Five Reflections on an Entrepreneurial Conference
Today, the BVA Team loaded up the van and made a road trip to the lovely burg of Fremont, Nebraska, to attend the Fremont Creative Collective's May Day Entrepreneur Event. The event was held in the May Brothers Building, which is being renovated to become an entrepreneurial hub for Fremont and the surrounding areas. Friends, there are some very cool arts and entrepreneurial stuff happening in Fremont. Here is a 2015 Silicon Prairie News Article on the Creative Collective, in case you are interested in learning more about the space, the founders, or the vision.
BVA helps startups and small businesses, but BVA is also a startup and small business, and as such we welcome any and all advice on how to grow and maintain our business. Additionally, by being a part of these communities, we hope to be a resource, which hopefully translates into growth for our business. Cycles, man. In any case, I would like to share with you my five takeaways from the entrepreneur conference today.
1. The Ladies Are Killing It.
In our own limited anecdotal experience, the startup community, and the tech community in general, is dominated by men.
Courtesy of International Business Times.
The entrepreneur community (which may be different than the startup community--see below) is also failing at diversity, although there are signs of its improvement. One article on Fortune.com states that as of 2015, "Women now own 30% of all businesses in the U.S., accounting for some 9.4 million firms."
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the afternoon session was three quarters ladies. Jill Liliedahl (SitStay), Jennifer Rosenblatt (Argyle Octopus Press & MusicSpoke), and April Kelly (Paypal and LinkedIn), were all three engaging speakers, and each had great insight into the entrepreneurial process. I would have come just to hear Ms. Liliedahl tell me that her pet supply company made a choice to stop selling pet food, because the cost of shipping made the product unprofitable. What a brave choice.
2. The Gallup Strengths Finder.
The Creative Collective uses the Gallup Strengths Finder as a tool for entrepreneurial innovation. The concept is interesting--the Creative Collective wants to be the "Match.com" of entrepreneurs, using the Clifton Strengths Finder, and Entrepreneur Profile 10 ("EP10") to match people according to their strengths. Glen Ellis, the visionary behind the Creative Collective, plans to give budding entrepreneurs office space, and on their door will be a mugshot, and the top five Strengths. This will be at least a conversation starter, and at best a way to find your perfect business partner.
In case you were wondering, my top five strengths are: Ideation, Strategic, Connectedness, Individualization, and Command.
Inspired by Kurt Siebert, a Gallup speaker at the event, I took the EP10 test, which ranks the top 10 talents successful entrepreneurs share. Your top 4 talents are like your top 5 Strengths, providing you with a way to develop your own strengths.
My top 4 talents are Disruptor, Knowledge, Relationship, Confidence. This places me in an Entrepreneurial category called Relational:
--It is easy for you to create mutually beneficial relationships. You accurately recognize and harness others’ abilities. You excel at creating collaborative environments that inspire creativity. This enables you to create solutions that disrupt markets.--
I will take it.
You can take the assessments here.
More than once, I heard the speakers telling me that entrepreneurs need to be willing to fail. That we need to be OK with failure. That we as a society should celebrate failure.
I have heard it before, but it never gets easier to hear. Our businesses really are like our children. Sometimes, it feels like BVA cannot afford to fail. I must reflect more on this in the future.
4. The Product Market Fit.
This is a concept that I understood intuitively, but had never heard described in such a succinct manner. Of course it is not enough to have a great idea. You need people willing to buy your great idea. Do the people you can reach want to buy the product you are selling?
And of course the great Seth Godin says, “Don't find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”
This is another area that merits further reflection. Sometimes, it is hard to translate the practice of law to traditional business startup process. If anyone has ever started a law firm using a business approach, I would love to speak with you. Find us at www.facebook.com/lawbva.
5. Where Are The Non-tech Startups?
Finally, a question. I have met many startups in this community, but the vast majority of them are tech startups. Where are the non-tech startups? Further, where is the support structure for non-tech startups, or nonprofit institutions?
If you want to start a restaurant, I want to talk to you. If you want to sell your crafts, I want to talk to you. If you want to be a plumber or a doctor or you want to manufacture blankets from yak hair, I want to talk to you.