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Live Blogging the NACCE Summit at New River and Technical College in Ghent, WV – February 20, 2014

Posted By Griffin Cottle, Thursday, February 20, 2014

It’s back to work after a great mid-day show from the RiffRaff Arts Collective of Princeton, WV.  More on them here:

Panel of Artisan Entrepreneurs – What do we need to succeed?  Lori Midkiff, Merideth Young and Brad and Jordie Veneri from Tamarack

Merideth – It’s been around 3 years since I started my artisan jewelry business and I’m now able to make my living full time (my husband also recently quit his job and now works for me J).  It’s nice to be able to run my business from home and I wouldn’t want to leave to have a shop.

Brad and Jordi – Right now we’re making steel cut and stained-glass art from home, but only as gifts… we haven’t started to sell anything yet.

Lori – It would be nice to have a studio near a high traffic or tourist destination to help increase my sales.  I’ve also started looking at regional crafts shows as another way to drive sales.

Group – The classes that we would like to see community colleges offer are basic business management classes for artisans.  We all have incredible skills in painting, printmaking, etc., but don’t know how to turn all of them into successful businesses.  Pricing especially… it’s very difficult to decide how much to sell your work for. 


Northeast State CC Team Panel: Dr. Janice Gilliam, President; Dr. Keith Young, Dean of Off Campus Programs and Services; Cindy Tauscher, Coordinator of Workforce Solutions

Keith – How to define and develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem?  Our definition is an "interactive community… composed of varied and inter-dependent actors (which) interact to promote new venture creation.”  The goal is to map the existing network of service providers who work in business and economic development and identify the gaps and resources that exist in the community which can help spurn new business development.

Cindy – Developing a curriculum for entrepreneurs involves taking the information that entrepreneurs learn and turning it into a curriculum that we can teach.  In our case this meant compiling a list of the activities and duties that entrepreneurs are responsible for, developing a needs assessment, and designing a class around it.


Economic Outlook, Tourism Industry Panel Discussion – How do we fuel artisan and tourism businesses as educators and business owners?  Todd Christensen – Executive Director, Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation; Leslie Baker – Director of Operations, Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine Complex and Campground; Ron Magruder – Previous Chairman of National Restaurant Association and previous President of Cracker Barrel; Jackie Whitley, Southern West Virginia CTC (Shared Vision Project Awardee)

Leslie – Students today haven’t been taught good presentation and communication skills in school, and as a result businesses are being required to pick up the slack and teach them on the job.  How to look people in the eye, give a good handshake, come appropriately dressed, work with your colleagues, etc.  These things are not being taught by colleges and universities.

Todd – The biggest thing that I see is that economic development agencies don’t have as good a relationship with community colleges as they should, and there needs to be a lot more collaboration there. 

Jackie – I think that community colleges can position themselves to be the trusted, go-to entity for artisans who are interested in going into business.  We can connect them with the resources and basic skills in customer service and sales that they need to be successful.  Colleges also need to take advantage of the partnerships they have with groups like the NACCE, and all of the resources they offer.


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NACCE Summit – New River and Technical College Ghent, WV – February 20, 2014

Posted By Griffin Cottle, Thursday, February 20, 2014

Keynote Panel: David Hughes – Business Development Analyst, Appalachian Regional Commission; Darrell Akins – Founder and CEO, Akins Public Strategies

Dr. Washington – Entrepreneurs can start young (and should)… Think paperboys and kids selling things door to door.  We need to build on that.  At the same time coal is a part of our culture, and soul, and we need to keep that at the front of our minds as we work to diversify our economy and encourage entrepreneurship in Appalachia.

David – I want to thank New River CTC and NACCE for their hospitality in hosting us.  ARC currently manages 125 business incubators in the Appalachian region, and was started in 1965 to begin diversifying the region’s economy from one of dependence to empowerment.

Darrell – Organized the first Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit.  Entrepreneurship doesn’t belong to any one field or industry… the artisan, plumber and technician who want to work for themselves and start businesses are every bit as valuable as the new technology startup, and the questions involved and knowledge required to make them successful are all the same.

David – Community colleges are integral to ARC’s efforts at poverty eradication and economic development.  As potential hubs of entrepreneurship, mapping the existing ecosystem of business and economic development services in the surrounding area will be critical to improving and expanding entrepreneurship education at community colleges in the region. 


