By Ashley Michael
Marty Maynard is CEO of one of the fastest growing community banks in Tennessee. Still in his forties, he has led his team (team, not employees- he was very specific about this) of 50 bankers to more than double their assets, be the first local bank in the area to offer advanced technological features (like mobile deposit – they were the first to offer it in this area), and lead the way in excellent customer care. How has he accomplished this in his short, nine-year stint thus far as the head of American Bank & Trust?
Entrepreneur-style, that’s how.
When he came to American Bank & Trust in 2009, during the middle of the nation’s giant recession, Marty viewed the bank as his own small business. “My approach was basically to look at this as renovating my own small business, and we need to make it grow, make it profitable, find good people. It’s the same fundamentals – we’re just a bank.” Entrepreneurs generally value determination, grit, hard work, collaboration… things Marty naturally absorbed throughout life and applies to the bank. “I may not be very smart,” he laughs, “but I know how to outwork people.” Marty applied the hard work ethic he garnered from farm living as a kid. He plugged in the drive instilled from years of playing basketball – the drive that comes with being on a team and wanting to make it great. He mixed in a love of his home and pride-of-place. And he is thankful for happening to be in the right places, meeting the right people at the right times.
Marty Maynard (right) with Livingston Academy co-captain Ryan Smith (center), circa 1991. Ironically, these two work on the same team still today, at American Bank & Trust.
Marty was on the junior board of directors at First National Bank when he was still in high school, so he’s been in the banking world for a good long while. In fact, he worked part-time as a teller initially, and as far as we can tell, he was the first male bank teller in Livingston. “Everyone seemed to always be shocked to drive up and see me,” Marty recalls, still able to picture the looks of surprise he would get when cars pulled up to the window.
Throughout the college years, Marty left the teller window and was able to work in every department at First National, giving him the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of every aspect of the bank. CEO of First National, Ron Hyder, was an important mentor for Marty early on as well. Marty is now of course a CEO, himself – of American Bank & Trust. He also serves as the Chamber Board Chair, and is heavily involved with the Highlands Economic Partnership (HEP).
And speaking of the Chamber and the HEP, here’s a fun fact about Marty: He is a bit of a fanatic when it comes to the word, “team.” It seems to be his entrepreneur superpower, and it explains why he enjoys being a part of the Chamber and the HEP.
How does that explain anything, you wonder?
Marty sees the bank as a team; they seek to grow as a team, hold planning meetings as a team, and often make important decisions as a team. Those who work at the bank are not employees, remember? They are team members.
Marty (far right) with some of his American Bank & Trust team members
And his “team-mania” goes beyond the bank’s walls; he sees this whole Upper Cumberland region as a team. “That’s actually what I think is one of the coolest things about this area,” he explains. “We seem to understand here that if we work together and everyone gives a little bit more, then this whole area is going to benefit from it. County lines don’t matter. The secret sauce is everybody working together. And I just don’t see that in other areas.”
And we agree, Marty.
(By the way, how great is that early nineties throwback picture of Marty playing basketball? Think you have a better throwback team photo? Prove it! Let’s see it in the comments.)
By Taylor Galbreath
A little over a week ago I had the great pleasure of getting to attend and help out with the grand finale event for this semester’s session of My Big Idea! This event, for those who don’t know, is a high school program where The Biz Foundry helps students turn their ambitious ideas into working business models. The finale events are marathon sessions where they all get to build a presentation to pitch to judges who then award cash prizes to the best executed and convincing ideas. The event this year was hosted at Tennessee Tech and there were 7 teams from across the Upper Cumberland area competing. Everyone did a great job, from teams who showed up with a fully thought out project to teams who came in with just the starts of a bold idea, but the important thing was that they showed up!
