Monthly Archives: August 2011
Short answer: ask so many questions it hurts your mouth. Asking questions, the right questions to the right people, can help you think about your business idea in a fresh, new way. If you want to get some really cool insights regarding your idea, ask someone who would be considered the ideal user of your product or service. It is easy to become overwhelmed at first with your idea and talking with someone you trust about their thoughts on it can help you not only clear your mind, but it can also spark a great brainstorming session. I experienced this last week.
The other day, a friend of mine that I’ve known since freshman year of college emailed me asking if I would meet with him that week to go over an Internet business idea that came to him a couple days earlier. Basically, the idea is a website that would revolutionize how you accomplish goals you set. He was really excited about it – I mean really excited. The day before I met up with him, he was up all night (literally, it was light out when he finally went to sleep) working on a mock version of his idea.
He sent me a link to the minisite he created and I viewed it before we met up at the University of Delaware. It was awesome. I loved it. I immediately had ideas as to how I would want to use the site. I knew what kind of features I would want the backend of the site to have. I had a vision of how it would look, taste and feel (figuratively speaking) – and that is because I was someone who would use his site every day if it existed. I was the ideal user of his website.
So we met up and talked for about two hours. My friend started out explaining to me what his vision was and how he wanted the site to function. He told me that the idea came to him because it solved a problem for him personally and that he couldn’t wait to get it up and running.
Next came the questions…tons of them. For the remaining hour and a half he asked me questions that started out with “how” or “what” and “why.” These types of questions lead to great conversations. We even came up with a strategy on how to best bring the website to market and when. By the end of the session, his brilliant idea morphed into something much bigger – something extremely social and collaborative that would solve this unique problem for thousands of people. All he did was ask me the right questions, such as “what would you want the site to actually offer” or “how would you want the information to be displayed.”
The point here is that it can be extremely valuable for you to ask questions to someone who would use your product or service as you are trying to solidify your college business idea. It is free, invaluable, and you gain a better understanding of what would make your business idea even better. It could not be easier to find the right people to talk to while you’re in college. You are surrounded by people who are creative, energetic and available – tap into that.
If you want to reach out to me regarding your business idea and have a brainstorming session, please feel free to! Use the contact form or email me at Matt@startitup.tv. I would love nothing more than to help you map out your idea and see you succeed! Good luck!
What other brainstorming techniques do you find useful? How do you take an idea and make it into something bigger, or more powerful? Leave some comments!
It can be really difficult coming up with that million-dollar idea. Believe me, I’ve been trying for five years now and am still actively waiting for the Ah-Ha moment. But what if the “big idea” wasn’t what you needed – at least initially.
Jim Collins, author of From Good To Great, suggests that the “who” part of your business is much more important than the “what” part of your business. Think about it, you can come up with that million-dollar idea right now. But then what? Are you actually able to follow through with the idea and execute it fully?
What if instead you dedicate some time to identifying a team of extremely talented and motivated individuals (or even just one other person) ready to create something of value? Even if your idea wasn’t the next Facebook, your chances of success with your idea will be much higher now that you satisfied that “who” part of your business. Instead of using all of your time trying to come up with your business idea, try to surround yourself with people that can help you make ideas come to life. Make sure these people are dependable and share similar values as you do. If you find people who are experts at what they do but you know your personalities clash, move on and find another person to add to your team. You must surround yourself with people who can bring out your best, not people who bring out your worst.
Here is how it works: College campuses are great environments for finding the people you need to help get things done. There are professors. There are students. There are professionals. Whether you are looking for web-developers, a business partner, or a mentor, there are people at your school that you can add to your network immediately to help you move forward. You need to satisfy that “who” part of your business – the “what” part will come. And when it does, you’ll be ready to really go for it.
For me, I started out by joining the Entrepreneurship Club at UD – click the link if you want to get a general idea of how you can benefit from similar clubs and organizations. By simply reaching out to this student organization, I almost immediately added to my network 20-25 students interested in what I was interested in: starting a business. An Entrepreneurial Studies professor was the advisor for the club – he later became an extremely valuable resource for me during my junior and senior years at UD. I met a student entrepreneur who I later became business partners with. Together, we pushed each other to learn as much as we could about entrepreneurship and would bounce ideas off of one another daily. These people were the building blocks of my entrepreneurial journey and everything I know about business can be traced back to them.
By surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals as you do, you begin to realize the true extent of your potential. It becomes easier to come up with creative ideas because you are hanging out with other students who are coming up with creative ideas. You begin to see other perspectives and understand how to attack problems. You can’t do everything on your own – and you shouldn’t. Go out there and connect with people who can help make ideas come to fruition. Then come up with an idea and make it happen.
Is right now a good time to start a college business?
Short answer – yes. Each semester, university students all over the world are brave enough, inspired enough, and passionate enough to take their business idea and turn it into a real business. I know a lot of college students who come up with great business ideas all of the time but don’t know where to turn for guidance.
