After the Economic Development of West Nevada (EDAWN) began promoting entrepreneurial growth for Northern Nevada, the Entrepreneurs Assembly (EA) began expanding their mission. Founder Matt Westfield based the organization on the philosophy “We believe that entrepreneurial small businesses are the future of Nevada’s economy”. Since 2010, EA has grown their organization into five regional chapters each having their own personality. Why so many? EA brings their knowledge and expertise to communities where there is an appetite to foster entrepreneurial growth. With the home chapter located in Reno, entrepreneurs can participate in neighboring communities such as South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Carson City.
More recently, EA has extended their reach to include their first chapter in Southern Nevada, in Henderson. The first meeting attracted 20 entrepreneurs and much support from local community leaders. This success speaks to the entire State of Nevada and its drive to continue rebuilding the economy post financial crisis.
EASI Meeting in Reno Innevation Center
Entrepreneurs Assembly is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to educating and facilitating business creation and growth in Northern Nevada. Many organizations provide information “about” business but few provide the focused support and process of Entrepreneurship. When entrepreneurs come to the Entrepreneurs Assembly they get real time coaching and mentoring in the Entrepreneurs Assembly Startup Incubator (EASI) working sessions.
So why does it work? Entrepreneurs Assembly welcomes all entrepreneurs and encourages them from ideation through revenue. In each chapter, there is a diverse group of participants feeding the roundtable discussions and peer to peer and founder to founder mentoring. Some participants are beginning their venture while others have already established small businesses and are looking to generate growth. The EASI working sessions add value by fostering collaboration in a confidential setting. Mentors and participants share strategies to help define business models, grow revenue streams, identify customer segments and business value propositions. Every entrepreneur walks away with actionable, attainable “marching orders” to advance their business.
To learn more about the Entrepreneurs Assembly click here.
Most entrepreneurs are so immersed in starting a successful business that they forget to take time in caring for themselves. With unrelenting deadlines, over scheduled calendars and a 24/7 work ethic, good health can only last so long. Constant connectivity to mobile devices and work demands are a sure-fire way for new startup owners to go down in flames. Chronic stress is known to impact the overall performance of employees and business owners.
Managing chronic stress is just as important as managing a business. Poor time management skills can create additional burdens and stress. When responsibilities of work are a constant priority it can be easy for entrepreneurs to avoid or cut back on healthier ways of living. High stress levels lead to low productivity levels, concentration and focus. Stress also attacks the immune system and can make entrepreneurs more susceptible to headaches, colds and worse.
People who take care of their basic needs are far happier and more productive in their lives than those who don’t. Starting with the basics like eating three meals a day, (preferably away from a desk) helps keeps the body healthy while getting 8 hours of sleep at night enhances concentration and keeps emotions in check. Although many entrepreneurs are already over-booked it’s essential for them to schedule regular time for exercise. Regular exercise helps with sleep and in releasing endorphins in the body to promote a feeling of well-being. Overall the benefits of managing stress and health should to be as much as a priority for entrepreneurs as it is to create a successful business.
To read more about work life balance click here.
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The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leaders Center have invited local Entrepreneurs Assembly Founder Matt Westfield and Board Member David Croasdell to visit the Regional West Africa Centers to help train and promote entrepreneurship to young leaders. The goal for the Entrepreneurs Assembly is to be of service by providing expertise in entrepreneurial education through lectures, workshops and panel discussions. The educational workshops will focus on the steps for needed for launching startups, how to host entrepreneurial roundtable discussions and other startup best practices. With a strong foundation Young African Leaders will have more tools to take back to their local communities to provide a supportive environment for entrepreneurship.
The journey to West Africa will take place this May thanks to a grant from the Mandela Washington Fellowship. Matt and David are honored to help Africa continue to build their economy. For both it’s a love and a passion to spread entrepreneurship. They will visit Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Ghana sharing their knowledge and helping these countries address foundational issues and bringing resources to cities. In Africa, there is a strong interest in social entrepreneurship, a need to empower women business owners and to create wealth.
The Entrepreneurs Assembly (EA) has been cultivating chapters in Africa since 2015. Sponsored by the Mandela Washington Fellowship program, young leaders have an opportunity to attend a six-week Business and Entrepreneurship program at UNR. Part of the Entrepreneurship program includes an opportunity for the Fellows to participate in EA’s EASI workshops. In the past, the genuine interest from the Fellows translated into a continual effort to work the EA program and start their own chapters when arriving home. There are currently five countries that have formed affiliate EA Chapters: Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
For more information about existing EA Africa Chapters, click here.
Photo Credit: YALI
Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Being entirely responsible for driving success while learning to be an expert in all business disciplines can be rough. For many entrepreneurs, the old expression “You don’t know what you don’t know” comes into play. For most business owners that have been mentored they say the experience has been invaluable.
A mentor is a person who agrees to coach entrepreneurs through the startup process by leveraging their own knowledge and experience. There is a lot of value in having a sounding board to talk through a plan before it’s executed. With an objective voice of reason, fatal mistakes can be averted. If entrepreneurs are open and actively listen, they can learn from their mentor’s experience instead.
