Diane Fisher Blog: "Basket Full of Gratitude"
As the Admin Assistant for Blackstone LaunchPad, I often find inspirational entrepreneurial quotes to post on our Facebook page. One of my recent posts was this quote from Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google: “Find a way to say ‘Yes’ to things.” Well, I’m truly amazed how when I put a call to action out to our community of entrepreneurs they are always so willing to say ‘Yes’, despite their busy schedules and lack of funds, since most of them are true startups.
Recently, I sent an email to our Blackstone LaunchPad members asking if they would donate an item from their business for the “Made in Michigan” basket that LaunchPad was preparing to be part of the silent auction at the Walsh College Alumni Association’s Casino Night. I received an overwhelming response and our basket was overflowing with the members’ fine products. They personally delivered their items either on their way to work, in between a meeting, during their lunch hour, before class, or by email.
I am very proud to be associated with such a special group of entrepreneurs who just naturally “pay it forward.” The Walsh College Alumni Association was so impressed with our basket that it became the VIP Raffle Prize! So thanks to the following “VIP” donors: Steve Johnson of Motor City Brew Tours, Stephanie Comptois of Bear Necessities, Denise Kulak of Fun Stuff!, Anthony Mitchell of National Mother’s Hall of Fame, Anthony Majewski of Read with Max and eMarketing, Nicole Sesko of Growable Greetings and Brian Renner of Movie Insider. Eric Schmidt ends his quote with “Yes is what keeps us all young. It’s a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.” I witnessed the generosity of our LaunchPad members and saw firsthand what big things they accomplish by saying ‘Yes’.
Carol Glynn Blog: “Entrepreneurs--Blinded by Passion”
I have an absolute blast mentoring individuals who want to start their own business. I truly love working with each and every one of them, but have noted a trait in some of them that becomes a hindrance to their own success. I call it… “Entrepreneur Blindness”…. Interestingly enough this “blindness” is caused by a personality trait which is absolutely mandatory to become a successful entrepreneur…and that is PASSION. These entrepreneurs become so blurry eyed by their own personal enthusiasm for their product or service offering that they choose to ignore some of the basics of good business practice.
While passion is great, the drawback is that when an entrepreneur is in a state of denial the startup journey becomes more time-consuming and it often takes longer to make the first dollar. This deterrent is certainly not insurmountable and can be overcome. So what advice do I give the Entrepreneurs who are wearing blinders? Here are a few hints….
• Always do your homework upfront and be willing to revisit your strategy on a regular basis. Research is so much easier in today’s internet world. Never underestimate the competition at any stage. Competition is good--It creates a situation of continuous improvement and forces tweaks to your strategy.
• Review your value proposition constantly and be willing to adjust accordingly. Seek ongoing customer validation. After all, if no one is willing to buy your product for the amount you are asking, you may need to revisit your business model or marketing strategy.
• Always pay attention to the financials and never assume cash flow will remain constant. After all…you are in business to make money, aren’t you? If you haven’t gained a customer or made money over the last few days…there is a reason. And to those of you that are considering going for funding: VC’s and angel investors are not looking for an “idea” without sales or customers. (Blind entrepreneurs receive that reality check on their own very quickly). Consider bootstrapping first.
• Keep your antennas up and ears to the ground at all times. The market will tell you where the weak spots are and your customers will let you know when you are going off course. Be willing to tweak your business model midstream; changing course does not constitute failure—you just may need to test the waters to find out what works.
• Stay grounded and don’t get discouraged. Once you start gaining traction and actually making revenue continue to get reality checks regularly. Look for trends. Don’t ignore the threats.
The good news is the blind entrepreneurs will definitely succeed because their PASSION for their idea caused the blurriness in the first place. They will have that AHAH!! moment when their vision becomes clearer and they start listening and reacting to the signals so they can actually start making money…..success just takes a bit longer.
Do you have a business idea? Join our Community of more than 300 Walsh College Entrepreneurs by logging on to www.walshcollege.edu/launchpad or call us at 248 823-1670. We are here to help with your adventure…….. Carol Glynn; Director, Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh College.