Archive for January, 2015

Getting Started with your Business

Posted: January 25, 2015 by Jessica Reading in Leadership, Startup

jessica reading miamiIt’s that time of year when New Year’s Resolutions are still on a high, and every bit of willpower is being used to do that extra ‘thing’ we’ve always wanted to do. If starting a business is one of them, willpower simply doesn’t make it happen.

This year, you don’t need to be a would-be entrepreneur.

Really, a lot of it is about removing a few assumptions, and just taking a few steps that will jump-start what it takes to call yourself an entrepreneur.

  • Get rid of the assumptions about your own skills.

Working with over 1,000 students in our entrepreneurship program, we see every bit of assumption why someone is not ‘ready’ to build a business: I don’t want to leave everything else behind to do just this. My idea isn’t perfect yet. I don’t have the skills to make it happen. It’s a lonely process. I’m not ready to be my own boss – the list goes on. Starting a business is not an outcome, it’s a process. You learn and grow the things you need for your business as you move through the process. Don’t worry about what you don’t have yet. Focus on what you do have.

  • Disregard the apparent legal and administrative complexities.

GOOGLE is your best friend. Seriously, there’s no need to worry about your background in education, or history, or engineering holding you back from being business savvy. There are millions of resources online, or in Cincinnati. It’s an ecosystem of support: from the incubator and accelerators to the investment groups in town.

  • Talk to people.

You probably told your closest friends, family and dog about your idea. That doesn’t count. Go out and actually ask your potential customers that your product would help them with a problem they face. Ask if they would actually buy your product. If they say no, then well, it’s best you didn’t spend the year focused on building that product.

  • Start with the problem, not the solution.

When you talk to people, focus on the problem. Too often, would-be entrepreneurs say, “But my solution is going to solve all of your problems with this.” The problem needs to be big enough that you can actually make a business out of it.

The most common characteristic of a successful student team in our entrepreneurship program is that they are willing to take all the preceding steps with a listening ear. What does listening look like? Being willing to accept criticism, take feedback, ask questions, adapt, and change. The change is part of improving your product and solution, and becoming a real business.

Starting a business this year doesn’t have to be as far-fetched as it may seem. With the abundant resources available and growing credibility of the region, the timing couldn’t be better to get going.

Dr. Chuck Matthews“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

In the last few days, have you asked yourself, “Where did 2014 go?” Time is the most precious resource that any entrepreneur possesses. Although, time can seem to possess us instead of the other way around.

While the New Year prompts reflection about time, it also raises the specter of how we create value for our customers over time. The ongoing challenge for entrepreneurs is not only creating value at the outset of the business, but continuing to add value for customers today and into the future. The transition from one year to the next also brings into focus the nearness of the future. Tomorrow begins today.


Ordinary or Extraordinary – No Decision

Posted: January 11, 2015 by Tom Heuer in Culture, People

Tom Heuer, Miami University Center for EntrepreneurshipOrdinary – a word everyone disdains, but a condition most people accept. Crazy – maybe. Recently, I had invited a student to my office for a coaching session. After a few pleasantries, I informed the student that he was having a “very ordinary” semester. This statement didn’t faze him in the least. Concerned, I followed with “why doesn’t this assessment upset you.” He retorted “how much harder would I have to work for extraordinary and will it be worth it.” My only response was – “you don’t want ordinary ever to be associated with you.”   After a long pause and no response, I scratched my head and ended the coaching session. Ordinary or Extraordinary – why would anyone choose to be ordinary?

Ordinary is fraught with complacency. Complacency is dull and easy. Extraordinary requires effort and passion. Personal effort and finding your passion is always hard work. Complacency seeks the status quo; it desires to be comfortable. There are no challenges waiting for ordinary. In fact, no challenges are being sought by ordinary. They want to burrow in and wake up every day to a routine of mundane tasks. And ordinary is painstakingly pleased with their tenured skills and expertise. Leaving themselves and others behind is an ever-present reality for this large group of people. And there are so many ordinaries walking aimlessly around the business world today.


You Know It Don’t Come Easy

Posted: January 4, 2015 by Bill Cunningham in Culture, People, Startup

bill-cunningham Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues

And you know it don’t come easy”

ringoRingo Starr penned these words for his first solo hit back in 1971 which made the #4 spot on Billboard pop charts. The song highlights many parallels between the music business and startups. Founders all must pay their dues, forgoing the easy road or the obvious choice so they may “swing for the fences” with their startup.

Young founders have a difficult time understanding this because prospective investors want to know how the startup is going to become a home run. The main reason investors invest their money in startups is to get that home run. The opportunity to have a huge ROI on your investment (to cover all the lesser returns) is part of the emotional makeup of early stage investors.