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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Summer/Fall 2009

Young Entrepreneur Profiles

Friday, September 18, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Michael Simmons

Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour

Daniel Wilson, 22 years old, is a serial entrepreneur with projected income of $400,000 in 2009. Beginning his entrepreneurial journey at age 13 when he started a landscaping company, he has started three other companies; "CarFinder” (auto brokerage and consulting firm), Superior Industries LLC (business management and consulting firm), and Sustainable Energy Innovations (energy solution provider to governments and populations worldwide).

Dan graduated Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, WY, in May 2008.

Q & A with Daniel Wilson

Q: What programs at your school were the most helpful in starting and growing your business? Why?

A: I think the Entrepreneurship classes made the biggest difference in growing my businesses. The classes I took were Analyzing Business Opportunities, Business Plan Writing, & Legal Issues for Entrepreneurs.

I learned many things about how to correctly operate and plan for business growth, which has played a big role in the businesses that I own today. For me the biggest hurdle to cross was actually sitting down and facing my fear of doing sales. When a customer came to me I would have no problem taking care of them. However, when I had to actually make a call and follow up with any customer I would always put it off. Being in class and having assignments that required me to go outside of my comfort zone helped me grow tremendously. As a student I really didn’t like being pushed out of my comfort zone. In business if you are in your comfort zone, then you’re not growing and moving forward.

Q: What do you think are the most important things community colleges can do to help encourage and support young entrepreneurs? Why?

A: I think one of the biggest things that community colleges can do is to put real world information into the hands of their students. Books are an excellent tool, but I believe they are relied on too heavily. Also, I believe a more creative and less structured system allows potential entrepreneurs to see if they really have the discipline and drive to run their own business.

Q: What were the critical success factors that helped you succeed?

A: The thing that was critical to my success was the ability to continually fail many times and yet be able to get up and start again! Without being able to accept failure I would not be where I am today. The other thing is that the people around me are positive and optimistic.

Q: How did you learn that failure was okay? How can professors teach their students to be the same way?

A: I learned that failure was acceptable when I started my first business at age 12. The business ended up not being the success I thought it would be. However, I learned that failure is not only acceptable, it is exciting! Professors can help their students accept failure too by:

• Showing role models who failed and got back up. Thomas Edison did not get 
discouraged when he failed time after time when creating the light bulb. He knew that it was simply one more way that wouldn't work.

• Rewarding failure. In a classroom setting, students who go out of their comfort zone and attempt but fail should be rewarded if they can analyze  why they failed and what they could have done to succeed. This emphasizes the analysis of the process and learning from failure.

• Reframing failure. I look at failure as a learning experience. You will always learn more from a failure than success. Without failure most of the successful people in this world would not be who they are today. When you fail at something, it gives you an opportunity and challenge to succeed. Embrace failure, it is your key to success!

Michael Simmons Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour brings the country’s top young entrepreneurs to college campuses to spread the entrepreneurial mindset during a half-day conference. Started in 2006, the tour has visited over 60 schools nation-wide and has received the Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations and the Program of the Year award from Northern Michigan University.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of profiles of young entrepreneurs prepared for Community College Entrepreneurship by best-selling author Michael Simmons, co-founder and CEO of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (EET),, and a past keynote speaker at NACCE.

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