Business Environment Tool

The Business Environment Tool gather all information, instructions and material needed to implement a Business Environment Workshop


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Introduction and aims

The Business Environment Tool has been developed as part of the Rubizmo project (Grant 773621 from H2020 programme). The project aimed at enhancing entrepreneurship in rural areas. The Business Environment Tool looks focuses on factors external to the entrepreneurs (the Business Environment) which influence the development of entrepreneurship in rural areas. Through this tool, Rubizmo offers a comprehensive framework to understand and assess your business environment and develop adapted guideline to improve the support level of the business environment for innovative entrepreneurs.

The Business Environment Tool is composed of different compounds:

  • The Business Environment framework which structure external settings including policies, rules and regulations, and conditions to access assets such as technologies, funding and other key resources which directly or indirectly affects the operations of a business. In this framework, the business environment is divided into seven sub-arenas.
  • General guidelines for a supportive business environment which illustrate the challenges and opportunities within each sub-arenas that relevant stakeholders can implement.
  • The Business Environment Workshop which is the main output of this tool and offer a structure to support the co-creation of guidelines and measures facilitating the work of innovative entrepreneurs. 

The video below gives you a brief introduction to the Business Environment framework:

Implementing a Business Environment Workshop to develop a supportive business environment requires a rigorous preparation. Therefore, it is important that the workshop initiator has the required capacity but also a strong interest to improve the degree of support in the business environment for thriving local businesses. The initiator would benefit from the support of a moderator, guiding the participants throughout the workshop and enabling the initiator to take a more active part to the discussions.

The Participants

To ensure a fruitful workshop, a multi-stakeholder approach should be adopted. It is also recommended that the workshop initiator make the best use of its existing network.

Initiator: Their role is to initiate the process and take responsibility for the workshop outputs. The workshop initiator should have a strong interest in ensuring that the business environment supports the innovative business in its region. The nature of the initiator can vary from sectorial clusters, networks, or associations, to municipal, regional, or national development agencies, and local actions groups or smart villages

Moderator: Their role is to prepare and lead the workshop as well as reporting the outputs of the workshop. As the workshop initiator(s) should have a strong interest in enhancing the support level of the business environment, it is most likely the initiator will actively take part of the discussions. Therefore, it is important the initiator get support from a workshop moderator. They could hire a professional moderator or set a specific and competent staff member to take on this role.

Business Environment Shapers: They are key stakeholders affecting the business environment. While screening through relevant business environment shapers, one could use the 7 sub-arenas of the business environment to structure the task. Clusters, networks, associations, schools, universities, research centres, incubators, regional agencies, NGOs are examples for business environment shapers

Entrepreneurs: Even though it is not the entrepreneurs’ first goal to create a supportive business environment for fellow entrepreneurs, their opinion is highly valuable for this workshop. Their perception of the needs to thrive and assessment of the current situation is extremely relevant. As it can be hard to get some entrepreneurs to participate to this workshop, some organisations could represent their interest (network of entrepreneurs, chamber of commerce, farmers associations). 

Organising the workshop

Before organising a Business Environment Workshop you would benefit from reading thoroughly the PDF document. It will give you a strong background about the business environment framework and instructions regarding the organisation of the workshop. Have a look also at all the materials available below.

Instructions: In the PDF document (from page 31) you will find all instructions needed to prepare and run the workshop in the chapter "Instructions for Workshop Implementation

Workshop presentation: The PowerPoint presentation will support you during the implementation of the workshop. You will need to edit some slides to ensure you shape it according to your own context. 

Survey to assess the business environment: The questions to ask to the workshop participants before the workshop are available in the PDF document (page 26). You can use different online survey tools to gather your answers (Google form, Microsoft forms, Survey Monkey)

Summary of the survey: The Excel document will facilitate the analysis and summarise the results from the survey to assess the business environment.

Mural: this template in Mural can be a great support for both online and face-to-face workshops. To get your own template please replicate the Mural Template: How to duplicate a Mural

Further information on the Business Environment Framework: if more background information is needed, you could have a look at this article, and at the PDF document (from page 11)

Checklist for entrepreneurs: This checklist was developed to ensure that entrepreneurs are taking full advantage of their business environment. The checklist takes the forms of questions aimed at entrepreneurs and support them to easily screen potential supportive actors and initiatives in their region. The checklist is not sector nor region specific to enable most rural entrepreneurs to make the best of it. Access the checklist on the PDF document (pages 28-30).

Launch workshop: Recording of the workshop introducing the Business Environment Tool and how to implement and Business Environment Workshop. To watch the video it is HERE

A business environment is defined as external factors to a business which directly or indirectly affects the operation of the business. Using extensive literature review, empirical evidence, and analyses a comprehensive framework is developed to understand holistically the various challenges, opportunities, and threats that innovative businesses face. The framework categorised seven sub-arenas as relevant components to characterise a business environment. These include Funding, Technology & Knowledge, Institutional Development, Resources & Infrastructure, Market Structure, Training & Education and Consumer’s Need & Value. Identified successful businesses within the food, biobased value chains and ecosystem services sectors have encountered challenges with their respective business environment. We have made analyses of 45 business cases to understand and characterise the business environment.

The guidelines are aimed at the business environment shapers, to support their mission to improve the support level towards businesses in rural areas. The development of the guideline is a two-step process.

In the first step, data of around 100 business cases were collected using desktop work and interviews. The business cases were selected using multi-stage sampling process including desktop review, phone interview with business owners, and two rounds of interviews using semi-structured interview methodology. The information gathered during the phone interview and the first-round interview following the semi structured methodology, enabled to categorise and identify the businesses in three key sectors including food, biobased value chain, and ecosystem services. After the second round of interviews over 45 business cases were included in the analysis of the business cases. The results of these cases provided empirical evidence on the challenges, threats, and opportunities of businesses in rural areas. The results highlighted the role of the business environment as driver or hindrance for the development of rural innovative businesses. The general guidelines proposed in this PDF document (from page 11) are consolidated from the empirical study of the business cases and using expertise view from the Rubizmo consortium. The guidelines are divided into the seven different sub-arenas of the business environment. The guidelines found in the report are general to remain useful in most contexts. These general guidelines aim to inspire policy makers, advisors, and other relevant stakeholders to overcome barriers in the business environment by illustrating how successful businesses benefited from their business environment.

To develop more specific guidelines, we developed instructions on how to conduct a business environment workshop to find local and specific tailored guidelines to overcome barriers in the business environment. The workshop structure provides instructions to stakeholders initiating and implementing business environment workshops. A group work session during the workshop will allow participants to develop customised guidelines answering their specific needs.


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