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Posted By Megan Ballard, Thursday, October 16, 2014

Community Mapping: Defining Assistance for One Year Old Businesses

Submitted by Braden Croy - Syracuse University

Entrepreneurship across Northeast State College has been growing in the past few years because of how entrepreneurial the community and the Governor has become.  Governor Bill Haslum, developed the Drive for 55 initiative which works to help the state reach a 55% college degree recipient rate.  The initiative has been a wonderful boon for community colleges because of the students’ ability to get help with financing tuition and books.

One of the first steps for Northeast State CC was summarizing all of their initiatives.  They came up with the mission: Access, Completion, Community.

Northeast State CC took the President Pledge and it has worked out great for them.  If you’re not familiar with NACCE’s Presidents Pledge it includes:

  1.  Create or Expand Internal & External Teams Dedicated to Entrepreneurship
  2. Increase Entrepreneurs' Engagement in Community Colleges
  3. Engage in Industry Cluster Development
  4. Leverage Both Community College and Community Assets to Spur Innovation and Job Creation
  5. Create Buzz and Broad Exposure of your College's Commitment to Entrepreneurship

Lemonade was made out of the lemons Northeast State CC received.  The college was given the old county's jail house, sheriff’s office, parking garage, and administrative building which had been severely damaged by flooding.  The county, local banks, and the community college helped fund the renovation of the building.  After the renovations it looks beautiful.  Taking Saras’ effectuation to heart, Northeast State CC has made a crazy quilt of partners using the RCAM expansion as the catalyst. 

With a lot of brainstorming, Northeastern realized they need to help their citizens think past the economic destruction plant closings and lost manufacturing can cause.  They were able to leverage their assets and access as a community college to find new ways to help unemployed individuals.

Out of these discussions and brainstorming sessions, they came up with an ecosystem map.  Their map is a community within a geographic region, composed of stakeholders working together to promote and support newly created businesses.  From this definition they were able to use the Google Fusion tool to create a physical map of their support and entrepreneurial resources.  The map appears to be very useful in helping entrepreneurs and others locate businesses and resources near them.

Northeast has also come up with a mind map of their entrepreneurial ecosystem.  The map has provided an interactive method for drilling down into the specific actors in their ecosystem.  FreeMind powers their map.

After all of this mapping, the question becomes, what does a business need that has been around for a year?

Northeast uses a DACUM, a job analysis workshop.  The DACUM process uses live interaction with entrepreneurs to answer what should be taught and what is currently taught.  You must first start with an occupational definition.  As a group, attendees were able to come up with a list of duties and tasks for the community.  Their group decided entrepreneurs needed to know how to:

  • Manage their business

  • Document and organize business flow

  • Grow the business

  • Develop advertising/marketing process

  • Forecast growth

  • Identify potential innovation

  • Manage human resources

The saying you don’t know what you don’t know, couldn’t be truer for entrepreneurs.  The mapping process is about helping entrepreneurs and the community understand what they don’t know.  The Northeast mapping method is a simplistic, yet powerful, method to help entrepreneurs scale their awareness of critical business tasks.  Key to making these assessments work is the type of vocabulary used.  Not all entrepreneurs can be expected to know fancy accounting or legal jargon.

Tags:  12th conference  conference  Northeast State Community College  PFEP 

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Posted By Megan Ballard, Thursday, October 16, 2014

Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs: The Entrepreneurial Mindset in the Workforce

2014 NACCE Alumni Entrepreneur Awards

Submitted by Braden Croy - Syracuse University

A great birthday song for Cheryl to start the morning off.  Happy Birthday indeed.

This year we have three award winners.

  1. Gary Krause

  2. Marylyn Harris

  3. Pamella Butler

Ed2Go has been nice enough to sponsor these awards and has provided a number of wonderful prizes.  We congratulate these individuals and wish them the fullest success in the future.

Gary has a truly inspiring story.  Going from patient with a head injury to entrepreneur and resident nurse.  He took a difficult situation and turned it into immense opportunity, as a good entrepreneur always does—when life gives you lemonade…

Marylyn is a vetrepreneur who has not only served her country but served all of her fellow entrepreneurs.  After leaving the service, Marylyn knew there had to be something out there which called her and spoke to her passions.  She found that activity by starting the Houston Women Veterans Business Center.  Now she travels the country and helps other national heros get their companies started.

Pam was nominated by Tallahassee Community College and now she encourages people to take action, not just make donations.  Pam knows that here in this country anyone who puts their mind to it can change their stars and the stars of their family, friends, and communities.  We must continue in Pam’s footsteps to help train entrepreneurs and future leaders.

