Last night I presented to a group of college students at WSU. Really great group of entrepreneurs. I actually only had 24 hours notice so I did not plan a slide presentation, and knowing the crowd would be less than 50 I wanted to make it more of a conversation anyway. After the basic introductions I quickly had everyone in the room (about 30) tell me at least 1 thing they were hoping to learn for the hour they were about to share. All the comments fit into 1 of 3 categories: Motivation, entrepreneurship and marketing. I chose to share about my string of ventures from the earliest to know, and hit each of those subjects along the way.
Quite possibly the most mysterious because it can be different for everyone. I tend to be moved by being told that I can not have something. As a matter of fact they asked my where my obsession with Ice Cream came from and I explained that it came from being told no. When I was young I loved dessert (no different than any other kid), but in my house mom would make sure she rationed the amount of Ice Cream we ate. Obviously mom wanted us to stay healthy, but also so we would not eat it all in 1 day either. I love her for that, but at that age I always wanted more. I saw it almost like a challenge. If I liked it, and someone put a barrier up that raised my motivation to reach it. I think you can see where that applies to starting a business.
The questions were about “How do you find an ideas?”, “How do you raise money?”, and working with partners. I explained how the idea/problem was discovered for each business I have started. I enjoyed being forced to think about 15 years and reliving some of those memories. My advice was the same as everyone else. Start looking for people with a problem, solve that problem, they will pay if you solve it in an acceptable way.
Sadly I think I did not cover this section good enough. We were a little pressed for time so I quickly summed up at the end about my love for social media, content marketing and engagements. (There, did I hit all the proper buzz words? Good grief.)
One of the final tips that I left with them was “Listen to your customers, go with your gut.” It was just one of about 10 on a list that I shared, but it stood out later that night when I ran across this video. Sometimes your customer might not know what they want either. Take a look at the history of spaghetti sauce.