“There is no such thing as a free lunch” is a saying that was driven home to me in my economics class that was held in the very auditorium where these students were participating in My Big Idea!, and while they did get to enjoy pizza and snacks provided by The Biz Foundry, they certainly put in a lot of effort to utilize this opportunity for everything it was worth. The simple act of showing up reaped for them more than just a free lunch, but a slew of great experience. Along with improving upon their ability to build and deliver an effective presentation, they learned how to keep a captive audience as well as other things.
One of my favorite experiences I had while I was there was meeting the team that eventually went on to win the whole competition. One half of the team had been working for weeks to develop this idea and get it ready for the finale when his teammates all dropped out of the program. Rather than giving up and not coming to the finale, he reached out to a friend who was happy to help. His new teammate had not gotten to participate in the rest of the session, but because they both showed up to the finale and gave it 110% they both went home with a nice cash prize.
When I first met the group that eventually came in second place, all they had was the beginnings of an idea. With just that idea and a couple of off the cuff examples they already had me wanting to buy their product! Showing up with their idea and putting in the effort all day in order to build it into a wonderful pitch gave them the opportunity to come in second and win money.
And finally, I am glad that I showed up. When I was first presented the offer to come help out with the event, 7:30 in the morning sounded a little too early for my senior-in-college, approaching-finals-week sleep schedule, but I still committed to showing up. What sleep I missed out on was well worth it because this event was fantastic! Getting to watch these dedicated high schoolers give up their Saturday morning and afternoon to work hard on projects that they were passionate about was a great experience that was truly inspiring.
Showing up can sometimes feel like more effort than it is worth, but if I learned one thing from coming to the Grand Finale event for this Spring’s My Big Idea!, it is that the benefits of being present should never be ignored.
By Ashley Michael
Nothing sounds more painful to me than standing around in a semi-crowded room, hoping to make eye contact so I can hand out my precious business cards, while simultaneously praying that nobody sees me because those conversations can be SO AWKWARD.
This is why I write for a living. I don’t want to talk to strangers.
Do you know why I don’t want to talk to strangers?
It’s called lack of confidence. Not complicated.
And how does one boost stranger-talking, or “networking” confidence?
For me, I must swallow a dose of my own parenting advice.
My daughter, who is almost seven, started a new, more advanced dance class this year with her dance studio. Her excitement quickly changed to panic when she realized she was younger and less polished than the other girls. “It’s your first semester in this class,” I bolstered. “Don’t worry! By the end of the year, you’ll have learned so much, and will be dancing even more beautifully than you already do.” It was quite easy for me to see that time spent practicing would cure her problem and pacify her fears.
Networking is like ballet:
Polish and confidence come with practice.
Just do it.
Just get out there and talk to people.
Converse with their faces.
At least if you go to a “networking event,” you can learn how to start a conversation, or practice asking engaging questions. Authentically connect with people. You cannot rely on Facebook feeds, inbox blasts, or even blogs like this if you simply sit alone, hidden from sight, cowering at the light of day. And you definitely aren’t building any significant level of trust with your future customers, business partners, allies, and community members at large. The ability to genuinely connect with another is quickly escaping from our society, but people can still smell the stench of disingenuousness when it is a mile away, covered with peanut butter, and dipped in chocolate with peppermint sprinkles. (Would that be gross? Peanut butter and peppermint?) At least find time for a smile and wave, or a friendly handshake. Just don’t wink – that’s inappropriate.
Put on a new pair of shoes and get yourself out there. You have a lot to offer to the world, and people will be glad to make your acquaintance.
The Biz Foundry is always looking for ways we can help entrepreneurs, business owners, creative artisans, or whoever you may be. We regularly host networking events at local breweries and coffee houses. These would be great places to perfect your networking skills.
Will “networking” actually do anything for me, though?
