T.A. McCann, formerly of GIST and now of Zoopa and Wishpot, is hosting a free online chat to discuss the future of work, with Eric Koester of Zaarly. The sure-to-be-compelling chat is at 9am PDT on 7/21, and you can rsvp HERE. To get you hungry, check the video below as a preview.
It seems like some of the most common mistakes in job interviews are those that are repeated over and over again. BNet today has a ton of great interview tips:
Ask questions about what really matters to you. Focus on making sure the job is a good fit: Who you will work with, who you will report to, the scope of responsibilities, etc. Interviews should always be two-way, and interviewers respond positively to people as eager as they are to find the right fit. Decide what is important to you and ask; there’s really no other way to know you want the job. And don’t be afraid to ask several questions. Interviewers get sick of asking questions. As long as you don’t take completely take over, the interviewer will enjoy and remember a nice change of pace.
This lecture, by Joseph L. Bower, Professor, Harvard Business School, is one of the 10 videos Inc. Magazine recommends for every entrepreneur. Check the full list here. How many have you seen already? Any not on the list that you’d add? Tell us!
More and more students are graduating from business school and deciding to take a pit-stop at a corporate job before launching into business on their own, a BusinessWeek article discusses.
Mike Norelli, a 2010 MBA graduate from MIT, experienced a collegiate entrepreneur’s dream when an investor pledged seed capital for the startup he and a few classmates had founded to convert food waste into fuel. Just as the venture was to receive that financial boost, however, Norelli backed out to accept a job at GE Energy, whose recruiter met with him after Norelli arrived at MIT’s Sloan school of Management (Sloan Full-Time MBA Profile).
“No matter what I do afterwards, I’ll be in a better position—and that includes doing a startup,” Norelli says of his GE experience.
Jake Winebaum is a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of FamilyFun magazine, Business.com, Brighter.com and co-founder of eCompanies and Blue Waters Research.
How do you know if your idea is any good? The real test for me is if the idea builds momentum the more time you spend with it. I’m a big believer that you have to spend a lot of time with an idea. Good ideas get stronger the more you work on them. You begin to lose interest in weak ideas.
I’ve also gotten to the point where I view that ideas are relatively cheap. Having an idea alone is not what makes a successful company. You need to have a great idea, great timing, and the most important piece: sufficient capital. The idea will need multiple iterations, and that takes time and money.
Cheni introduces himself and explains his insight into the small business process. His office space has seen 6,000 companies from a unique perspective. He gets to see to see companies before they’re in a position that even VC’s will ever see. At the point a VC gets involved the company has success. Sunshine helps these companies achieve that success.
Cheni takes some time to examine how has the office evolved. After WWII, there was a strong corporate unity. The goal of students at the time was to achieve high paying, “successful” jobs such as becoming a lawyer, doctor, etc. These careers come with a tremendous trade off. The bring in plenty of money, but don’t give you any time to enjoy it. At this point in history, entrepreneurship wasn’t a common notion. At this point in history, your office space was determined by your position on the corporate ladder. The higher you were on the food chain, the more impressive the office space you worked in. For example, if you were high on the ladder you would receive the benefits of a windowed office. Going higher than that could result in a corner window office. However, at the end of the day you were still spending 8+ hours at this office and the highlight of your day consisted of conversations around the water cooler discussing soap operas.
Enter the economic downturn. As corporate revenues begin to drop they begin to seek cheaper sources of labor. Most corporations in this position relocated countless jobs overseas, resulting in a heavy blow to the overall US workforce. Enter the vision of entrepreneurship.
Cheni describes entrepreneurs as “alphas.” These individuals have the ability to take who they are and create a brand new start for themselves if need be. If someone is in a bad predicament, they can exercise their ability to leave that situation and start fresh from scratch. The key to this process is convincing yourself that you CAN accomplish what you are setting out to do.
Cheni takes a moment to describe a job he held at the Hyatt hotel. He maintained the job for 2 years but wasn’t satisfied with the monotony of the daily agenda. He proceeded to leave and start his own venture. Certainly, some ventures were more successful than others and he admits that the first one didn’t work out as projected. Cheni emphasized that these failures need to be acknowledged, analyzed to determine what went wrong, and learned from. New York City is a place with tremendous opportunity and if something doesn’t immediately work out, gears can be shifted a lot more rapidly than in a rural environment.
A primary talking point becomes the importance of interaction. Cheni discusses how tremendous social media has become and how many new opportunities it can help erupt since it simplifies the communication process. However, nothing in the world has, can, or ever will replace face-to-face human interaction. That being said, if an entrepreneur decides to leave their home to move into an office space alone, how is this any different from working from home? The same can be said about the notion of working and running a company from a coffee shop like Starbucks. “People are there to drink coffee and unwind, not hear your ideas,” Cheni explains. A much more ideal environment would be where entrepreneurs could network and exchange ideas, as well as services, with other entrepreneurs. It was on this concept that Sunshine Suites was formed.
