Innovation Works Even for Small Entrepreneurs.

This article titled Innovation Helps Small Independent Grocer Thrive appeared in Sun., July 15, 2018 Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  It is a wonderful example of how a third generation, rural grocery store can stay relevant, iterate services, and stay ahead of the competition.  Located in the Southwest portion of Georgia, West Foods is the sole grocery store in Edison, GA deep in the heart of Jimmy Carter peanut country.  Their success has been the ability to innovate, something any business can do.

First to sell cooked food, first to include off-site catering, serving hot breakfast and lunch each day, they will order and ship any grocery product (including ground cornmeal and cane patch syrup) anywhere in the world.  The newest line of retail are chocolate-covered, deep-fried peanut clusters, a confection that won the 2017 Flavor of Georgia competition.  Sold on Amazon and Etsy, your can order them in vanilla or chocolate online or buy them in one of more than 45 retail locations.  To say West Foods is a part of its community would be an understatement.

Whether an idea of a new startup or an improvement to an existing business, to innovate is to introduce as or as if new.  It is never a single event, but rather a combination that depends on asking the right questions using the Innovation Matrix.

Innovation Matrix w examples

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Amazon & Uber the Future of Entrepreneurship?

Amazon this week announced the next chapter in its bid to rule the commercial world. The company is looking to create a network of independent delivery fleets, and it wants “hundreds of entrepreneurs” to “start businesses” in support of this.

This represents a major move in the logistics realm, one that will see Amazon go up against long-established players — such as Fedex and UPS — and which has been rumored for a while.

But the language Amazon is using to attract prospective business owners is also notable. The company’s pitch appeals to America’s entrepreneurial spirit while obfuscating the reality of what signing up to the program really means.

It’s difficult to overstate Amazon’s commercial clout. The Seattle-based company claimed around 44 percent of online sales in the U.S. alone last year, according to reports. And with its Whole Foods acquisition, Amazon is making inroads into the brick-and-mortar world. In fact, it has done a stellar job of creating a gargantuan ecosystem of products and platforms to hook users and keep them coming back. And this growing demand is precisely why the company now wants to build out its own logistics network for “last mile” deliveries.

Amazon is underplaying its logistics expansion and largely positioning this as a complementary program intended to round out existing delivery services and help it keep up with demand. But then it has to do that because it still needs its logistics partners — for the time being, at least.

“We have great partners in our traditional carriers, and it’s exciting to continue to see the logistics industry grow,” explained Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations. “Customer demand is higher than ever, and we have a need to build more capacity.”

Amazon is no stranger to running logistics services. It has been operating its Flexpeer-to-peer (P2P) delivery program for a while, effectively letting anyone who owns a car become a courier for a day, a week, or forever — a little like Uber.

As with many other gig-economy platforms, reports suggest that Flex is not all fun — in fact, it’s a lot of effort for not a huge return. Plus, it offers no perks, benefits, or job security. The rates of pay and working landscape vary depending on factors such as where you are based, but the core selling point is consistent: “Be your own boss” is Amazon’s persistent marketing mantra.

And this is a thread we see permeating the gig economy. Big companies need workers — but they want to avoid the commitment of maintaining a traditional workforce, such as offering salaries, medical insurance, paid time off, and so on. One key to sustaining this charade lies in calling their typically low-paid workers “entrepreneurs.”

Uber has referred to its drivers as entrepreneurs for years, despite reports that they earn very little after expenses. Alongside other carefully constructed terminology, such as “partner drivers,” casting freelance gigs as “entrepreneurship” is part of Uber’s plan to make its workforce feel empowered. But it doesn’t paint the whole picture — a New York Times report last yearreferenced an internal Uber slide deck on driver income levels that revealed the company considered its main rivals for attracting new drivers to be McDonald’s and Lyft.

Under the guidance of new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber is taking steps to improve a reputation that has been tarnished by a series of scandals and feuding at the highest levels. In Europe, where workers tend to expect benefits and job protections, Uber is now offering drivers free insurance for illness, jury service pay, paid maternity/paternity leave, and more. This positions Uber more as an employer, despite a great deal of legal wrangling over the term, and is surely a tacit acknowledgment that drivers have been struggling to make ends meet.

