Author Archives: C. DAY

Wonderful 2022 USASBE Conference

Raleigh NC January 6th – 9th, Hosted by ECU and NCS (Eastern Carolina University and North Carolina State University).  So fitting that this year’s USASBE (U. S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship) should be held in the research triangle of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill North Carolina, a hub for technology and biotech companies.  It is the new home of our sister organization NACCE (National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship) on the campus of Wake Tech and the Brian Hamilton Foundation whose mission is to train incarcerated peoples into entrepreneurship.

It was another spectacular gathering of the best in the field sparkled by self-made keynoters as down-to-earth as your barber or beautician.  These gatherings have taken a terrific turn since Julie Shields became permanent Executive Director two years ago, the quality of breakout sessions, attraction of top tier entrepreneurs, and a noticeable broadening from research only.  Last year your editor went through an epiphany from one breakout by Eric Koester on Content Entrepreneurship, and this year he met his Godfather, the ECU grad who endowed one of the best entrepreneurship school in the country, Fielding Miller.

He was my personal centerpiece having combined a brilliant financial tech startup with a belief in the life changing capability of entrepreneurship.  Fielding went to work for a bank right out of ECU when investment rental houses became vacant, his wife’s employer hadn’t paid health premium, and she became pregnant.  Needing more income, Fielding changed to stock brokerage where he became the company’s most successful salesman.  That field led to a creative pay model of annual fees vs. trade commissions.  In 1996 he started Captrust targeting companies and institutions to help the with newfangled retirement plans called 401(k)s.

Today Captrust based in Raleigh is one of the largest U. S. wealth-management firms with 470 employees in 37 locations managing $278 billion in client assets.  He got a summer job on a loading dock moving furniture, and decided college was a better option.  At ECU he met his future wife, Kim.  His firm could help negotiate better deals with money managers than employers.  It helped that retirement was shifting from traditional pension plans to 401(k)s which put more investment decision-making on individuals.  Such accounts now total more than $4.5 trillion in assets.

As he explained in his down-to-earth manner entrepreneurship is the major force to solve society’s problems.  Not only do entrepreneurs create most jobs, they are major problem solvers.  His recent examples during COVID-19 were cousins who re-engineered nasal swabs (the only two were overseas), conversion of a bottling plant to hand sanitizers, and Maco medical who seized the opportunity of a need for lab testing to grow ten fold in revenue.  Fielding then shared his vision of how another university could develope an entrepreneurship school like Miller at ECU -The Miller School is the one endowed school of entrepreneurship in No. Carolina and ranks 47, marking its second year in a row on the Princeton Review of the top 50.

Exposure to Fielding was special.  He is undoubtedly a true, blue entrepreneur who sees solutions, believes in self-employment, and embodies the mindset.  As former serial entrepreneur, your editor felt kinship with him in that we both wanted to give back, give others the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship.
Two other special takeaways from the USASBE conference -the close link to emotional skills to success and how to increase experiential activities in the classroom.  It is common belief these days that learning by doing is the best way for students to acquire the startup process.  More than one breakout session gave examples as suggestions all designed to get students engaged. The panel above gave a wonderful presentation of emotional skills for success.  Among them are quick use of 5 minute videos to show an exercise, and then stop the video to do the exercise in class.  Acting out a story for which there are guides but great freedom to interpretation -name a game, each student does a version, a sequential story begun for the student to complete, and Toyota’s five why’s -what the customer is saying about the product.

The emotional role in entrepreneurship is a personal experience for myself.  At my height of insurance agency success, I got a serious medical condition more than likely caused by stress, a pituitary tumor.  Although benign, it was a serious surgery to my lower brain, caused a life adjustment (sold my business), and gave realization to the importance of work-life balance.  A study published in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal found that emotional intelligence was a stronger predictor of entrepreneurial success than general mental ability.  It brings a better understanding of the needs, feelings, and situation of others, to better manage their own emotions and understand others.  Such entrepreneurs are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses.  Not only do they know when to say no, but they are also not afraid of change.

No doubt had I had some exposure or training in emotional skills, I would have delegated more, been less work and more life balanced, and enabled to continue growing my largest book of business free from a major endocrine condition.

A USASBE annual conference is extremely beneficial, and I would never miss an annual conference nor the learning that comes from it.


for the second year in a row.

Starting a New Business?

 

Starting a new business?  If you are, you’re certainly not alone.  In fact, these past two years have been banner years for people launching a new company.  Perhaps they were quitting jobs as part of the “Great Resignation” (see article below in the blog).  Or, maybe since folks working form home had more time, or maybe it was just more people realizing that they wanted to pursue their dream of being their own boss.  Whatever the reason, 2020 and 2021 saw a surge in the number of new businesses starting.