Keynote Speaker: Todd Christensen – Executive Director, Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation

Todd – The small artisan towns in Appalachia where arts and crafts, textiles, and other home materials are still made and sold have been that way for generations, since the time of the Great Migration westward when these town were the last place to buy materials before the great trek West.  These places are still there and are a foundation for entrepreneurship expansion in Appalachia. 

Despite the loss of mining and manufacturing jobs over the past 30 years, thanks to high-speed telecommunications we can make each of these towns and vendors the focal point of the modern textile economy.  Our efforts in the Creative Economy – an economy that uses its human, natural and cultural assets for the betterment of the community – include cricket row, a regional marketing and branding committee, the Heartwood Artisan Center, the Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail, and the Appalachian Spring for outdoor recreation.

The most important thing is to have collaborative relationships where everyone is involved and gets to take credit, and to benchmark and track the outcomes on jobs created and economic impact from day one.  Intensive planning is key.  "Community Rediscovery” – preserve the culture and update the economy.


Panel Discussion – Best Practices in Supporting Artisanal Small Businesses: Steve Weir – Greenbrier Valley Economic Development; Jill Holliday – Entrepreneurship Instructor, New River CTC; Tim Mittan – Los Angeles Regional SBDC Network

Tim – There are certain basics about business that apply to every kind of business, artists included.  One difference is that artists and artisans sometimes need to focus on the creative side, and have someone else do the selling.  It’s "how to run the business,” not "what’s in the business” that’s important.

Steve – The realization that there is a "give” to the art process, and the fact that they have to put food on the table is sometimes a challenge to get across. 

Tim – Some of the best curricula for artisan entrepreneurs is to teach outside of the traditional classroom, and doing the instruction online.  Be flexible.

Steve – They have to know things like how to develop a website and how to self-promote, which are also things that community colleges have a large role to play in teaching them.

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Coleman Entrepreneurial College in Action

Posted By Mary Beth Kerly, Monday, February 03, 2014

How to Create Momentum

Momentum, defined by Merriam Webster, "is the strength or force that something has when it is moving.” So, obviously, the trick is, how do you get something moving in order to create the momentum in the first place?

Step One: Identify Stakeholders

When Hillsborough Community College first set out on our journey to re-examine our academic certificate in Entrepreneurship, we thought it would be wise to get input from folks in our business community. A simple "LinkedIn” search yielded some great results! Who would have thought that a keyword search of "Tampa” "Entrepreneur” would give us so many people to contact! We sent emails, scheduled lunch meetings, and asked everyone we met who they felt would be interested in the development of the program in entrepreneurship. We knew, that to create momentum, both in the college and in the community, we had to find people who had a passion for our mission and ENGAGE them.

Step Two: Do your Research

It’s a bit easier to gain momentum if there is research to get an understanding of what is needed and to "prove” that your idea has merit. At our college, numbers talk and students count in the decision making process. Knowing this, we conducted a survey to all of our students asking pointed questions about entrepreneurship. This data helped us get the attention of our administration, fellow faculty, and was very helpful when we talked with local government officials!

Step Three: Image is EVERYTHING!

So we had the community involved, we had the administration and faculty involved, now the trick was to get students involved, and more importantly, interested! So, we put together a series of events involving our community partners. We had speakers visit the campus to talk about various topics, planned and executed a day long Symposium for Veterans, and had "Shark Tank” types of events. Just because we had these wonderful events didn’t mean that students would actually come. We know that students today only will go to an event if they get, a) food, and b) credit! So, we did both. Some faculty assigned the speaker events as part of the class, others as extra credit, and the Student-led Business Leadership Club sponsored food. And it worked. We filled our 150-seat auditorium. Having that many students in one place on a FRIDAY at 10:00 a.m. got the attention of other faculty as well as our administration. It was also great for our community partners—they saw interested students and then wanted to do even more for us.

Heavens know that success breeds success. We tried to set ourselves up by involving the community, doing our research and creating an image of interest. Today, our events are drawing close to 200 students, and we have community members contacting US for meetings! Now that’s momentum!

Beth relocated to Tampa, Florida from Wilmington, Delaware in 1999 after receiving her undergraduate degree in Marketing and her Masters Degree in Business Administration from Goldey-Beacom College. Her professional experience includes serving as a Marketing Coordinator for Delmarva Power and Light Company, Special Programs Manager for a start up telephone company called "Conectiv Communications" and the Public Relations Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware.  After moving to Florida, she began work as a part-time instructor and International Education Marketing Specialist for Hillsborough Community College.  In 2005, she was asked to serve the 16 county region (Southwest Florida) as Special Assistant to Governor Jeb Bush.  After leaving the Governor’s office in 2007 she began consulting for small to medium businesses and non-profits in the areas of organizational behavior and marketing.  In the Fall of 2008, Beth began teaching full-time at Hillsborough Community College in the Business Administration Department.  