A Brown University case study from a few years ago delved into the “entrepreneurial aspects” of Uber’s driver model. Patrick McQuown, an adjunct lecturer at Brown’s School of Engineering, actually spent the summer driving for the company, logging 400 hours and 8,000 miles in the process. His conclusion? The Uber driver model is not particularly entrepreneurial, and top-rated drivers receive no meaningful recognition for their efforts.

“Entrepreneurship means that you create a product or service that’s unique in the marketplace, and you’re rewarded with more profit,” McQuown said. “You simply can’t do that as an Uber driver. There’s no real chance to differentiate yourself financially from other Uber drivers.”


Babson Summer Venture Program

SVP Profile:  David Oksman, ’03

I recently had the chance to speak with David Oksman ’03, a Babson alum, marketing expert, and one of this year’s Summer Venture Program(SVP) advisors. In his interview, David spoke about his love of entrepreneurship, Babson, and helping these startups. Here is an overview of our talk.

What is your role in the Summer Venture Program and within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Boston?
In the Summer Venture Program my role is to advise five amazing ventures on a day-to-day basis and support others as it relates to the marketing, branding, and e-commerce spaces. I approach the advisor role as a teacher, mentor, and supporter would. I want to be a resource for these rising entrepreneurs in a time where their businesses are just getting started.

In terms of the larger Boston ecosystem, I have worked in both the corporate and startup sector. Some of the big name brands I’ve worked for include Life is Good and Reebok.  Even in these corporate environments, I like to tackle problems with an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. I also advise a handful of startups and currently serve as interim CMO of Sidekick, a venture founded by a Babson alum.

What excites you about the Summer Venture Program? What made you want to serve as an advisor?
I love the Babson community, specifically what lies in the heart of it—the startup community. Within SVP lies so many brilliant startups that constantly excite me every day.  I wanted to give back to Babson as they gave so much to me during my time as an undergrad. Along with business, I have a passion for teaching. I wanted to help students craft and create their dreams, help them change the world, by sharing with them the things I’m good at. I am strong believer in the idea that nobody can do it alone – this ultimately lead me to serve as an advisor for these startups.

What advice could you give to teams participating this summer or any aspiring entrepreneur?
For the SVP startups, be true to your purpose. You got into this program because you cared about something deeply and wanted to solve a problem. You are going to be challenged and have to lay the basic foundations for your business. Although this many not always be exciting, have the conviction to see purpose in all that you do. For any aspiring entrepreneur, do not be afraid to ask for help. Be real and honest about what you know and don’t know, and most importantly, be open to finding people who can help you. Ultimately, it is about the journey, not the destination. Although cliché, the saying is true. Have fun along the way because one day you are going to get to the finish line and wonder where did the time go – make the journey as good as where you want to get to.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is about the creators, the builders. It is about those who see things differently and have a passion and focus to show others their point of view – whether that be through a new product or service or just a different way to approach a problem. You do not need a startup to be an entrepreneur.

What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
The world needs to realize that for profit companies could be the biggest drivers of social change. Things are changing. Let’s lift up humanity together.

What do you do for fun?
I have a 13-year-old son who loves soccer. For fun, we watch and play soccer together. I also love to be outdoors, run with my wife, and spend time at the beach by my cottage in Maine. Most importantly, I am an avid Boston sports fan.

Describe yourself in four words.
Optimistic, passionate, creative, and grateful.

Anything else people should know?
It is a gift to be able to advise these kids. I learn a lot from being around them and seeing them approach challenges. I am so thankful to be a part of their journeys.

 Entrepreneurship empowers students, kids & adults.    See 

Why Entrepreneurship?

What has five letters and is the solution to growing our economy, reducing inequality, and fighting poverty?  “ESHIP,” as we say at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, or entrepreneurship, is the key to tackling each of those challenges.

Why entrepreneurship?

