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From Idea to Start-up: Where Do I Start?

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by Gabriela Escalante, Syracuse

There are two kind of entrepreneurs: the ones that have a million ideas and don’t know where to start and the ones that start right away without thinking about it. In terms of success rates, the second ones learn from their failures and improve as they go. Now, if you are the first kind of entrepreneur, I have some advice for you to narrow your focus and get started.

In the past, I struggled with getting things done and it wasn’t until I decided I wanted to succeed that I got better at executing. Once I made it into a habit, things got way easier and way more effective. Now, I’m running a startup called EB Active and sales are moving forward. I have to admit—I absolutely love this feeling. I’m thinking that maybe I do have what it takes after all—and I’m sure you do too!

Here, you can find five pieces of advice that will allow you to move forward if you’re struggling with many ideas:

Choose one idea. At this point, it doesn’t matter which one. Choose the one that will keep you motivated as you go and stick to it. Do not rest until you either prove yourself wrong or become successful.

Talk to your potential customers. It doesn’t matter what you think. It matters whether your product or service represents value to your customers. There’s no better market research than actually getting out there and starting a conversation with potential clients. Once you know what they want, you’ll know how to exceed their expectations.

Don’t aim for perfection. Chances are that you won’t achieve perfection right away or any time soon. All you can do is do your best and learn from your failures. My first start-up was highly well known, yet it didn’t make any profits.

Choose your goals and make an action plan to reach them. Most likely, you’ll have to readjust and that’s okay. What matters is that you have a clear vision.

Don’t go to bed unless you’ve made some progress. This will allow you to form the habit of executing your ideas. The sooner you start, the faster you’ll reach your goals.

Like one of my mentors always says “there’s no better time than the present.”

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Kill Your Darlings – And Other Creative Habits Learned from Authors

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by Lindsay Wickham, Syracuse

When it comes to entrepreneurship, creativity is key. If you’re launching or working to grow a venture, it can be difficult to hone in your vision and practice habits that can help you to achieve your goals and find success. According to the article 5 Creative Habits Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Novelists as originally published in Fast Company, there are five habits that entrepreneurs can practice to up their creativity and performance:

Image created by Lindsay Wickham

Image created by Lindsay Wickham

Practice and perfect your pitches: Writers don’t just walk into a magazine office or publishing house with the next bestseller. Like entrepreneurs, they spend many hours (and sometimes years) pitching story ideas to editors. Writers tend to know when they need to adapt a pitch to a specific audience—entrepreneurs can learn from this and be able to adapt a pitch depending on the context in which its being given. Think about what you’re emphasizing and to whom you are emphasizing it. If parts of a pitch (or the business model itself) aren’t working, it may be time to move on.

“Kill your darlings” so you can revise: Originally a phrase used for writers who are attached to a character/plotline/scene that ultimately weighs down a story, entrepreneurs can sometimes tend to hold on too long for their product/service/logo/etc that sometimes took years to creative and build but may not show returns. This doesn’t mean giving up or scrapping an idea completely—it means being flexible to pivot and iterate.

Show more than you tell: A writer who is successfully can place you into a scene by describing every last detail and putting you there. Don’t just tell investors why your product is revolutionary—prove it by offering demos and demonstrating how it outperforms your competitors.

Draw inspiration from unlikely resources: While its great to read business books and entrepreneurial magazines and watch TEDTalks featuring that content, try looking beyond the business world. Draw inspiration from fields and industries outside of the one that your company is in.

Make something the world needs: When surveying the business landscape, listen for silences instead of just looking for successes. It takes a more creative eye to discover what needs are going unmet.

On the bridge between a business and a creative mindset/focus, it’s not enough to think outside the box… start by looking inside a good book!

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Breaking Bad (Habits)

Image courtesy of Pexels

by Lindsay Wickham, Syracuse

Bad habits are hard to break – the worst part about bad habits is that you don’t even know what damage you could be causing. As Warren Buffett once said, “chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” As noted by Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and president at TalentSmart in an Entrepreneur article, here are several bad habits that entrepreneurs should eliminate from their daily routine:

Image created by Lindsay Wickham

Image created by Lindsay Wickham

Using your phone in bed: You may not even realize it’s harming your sleep (and therefore, productivity). Exposure to blue light at close range can impair melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep (and get quality sleep, once you get there). The best rule of thumb is to avoid those devices after dinner.