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Notes from the WDI Plenary Session

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Thursday, January 30, 2014

My live blog notes from the WDI conference.  

Experiential learning and budget responsibility

William Law, President of St. Petersburg, welcomed the crowded room to the conference and St. Petersburg. He called the work at community college, "noble work” and said the Workforce has never been more important.  His school provides an interesting entrepreneurial experiential opportunity to his student government leaders. They have budget line responsibility for student fees. The leaders decide how the money is allocated and present a plan to the President. I love this hands on, real time, impactful opportunity the students have to learn and also make a difference on their campus. 

Redesign, Reinvent, Reset

Walter Bumphus, President and CEO of AACC spoke on the 21st-Century Commission and its three Rs:

  • Redesign students’ educational experiences;          
  • Reinvent institutional roles; and
  • Reset the system to create incentives for student and institutional success.

There are seven recommendations around the Three Rs, each with detailed implementation guidance in the report. Check out the report here.

The Importance of Technical Education in Reclaiming the American Dream

Nicolas Pinchuk, Chairman and CEO of Snap-on, Inc, and Skills for America’s future opens his talk by saying "I am not an academic, I am a tool maker." Pinchuk talked about the shrinking middle class and how "our greatest weapon is career and technical education.” Pinchuk emphasized that "we succeed by the efforts of everyday people doing extraordinary things.”  

30% of manufacturing jobs disappeared in the last 20 years. The most important factor in opening a plant in an area is a capable workforce. In America, 6k jobs are left open because they is not a qualified workforce. Pinchuk says the answer is education.

1.       Community colleges need to be reimagined. Curriculum needs to match what jobs are out there. Colleges need to match what is going on in industry. Educators have to consider how they are evaluated. The goal of education is not a degree but a career. Professors should evaluate yourself in practical terms.

2.       We need to rediscover the American Dream. We also need to rebrand manufacturing.  "We have lost the respect of the dignity of work.”

3.       We need support of leadership at city, state and federal levels. Technical education needs to be prioritized.

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How Is Your Entrepreneurship Program Supporting Direct Selling Entrepreneurs?

Posted By Megan Ballard, Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If your college's entrepreneurship program isn't already supporting direct selling entrepreneurs, you're missing an important market...and not a small one! Did you know that there are over 16 million direct selling entrepreneurs in the United States? On February 27th, from 2 - 3 pm Eastern, NACCE is co-hosting a webinar with our good friends at the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF). During this webinar, we'll present an overview of the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program (DSEP) curriculum, a 30-hour, non-credit program that was co-created by NACCE and DSEF.

So why should your program support direct selling entrepreneurs using the DSEP curriculum? Well, here are three reasons to start:

  1. Direct sellers are independent contractors who operate their own entrepreneurial venture with some of the lowest barriers to entry of any business type. For colleges/entrepreneurship centers, this means quick business starts & broader diversity of entrepreneurs in your programs.
  2. The cost of the materials includes the instructor’s guide, marketing and PR support, and is extremely reasonable- less than $30 per student workbook.
  3. The curriculum is flexible, and can be adapted by colleges in different ways to suit the needs of local direct selling entrepreneurs, as you'll discover during the webinar.

Registration will open the week of February 3rd -- look for information in next week's e-news and in the Upcoming Events section of the website!


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Coleman Entrepreneurial College in Action

Posted By Joseph Kapp, Monday, January 13, 2014

The Five "Ators" That Hasten Entrepreneurship

At Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College ("EWVCTC”), we serve an expansive geography, covering an area roughly three times the size of Rhode Island. Our service district is home to a very diverse population, including ranchers, farmers, hunters, workers, professionals and commuters. Given the breadth and scope of our population and geography, it is natural that we encounter competing organizations, bureaucracies and interests — any of which could thwart even the best-laid plans and partnerships.

As a result, when it comes to economic development initiatives and entrepreneurship activities, at Eastern we sometimes see ourselves as the proverbial "Switzerland”: a neutral third party whose goal is just to make it happen for the benefit of our service district and larger neighboring region.

To enhance our role as a neutral-broker among often competing interests, we have discovered that operating in the capacity of the following five "ators” roles allows us to promote and propel greater economic development and entrepreneurial activity.