“Entrepreneurship creates jobs, it fosters growth, and it levels the playing field,” says Victor Hwang, vice president of Entrepreneurship at the Foundation. “We can take control of our economic destiny by supporting our entrepreneurs.”

Every month, three out of 1,000 Americans decide to start a new business. Hwang says in order to increase entrepreneurship, aspiring entrepreneurs need to take the next step and seek help in starting a business.

“We found the success of entrepreneurs depends a lot on what the 997 do to support the work of the three,” Hwang said. “If you can’t be one of the three, then be an awesome member of the 997.”

At TEDx Augusta, an independently organized TED Talk in Augusta, Georgia, Hwang offered four insights into what we know about entrepreneurship and shared ideas for how to support the makers, doers, and dreamers

1. New businesses create new jobs

Hwang referenced a study conducted by the Review of Economics and Statistics that found new jobs come from new businesses instead of older businesses. A study conducted by the Foundation found that new businesses contribute to all net new job creation and 20 percent of gross job creation.

“They found that virtually all net new jobs are created by businesses younger than five years,” Hwang said.

Supporting new businesses is the key to stimulating our economy. When we support entrepreneurs, we help build our economy and provide opportunities for others.

2. Plant fresh ideas in new spaces

In order to expand productivity and innovation, Hwang suggests that entrepreneurs and those who support them should look for new places for their ideas to take root.

He said that net new jobs used to be spread out across 30 major cities. Now, net job growth has been limited to five of the biggest cities: New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, and Dallas.

“Most cities are starving for new business,” he said.

By supporting new businesses in our own backyards, we can help grow our economy by spreading productivity throughout the United States.

3. Opportunity combats inequality

While entrepreneurial growth can create new jobs and innovations, it can also tackle old problems which have divided our communities for years. Hwang said entrepreneurship is imperative, because our long-term economic well-being depends on being able to start and grow businesses. Research has shown that there’s a correlation between new business starts and decreases in poverty, he said.

4. Renew the spirit of entrepreneurship

Despite the benefits entrepreneurship can bring, Hwang said the rate of Americans starting new businesses has been falling over the last 40 years. He attributed the decline to America losing its entrepreneurial spirit. According to census data, new firms’ representation fell 8 percent.

“Individual actions matter,” Hwang said. “If you’ve been thinking about starting a new business, take the next step.”

As for the 997 that can support new businesses, Hwang challenged them to help local entrepreneurs by testing out new products, expanding their network, and sharing their work with other consumers in their community.

Thanks to the Kauffman Currents for this article.

Lori Greiner (Shark Tank) Talks Entrepreneurship in the Digital Age

“When someone tells you that something can’t be done, all it really means is that it hasn’t been done before.” ~ Lori Greiner

The digital age has transformed how business is conducted in powerful ways. Thanks to new technology, more educational resources, and alternative fundraising options, it’s now easier than ever to start a business. With so many people launching new startups, savvy business investors like Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner are speaking out and advising entrepreneurs on how to be successful in this digital age.

I had the unique opportunity to interview the “Queen of QVC” about how entrepreneurship has evolved, mistakes to avoid when pitching investors, and her surprising advice for women entrepreneurs.

Greiner took advantage of the digital stage early on when she launched “Lori Greiner’s Clever and Unique Creations” on QVC in 2000. “There are so many venues that can play a role in your selling strategy, but in my opinion, there is simply no better selling medium for a new inventor than a shopping channel like QVC,” Greiner told me. “Once you know how to market something out of a certain medium, then it becomes easier to continue marketing other products out of that same medium.”

Using her flair to communicate and present well on air, Greiner leveraged her QVC success into becoming a Shark Tank investor and a mentor and role model for entrepreneurs worldwide.

“The emphasis on entrepreneurship has grown tremendously over the last five years,” says Greiner. “Everybody can relate to having an idea they think could be worth millions, but several years ago people probably never seriously considered that it would be possible to get it off the ground, but now we’re showing that it can happen.”

What makes a great Shark Tank pitch?

