclosure.

“I didn’t understand that,” he said. “Why do businesses rob the children who need it, the homes?”

Recalling years of turmoil, he wondered how to structure his business to help build communities, rather than being structured to deprive people of their rights.

Riddle has built a career as a non-profit fundraiser. But then some things happened that told him to stop waiting. He was diagnosed with cancer and lost both his mother and father. Then there was the murder of George Floyd. He took all that sadness and energy and launched the Civic Saint, where the message of solidarity echoes in a city where gun violence is skyrocketing. Some of his T-shirts are labeled “#BLM,” “human,” and “permanent.”


While taking a walk in Kansas City, DoGoodCo sells Civic Saint products. I passed the storefront. Riddle isn’t the only entrepreneur looking at ways to combine sustainable business with compassionate impact. Like an entrepreneur many generations ago, he continued to work while starting the company. His business is already at the break-even point.

Heart line construction

Of course, I arrived at Kansas City via the airport. This was at the heart of a planned construction project that seemed to be a headache for almost every Kansas Sittian I encountered. Small international airports are now easily accessible, but Kansas City continues to grow and St. Louis has been funded as the capital of the Midwest. In other words, expansion work is underway that consumes a simple parking lot.

Meanwhile, the bid for some construction was won by Heartline Construction, a women-led construction company founded during the last recession.

Jennifer Hart lost her job as an architect and had to quickly reform herself in a process familiar to many women. The construction company was still working: there was her answer.


Today, she is partly driven by the idea of ​​setting up a company that employs people who have a stable and good job.Talking to her reminded me to talk Melives Franklin: During the pandemic, the female business owners I spoke to were motivated by their company to continue to take care of their employees.

“Do your research, educate yourself, and move forward,” she advised those who are now starting a business. “Continue. I know you and I know you can do it. There are some more hurdles for women and minorities, but we can jump over those hurdles. . “

Next page agency

Elaina Paige was released in the middle of a pandemic this year as well. The professional dancer who danced with Beyonce on the tour returned to Kansas City and never missed a chance. The city had a fast-growing art scene, but there was no professional talent agency for visual and performing artists.


As of last month, her 11-employee company has already signed 50 artists representing through her Next Paige Agency and will soon launch classes and other services. She told me she saw her business as a kid, just like Riddle.

She received a $ 50,000 grant from a non-profit organization called Kansas City GIFT to support her mission, including further placing Kansas City on the map as an art center.

Why did she return to Kansas City and why is she staying? “The best way I can say is that the house is where the heart is,” she said.

What are the lessons of these entrepreneurs? It’s hard to start a business-probably harder than you think-and you have to understand what motivates you. The image of the media shows that profit and power are the only accepted motives for entrepreneurs. The real situation is much more complex and personal, but to be successful you need to know yourself enough to continue.


Giant twilight

Kansas City is also home to two giant private companies, Hallmark and Tension Envelope, which grew by chance at the beginning of the last century. As I was walking through the art district of Kansas City, I took me to the shadow of a tension envelope sign above an old manufacturing building.

These two companies have taken another similar wave in American history. Since the turn of the century, huge innovations have been seen to establish people connected to new networks. Social changes born from the commercialization of these inventions and new connections and relationships in the next few decades, such as telephones, light bulbs and cars.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Trust Buster was working to disperse giants like Standard Oil.But it wasn’t that’s all A size that directs the government to John. D. Rockefeller.

Rockefeller’s enormousness spotlighted him, and then the treatment of his employees and fellow businessmen showed that he was not exposed to new social norms and ideas of equality. In fact, female journalist Ida Tarbell helped disband, rather than point out the details about it, along with her stellar report of what he was.


A quick look at Hallmark and Tension Envelope reveals that they are growing and prospering by maintaining a deep connection with Kansas City. For example, Hallmark has an innovation center that supports local entrepreneurs. The family that owns Tension Envelope has produced one of the mayors.

Rockefeller eventually became a super-rich dinosaur because he was separated from the people around him. Looking at what’s really happening in entrepreneurial cities across the country with more connections than ever before, today’s ruthless profit seekers and gamers are beginning to look like fossils.

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