1. Communicate as CollaborATORS

Fundamentally, entrepreneurship and economic development are about bringing people together in collaboration. As welcome and friendly community leaders working with existing programs, foundations and government entities, community colleges can serve as one of the primary community collaborators. Using transparent actions and open language to transcend and dispel past grievances, frustrations and turf wars, community colleges can drive and enhance collaboration. Collaborating with local business leaders to go beyond traditional workforce development programs, community colleges can assist in identifying the array of financing programs available to energize these businesses’ growth. And by bringing new and emerging business owners to the table, and introducing them to potential mentors and business development resources, collaboration helps develop the community’s future business leaders.

Action Item: Create an entrepreneurship and economic development round-table. Bring together for regular meetings, conferences and networking:

  • New and established business owners;
  • Local, state and Federal government economic development; and
  • Grant making and money lending institutions including foundations and banks.

2. Function as FacilitATORS

As facilitators, community colleges can serve as gentle catalysts and unifying agents to mobilize economic growth and entrepreneurship activities. This is particularly true for rural communities that may have limited access to resources. In addition, where everyone has busy schedules and heavy workloads, taking care of organizational details such as arranging meetings, developing agendas, providing meeting spaces and coordinating activities, can serve an important function in bringing communities members together to drive entrepreneurship.

Action Item: Take your role as a collaborator to the next step by facilitating entrepreneurship and economic development. Develop agendas and calendars, and provide much needed meeting spaces to facilitate the entrepreneurship and economic development activities.

3. Assemble as information as AggregATORS

These are many questions new or existing business owners may have, but are not sure where to find the answers: Where do I obtain funding? What are permitting or licensing fees? How can I obtain a small business loan? Where should I locate my business? These are just a few examples, and often the answer to any of these questions may be scattered across a host of organizations. Community colleges, collaborating with other agencies, organizations and foundations, can provide a "one-stop-shop” for business information, access to capital and resources, etc. In doing so, business owners, new and existing, will come to view the community college as a valuable partner in the development of their enterprise.

Action Item: The natural outcome of serving as collaborators and facilitators is that the community colleges will naturally come to be seen as an aggregator of economic development and entrepreneurship resources. Developing a virtual library of resources and directory of the various organizations with which your community college partners, will enhance your college’s role as an aggregator of economic development and entrepreneurship activities.

4. Incite IncubATORS and AccelerATORS

When starting or expanding a business, new and existing business owners consider three important inputs: costs, risks and time. To the extent that community colleges reduce any or all of these inputs, businesses will benefit. Community colleges that start and run incubators and accelerators, can help drive substantive business activities by reducing costs, risks and time.

Action Item: Develop programs, workshops and events that drive innovation. From formal programs and dedicated places to mobile and virtual spaces, identify opportunities to help businesses get off the ground.

5. Excel in as EducATORS

For entrepreneurs to thrive in community college settings, education must go beyond traditional methods and formula. By its very nature, entrepreneurship is a pure meritocracy, that refuses to adhere to titles, certificates or degrees traditionally lauded in academic settings. The community colleges are the perfect place for entrepreneurship to thrive, but only if we can put to one side those traditional notions that accolades are the end all and be all. Entrepreneurs care about building successful enterprises, and so are less concerned with the academic credentials or honors that follow their names.

Action Item: Encourage a culture of entrepreneurship within your college. Bring together professors and employees who already own or are thinking of starting a business, and encourage a sharing of ideas for regular meetings to increase an entrepreneurial school mindset. Similarly, be mindful that obtaining a paper certificate or good grades may not be the purpose of entrepreneurs: that the development of a successful, sustainable business is more likely the end goal. As such, community colleges should develop classes, programs and curricula to reflect this reality.

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A Word from Young Entrepreneurs on What (and How) to Teach this Semester

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Monday, January 13, 2014

I know faculty are prepping for their classes (if they have not started teaching already). I am a fan of Lean and the concept of #GetOutTheBuilding. All firms need to check in with their customers to confirm they are solving their problems and providing value. Faculty are no different. I reached out to NACCE2103 ""Next Gen Entrepreneurs - Next Gen Community College" panelists Jason Jannati, Co-Founder of greeNEWit and Sheena Lindahl, Co-Founder and President of Empact to get their opinion of what student entrepreneurs need to learn. Listen to their ideas in this podcast starting at 14:16. 