Most new businesses are one-person businesses, at least at first.  Your new business is likely to be just you, too.  So my readers, small business owners who’ve “been there, done that” share some of their best suggestions for starting and running a one-person business:

  1.  Keep bank accounts and credit card transactions for business separate from personal ones.
  2. Figure out -and write out- what value you bring to a client.  You must have a market.
  3. Instead agonizing over perfection, get in the ring and go!  You just need the barest minimum website that says what kind of problems you solve and for whom -and why you’re qualified.
  4. Have clients and relationships in place before starting your business.  Going out there and talking to prospective customers helps you understand what you can really make money doing.
  5. Start small and get experience to grow.  You need to learn to walk before you can run.
  6. Create a process for developing proposals.  Design templates for proposals, processes and spreadsheets you expect to use often.
  7. Be authentic.  Stay focused and do your research.  Create a mantra or motto for your business.  Be open to changing your target audience.  You much be willing to pivot if the market demands it.
  8. Reach out to your local small business development center (SBDC).  They’re free and have lots of helpful things.

Courtesy of Rhonda Abrams in USA Today

Latino Employers Employ Millions But Struggle for Loans

Chris Rourk struggled initially to get financing for his company, VOLTA Ion, which makes jacks that use clean energy and are wireless.

Mentorship, lender tracking among possible fixes.

 

 

 

After years of working for other firms, Chris Rourk decided to start a business of his own producing wireless jacks.   But when the Latino entrepreneur approached banks for loans, he was turned away.  “It was almost impossible to get any sort of funding…no matter what my credit status was”, Rourk says.

He used personal credit cards to launch his Miami-based company VOLTA ion, in 2018, and Rourk found that many of his Latino customers had similar experiences when applying for loans.  While there may have also been other factors, he believes lenders often set a higher bar for him because of his ethnicity.

Latino entrepreneurs launch more businesses than any other group in the U. S., but they close their doors at a faster rate than their peers as they struggle to get traditional loans, deal with lower sales, and navigate other obstacles according to “The Economic State of Latinos in America: The American Dream Deferred”, a recent report by McKinsey & Company.  The 322,000 businesses in the U. S. owned by Latino entrepreneurs provide jobs to 2.9 million workers, and 85% of those business owners say it was opportunity, not need, that led them to become their own boss.

But Latino-owned businesses with at least one employee average $1.3 million in sales each year, roughly half the $2,5 million earned by their white counterparts.  And the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to disproportionately higher rates of unemployment and death for Latinos, Black and Indigenous Americans, also negatively affected 86% of Latino-owned businesses.  (more…)

5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from MLK Jr.

#1. Entrepreneurship is Bigger Than Business.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. never owned a business, but he was one of America’s greatest entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, King witnessed a society around him that did not look like the world he dreamed about. His vision was bold and counterintuitive to many around him.

Yet, he built a following that rivaled any politician and became a catalyst for major legislative and social change. We know that entrepreneurship is larger than mere profit or payroll. To be an entrepreneur is to have the courage to start—to say to one’s community: “This is not the way it should be, or could be. We can do better.”


To be an entrepreneur is to have the courage to start—to say to one’s community: “This is not the way it should be, or could be. We can do better.”  

#2. Start with Why.

In Simon Sinek’s famous talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” he asks why so many movements, businesses, and campaigns fail—and only a handful succeed.  The reason, Sinek explains, is that too few leaders communicate their “why” before their “what.”

“[Martin Luther King] didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America; he went around and told them what he believed…how many people showed up for him? Zero. They showed up for themselves. It was what they believed about America that got them to travel on a bus for eight hours to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August to hear him speak.”

Sit-ins, boycotts, and civil disobedience are not easy; many Civil Rights activists were assailed or arrested, defying our traditional models of rational, self-interested human behavior. King gained such a following by connecting with his followers’ why before he told them his what and how. That was his entrepreneurial genius.

#3. Walk the Talk

We’re all too familiar with leaders—whether in business, politics, or everyday life—who don’t practice what they preach.

But the greatest and most effective leaders, like Martin Luther King, are willing to march in front of the crowd—especially if the costs are high. For King, that meant spending time in a Birmingham jail cell and enduring threats on the lives of his family.

Entrepreneurs must ask: do we require sacrifices of our employees, followers, or customers that we would not make ourselves?  True trailblazers are those who keep sight of the destination while braving the obstacles along the way, and embrace the accompanying risk.

#4. “Right” Does Not Always Mean “Popular.”

It may come as a surprise, but Martin Luther King was quite unpopular in his time. In fact, he had a 75 percent disapproval rating at the time of his assassination in 1968.

Many of the fronts on which King was an activist, however, were important ones. Workers’ rights, African-American rights, and brutalities abroad are all issues the American public has now acknowledged King to be correct about.

Entrepreneurs have to be leaders, and leaders must make decisions without knowing what the future holds or what their legacy will be. They must rely on their moral beliefs and instincts to make important decisions, not the shifting winds of opinion and popularity.

#5. Be Upfront.

The Civil Rights Movement was an uphill battle, and Martin Luther King never shied away from the fact—not even to the people following him. “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals,” King reminded his audience in his “The Future of Integration” speech.