We welcome to the stage Virginia Hamilton

Virginia has over 30 years of experience in workforce development at the local, state, and national level.  She serves now as the regional administrator for U.S. Department of Labor-Employment and Training Administration Region 6. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Department of Labor is indeed interested in aligning the interests of all employers, employees, and government agencies.  The Department does this through active investing in social infrastructure and assistance programs.  Many of the Departments programs help entrepreneurs start their businesses and access resources which otherwise wouldn’t be available to them.

Imbedded in all of the Department’s projects are evaluations.  They’ve heard the anecdotes and qualitative success, but now they want to know the quantitative analysis.  We can all help in the writing of the future of business by helping Virginia’s department know what matters to entrepreneurs and our entrepreneurial ecosystems.  So far the government has come up with 7 core principles to their employment and entrepreneurship programs:

  1. Engage employers

  2. Earn and learn

  3. Making smart choices—using labor market data

  4. Measuring matters

  5. Building stepping stones

  6. Opening doors

  7. Regional partnerships

The principles will help define how the government evaluates and funds employment and workforce training programs.  Many of these principles as entrepreneurial educators we already know are important, however, it is nice to see more people jumping onboard.

“The real problem isn’t that there isn’t enough innovation, it’s that there aren’t enough entrepreneurs starting businesses.”  Entrepreneurship is indeed on a decline since the government started measuring the data, but this can change.  Through our work at NACCE and colleges or universities around the country we can reverse this trend.

Entrepreneurs need to be a jack of all trades.  There are so many different skill sets and mindsets entrepreneurs need to embody.  From technical skills to interpersonal skills, any entrepreneurship education program should focus on building the whole person.  As more people learn about the opportunities to start their own businesses we have a perfect ability to help them along that path.

It’s amazing to think that in certain geographic regions sole proprietors, 1099 contractors who are self-employed, provide a three to one rate of tax receipts to governments.  It shows how important self-employment and entrepreneurship will be in the future.  We will all eventually have to be entrepreneurs.

We will now welcome a panel to the stage.

Panelists: Diana Kander | Dr. Jeanne Wesley  | Kristine Spengler

There are 53 million freelancers in the United States, so what are you seeing in your world about the new era of work?

Diana: I think we’re currently doing a terrible job at preparing students for the new world of work.  We actually diminish the entrepreneurial mindset in class by taking this ‘sage on the stage’ philosophy.  The real world never works like this, it is actually customers and consumers who determine what employees and employers do.  There is never an authority figure who has a crystal ball on the market.  Primarily we need a workforce who figures things out, they need to be able to think critically about market and social problems.

Kristine: I agree with Diana.  The majority of student we work with have tremendous energy and enthusiasm but we have to teach them a whole new skillset of thinking entrepreneurially.  There’s a lack of comfort with ambiguity coming from these students.  You can’t be entrepreneurial if you’re constantly worried about not having all of the information.  Without a book to turn to, what will these students be able to do?  They need to turn to the customer.  The bright spot is, they’re ready and eager to learn.

How does anyone teach and help students learn to be comfortable with ambiguity?

Diana: Create as many opportunities and activities where students are tasked with large jobs.  Give a vague assignment and just leave the room—ex. Go make as much money as possible in 3 hours.  We’re not challenging our students enough.  We don’t trust them to be creative thinkers.

Jeanne, how did you get started and what’s your story?

Jeanne: One of the things we observed was that entrepreneurs want skills.  Very simple, very easy, they have skill needs.  Entrepreneurs’ skill needs are typically greater than the needs of students; there’s a lot more on the line for these individuals.  We started helping by using existing entrepreneurs who are already highly skilled.  This gave us credibility and helped young entrepreneurs think through customer discovery and get out of the building.  We built nine workshops around the core lean startup principles and brought them onto campus through startup weekends, internships, and curriculum. 

Through these workshops and activities we were able to build an entrepreneurship ecosystem in the bars and in the coffee shops.  Before we did these, there were no meetups and no community around helping entrepreneurs.  Now we want to build a coworking space and even start an angle investing network.

It’s critical to teach our students to get out of the building and talk to customer.

What can be done differently at community colleges?

Diana: my suggestions are very high level.

Entrepreneurship is very different than any other subject.  It’s more like teaching basketball, could we really earn a certificate by reading this history of basketball but never touching a ball?  Even if they’re writing business plans or interviewing customers, they’re still not experiencing what it means to be an entrepreneur.  It’s something you can only learn by doing it.  We should help them realize whether they even want to be entrepreneurs.  Are you making your students feel uncomfortable, do they have butterflies?  They must feel uncomfortable and be emailing you all of the time.  If they’re not up all the time working on and thinking about their company, you’re not doing it right.