Yes, it will. Don’t be lazy and try to convince yourself otherwise. I will give you three reasons to network:
1. Networking allows you to hone for yourself a concise little nugget of personal skills, experiences and values. An amuse-bouche. A taste of all the lovely spices and ingredients you have wrapped up in one perfect little bite. Or, if food analogies aren’t your thing, think of it as a 30-second elevator pitch. The elevator pitch is actually a tool you will find extremely useful, and once again, only improves with practice. (For a literal example of an elevator pitch, watch this show on entrepreneur.com. Personally, I find it addicting. https://www.entrepreneur.com/watch/elevatorpitch)
2. Networking brings you the support of your local community. Regardless of your industry or skill set, there is nothing like personal interaction to build relationships and garner local support. The Upper Cumberland is full of lovely small towns and rural communities, which roughly translates to, “tightly knit groups of people.” Many of us grew up here, and most of us actually know our neighbors. If you can earn the trust of your local community, your business’s reputation will take care of itself.
3. Networking builds your confidence as a professional, and might even open doors you hadn’t considered for yourself. Some of us are looking for a career change. Others are just starting out on the work scene again after being a stay-at-home parent. When you attend a networking event – some sort of social or happy hour or meet-and-greet, you may find different industries or innovative business ideas you hadn’t considered before. You may find a source of inspiration in another’s story, or a mentor for yourself.
What are your thoughts on Networking? Do you detest the word? Are you a networking wizard, possessing some sort of magical skill to attract interesting and helpful people to yourself? How do you think networking ought to function in our area? Write your thoughts in the comment section below! Seriously, we always love to hear from you.
By Ashley Michael
So here I am, writing a post about the importance of websites for small businesses, AND I DON’T HAVE MY OWN WEBSITE. Rather than being a big fat phony who feigns expert website knowledge, I’m inviting you to dig in to this and consult the experts with me. It’s time, my friend.
You and me, us entrepreneurs, we need to get ourselves websites if we take our businesses and ourselves seriously at all.
Perhaps you say to yourself, “Oh, I’ve been in business a while so I don’t need a website, and this is my hometown – everything is word-of- mouth, anyway.” Or maybe you’re more like, “Well websites are nice, but way too complicated – I’ll just use Facebook and Instagram to get all the business I need.”
We miss so much without the humble website. They give us credibility. They say, “Hello there, friendly potential customer, and welcome to my place of business. Yes, I am accessible and available and completely legitimate, plus I’m so warm and witty – aren’t you loving this first impression of me?”
If you don’t believe me when I say that websites are essential for our businesses, this article is so clear and helpful, offering nine reasons to build your business a proper website. Do not miss it.
So, back to us: How are we going to increase our customers and profit margins, leaving us with loads of cash to buy a fabulous vacation home in France? We want a chateau that sits out in the countryside right next to a creamery where we purchase delicious fresh cheeses, but is also a quick train ride away from Paris, obviously. Real estate like that doesn’t come cheap.
I’ll tell you how we do it. We are going to research the heck out of this website business, we are going to take the How To Build a Website course at The Biz Foundry, and we are going to rock this strawberry jam. Yes.
We are going to build a website!
If you are at home, put down your phone or tablet or giant dinosaur desktop and get a cup of coffee or glass of wine – the good kind. You might even find that some light munchies will complete the scene. If you’re in your car, quit checking your phone while you’re driving! My goodness. But while you’re out, you might as well stop somewhere and grab your favorite beverage (thus allowing you to sip and peruse the rest of this post without breaking laws and endangering lives).
That’s the first step- so easy! We are going to mentally prepare ourselves to forge ahead with our dreams, so by all means, let’s be in a happy place.
Now, with my mega stack can of BBQ Pringles in hand, I feel ready to do this. Do you? If you do, then scroll on for a little bit of small business website eye candy. Let’s get ourselves inspired. If you don’t, then for crying out loud go top off your cup, or get your own mega stack Pringles can.
Okay, here we go.
First, we get inspired.
I’ve curated a small variety of websites for your viewing pleasure. I have never heard of any of these businesses before my frenzied Google search for beautiful websites took place, so please know that I am not, nor is The Biz Foundry, endorsing these companies or their wares. I just think they look cool.