Surfing the internet: A worst offender myself, I could have between five and twenty browser tabs open at the same time. It takes 15 consecutive minutes of focus before you can fully engage in a task and start to be productive. Notifications can be great – they help us make meetings on time and remember to do certain tasks. They can also be bad for productivity – right up to the point where we see or hear one and we click away from the task at hand “just for a second” and find ourselves out of focus and on some random internet page minutes later. Close distractions like email and the internet if you want to get solid work done.

Checking your phone during a conversation: Nothing bugs me more than someone glancing at their phone during a meeting. It immediately distracts the entire task at hand. The same goes for a conversation – focus your energy and leave your device in a drawer to avoid distraction.

Saying “yes” when you should say “no”: Sometimes you just want to say yes to everything – you try to do everything and please everyone. However, “no” can be a powerful word that you shouldn’t be afraid to use when necessary. It’s an act of self-control that can prevent the negative effects of over commitment.

In addition, other distractions and bad habits to eliminate include using multiple notifications, trying to multitask during meetings, comparing yourself to other people, and gossiping. By practicing your self-control, you can work to break these bad habits and increase productivity, whether it’s for school work, at your job, or in launching a startup!

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Running After the Torch and Other Opportunities

| Syracuse University Student Association |

 

by Tahirah Newkirk

Working on site at the Olympic Games is an opportunity that few communications students – let alone students in general – get the chance to take advantage of. Juwan Thompson, an entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises major here at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management and a public communications minor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, has a way of finding and earning highly competitive opportunities. Thompson was one of a select few students given the chance to intern in at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Known for taking risks, Thompson has actively pursued challenging positions. As a freshman, Thompson applied for an internship at American Honda Motor Company that was listed for graduating seniors. Despite only being a freshman, Thompson read the position’s qualifications and felt that his prior experiences, including an executive board position on the board of education for Georgia’s third largest school district, gave him the necessary skills to succeed in that position. Sure enough, after a series of interviews, Thompson was extended an offer. In this position, he worked on a national advertising campaign and created a detailed post-launch survey among other responsibilities.

“I applied thinking that if I didn’t apply, I would never know if I was truly qualified for the job. Despite only being a freshman, I felt qualified for the position,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, his Whitman classes have helped him explore the key components of entrepreneurial thinking, habits and actions. He has applied these concepts to his work as chief marketing officer of Consurtio, one of Whitman’s experiential learning ventures, an internship at the global media company Viacom, his role as chief of staff in the Student Association and many more places outside of the classroom.

“I have always thought that it’s not about what you’re taught, but how you apply it and why,” Thompson said.

Between his classroom and experiential learning, Thompson hopes to use his diverse experiences in entrepreneurship, film and production to eventually become a chief marketing officer for a global film production company.

This article first appeared in the Whitman Voices blog.

 

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Hurry up and Fail

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by Gabriela Escalante, Syracuse

Failure is scary. That’s a fact. Yet we continue to hear amazing stories of entrepreneurs who seem to fearlessly take over the market. Is there something wrong with us or are we surrounded by super humans? The taboo about failure can easily discourage others to share their stories of when things go wrong – which is why we tend to hear more about accomplishments. According to “6 Truths About Failure Every Entrepreneur Should Embrace”, there are six truths to keep in mind:

  1. Success can only come from failure.

Think about the most rewarding experience you ever had. Now, think about the action steps you had to take. Most likely, you didn’t succeed the first time.

  1. Curiosity naturally leads to failures.

When you are passionate about something, you become naturally curious. Curiosity leads you to act which may result in both finding opportunities and failures.

  1. Failure is an asset.

By definition, an asset represents value. Once we fail, we get the opportunity to learn from the experience. If anything, we should be able to identify how we could have avoided the mistake we made.

  1. Nobody wants you to fail.

And if someone does, then you are hanging out with the wrong crowd. When an idea gets negative feedback, we get the opportunity to learn about what leads that person to believe the business is not feasible. Next time you receive negative feedback, try asking a few more questions and see how you can improve on what you have.

  1. Failure should not be confused with quitting.

Quitting has no turning back, failure does. When we fail, we get the chance to stand back up. Once we stand back up, we can continue the journey.

  1. Each failure gets progressively easier.

Every entrepreneur can easily remember the first time they felt as if their business failed. Progressively, we learn to cope with the experience and focus on the solutions.

So, here’s my advice: hurry up and fail. Put your phone or laptop down and start trying. You won’t know until you try. In fact, you won’t know until you fail.