Many entrepreneurs feel pressured into making timely decisions and instead make emotional decisions rather than rational ones. In business, not only should founders have the ability to be leaders, but also to understand their Emotional Intelligence. More experienced business owners or mentors can reassure an entrepreneur by helping to guide them to better solutions. They can also help new entrepreneurs understand and manage their emotions separately from their business. Entrepreneurs and small business owners often have difficulty dealing with failures or disappointments and mentors can help them to rebound more quickly with support.
To read more about the benefits of having a mentor, click here.
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No Entrepreneur ever wants to admit they feel fear and despair. They avoid showing any vulnerability. Even successful veteran entrepreneurs have started admitting they felt more than a unstoppable feeling of success and drive. On the outside, they project a brave charismatic persona but at the end of the day they are hiding their struggles. Often dutiful and dedicated to their start up, they often work long hours and are constantly “on” 7 days a week. Worse yet, entrepreneurs are more likely to neglect their health and relationships due to the demands and vigor of being a founder. According to research, entrepreneurs are three times more likely to experience depression than regular salaried employees.
Some people who are more on the energetic and creative side are likely to be entrepreneurs and have strong emotional states. That means they feel motivated and energized but when things get overwhelming they too feel strong feelings of anxiety and despair. Sometimes these powerful emotions of creativity and passion can consume founders. The high probability of risk and failures can be unshakeable even for these highly-motivated individuals. The external brave face makes it even harder for founders to reach out for help.
Many veteran entrepreneurs have learned to manage their emotional state the hard way. There are tips that do help founders stay grounded. It may sound like a cliché but making time for family and friends helps keep them connected to a life outside of work and is balancing to be around supportive people who don’t judge an entrepreneur solely on how successful their start up is. Maintaining close personal relationships keeps founders more balanced and that support will help others see when a founder needs more help and support to manage. Another tip for founders to know is what their financial breaking point is. By being mindful of how much they are willing to invest or how much debt to take on helps them manage their financial state from spiraling out of control. Another benefit for founders is to remember their personal identity goes beyond the business and whether or not it succeeds.
To hear more stories of this emotionally taboo subject read this article.
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Finding a mentor could be a great asset to any entrepreneur and should be a fruitful relationship for both parties. First, there are a few questions an entrepreneur should ask themselves. They need to do an honest personal assessment and find out what are their weaknesses and areas that need to be improved. Next what goals do they want to achieve and what skills to learn. If they can identify those goals and areas of improvement it will help them find a mentor that is the best fit for the relationship.
After having goals and skills to hone, an entrepreneur can begin finding the best mentor to partner with. Some entrepreneurs will find existing entrepreneurs or business owner they admire that could be a great mentor. Once a mentor has been identified it is a good idea to ask them a few questions first. One, would they be willing to be a mentor, and second do they have the time and energy to be a mentor. If an entrepreneur gets a positive confirmation from a mentor then its time start building the relationship.
Once the relationship has been established it’s important for the entrepreneur to build the relationship with their mentor. The entrepreneur needs to be proactive about scheduling meetings and planning an agenda as it’s important to respect the mentors time by being prepared. A good rule of thumb is to understand the mentor is a trusted advisor, not a business partner. Actively listening, and utilizing the mentor’s information shows the mentor the relationship is beneficial to both. It’s also important to share business milestones, accomplishments and successes with the mentor. By be gracious and sharing success will help strengthen the relationship and make it a longer lasting one.
To learn more ways to maximize the benefits of a mentor click here.
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In the recent past, it appears large companies almost discouraged customers from reaching out for help with a product or service problem. The 800 numbers, automated choices, long wait times or even outsourcing customer service to a completely different country. These approaches often created frustration from customers and often were roadblocks to getting issues fixed properly. And it appears companies didn’t care. Trend are changing, customers now increasingly have a stronger voice, before word of mouth was either a benefit to a company or its demise. Now however in the social age, customers not only tell their friends but they can now amplify their good or bad experiences over multiple social platforms to an exponential number of people in their networks. Worse yet these experiences can be shared over and over or go viral.
Most business owner know that it’s cheaper to retain an existing company than to invent in creating new ones. Customers who are loyal are more willing to spend more not only for a good product but also service. Company products or services bring in customers, but bad service drives them away. This RightNow Customer Experience Report states that up to 86% of customers will stop doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience. Due to the discouraging customer service systems in place, most customers will only reach out to a company for help once, due to the inconvenience and time spent trying to resolve a problem. Most customers resist calling customer service because they feel customer representatives are not usually empathetic to situations or are incompetent in resolving the issue.
Some companies are taking their customers more seriously. They have realized the value in creating a good customer experience and understand the gravity of online transparency if they don’t. These pioneering companies are making a customer centric approach baked into their company culture and some include it in their mission statements. But beyond these concepts some have gone as far as to mandate all divisions and teams spend time in the customer service department answering calls, emails and chats. This exposes other teams into the insights of what customers are having issues with, problems with products or services from an end user’s perspective. This is valuable feedback that can be captured and used to update existing products and services to be more valuable or easier for customers to use. Perhaps these conversations will even help companies find out what really matters to their customers. This feedback is priceless.
To read further about converting to a customer centric culture click here.
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