Most entrepreneurs are not facing stakes as high as the reversal of racial segregation in America. In fact, “tireless exertion” is probably not a great item to include in your employees’ job descriptions!  However, it’s still important to be honest as a leader with the people under your care.

No one wants to feel duped by the people in charge, or feel like they didn’t really know what they signed up for.

Martin Luther King’s legacy as a great American entrepreneur should not be forgotten. Not only was King concerned with civil liberties for the poor and oppressed, but he was also a brilliant leader who prevailed against incredible odds.  All take notes from this giant of American leadership.

Not Your Mama’s Incubator!

Personal Connection

Some may know your editor began his encore, second career as an entrepreneurship “maven”  (stuck name from TiE chapter) by going back to school to study what I had done for 35 years in startup insurance agencies.  After becoming professionally qualified by AACSB business schools, I approached my local FL college, State College of Florida (SCF), about teaching the subject.  Timing was perfect, and Dr. Amy Santos, then chair, took a chance on me.  The rest is, as they say, is history -specialty in veterans entrepreneurship, five publications including the Entrepreneurship Quick Study Guide in college bookstores, and this blog, Current in Entrepreneurship read globally.

Meanwhile SCF grew, turned over faculty and brought an administration mastermind together in its top two officers, President and EVP Provost, Drs. Carol Probstfeld and Todd Fritch.  These two had a vision for repurposing the college’s former library, a 40,000 square-feet space.  After input from many stakeholders, they settled on a community entrepreneurship center for local businesses and future job growth. Fortunately, the Florida Dept. of Economic Development agreed with their vision granting $3.6 million joined by more  funding from the SCF Foundation.  Probstfeld and Fritch were committed to activities that had intentional connection to SCF academics, experiential learning, and brought an array of services for entrepreneurs and small businesses along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Nothing Like It Elsewhere

Last week I was given a tour by director Kim Richmond ,and was, quite simply, blown away!  Traveling the country for entrepreneurship I know incubators and maker spaces, but this facility is unique.  Each of the seven chosen services has it own area to include a television studio, two auditoriums for classes/meetings, a growth lab and student incubator, a personal branding lab, an academic partners space, entrepreneurship academy, a digital marketing collective, a coding academy, and the “creative (TV) studio” with state-of-the-art production equipment.

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Dynamic Outreach to Small and Startup Business

Just the architecture is stunning, soft teal and blue college colors throughout, adaptive furniture per usage, and two quiet chambers just like on the old quiz shows ($64,000 Question).

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Center Director, Kim Richmond, shown in Business Growth Incubator space.

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If you live anywhere in the U. S., the climate, our FL economy, and this new facility deserve a close look for basing your business in Bradenton, Sarasota or Venice on the Florida Gulf Coast.  Very few entrepreneurship centers if any have the utility, convenience and resources this new 26 West Center brings to the table.

Marketing to Grow Your Business

Today’s guest is Erik Huberman, the founder, and CEO of Hawke Media and author of The Hawke Method. His company is valued at over $150 million and is the fastest growing marketing agency in the United States. Erik has worked with over 3500 brands including Red Bull and Verizon. As a serial entrepreneur, Erik has received many accolades including Forbes’ 30 under 30 and Inc Magazine’s Top 25 Marketing Influencers.

Listen today to learn marketing from one of the best:

Courtesy Entrepreneur’s Handbook Newsletter 1/13/2022

Forbes Under 30 on Navigating Entrepreneurship

All of the honorees in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2022 have defied the odds: navigating a global pandemic, supply chain crunches and isolation to build ventures that are resilient and destined to change the world. This year’s honorees sat down with Forbes to talk about their journey into entrepreneurship.  (3 1/2 minutes).  Courtesy Forbes Magazine http://forbes.com.

The Great Resignation

https://www.cbs8.com/video/news/local/mornings/the-great-resignation-get-a-better-understanding-of-this-employment-trend/509-bfe40cae-f803-4829-aeb4-b1018d6fdc5d?jwsource=em

San Diego State business professor Miro Copic explains the current job departures as being caused by (1) early Baby Boomer retirements who leave permanently, (2) workers who research careers to find one more fulfilling (new issues of U.S. News & World Report on Best Careers below), (3) child care hard to find or now too expensive so mothers stay home, (4) burnout particularly in the healthcare sector.

https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobshttps://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs

Professor feels the 10.5 million unfilled jobs will diminish over the next 12-15 months, employee benefits is playing a factor as employers add benefits to attract new workers, and most departures are as a result of adjustments to the new COVID-19 normal.

Click on link at top to watch interview

Courtesy of CBS News

Innovation in Education Tech and More

 

Daphne Koller is the CEO and founder of insitro, a machine learning-enabled drug discovery company. Previously, she was a professor of computer science at Stanford University for 18 years, co-founder and co-CEO of Coursera, and the Chief Computing Officer of Calico, an Alphabet company in the healthcare space. She received the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2004. In this conversation with Stanford adjunct lecturer Ravi Belani, Koller examines the key turning points in her diverse and innovative career, and speaks about how she searched for the opportunities that would have the greatest impact on the world.