Having witnessed hundreds of pitches on Shark Tank and thousands personally, Greiner concisely revealed what constitutes a great pitch. “Be energetic, captivating, honest and informative, but brief. A great pitch is when a person can describe what their business or product is within two sentences,” Greiner advised. “Draw the investors in with enthusiasm and passion. Remember that whoever you’re pitching has spent either little or no time thinking about your product, which you may think is the greatest on the market. Be succinct and to the point, but make it exciting and informative.”

When I asked Greiner if she felt that investing in the entrepreneur was more important than investing in the product, she responded, “I look at both the product being pitched as well as the entrepreneur pitching it, as they are equally important to me. For the product or business, I look for several different things…

  • Something that has broad mass appeal
  • Something that solves a problem
  • Something that is unique or different
  • Something that can be made at an affordable price

“For the entrepreneur, I love to see someone who is energetic, passionate, honest and driven. I want to feel that they will do whatever it takes to make their business a success,” Greiner said.

3 biggest pitch mistakes

As viewers know, negotiations on Shark Tank can quickly get heated and, even though the drama makes for great entertainment, I was curious to know how those moments can affect the relationship with the entrepreneur after the deal is made with the investor.

“Heated moments can come out in a positive way for the entrepreneur,” claims Greiner. “I think so because you always learn from your experiences. There are always valuable lessons to learn from every experience, and I think that even though sometimes the questions from the Sharks or what happens can seem quite difficult, I think you will walk away learning a great deal and correcting what went wrong. You learn the most from what you consider failures or difficulties. I look at them as the greatest and most valuable lessons. There are no failures in life, just great lessons.”

When asked what she believes is the biggest mistake people make when pitching investors, Greiner shared not one, but three fundamental mistakes every entrepreneur should avoid.

1. Being unprepared

According to the QVC queen, the biggest mistake individuals make is that they don’t know everything there is to know about their own product and business. “You should know your product or business inside and out, and be prepared to answer any question about it,” says Greiner. “Whether the question involves finances, manufacturing, inventory, or processes — you should know every single detail.” Not being prepared, Greiner says, is her biggest pet peeve. “It shows a lack of commitment and caring and is reflective of their work ethic. It also lets me know that they would probably not be successful.”

2. Lacking enthusiasm and passion

“I’ve seen the greatest ideas fall completely flat when presented by someone who lacks enthusiasm,” explains Greiner. “But, on the other hand, I’ve seen great entrepreneurs convince others to buy or invest in things that they would never have under any other circumstances, but for their passion.”

When I asked if there was a single pitch or experience that impacted her, she replied, “The craziest pitch was that squirrel zapper! Michael DeSanti, an aerospace professional turned entrepreneur, created a squirrel-proof bird feeder that deters squirrels from eating bird food by delivering a harmless static shock.”

“Ryan ‘Cowboy’ Ehmann was one of the funniest and most crazy,” Greiner also recalled. “I couldn’t figure out what he was selling, and Daymond John gave him a deal for his rodeo-themed Cowboy gym — go figure!”

​​​3. Having an arrogant attitude

“Remember, if you’re trying to convince someone to invest in you, they need to not only like what you’re asking them to invest in, but they also need to like you and believe in you,” Greiner told me.

“If entrepreneurs don’t listen to questions asked during a pitch, they aren’t going to hear you down the road, and they’re not going to be a good partner.” Greiner also mentioned that it’s a big turnoff if they appear difficult to work with. “It doesn’t matter how great a business idea or product is, if the entrepreneur is going to be a problem, nothing is worth it.”


The Rise of the Robo-Advisor

Artificial intelligence is changing the world of retirement planning. By using improved datasets and algorithms to efficiently deliver solutions tailored to people’s needs, AI can help them save, invest and retire better. One of the hottest trends to emerge in this area in recent years is the use of robo-advisors. These are software programs that use the data supplied by clients to create and automatically manage their investment portfolios. They’re gaining in popularity, but are they better than human advisors?