Continue To Teach The Basics…But Remember All Student Are Not The Same

Both Jason and Sheena agree that there are basics that need to be taught to help businesses launch and grow.

·         Create a sales and business development plan – Students need to know the pathway and tools needed to acquire their customers. Make sure they map to the target market and marketing plan. How are marketing plans and sales plans different?

·         Develop financial statements - In addition to the cash flow and profit & loss statements and balance sheet, be sure the student know how to create bids for jobs. How should they account for their time in all of those documents?

They also cautioned to remember that students are in entrepreneurship programs for different reasons - some already have a business idea, some want to work in a startup, some want to develop a lifestyle business and some have a high grow tech idea. Diversify the examples you give in class.

Teach by Giving Students Experiences to Learn From

"Push students to take action on the business plan,” said Sheena. Both Sheena and Jason agree that students need to get out of the classroom and gather fact and skills.

·         Make a real sale on a business idea. Have students get a target customer to commit to buy when their product or service launches.

·         Enlist students to get internships in startups or small businesses. This will give students a sense of what it takes to run a business –from energy level, to flexibility to testing new ideas and innovating.

·         Become a magnet for mentors. Pair your students with mentors to get feedback on business ideas, pitches and plans.


Did they hit it? Post a comment below.

Sheena Lindahl is Co-Founder and President of Empact, an organization facilitating entrepreneurship throughout the world through exposure, celebration and connection. Through Empact's Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour, Sheena has overseen 500+ events connecting communities and colleges across the country with young entrepreneur speakers and role models. To learn more about Empact's programs, contact

Jason Jannati is Co-Founder of greeNEWit, a company that helps society build more sustainable communities through energy efficiency. Jason is an Empact Connect entrepreneur and can be reached for speaking inquiries here.


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Coleman Entrepreneurial College in Action

Posted By Jim Elias, Monday, December 30, 2013

 Are You Pitch Perfect?

This past October, at the NACCE Annual Conference, I was awarded funding through the Entrepreneurial College in Action grant competition, powered by The Coleman Foundation. As we look forward to 2014, I'd like to share a few insights into preparing a solid grant proposal and winning live presentation. This is by no means a step-by-step process, but a few ideas to help you build a highly fundable package that underscores the innovative nature of your college and its programs.

1. Don’t plan it alone

When the announcement first comes out, you declare to yourself, "I’ve an awesome idea that surely will win this grant competition?” Stop right there and ask someone else. The ECIA grant competition requires an interdisciplinary proposal for good reason. As brilliant as your ideas are, they’ll be even better when you brainstorm with others in your college and entrepreneurial community. Confer with other faculty members, your college recruiters, administration, students and local entrepreneurs.

2. Give it time to gel

Once you’ve outlined your brilliant brainstorm and it looks like a solid program to pitch, put it down and walk away. Sometimes the most effective step to planning is to forget about it for a bit. Set your ideas aside for a day, a week or two. Let the ideas brew. When you come back to it, approach it with a fresh perspective to see if the ideas really do gel. Ask yourself, not do you like it, but does it work?

3. Make the metrics work
First of all, how will you know if it works? Do your ideas meet the criteria specifically spelled out in the grant application? These are your metrics. As you write your grant proposal make sure you address each item as spelled out in the application. If you have an element to your plan you really like, but it doesn’t meet a particular criterion does it really work? Being a tough editor and critic on your own work is often pretty tough, so go back to your original community of brainstormers and planners for feedback. Be open to your own and their criticism … solid feedback is necessary. Remember, does it work?

4. Get administration’s buy-in early
Having your Chancellor, President and/or Dean on board with your idea early is a must. What it takes to accomplish this is certainly unique for every college and for the individuals involved. Yet if we boil it down to the essence of what it takes, it’s simple: it just takes good communication. To do that, put your selling hat on and remember it’s not about what’s in it for you and your department or program, it’s what’s in it for your Administration. Help your campus leadership see how winning this grant will help fulfill the mission of your college and accomplish specific goals.

5. Ask your students

When it comes right down to it, isn’t all of this about our ‘students’ (customers if you will)? Your ideas look great, the budget is right on the money, Administration loves it, and the community can’t wait for you to get started; but what do the end users really think about it? Once you believe you’re pitch is ready, present it to a group of students or other end users of the program to find out if it really does work. Remember, feedback is key to making your grant proposal a winner. Don’t be afraid of your students’ feedback … they expect it from you right? … it will be spot-on and give you input that helps you wrap up you pitch into a complete, powerful package!

