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Thinking Like an Entrepreneur at a Community College

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Thursday, November 14, 2013

So much fun to live blog. Hopefully, I am capturing the essence from today if you could not get to Arizona. Apologies for the typos!!

Also trep= entrepreneur

Moderator: Otis White


  • Jasper Welch
  • Tim Putnam
  • Alan Stephens
  • Bennett Curry

Otis: Reminds us of the keys to successful entrepreneurship

Bird in hand - Start with what ya got! 

Affordable Loss principle - focus on the downside risk

Crazy Quilt principle - form partnerships

Lemonade principle - leverage contingencies

Pilot in a plane - control versus prediction


Bird in the Hand

Jasper: Entrepreneurs are by nature optimistic. Ask them "How will you pivot? What is your backup plan?"

Tim - Talk to customers! Does everyone really want that? Then ask you customers how much you will pay. 

Alan - Education, incubation, mentoring and access to capital are keys to trep success. Many treps do not know that these services are already in their community.

Bennett - Ability to communicate your idea is critical. So is ability to identify opportunities. 


Affordable Loss - How do you focus on downside risk?

Tim - Work ON the business, not always IN the business. Make sure you have industry experience.

Alan - Make sure you know all your true costs. How much does it cost to produce service/good? If you do not know costs, you cannot know affordable loss.

Bennett - You need to have skin in the game. What are you willing to give up?

Jasper - Part of our role is to help treps understand what "all in" is. 

Otis - You need to be financial literate to measure what your affordable loss is. Needs to be built into your education.


Crazy Quilt - Form Partnerships

Alan - Entrepreneurship can feel isolated but there are so many service providers locally who provide their services for free. They can be your partner.

Bennett - Entrepreneurs can feel like they are alone but they are not. There are not many NEW biz problems. I see businesses networking and talking about common problems so they do not feel like they are alone. Also talk to your potential customers.

Jasper - Get advisers. As budding entrepreneur in kingdom of one, your perspective may be limited. Your prices may to low. Bankers, SBDC Director are also partners. 

Tim - "Just ask." Anyone who will benefit from your business is a potential partner - banker, construction firm, vendors. They want to see you succeed.  

For some college internal and external partnerships, you might have to work on a partnership mindset.

Leverage Contingencies - Make lemonade out of lemons

Bennett - Create opportunities to simulate risk management situations. 

Jasper - Leverage your clients. "We cannot afford staff costs. How can you share the work?"

Alan - In some natural resource driven industries, businesses are forced by external events to develop new partnerships and new business model. Crisis can be the Mother of Invention!

Pilot in the Plane - What do treps need to review/measure to be in control?

Jasper: Incubators need to look at whether trep is coachable. Owner needs to understand what she can and cannot do well. Coders are not good biz dev staff. :) Also, get a handle on your money. 

Tim - Think of plane. Only takes one or two to fly a plane however, many people make sure the plane gets on and off the ground safely. Also, try to get someone to invest. If you cannot, is it because something is wrong with business model?

Alan - If you are an aging business, focus on both your external landscape (competitors, external forces) and what great qualities helped you launch your business, 

Bennett - Get a dashboard - cash flow, customer management of existing customers, business development/new customers.

OTIS ask the audience: Are these entrepreneurial principles the skills we are teaching?

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