“Robo-advisors are a potential solution to the complexities of financial decision-making,” particularly in retirement planning, said Jill E. Fisch, law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “But at the same time, there’s a lot we don’t know about robo-advisors — exactly how they work and how effective a solution they’re going to be.” She and other experts from Wharton and elsewhere spoke at a conference hosted by the Pension Research Counciltitled “The Disruptive Impact of FinTech on Retirement Systems.”

Robo-advisors, or robos, are online services that use algorithms to automatically perform many investment tasks done by a human financial advisor. Initially offered by startups, robos are now part of the suite of services offered by major financial institutions such as Vanguard, Schwab and Fidelity. Since they are less expensive than a human advisor, they democratize access to financial advice. Robos can take on customers with little savings since adding one more person wouldn’t cost much more.

Signing up starts with consumers filling out detailed questionnaires online about their financial goals, risk tolerance and investment timeframes. Robos take the information and use computer algorithms to come up with an asset allocation that fits the customer’s needs. Once the portfolio is created, robos also manage it, doing things like rebalancing the portfolio, executing trades, performing tax-loss harvesting and other actions.

“This is really something that’s welcomed by the vast majority of retail investors who find themselves inadvertently … tasked with the responsibility of managing their financial well-being,” Fisch said. “People don’t want to do this and they don’t want somebody to give them advice on how to do this. They want somebody to do this for them. That’s the space … robo-advisors are going into.”

Robos came on the scene about a decade ago, and two early startups were Wealthfront and Betterment. Today, there are dozens of robos in the market, Fisch said. There are pure robo services, as well as those that offer the option of talking to a human advisor, with or without an extra fee. Since they’re automated, robos can more easily avoid conflicts of interest that could beset a human advisor, who might push investments that pay the highest commissions.

Robo fees can range from zero — if the investor has less than $10,000 to invest — to as high as 0.89% of assets under $1 million in some cases, said Brett Hammond, research leader of Capital Group. But 0.25% to 0.30% of assets is more typical, he added. (The fee is on top of the cost of the investment itself.)

As for performance, it’s a mixed bag with some robos doing better than others, Hammond said. The big question is how they will do in the long run, especially during a big market crash, since they don’t have an extended track record yet. “We don’t know in a complete cycle what these [robos] are going to deliver,” he said. “The real issue is, does it improve outcomes?”

Kent Smetters, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy, has his doubts. Robos put investors into ETF portfolios for “professional fanciness” but they are “not really a better value” than three Vanguard index funds invested in the U.S. total stock market, international securities and bonds, which are more tax efficient and costs even less, he said.

Booth School Atlanta Host CEO of Career Builder

Last night your editor had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Matt Feguson, guest speaker at the Atlanta chapter of the Univ of Chicago’s Booth Business School.  His easy manner and clear command of the Internet of Things (loT) was insightful.

Matt is co-author of “The Talent Equation.” An award-winning leader who has always challenged the status quo, Ferguson took CareerBuilder to the No. 1 position in online recruitment within five years. Under his direction, CareerBuilder has evolved into a global, end-to-end human capital solutions company that outperforms competitors in both technology innovation and revenue. Using bold strategies, Ferguson spearheaded CareerBuilder’s transformation from a recruitment giant to a powerhouse in both pre-hire and post-hire solutions. He introduced a new vision for advertising, software and services that has changed the way companies acquire and manage talent.

Our interest was the McKinsey Research indicating a major workforce disruption coming soon through use of artificial intelligence to replace human labor.  Matt was more sanguine, and felt what does come will “wrap around” existing work and complement rather than replace existing jobs.  Interesting enough, Matt worked early in his career for McKinsey, a fact reflected in his vision of the topic.  A graduate of the Northwestern law school, Ferguson made light of having attended Chicago’s “other school” (v. Booth).

Career Builder (CB) provides a wide range of hiring services including background checks, software sales, teaching systems, data analytics re- and up-skilling, and, yes, artificial intelligence (having just acquired an Amsterdam purveyor).  Some facts -the three most important criteria to new hires in order are job location, its pay, and the length of their commute.  Of CB applications, 60% come in via mobile phone whereas just last year it was 40%.  33% have a 4-year college degree, 67% do not, and 43% of those starting college do not complete studies within 6 years.