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Visualizing Your Future

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Daydreaming about your future may appear as images in your head; some linger while others flash only to disappear and become forgotten. The goals you have for yourself and your entrepreneurial ventures may seem hard or impossible to obtain because they are too far out in time. What if you captured those images in your head? What if you were able to physically see your goals in front of you? Your future that you see in your head could be in front of you on a cork board filled with an image of your idol, photos of your favorite buildings, or perhaps a piece of fabric from your childhood that symbolizes the feeling and culture you one day want for your own company.

Now go one step further, what if this physical visual of your future could give you a better chance at achieving those goals? We are not talking fortuneteller crystal ball type magic here, if that’s where you thought this was going, but instead a vision board displaying details of your life that you hope to one day fulfill.

“When we invest the time to visualize, in detail, we become more emotionally connected to our wished-for goals.”

TD Bank conducted a study on the benefits of vision boards and visual thinking, as explored in a recent Forbes.com article. Vision boards help entrepreneurs and their teams conceptualize their goals through an organized collection of images, photos, words and objects. The mapped details can represent finances, business goals, potential partners, and the personal goals of the entrepreneur. This physical displayed on the vision board thus encourages the entrepreneur and their team to emotionally connect to the goals in order to achieve them. Surveys reported that the goals mapped out through vision boards have helped 82% of small business owners accomplish more than half the goals they initially set for their business.

As a student balancing academic responsibilities and the start of an entrepreneurial venture, it is important to emphasize organization in your life. The assembly of visual representation for the goals you set for yourself could not only help you manage your current responsibilities but in the direction of your envisioned future. No crystal ball is going to predict and establish your future, but visual thinking can lead you to making your most sought after daydreams a reality.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/#66be7e2324d5

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Patriot Portraits – Abby Hamilton, Student Entrepreneur

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by Ethan Waltersdorf

 

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Abigail (Abby) Hamilton, Currently a sophomore at Syracuse University, knew she wanted to pursue a career in business from a young age. Abby began running lemonade stands at the age of ten, establishing her fascination with the world of business and entrepreneurship. Eight years later Abby decided to attend the Martin J. Whitman School of Management because of, “the phenomenal business program and entrepreneurial support network available through the Couri Hatchery, The Tech Garden and Whitman’s unique entrepreneurship curriculum.” However, Abby did not wait until college to explore her own business ideas.

In 2014 she launched Patriot Portraits after developing a business plan for a high school entrepreneurship class she took during her junior year. The class was sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which is a nationwide program that educates and empowers youth through entrepreneurship programming. Abby recognizes this class for completely changing her perspective on her future. The class required Abby to develop a business plan that solved a problem the she often faced during her daily life.

“As a young photographer, I personally experienced the stigma that is associated to young professionalism. I also frequently witnessed my peers’ families face deployment on short notice, leaving without a single family portrait to remind them of times together.”

Based on these experiences Abby came up of with idea of Patriot Portraits, which hires talented young photographers to photograph military families facing deployment. Patriot Portraits empowers young photographers by providing them with their first photography jobs allowing them to break into the professional industry, and provides military families with photos to cherish during times of separation from loved ones.

When asked what has been the most rewarding part of the Patriot Portraits experience for her, Abby replied stating, “seeing the joy that these portraits brought to military families and the empowerment that our youth photographers found through their work in our program was incredibly rewarding.” She also expressed that she experienced enormous personal growth in her mindset and as a business owner by launching Patriot Portraits, “This business validated that entrepreneurship is the best career for me.”

Syracuse University and the Whitman School of Management have continued to assist Abby as she furthers her education, career in entrepreneurship and new business ventures. Abby explained that she now has a much deeper understanding of the backbone of running a business, “I now understand why initial failures occurred and strategies to implement for future success. Every class session I attend, I learn something that I can apply to how I run my business.” She also has some valuable advice for perspective and current student entrepreneurs.


“When launching your business, design it so that it pertains to something you are passionate about. The classic, ‘if you love your work, you will never work a day in your life,’ motto rings especially true to student entrepreneurs developing a business in their spare time. It definitely becomes challenging to balance a full course load alongside launching a company, but much of the course work at Whitman makes it easily translatable for implementation into your business, and makes the course work more relevant to you.”

On top of entering the Panasci Business Plan Competition, being a full time student and advancing Patriot Portraits, Abby is also developing another venture, Spolitic, which is a platform that allows millennials to engage with political events in their area.