“A seed company dedicated to deliciousness.” And I believe it when I see how great they make a pot of potatoes appear. Good photos go a long way.
Charleston’s Felix features creative cocktails and small plates; their website draws you in with its whimsical toasting frog, does it not? If you have the know-how, some animated graphics are a great idea.
Wellness products scroll across the screen with a clean, attractive design. Mowellens also has employed a pop-up box to give site visitors an easy way to be in communication with their brand.
Roto is a design firm that has been responsible for producing exhibits in more than 150 museums, zoos, aquariums and the like. They have produced an excellent video to showcase the magic of their production right at the forefront of their home page.
Linesight’s featured video is also excellent, and the content of their site is easy to access; you simply scroll through.
Enso is some sort of publication or magazine. I have to admit, the website is a little less intuitive to me and a bit flashy. But it’s very cool design.
How cute are Bento boxes! This website is done through Wix, the web development platform that the Biz Foundry’s course will be using with How To Build A Website.
I know, I know, some of these are really fancy, aren’t they? Don’t be intimidated by the bells and whistles; take note of what draws you in, and learn from it. The pages come alive with moving graphics and beautiful photography. A few had video at the top of their homepage, which is a direction many sites are moving toward right now.
What features stand out to you and make you want to linger a little longer on the page? Take note of your responses, lock them away in that brilliant brain of yours. If something draws you in and appeals to you, it will probably appeal to others. You can work out a way to fit these characteristics into your own site.
Did you notice how clean and easy to navigate some of these websites seem? That’s a trend here to stay. Simple, clean, scrollable, mobile-friendly – not cluttered with a bunch of buttons and sub-menus. This suits us well, fellow website novices, because let’s be real – who wants to waste a perfectly good afternoon on complicated web design? Furthermore, who wants to understand the technical ins and outs of complicated web design? No, no – not us.
Let's turn our attention to the content we want to feature on our magical new website.
It’s time to put pen to paper, and roughly plan a website.
What makes our businesses special? What gift do we carry which we offer to the world around us? What are the few key things that we need people to understand about our product or service before they leave our site?
We won’t have room for every detail about our businesses on the website, either; we don’t want to clutter them up. We would lose our audiences faster than Superman flies. No, let’s drain our last sips of the delicious beverage which we still hold, eat just ten – no, twelve more Pringles (quickly followed by throwing the can far away before we eat all of the “lunchbox chips” for our kids this week), and then sit down to brainstorm the essentials.
Think about the elements your website needs: Do you need to offer an online storefront? Is a blog feed something that would appeal to your clientele? Write some thoughts about yourself or your company – people seem to always want this sort of information. Customers want to know the back-story, and the heartbeat of your vision. This gives them a way to feel connected with you, which is why they will pick your business over your competition’s.
After we brainstorm, we build this thing like Kevin Costner in a
I am going to spend one week mulling over my ideas for my website, and then I will collect my humble little brainstormed thoughts and bring them to The Biz Foundry on Thursday, April 9th for the first of three sessions covering How To Build A Website. I expect to see you all there as well. The course will go through how to set up a website using Wix (that’s a super simple and apparently awesome website building tool thing), and it’s hands on, which means we will be building our website in real life. REAL LIFE!! We will take this course, and in three weeks,
v i c t o r i o u s
with websites worthy of world takeover.
I hope you are as excited as I am. I’m already planning a follow-up post to this one, which I will write from my fabulous chateau by the French creamery on the outskirts of Paris. Doesn’t that sound so dreamy? Or is it just me who thinks living next door to a bunch of French cows sounds blissful? All I know is that once my website is up and running, I’m going to find out where all the French cows live, and take my time selecting which ones shall be my neighbors. I’ll have you over for a wine and cheese party. You can bring the wine from your vineyard in Tuscany.
Patience, Hard Work, and Chicken!