I am really starting to get pumped up about Start It Up TV! We are well under way with the development of the site and we are beginning to build an awesome list of totally brilliant college entrepreneurs ready to share their experiences with you! The goal of the interviews is to provide our viewers with rich content related to starting a business while in college and inspire them to chase their passions. All of the guests will be speaking about their experiences as a college entrepreneur and will undoubtedly touch on many of the benefits – as well as some of the negatives – of launching a business in college.
But since we are still a few weeks away from the official launch of Start It Up TV, here is a quick list of 11 reasons you should pack those fears away, organize your life, and start a college business now!
1. It looks really great on your resume
Let’s start with the not-so-right answer – it adds some serious weight to your resume. It shows that you have the creativity, determination, and confidence to carry out a vision. During interviews, most of the time was spent on the interviewer asking me about my business. It’s so easy to talk about what you are completely passionate about, but this should not be a driving factor in your decision to start a business in college.
2. You Build an Insanely Valuable Network
You will meet more professors, students, and business professionals than you ever thought possible. All of a sudden you will notice you are surrounded by people who want to help you succeed – and it forces you to be more accountable with your business and carry through with it.
3. Wait, I Get Paid to do This??
If you start something you’re really into, then it’s not really “work” work. Because of this, you actually want to dedicate tons of time and resources to your business. By building your business, you will (hopefully) make a profit. It’s a great way to make some extra money to fund those crazy weekends you have…or help pay rent.
4. Be Your Own Insurance
You build something that you can fall back on even after you graduate. Come on, in this economy you shouldn’t put all your hopes in landing that dream job as soon as you graduate. And even if you do, perhaps you can continue your business on the side to earn some extra income…or sell it!
5. It’s Interesting Being Interesting
You become more interesting to others when you are doing things that are rare or unconventional. When someone asks you, “so what have you been up to lately?” you can mention that really cool project you’re working on…that’s making you money…that you created all on your own. I bet whoever you are talking to will be impressed by your entrepreneurial spirit and certainly remember you much better.
6. Practice What You Learn
If you are a Business major, then you get to put what you learn in class into practice. This was a huge benefit for me because my grades actually got better the semesters I operated my cookie business and I really do think it’s because I was applying everything I learned in class to my business. If you’re not a Business major, it’s okay. There are still substantial opportunities to gain the knowledge you need and find business development resources at your college to help you with your business.
7. Resources and Resources for Free!
Spinning off of that, your college offers you a substantial amount of FREE resources to help aid in the development of your business. You have professors on campus everyday who are more than capable of answering questions for you. If you are looking for interns, well, they are right there for the taking. Your college provides you with a bunch of free resources you would otherwise have to pay for if not a college student. Really, anything you need assistance with you can find it at your school 99 out of 100 times. For me, I was able to utilize the services offered by the University of Delaware’s Venture Development Center.
8. Read All About It
There is a good chance your business will make it into the headlines of your school newspaper! They are always looking to cover fun and unique stories about their students. Sure, if you start a business outside of college there will be opportunities for media coverage. However, it can be easier reaching out to your school newspaper for some coverage rather than other media outlets. Who doesn’t like some free press?
9. The Timing is Right, Do it Now
You barely have any responsibilities of your own right now other than making sure you go to class and you don’t spend all of your grocery money on beer. Don’t wait until you are married with kids and have tons of other responsibilities that make it difficult to start a business. Don’t be fooled, it takes a lot of hard work, time and motivation to do this. It’s not impossible to do when you’re older, but you do have to realize there are other priorities and responsibilities in that stage of your life. This is the perfect opportunity to really do it right and you can use your free time as a huge advantage.
10. It’s Easier as a College Student
It’s kind of strange, but when I was running my college business it seemed every time I needed something or asked for help, people were really excited to lend a hand. I think it had a lot to do with the fact I was a student. People like helping people, especially young people who are trying to make something of themselves. It is inspiring. A lot of doors can open up to you playing this card. Take advantage of it and use it to help grow your business!
11. It’s a lot of Fun
It really is one of the coolest experiences taking a fresh idea, getting others excited about it, and going through the steps of making it happen. You will feel an overwhelming amount of pride and satisfaction creating a business that is all yours. That’s the beauty of it: everything about this business is yours and only you can bring it to where you want it to be.
But hey, if this list doesn’t quite do it for you, I have a feeling upcoming Start It Up TV episodes will make you want to get out there and start something up.
This is where you come on…Why do you think starting a business in college is beneficial? What else can you add to this list? Feel free to comment!
I understand this site is still very much under construction. I suppose even though I may not have any viewers as of right now, which is probably a good thing considering how rubbish this blog appears to be (believe me, if you’re reading this after the fact….it’s hopefully not still as bad as it is right now), I am writing this post more for me to get a clear head. This is a post dedicated to those people who are out there right now doing exactly what they love to do. It is for those people looking for answers and by a miracle you stumble upon something that kicks you in the face and says, “DUDE! This is the answer you’ve been looking for all this time!! Don’t pass this up!”