Matt sees the future of internet usage as compressed going forward, fewer Gig workers and fewer  employees that 10 years ago, and, to our regret, noted less entrepreneurship today than ever before.  At time when entrepreneurship can be a partial solution for workforce displacement by robotics and artificial intelligence, the latter is concerning.  The editor feels there has never been a more important time for basic, widespread training for entrepreneurship.  It will become, in our opinion, a survival skill needed to fill the space when displaced workers are looking for new jobs.  They will in essence do best by creating their own jobs.

Ferguson saw marketing as an area of opportunity through defining markets more narrowly and targeting good and services closer to the customer.  He feels big Tech will serve all us better by following the European model of restraints and definition.  Employees need to become life-long learners.  College degrees by themselves will no longer earn more salary, but need training in  specific niche skills.  Post secondary schools should funnel students into specialties that fit outcomes individual seek.  To saddle students with large debt and not result in a skilled outcome at the end (sociology, psychology majors were mentioned) won’t work in the future.  Matt cited the work of Mitch Daniels after service as Indiana governor while President of the University of Indiana as a great example of alignment studies to outcomes.

Per Ferguson the future is quite good for jobs.  There is demand for highly skilled labor, and the best fields for study are tech and finance.  Sales and marketing will always be needed.  Advertising should be targeted to match a business’ inventory.  Artificial intelligence (AI) can help take bias out of employment positions.  All in all, Matt’s address was hopeful.  Clearly, Career Builder has an enlightened leader at the top, who will stay current to employment changes and technological improvements. .

How To Be Taken Seriously As a Young Entrepreneur

Cory Nieves, founder of Mr. Cory’s Cookies, an e-commerce and wholesale cookie business based in Englewood, New Jersey, counts big customers like Aetna, Viacom, and Williams-Sonoma among his customer base. But, sometimes, his customers are a little taken aback when he arrives to meet with them. So his mom starts the conversation, and then he takes over once they’re comfortable. Bringing a parent to meetings would likely backfire for most young business founders, but Nieves just turned 14 years old.

Nieves started his business in 2010 at the age of 6 with the goal of buying his mother a car. Since then, the company has expanded from him selling cookies in the neighborhood to a growing and profitable enterprise. He’s appeared on Ellen(who gave his mother a car), and Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC’s The Profit, has invested in his business.

The issue of being taken seriously is real for young entrepreneurs (even those over 18), says Callum Negus-Fancey, founder of Verve, a word-of-mouth marketing company founded in the U.K. with U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles. Negus-Fancey launched his first business when he was 17, which later grew into Verve. Although the company now has clients like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite, he struggled with being taken seriously in the early days.

If you’re a late millennial or generation Z entrepreneur, here are some smart strategies to help you get the respect you deserve. Before Nieves meets with a new client, he gets online and does some homework. He looks up the school they went to, learns about their business background, and looks for other items that may be interesting conversation starters. “I tell them all the things that I’ve looked up and read about them. And there’re really surprised, they’re amazed, like ‘How did you know about this? My employees don’t even know about this,’” he says. That lays the foundation for a business relationship because they see he’s interested and has taken the time to learn about the other person, he says.

Similarly, do some research about the client and their goals, says tech entrepreneur Anthony Frasier, entrepreneur-in-residence of Newark Venture Partners, a Newark, New Jersey-based fund backed by Audible/Amazon, and author of Don’t Dumb Down Your Greatness: A Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Thinking & Being Great. Read the company’s website and recent news releases. Find recent media reports about the company and work on discerning what their goals, priorities, and challenges are. If you’re targeting publicly traded companies, you may find useful information in their quarterly reports and investor relations materials, he says. These are all relatively basic sales tactics, but if you haven’t been taught to look in these places, you may overlook rich sources of information that can help you solve a challenge or meet a need the company has, he adds.