By Taylor Galbreath
Self-improvement, empowering others, and being patient are some of the key tennets of being an entrepreneur, and Ben Prine is a local entrepreneur who believes this and strives to apply this to his business. He is a member of the Highland’s Economic Partnership Steering Committee and owns a Chick-Fil-A franchise location right here in Cookeville, Tennessee. At age 14 his first job was at a local Chick-Fil-A in Knoxville. His boss there, Eddie Halliday, owner of three locations in the Knoxville area, inspired him all through high school and college by making a positive impact on his employees and the community while owning his own business. Early into college he decided that being a franchise owner was right for him because of this and his love for Chick-Fil-A, what it stands for, and the opportunities it provides.
From there Ben worked to put in the time required to be a worthy applicant for owning a franchise. He went to the west coast where he worked for the corporate side of Chick-Fil-A, going between Arizona and California doing grand openings and proving himself as a reliable employee. After two and a half years of this he found the opportunity to apply for the Cookeville location back here in his home state of Tennessee, and he got the job in June of 2007.
When talking about success Ben is of the mindset that you can always improve your current situation. This attitude comes from his firsthand experience of working his way up to franchise owner and turning his location into the profitable business it is now. He believes in the principle of continuous improvement when it comes to his business and having a positive impact on the community. He strongly advocates that your goals should always be changing for the better as you work on improving yourself.
As far as having a mentor goes, Ben names Eddie Halliday as the most influential person in his life regarding the process of finding his chosen career path. This, he says, is because of the way Eddie lived his life and the positive influence he had on those who worked for him. Ben now has the same sort of vision for his franchise, and he hopes to be a good influence and an inspiration to his own employees just as Eddie was to him.
The way Ben runs his business is by empowering all of his employees to be the best they can be. He focuses on his leadership team, sharing his vision for the location with them, helping them to implement it, and letting them have the freedom to run with it in new and creative ways. An emphasis on the entrepreneurial spirit gives his business a firm foundation to create successful employees and community members.
His most important advice for potential entrepreneur’s and anyone looking to advance their career in any way is to chase after your vision with everything you've got. This path will not be easy, there will be a lot of road blocks, but even in the beginning when profitability eludes your business, pushing through is the best course of action. Looking towards the future and staying patient and passionate is the path to self improvement and eventual success.
Ben hopes his influence can make Cookeville a better place that eats more chicken!
To follow Ben's store on facebook, click here.
By: Taylor Galbreath
There is no reason not to have a website in today’s world of business. A business in New York City looks for the same things a business in Grundy County, Tennessee – new customers and more sales. These are the primary reasons to build a website, but having the appearance of a credible business with your nice-looking and easy-to-use website makes gaining both easier. A website is one of the most useful tools for any business, big or small, in the 21st century, and having a GOOD website is becoming more important every day.
Customers have increasingly strayed from window shopping on the streets in favor of using search engines to find exactly what they’re looking for while virtually window shopping. The World Wide Web is a growing marketplace that is only growing larger, and with its low advertising costs, a website becomes the most convenient tool you have to reach out to these consumers. Some potential customers may also accidentally stumble upon your website while browsing the internet and become interested in your products or services.
When you have an online presence customers are more aware of your business. With increased customer awareness come increased sales, especially if you provide customers with the option to purchase directly from your website. Online shopping has quickly become a way that most people purchase important products and support their favorite businesses. The difference that online sales can make in your profit margin cannot be underestimated.
All of this is fantastic for small business owners that need every customer they can get. Having no website means missing out on so many potential benefits, but having a poorly designed website is almost worse than having no website because it may make a bad first impression on your potential customers. A sleek and polished website gives customers a feeling that your business is credible and worth their time. If you have no experience building a website and do not want to shell out the big bucks to hire a website designer, we here at the Biz Foundry have you covered because we are hosting a seminar on how to build your own website beginning April 9th. Contact us for more details at 931-210-5105.
