What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
What personailty traits, what kind of commitment and what support systems does an entrepreneur or small business owner have?
What role does the web play in business today?
Is it necessary to have a business plan?
Those were some of the questions that were answered by 2 entrepreneurs during a panel discussion presented by the Women’s Enterprise Centre to the 1st year business students at the UBCO. The questions related to topics on self-employment in the students’ curriculum.
I was thrilled to be part of the panel of experts during this Q + A session, along with Marilyn Strong (CEO – the Strong Communication Group), facilitated by Krista Mallory.
We all shared our entrepreneurial journeys, and gave the students some insights into whether or not they have what it takes to go into business for themselves. It was a pleasure to share our knowledge and advice to the young business students because I think self-employment is an option that is not well-covered in schools. It gives students a real-life perspective, and maybe opens up options for them that they never even considered before. It was really satisfying that students asked questions and engaged with us, some even staying behind to ask more questions from us individually.
At the end of the discussion, students took part in a short poll using their clickers to anonimously answer a few questions on what they had learned, and whether they would like to become entrepreneurs themselves. To our surprise, not one person of the 75 who clicked in voted “Not in a Million Years”.
One topic discussed at length was whether you need a business plan to be successful. When it comes to small businesses I think many people get started because they have a passion for something, but don’t weigh all the aspects of running a business, so they never come up with a business plan. The typical 30+ page plan can be intimidating. It is necessary when securing a bank loan, but for home-based business owners they might not see the value in spending time to create a life-plan for their business.
I will admit that my first business didn’t have a “real” business plan, yet was successful. I still had some goals I wanted to achieve and a systematic approach to getting clients and organizing my business.
You’ve probably heard the expression:
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
My point is that a short, simple plan that you focus on and evaluate regularly is better than having an extensive business plan that you never look at again. One of my favourite business plan templates created by ultra-successful serial entrepreneur Chris Guillbeau (author of the $100 Startup and creator of the mega-popular and inspiring World Domination Summit in Portland, OR) asks some questions about your mission or your “why”, what clients you serve, what products or services you offer, and some goals your business has for the year. That’s it. Plain and simple. But effective.
You can download the 1-page business plan template here:
Natalie Sissons (the Suitcase Entrepreneur) offers a different variation on the one-page business plan in her blog article “Creating Your One-Page Business Plan and Path to Profit”
Startup Okanagan – the Social Network meets Dragons’ Den
One event I would truly recommend attending – whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or planning to work for someone else, especially if you are in the tech industry, is Startup Weekend Okanagan, which takes place in March 2013. I photographed the 1st annual event last year and it was a blast. It’s like a cross between the Social Network and Dragons’ Den. 70 participants took place and came up with some amazing finished business projects in 54 hours. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself and become involved (there are both technical and non-tech roles), as well as do some networking and meet some of the mentors who help tech startups in Kelowna.
For details on the 2013 event visit: Accelerate Okanagan – Startup Okanagan 2013
This year a Global Music Night has been added to the event lineup.
View the highlights video from Startup Weekend in Kelowna in 2012 below or you can view it on YouTube here:
Recommended resources for entrepreneurs:
Accelerate Okanagan (tech industry incubator, mentoring and events)
Books and video:
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It – Michael E. Gerber
$100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau
What Colour Is Your Parachute – Richard N. Bolles
The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferriss
TedTalks (3-15 minute inspiring videos) http://www.ted.com/talks