Having a great idea is one thing, but being able to build a viable business based on it is another, Frasier says. Too often, young entrepreneurs fall in love with an idea without doing the due diligence necessary to ensure it can be built into a profitable enterprise. “A lot of times when I was young, I would come to people, ‘I’ve got this great idea,’ and they just never took me seriously,” he says. Once he began writing down his research into a plan that showed it could be a viable business, others began treating him as a serious professional, he says.

So, write a business planor, at the very least, get familiar with the market for your product or service, as well as production, delivery, pricing and distribution mechanisms and strategies that you’ll need to run your business. When you know well how your business will operate and grow, it’s tough to not take you seriously, Frasier says.

Starting a business is hard work, but it doesn’t always have to be all-consuming, Frasier says. As you build your business, cultivate positive, professional habits that will help you stay healthy and perform well. Taking care of yourself, developing a healthy routine, getting enough rest and exercise, and establishing other healthy routines will all benefit your business, he says. Hustle is important, but not at the expense of your health and creativity, he says.

“Once you get into a habit, creating those positive habits, then you’ll start to change everything else about how you work in your business. I usually try to teach entrepreneurs to build themselves up personally and watch how their business builds up,” he says.

It’s never too soon to start growing your network, and doing so can help you overcome some of the challenges of inexperience, says leadership coach Cheri B. Torres, author of Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement. “It never hurts to make connections with those key people if it’s possible and appropriate ahead of time,” she says. So work on meeting people who will help your business or who can teach you something.

Frasier delivers a big caveat, though: Give before you ask. He says that he developed three habits when he was first starting out that helped him get taken more seriously. In addition to having a well-laid-out plan for his business and becoming an authority in his area, he would make connections between people who could help each other and find other ways to be useful. “I think a lot of young entrepreneurs, they take before they give. They always come with their hands out and never really come with value,” he says. Find ways to make yourself valuable to the people in your network, and they’ll be motivated to help you, too.

Starting a business is hard work, but it doesn’t always have to be all-consuming, Frasier says. As you build your business, cultivate positive, professional habits that will help you stay healthy and perform well. Taking care of yourself, developing a healthy routine, getting enough rest and exercise, and establishing other healthy routines will all benefit your business, he says. Hustle is important, but not at the expense of your health and creativity, he says.

“Once you get into a habit, creating those positive habits, then you’ll start to change everything else about how you work in your business. I usually try to teach entrepreneurs to build themselves up personally and watch how their business builds up,” he says.

It’s never too soon to start growing your network, and doing so can help you overcome some of the challenges of inexperience, says leadership coach Cheri B. Torres, author of Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement. “It never hurts to make connections with those key people if it’s possible and appropriate ahead of time,” she says. So work on meeting people who will help your business or who can teach you something.

Frasier delivers a big caveat, though: Give before you ask. He says that he developed three habits when he was first starting out that helped him get taken more seriously. In addition to having a well-laid-out plan for his business and becoming an authority in his area, he would make connections between people who could help each other and find other ways to be useful. “I think a lot of young entrepreneurs, they take before they give. They always come with their hands out and never really come with value,” he says. Find ways to make yourself valuable to the people in your network, and they’ll be motivated to help you, too.

Sometimes young entrepreneurs expect people to not take them seriously and act preemptively defensive or like they know everything. That’s a mistake, Negus-Fancey says. Instead, become a sponge and try to learn as much as possible. Hire people who are more expert than you in certain areas. When you show a willingness to be humble and learn, and you’re also passionate and surrounding yourself with the best people, that’s a winning combination, especially for investors, he says.

When you’re first starting out in your business, you’re going to experience rejection or hardships along the way. Cultivating resilienceis essential for surviving over the long haul, Negus-Fancey says. If one approach doesn’t work out, try another. Don’t take rejection personally. And keep learning.

Most of all, keep believing in yourself, Nieves says. “People, sometimes they’ll get a little mean and stuff, and then you have to just shake it off. Don’t take it to heart, and always do research,” he says.

 Ref:, written by Gwen Moran, co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Business Plans(Alpha, 2010), and several other .