New Business Owner and Biz-In-A-Box Grad Is Enjoying the Sweet Life
If you’ve been to the downtown area of Cookeville lately, you will have noticed a new shop in to town – right on
Broad Street, and we say huzzah- it’s about time they got themselves a proper candy and sweets shop!
Pops and Gumdrops owner Sarah Olson had been talking with her husband about Cookeville needing a shop
like this when they moved to Cookeville from the western suburbs of Chicago in 2014. “In Chicago, everything
is built around the train stations,” explains Olson. “We completely rely on the trains; every 11 minutes, a train
goes through. And all of the major stops have cute little stores offering candy and popcorn.” Olson recognized
the potential for this quaint, nostalgic type of shop in the Upper Cumberland, but kept waiting for someone else
to make it happen. “It was always, ‘Oh, they really need something like this in this town, somebody should do
this.’ It didn’t become ‘we should do this’ until a few years later,” she says.
After some basic research into her idea, Olson came across The Biz Foundry and signed up for the Business-In-A-
Box course. The nine-week course was slated to cover most of what a new business startup would need to know,
from defining the target audience to determining the need for trade marking. “I was already on track to start a
business because I had been putting my startup information together, but where the course really helped me
was in covering things I hadn’t thought about- how to structure my business in a legal sense, maximize my
startup costs, and use my revenue to keep building.” Since finishing the course in the spring of last year, Olson
has successfully opened her shop in a prime location, and is now facing the potential to expand the business
online due to high demand.
The Biz Foundry’s next Business-In-A-Box course begins March 22, 2018 at their new coworking space
on Cedar Avenue in Cookeville, and will take place every Thursday evening for nine weeks. Facilitated by
seasoned business and startup veterans, the course will give its students the ability to develop their business
model, hear expert advice from local legal, accounting, marketing and insurance experts, and learn to tell their
story to attract talent, vendors, customers, and possibly even investors. Classes are hands-on and full of group
discussions, start-up checklist activities, and weekly homework assignments designed to validate participants’
assumptions and refine their business ideas.
“I definitely think it’s helpful to go to that class prepared,” notes Olson, who encourages other new
entrepreneurs or business startup hopefuls to attend. “But if you aren’t prepared, it’s going to help you get
prepared. Those who didn’t walk in with a plan left the class with a blueprint.”
Business In A Box is only offered twice annually, and space is limited. For more information, or to sign up, please
visit www.thebizfoundry.org or contact program manager Mike Ames . And when you go to Pops and Gumdrops, try the buffalo popcorn – I bought some today. It’s amazing.
I’m eating it now as I write this article. And I will not be sharing it with any of you people, so go buy your own.
As a local business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities when it comes to promoting your business. It seems every month, there are more ways to promote or advertise your business. What about content though? How can you put together eye-catching graphics to attract new customers and fans? More importantly, how do you do all of that? Check out these five tools that are available to use.
1. Canva - I could go on and on about Canva. It's very simple graphic design software that can be used for digital or print material. This little gold nugget makes it easy to create quick graphics for social media, flyers, invitations, brochures and so on. What makes this website even better? Each template is already appropriately sized and layouts are available if you are completely clueless when it comes to design.
Check it out here
2. Pexels - I use stock photos for a number of things including websites, social media post and even advertising. Pexels offers free stock photos. (Tip: Never use blurry and low res photos...it looks bad. No, it looks really bad. Do not do it! Go for a crisp, clean look.)
Check it out here
3. Creative Market - This website is great because it offers a ton of templates. I can't say I have used all of their services, but I do visit Creative Market's website for logos. Create a custom logo for your business for $12+. Easy, reasonable and professional.
Check it out here
4. Hootsuite - Every month it seems like a new social media platform is released. As a business owner, posting to social media can be daunting. You have other things to do! Schedule your post using Hootsuite to save time. I suggest planning your posts for the week and then scheduling all posts at the beginning of the week.