At this time, Cheni begins to provide insight into how Sunshine was physically started. Himself, along with his partner Joe Raby, leased some office space, ran all the wiring, painted the walls, etc. in hopes that if they could provide a solution to the aforementioned dilemma, people would want in. Moving forward with the goals of changing the focus of office space from where you’re located in the office, to what the office can provide YOU has helped them attract initial tenants.
Ten years and over 6,000 companies later Cheni realized that clear patterns emerge in successful small businesses. He spent the remainder of the talk outlining some of these patterns that he oversaw. In addition, he gave insight into a lot of his thought process when making decisions about his own company.
Start a company, at the end. “When you start a company, the first question you need to ask yourself is ‘where and when does this end?’” Cheni insisted that without determining a clear ending, planning any other time frame for the company would become exceedingly difficult, if at all possible.
Choosing a partner: When choosing a partner, find someone who has strengths in places where you have weaknesses. Play off of each other’s talents and this can help facilitate a powerful, long term relationship. The first step in choosing a partner would be to identify your own weaknesses. Cheni suggests drawing out a “T Chart” that lists what strong points you have, and which you lack.
In one column, list out the crucial elements that you will need to succeed in business. Examples include:
In the right column, indicate whether you have the skill or not. If you find yourself lacking more than one of the above, find a partner who is able to compensate. However, partners can’t be selected on these criteria alone. If this is done, the partnership will likely turn sour and end in “divorce.” An ideal partnership will include the aforementioned traits, and your partner will have the same clear vision for the future of the company that you do.
Speaking of plans, Cheni strongly encourages businesses to set goals quarterly, or in three month chunks. This is why he feels so strongly against entrepreneurs seeking office environments that require one year minimum lease terms. A company’s needs can and should be changing over three month periods, not one year. When setting these goals you should look at WHO the target audience is, WHAT problems do they face, HOW can you help solve it and WHAT is missing from the equation that needs to be addressed.
When working with goals, the two most vital resources are time and money. The biggest goal should be to understand the VALUE of time. If dedicating time to an issue that you’re not familiar with how to address takes too long, it may be a much better investment to dedicate financial resources to this issue. This way, you can reach your goals on time which should be the most important aspect of the company. Decide who in your environment can handle a task that you don’t know much about and delegate accordingly.
Tomorrow, we will post more of the content from the presentation. Stay tuned!
This morning I had the immense pleasure of speaking on a panel of Entrepreneurs under 30 to a business management class.
Here’s some of the questions that the panel was asked. I’ll do my best to summarize the responses by the panel under each.
What is a normal workday like for you, as an entrepreneur? Do you work primarily independently or do you have many employees? How does this compare to other working experience you may have had?
The answer to this question was best answered and summarized by Russ Marshalek’s response. With a look of confusion he questioned “what’s normal?” He proceeded to explain how every day in the life of an entrepreneur is an entirely unique experience. Other panelists reflected on similar beliefs that every day is guaranteed to be different than the one before it. Of course, this could be for better or worse.
How have you dealt with risk in your business and what are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business? How important has the business plan been in dealing with risk and growing your business?
Most members of the panel had started their businesses at very young ages alongside school. The reasoning behind this being if the venture doesn’t work out, school will still be there. This notion of minimizing risk and ensuring a back up plan is in place stayed with these entrepreneurs to date and they still apply this methodology in their businesses.
What do you think are the greatest opportunities today for students starting out to become entrepreneurs? In the fast paced world that we live in today, how important has technology and the internet been in assisting your business?
All of the panelists businesses had some focus on utilizing technology and the internet to accomplish a goal. The panelists emphasized how the technology is so rapidly advancing that applying it in new and creative ways can help build businesses. At the same time they noted that the internet can tremendously help networking efforts which are so crucial to helping businesses grow.
What 3 pieces of advice do you think are most important for entrepreneurs starting out today?
Surround yourself with an extremely wide array of people from all walks of life and different educational backgrounds to get all different perspectives on a situation. You never know when one of these resources may come in handy. Of course, surrounding yourself with other individuals from different business backgrounds can be a vital resource to any small business and would be suggested. (This is why so many companies who find shared office space in NY can succeed.)
If entrepreneurship isn’t working out at first, but you’re determined to make it work, just be patient. There’s no shortage of hardships you will endure as an entrepreneur, especially one that’s just starting out. Truthfully, if you can’t manage sticking out difficulties like start-up growing pains, being an entrepreneur probably won’t work out overall since the hardships don’t disappear any time after the initial start-up ones.
The panel was an absolute blast and the students were tremendously grateful.