Kristine: Too many times we focus on the books and the theory, but we forget to tell them to follow their gut and follow their instinct.  Part of being an entrepreneur is being able to follow your intuition.  Your gut will guide you.  That little voice in your head will tell you where to go.  We don’t empower our students to trust themselves and their abilities.

We can layer all sorts of stuff on top of that trust.  We need to make them feel uncomfortable, we need to push them and force them out of their comfort zone and the building.  After they get out of that comfort zone they become energized and excited.

How do you teach intrapreneurship?

Kristine: we started with the lean startup but then created a lean program with the intention of training internal employees.  We take trainees through a very short, 2 day, curriculum which helps them understand the terminology and basics of the lean startup.  Those trainees then bring in a real problem their employer is facing and work on that problem through the lens of lean.  Thy end up looking at their work very differently by the end of the program.

Jeanne: We do many of the same things.  We’ve hosted the Marine Intel IT group and used the same lean principles to help them.  We also helped a State Capital group to use lean principles to manage and access big data.

Diana: The curriculum between the entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship classes I teach is identical.  The process and the principles are the same.

It’s about experience and principles, how do we prepare our workforce with this sense that it’s a new game in employment?

Diana: One of the new realities is that business models don’t last as long as they used to.  ‘Built to Last’ no longer holds true.  Entrepreneurs and businesses maybe have 10 years with a single business model.  This principle holds true for career paths as well.  The average employee will have 17 jobs before they retire.  Our job needs to be helping these employees continually learn and access continuing education support.  We need to teach curiosity.

Jeanne: The product is YOU.  Whether you go to a company or start your own business, YOU are the product.  Thus it’s your responsibility to brand yourself individually and get the skills you need to always be valuable.

Kristine: It’s a sense of empowerment.  We need to help workers understand that there’s a paradigm shift happening in the workforce—the truth is YOU have the answers, you don’t need to go to your boss for everything.  If you have good ideas, follow them and then go to your boss with your conclusions.  We’re empowering you to make the decisions and find the answers.  Once people are empowered, realizing they’re the product, they are much more creative.

What are the skills we see in the intrapreneur and entrepreneur paradigm?

Diana: We need to change the way we think about business.  It’s not about prediction and huge risky bets, it’s about finding evidence and making small bets.

Jeanne: I agree, it’s about what we call data driven decisions.  Don’t throw the spaghetti at the wall but rather find the data which supports your ideas.  A lot of businesses will approach us about soft skill training.  These businesses want students who can deal with working in teams, working with difficult people, or how to manage time.  Leadership is another skill which every employer is asking us to train.  These are hard to teach, but we need to embed them throughout the educational system.

Kristine: It is that soft skill set.  We’ve used personality and aptitude testing to help us understand how our employees think and what part of the brain they predominantly work from.  Our employees have loved having that insight.  It helps them realize not everyone thinks the same as they do.  These tests helped employees break their assumptions and work better in diverse teams.  Personality blended with evidence based decisions is a powerful combination.

Can you teach people sales or pitching, is it part of that mindset we need to teach?

Kristine: At the end of our internal lean competitions, our employees pitch.  It’s vital that these people can succinctly and powerfully be able to present their ideas.  If they can’t present, no one will buy into their vision.

Jeanne: Regarding sales we really emphasis relational sales.  This means getting to know people and connecting with them on a deeper level.  It’s not a used car sales strategy, it’s a trust building process.

Kristine: Sales is problem solving.  If you can get to the bottom of your customers problem, the selling becomes easy.

Diana: I think sales is an invaluable skill for all human beings.  Everything is sales.  The challenge isn’t to teach those tactics of ways to sell, but rather to teach them customer empathy — stop selling and listen.

Tell us a little about what you do and your skills?

Diana: I’ve had 9 companies and when I look at opportunities I think of my tool belt.  I ask if an opportunity will add additional skills to my tool belt.  These diverse skills will make you much more attractive.

Jeanne: Educators and admins need to think of themselves as infinite contractors.  You should think through what is your brand.  Become internet savvy and get out of the building to meet with students, other entrepreneurs, and faculty.  Get on Twitter today!

Kristine: Think of what you’re doing as creating a product.  When you think about what you’re providing as a product for a customer, the student, it gives new meaning to your work.  You’ll approach the way you interact with your ecosystem entirely different.  Solve problems with your customers and consumers.