Check it out here
5. Tweet Jukebox - Speaking of social media management, check out Tweet Jukebox. This is a great way to schedule recurring tweets on Twitter. Do you want followers to know you offer free shipping, support a local cause or another key factor about your business? Set up tweets to go out on a regular basis. It's always nice to remind fans who you are and what you offer.
Check it out here
Improve Website SEO & Content
Increase web traffic by making sure website SEO is up to par. More web traffic means more sales and conversion in most cases. Most people find or research a business online before making the plunge. On top of having SEO down pat, make sure your website is consistent and clear.
Utilize Social Media
Keep fans and customers up to date on social media. Post sales, business updates or relevant posts about your business or market. Engage with customers by replying to comments or feedback. Find new fans and followers by searching for those interested in similar products or services. If you are hosting a big event or sale, pay a little bit to boost your post. Better yet, utilize analytics and create a targeted ad. Furthermore, make sure social media graphics are eye catching and well designed.
Increase Online Reviews
There are a ton of websites out there that offer business reviews. If you’re like most, you check a business out before visiting or buying products or services. Ask your customers to write a review. A sign can be hung in the door or a link to review websites at the bottom of an online order confirmation. Do you have regular clients or customers that are your biggest fans? Next time they stop by, ask them directly for a review.
Offer Grade A Customer Service
Local businesses, especially in a small town, are well known. Good service comes from a good attitude of the seller and care for the client. Create an atmosphere that is friendly and customer based. A good attitude costs absolute nothing.
Know your Marketing Strategy
What works best in your area? Digital marketing is always a great option but consider word of mouth, presence in the community, printed materials, radio ads, sponsorship or billboards. Work on your branding and recognition instead of strictly sales.
by Thiago Rezende
Chase your dreams. I’m sure you’ve heard that a time or two, right? But what does that really mean? Are we supposed to drop everything right now and go after what we’re passionate about? Or should we plan it carefully and wait for the right moment to dive into our passion? Perhaps find a place in the middle? It’s hard to tell.
The expression “chasing your dreams” is, way too often, given an almost poetic connotation of this impossible quest to find utopian reality where everything works perfectly and success comes flying through the door. Truth is, “Chasing your Dreams” is a very realistic, tangible scenario that involves way more than that.
It would be great if there was a formula to chasing dreams, but the truth is: there ISN’T. The so-called right moment is unique to each and every one of us.
The starter key is to master self-awareness. Get to know yourself. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Find out what your heart is in and only then choose a dream to pursue. You have all the tools in the world available to you through the internet, libraries and networking to figure it out. Be smart about it, use them.
The life of an entrepreneur is a constant conscious gamble. We have plenty ideas to start businesses, to help people, save the world, make money, and those are our dreams. None of them are set to succeed. Not without the hard work to figure out the need, the market, the viability of the product/service offered, and that’s the risk we’re willing to take on every day.
It’s a 50/50 chance. A 50% chance of success after trying it out is worth a whole lot more than a potential 100% chance of success stored in a drawer. Figure out what your dream is, figure out a way to monetize it, and work hard for it.
Only a few hours on Google will reveal stories of people that succeeded and/or failed following their dreams, and they’ve picked the most diverse paths to get there. The common factor in all of them: they never gave up. They were willing to go the extra mile to achieve their dreams. They decided to work harder than anyone else.
Failure is the greatest source of learning, don’t fear it. And if it does happen to you, get back up and start over, better and stronger. You’re then a wiser version of yourself and, because of that, you still win.
People often have great ideas, but are too scared to pursue them and end up failing for not trying. Chasing your dreams is challenging, but extremely rewarding. Realize you can do anything you want as long as you set your mind to it. Don’t let anyone discourage your dreams by saying, “You can’t do this,” and when they try, prove them wrong by doing it.
Life is too short to be wasted doing things we don’t like. Yes, bills have to be paid and you will most likely spend some time in life working places you don’t like. It takes experiencing the bad to learn and value the good. And once you do, it’s time to put in the work and go after it.
So Dream high, Dream big and Pursue it.