As small business owners, it's easy to keep plowing ahead. By the time we traversed the holidays and took a deep breath, it was time to jump back into the to-do list. By mid-January, 2016 already seemed miles away. But when your day-do-day as a "maker" looks more like a personal assistant checking the inbox, sending invoices, and mailing packages, it's hard to feel like we've accomplished anything substantial at all.
That's why we took the advice of Fizzle Co, neglected the to-do list a bit longer, and took a cold hard look at 2016. The purpose was simple: We want to carve a notch in the doorpost, take a step back and see how we grew. Next year, we'll repeat the process, comparing our notch from the year before. So what stood out in 2016?
In February, Becca and I were both asked to speak about our research and work at the University of Tennessee's yearly TEDx event. Becca's talk about "Soil Science, Soul Science," covered her experience in rural Haiti and the importance of thinking about development work from the ground up (literally). My talk was about the rise of Hipster Entrepreneurs and the Maker Movement.
The Etsy Maker Cities Summit brought together city officials, retailers, and solo entrepreneurs to crowd-source the best ways to make our hometowns more supportive of Makers. Each team walked away with a plan of action, and our plan was to host a Maker Summit in Knoxville. When we got back to Knoxville, we created MakeKnox, along with an handful of other local makers, and we held the summit 4 months later.
The Knoxville Maker City Summit was packed with guest speakers, group sessions, and most importantly, 300 individuals who are passionate about what they do in Knoxville. We were blown away by the enthusiasm and energy in the room. Mayor Rojero christened the first Mayor's Maker Council, which will tackle issues surrounding small businesses and manufacturers in the city.