OK! I literally just stumbled upon a blog called “The Rise to the Top” created by a man named David Siteman Garland (I am addicted). This guy is doing exactly what I want to do with Start It Up TV in the sense that he interviews big time entrepreneurs about their experiences in running a business and offers his viewers a way to gain insights into their methods to success. David’s blog is truly inspirational to me and I will surely be using it as a way to benchmark my own successes with Start It Up TV.
When I look at The Rise To The Top – I almost get way too excited. It is like looking into the future. It helps me put my mind at ease regarding whether or not this type of a project is worth pursuing. David is a way for me to gain the inspiration and required perseverance to make Start It Up TV not only happen, but thrive.
I mention this on my own blog because I want to have it documented that this is how I am going to learn to start a video blog based around podcast interviews. This is important. As I am providing all of you with resources to start your own college business, I too needed to find and acquire the necessary resources to take that next leap. To be honest, I have only been working on the idea of this project for about a month or so – and I have already been having many doubts, concerns, and problems with it. This is totally common for almost all entrepreneurs…it’s scary business leaping into something unknown. I mean, we’re not all as brave as Chuck Norris.
Finding The Rise To The Top and seeing first hand that David has proven a successful method to this kind of system is a fresh of breath air for me. It is truly inspirational and I cannot wait to conduct my first interview (hopefully posted by September 1st)!
I hope that stumbling on Start It Up TV will be as inspirational to you as stumbling on David’s The Rise To The Top was for me. That is the whole point: Inspire, Educate, Create. Let’s go out there and make life happen…no one else can for us!
Please enjoy this interview session between David and my personal (and apparently his personal) idol, Tim Ferris – author of The Four Hour Work Week and The Four Hour Body. Hey, Dave, thanks.
Possibly one of the greatest audio clips about succeeding in life – Earl Nightingale was known as “The Dean of Personal Development.” He was born in 1921, joined the Marines at age seventeen (he was one of 12 Marines who survived the bombings of Pearl Harbour on the USS Arizona), hosted the WGN Radio Show from 1950-1956, and is known for his book, The Strangest Secret. Listen, I got all of this from his Wikipedia Page…so if you want more background info on this really cool American motivational speaker, check his page out or go to his website here: Earl Nightingale.
If you are wondering what makes certain people successful, you need to listen to this 30 minute audio clip recorded in the 1950′s. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, write down everything he says, and start accomplishing your goals. I think you’ll surprise yourself with the results. This clip is not only extremely motivational – it’ll make you eager to change your life for the better – but it is proactive too. He challenges you. He gives you a 30-day test that you can start immediately to help jump start the process of accomplishing a goal of yours.
To be honest, I did not know what to think about this audio clip at first. I am not one for sitting down and just listening to someone speak for 30 minutes. After the first two minutes, I was roped in. He started saying things like:
“We don’t have to compete, all we have to do is create” and ” What is it you want? Really think about this. Plant the seed in your mind. Work steadily toward your goal and it will become a reality. It is a law.”
He explains that what we think about is what we become. This is a truly powerful concept and I want you to really listen to what he has to say.
This whole idea of thoughts becoming reality makes perfect sense. Have you ever been in a rotten mood in the morning, and then it seems like the entire day one bad thing after another happens to you. Earl Nightingale suggests that your negative thoughts and feelings are what drive this “series of bad luck.” You become what you think about – bad things happen to you because you are thinking and feeling negative thoughts.
But hold on a second. Haven’t you had those days where it is the reverse? Where it seems like your luck is being drawn from an infinite well – that you just can’t do anything wrong. If you think positively, positive things will happen to you.
It is a law – a law of attraction.
So, let’s take it a step further. Positive feelings and thoughts are great. In fact, it is a perfect place to start. But let’s take it a step further and consider what Earl Nightingale is really talking about: Goals. If you map out your goals and truly think about them in positive ways all day everyday, it is impossible for you to not accomplish them – for your thoughts become reality. Well, he says it better: ” Your limitations are self-imposed. The opportunities ahead of you are infinite.”
As noted earlier, Mr. Nightingale also proposes a 30-day test to his listeners. He challenges you to write down one goal that is clearly defined – something you really want to accomplish – on one side of a note card. You must be willing to put i the effort to accomplish this goal, for what you put in is what you get out. Now, every day for one month, keep this note card with you everywhere you go and read it throughout the day multiple times. When you do think about this goal, think about it in a cheerful and positive manner. Do not concern yourself with your fears of failing to accomplish this goal. For 30 days do more than you have to in order to accomplish it. You must receive in direct proportion what you put in – so make an effort to go the extra mile and make it count.
Try it out. Make it a habit. work to accomplish this goal in 30 days. If you need more time, then you need more time. But once you accomplish your first goal, move on to another goal. Then to another.
I’ll leave you with this exert from his audio clip:
“Don’t concern yourself with the money. Be of service, build, work, dream, and create. Do this and you will find there is no limit to prosperity and abundance will come to you.”