Prepare for the worst
Weather, travel snafus, technology glitches … you all know Murphy’s Law? Make sure backups of your presentation are in the hands of co-presenters and available in multiple formats so the show can go on even if you arrive with only seconds to spare! (True story)

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2013 Trends for Young Entrepreneurs

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Monday, December 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 16, 2013

I am a fan of Lean and the concept of #GetOutTheBuilding. All firms need to check in with their customers to confirm they are solving their problems and providing value. Community colleges are no different. Since many of us educate and motivate student entrepreneurs, I reached out to NACCE2103 ""Next Gen Entrepreneurs - Next Gen Community College" panelists Jason Jannati, Co-Founder of greeNEWit and Sheena Lindahl, Co-Founder and President of Empact. They told me the trends facing young entrepreneurs in 2013. Listen to their trends in this podcast.  


It is Possible to Start and Grow a Business in a Year of Economic Uncertainty

Jason launched his business in 2008 when the economy started to take a nose dive. He actually thought that year was a good time to start a business because it forced him to "set his business’ foundation, understand who their target really was and define value his company was offering”. Jason thought 2013 offered the same opportunity to students starting a business. One of his favorite sayings is "It takes pressure to create diamonds.” For Jason, that saying is a reminder that pressure if not always an alarm to stop but rather a signal that you are on the right path. 

Timeless Trend – It is Important to Connect with Other Young Entrepreneurs

Jason’s saying prompted Sheena to remind young entrepreneurs to network with other entrepreneurs. In times of uncertainty, connections with other peers that are going through similar challenges can be reassuring and a resource. "Knowing that there are challenges, knowing that you are not the only one experiencing those challenges, helps you stay in the game.” I agreed and thought it was important to not be limited to finding connections in your industry. Hearing other’s struggles and best practices can spark ideas for a non-related business. 

Missed Opportunities for Mentoring – Make a Right Match

Sheena saw an increase in mentoring program across the country. She has also seen a mismatch in mentors/mentees in some cases. As students first launch their business, it is useful to find mentors who are similar in business age. Entrepneurship who started their business in the last two years will remember what it is like to plan and launch. More established firms might not remember what it took to get their now publically traded company off the ground. It is important to offer a range of mentors with varied experiences.Some advice she had for any mentors was to try o make themselves relatable. Break down the barrier of how you are different. Share the very human story and feeling of launching a business and the inevitable #EpicFail.

What trend did you see with student entrepreneurs? Post a comment below.

Sheena Lindahl is Co-Founder and President of Empact, an organization facilitating entrepreneurship throughout the world through exposure, celebration and connection. Through Empact's Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour, Sheena has overseen 500+ events connecting communities and colleges across the country with young entrepreneur speakers and role models. To learn more about Empact's programs, contact

Jason Jannati is Co-Founder of greeNEWit, a company that helps society build more sustainable communities through energy efficiency. Jason is an Empact Connect entrepreneur and can be reached for speaking inquiries here.  

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How do I get more from my entrepreneurship board?

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, December 09, 2013

In the movie Field of Dreams (circa 1989) the message is "if you build it they will come”, but is that really true in the world of community college entrepreneurship boards? Can we get the substantive engagement needed by simply building the program or do we need to build a better board to get better outcomes?

Now I remember running our entrepreneurship center at Dakota County Technical College and how thrilled we were to have an entrepreneurship board of more than 20 committed individuals. We did the invitation to join, we rolled out the red carpet for the meetings, and we even had a school issued handbook on how to be a good advisory member. But what we failed to do more often than not is invest in their participation as a board member with professional development. We all know that you can be a great technician and still fail in business. The same can be said for our entrepreneurship boards.

Here are 5 tips to provide better board member professional development:

1. Invest some actual funds in professional development. Nominal cost often directly results in nominal outcomes.

2. Carve out time that is specifically devoted to getting the group on the same page with mission and vision of the college.

3. Get participation from internal and external members- it can’t just be for the volunteers, you must get senior administration participating as well.

4. Use a process that actually results in achievement of a product, such as an action plan.

5. Reward the participants with some achievement, award, certificate or other notable note so you can promote them and get buzz for your program.

NACCE’s new Entrepreneurship Specialist Certificate online training is one way to infuse national best practices for entrepreneurship program success into your professional development plan. Your board can take part in an online training where they work asynchronously and then bring them together for regular "wrap” sessions face to face to solidify your action plan. For more information, visit 

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