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Two Dutch Students Research U. S. Entrepreneurship


With blessings from their business professsor, Koen Nijland and Kervin Krommendijk flew from Amsterdam to Los Angeles April 20, 2018, and connected with colleague Mike Crimshaw, Ex Dir of the Entrepreneurial Institute, College of Business at Cal State Dominguez Hills to research American entrepreneurs. “Mr. Grimshaw made sure that we got plugged into all levels of communities in LA to get a full on experience of America. He made sure we went to a political event, venturing summit, Disneyland, improv training at a Goodwill store, lots of incubator and accelerator programs, local restaurants and even some lectures at the university.” As an active participant in Enactus, Mike has readily responded to an email for assistance.

Their purpose is to survey American entrepreneurs “to find out what drives them to start a business and what drives their success.” Koen is focused on the ecosystem culture, innovation, and applying Saras Sarasvathy’s Effectuation to startups. Kervin, on the other hand, is interested in the cognitive knowledge, the passion of U. S. entrepreneurs; cognitive knowledge refers to one’s conscious understanding of matters as they relate to people, tasks, and strategy. What’s so extraordinary is the creativity these two sons of the Netherlands have used to put this summer tour together. First and foremost, it is digital. They use the internet for information on companies, contacts, and data. They use a cell phone for geographic (GPS) movement, Uber for transportation (as well as public plus a rare car rental), and AirBnB for housing. All food is cooked in rooms to keep within a tight budget, and most plans are adjusted (if you will “iterated”) on the fly.

In their own words from their diary, “at the innovation incubator at Cal State DH we met terrific social start-ups worth mentioning. Jason from Closedeyesopenheart has a start-up that focuses on solving the problem of homeless in LA. This cause that really caught our eye because we noticed what a serious problem it is in the city. During one meeting, we had the opportunity to gain insight into the challenges a startup entrepreneur encounters. One issue was building the network required to collect needed resources. We compared the problem to our first weeks in America; we had no network and had to grow our connections to contact entrepreneurs.

At new venture summit of the University of Southern California we glimpsed a different kind of start-up. Docbot, an innovation driven start-up, is a good example of a company that offers a strong solution to the real life problem, health care quality. Their goal is to become a leading provider of real-time artificial intelligence for medical procedures such as colonoscopies when immediate feedback improves patient outcomes. We also noticed much bigger firms asked for a least half a million in funding and seemed to have a working product with a proven value. Another stand-out observation is the development of a start-up pitch by entrepreneurs. We saw some pitch perfect, two minute talks at the venturing summit, and then contrasted them with a million cups event. The latter are in an earlier stage of development and still working toward key aspects of their business to pitch. A typicial meeting had two separate entrepreneurs pitch their start-up “ask”. An entrepreneur asks the audience of entrepreneurs for feedback about a specific part of their business and pitch. One of the most remarkeable things that we’ve experienced in America is a fantastic entrepreneurial community where everybody tries to help each other. Events like the “Get Started Orange County” is a good example of a competition that is also an opportunity for entrepreneurs to grow their network. The winner of this competition was an impressive, energetic woman who discovered a material to make earthquake resistent buildings accessible to everyone saving tons of money (called METAseismic).

Besides working on data collection we have also taken two road trips. The first was a visit to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, San Fransisco and Big Sur. Our second trip was a visit to Death Valley, Las Vegas, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and the Grand Canyon. After seeing all these magnificent sites, we had to acknowledge why Americans have good reason to be proud.”

Koen and Kervin have written a survey to determine if a person is wired to be an entrepreneur. Everyone is encouraged to connect with them on Linked In at or and take the survey. The first 50 respondents are eligible to win a $50 Amazon gift card. After the end of the trip (Boston), Koen and Kervin will compose a report about factors that drive entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship success in the U. S. Koen will explain how cultural influences and innovation impact new ventures while Kervin investigates how passion and cognitive style drive success. Your editor and many others from entrepreneurship have been enriched and enjoyed meeting these special, young men from Holland. These guys ‘Van een vlieg een olifant maken’ (made an elephant out of a fly).