Tags:  12th conference  conference 

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Posted By Megan Ballard, Thursday, October 16, 2014

Entrepreneurship: A Mindset Every Student Needs and the Workforce Demands

Panelists: Bree Langemo | Gary Schoeniger | Joe Raso

Submitted by Braden Croy - Syracuse University

This discussion will help redefine entrepreneurship and the mindset entrepreneurs need, as well as the workforce view which is driving modern entrepreneurship and employment. 

Fun fact for everyone, in the United States, 70% of workers are not engaged in their work.  Gallup notes that 19% of the workforce is actively unengaged and 51% is just unengaged, meaning they won’t create anything great for their companies.

Entrepreneurial thinking provides a framework which can help recapture some of that lost human potential.  However, we’re facing a problem in defining mindset and its understanding in an actionable way.  The term mindset is the underlying beliefs and assumptions that drive behavior—a simple definition but does it cover everything?  We’re often not aware of the actions and patterns which define our mindsets and employees, citizens, and business owners.

Entrepreneurship can be simply defined as searching.  Not everyone is going to sign up to be a business owner or is capable of coming up with a revolutionary technology.  Entrepreneurship though is simply about containing a body of search skills.

The search process must come before the business process. Entrepreneurial attitudes and skills are the search for the connection between needs and business opportunities.  Entrepreneurs possess interaction, observation, experimentation, adaptation, problem solving, networking, and communication skills.  Many times these skillsets aren’t taught or are even actively discouraged in an academic setting.  We teach delivery skills not searching skills.

We must learn how to help students search for the intersection of their competencies and other people.

Entrepreneurship is not a business discipline. 

Only once someone finds something, they have searched far and wide enough, do managerial skills become important.  Redefining entrepreneurship as the ability to search, helps skeptical teachers embrace the idea of entrepreneurship.

The entrepreneur believe he or she can empower themselves by solving problems for others.  As educators, it is our job to help students take their passions, their abilities and turn those into problem solutions for other people.

The question is, is it the person or the situation which makes entrepreneurs?

Fundamental attribution errors is the tendency to overemphasize the importance of traits while failing to recognize the importance of situation factors that influence behavior.  Causation for correlation.  People fail to recognize the extent to which observed action and outcomes relate to the person versus the situation.

Social pressures are influencing use to such a severe extent that most of the time we don’t even realize it.  Entrepreneurs need to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs.  Social pressure is why ecosystem need a critical mass of entrepreneurs to truly thrive.  Keep in mind that A players want to work with A players.

People are defined by their situations and the experiences of their lives.  No entrepreneur will ever be the same people none of us have the same past, present, or future.  We need to ask ourselves whether what we are doing in our institutions is helping students find solutions and understand searching is the key skill to possess for entrepreneurial success.  We must turn class into an incubator for inquiry and analysis.

No matter who you’re talking to, people will always be talking about jobs.  It’s simple but true, “it’s about the economy stupid.”  An amazing stat is that 40% of the workforce in the next few years will be independent contractors.  A tectonic shift is happening in what it means to be employed. 

As communities what are we measuring—completion rates, job openings, or work output?  Traditional metrics will no longer be relevant because work will no longer be performed in the traditional manner.

As communities, the task will be to make it an ecosystem where people will want to live because they can work from anywhere.  Community is the new currency.  If I can work from anywhere, why will I choose your community?

The number one thing employers talk about needing—not technical skills—but foundational skills: communication, team building, creativity, etc.  Big corporations and startups alike all need workforce.  They need a workforce with an entrepreneurial mindset of searching and creativity.  The communities which build these foundational skills and make these skillset connections will be the most prosperous moving forward.  Let’s not treat the symptoms, but rather let’s create an antidote.

Community colleges can be the best resource to lead the creation of these antidotes.  CC’s make the perfect leader because they are focused on serving the regional economy and are typically the closest to the employer.  Community colleges serve tremendously as the connector between K-12 and four year institutions.  CC’s also have a myriad of credit and non-credit courses which are imperative to entrepreneurial training and skills development.

Pikes Peak Community College is breaking the mold and placing their entrepreneurial programs, Icehouse, outside of the business program.  The mindset of entrepreneurship which Icehouse teaches should be provided and taught to all students, no matter their course of study.  PPCC is even mandating their students learn the search process of entrepreneurship by making their program a foundational course.

PPCC’s goal was the advancement of student persistence by inspiring and engaging students in a success mindset and the limitless opportunities it can provide.  The bigger picture goal is the creation of entrepreneurship as a mindset every student possess in the workforce.  They currently have three outcome classification: short, medium, and long term.

Short: changes in skills knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors

Medium: increased pass rates, increased 1st semester to 2nd semester retention rates, and increased 1st semester to 3rd semester retention rates.  For those not in the community college know, the largest challenge facing community colleges is keeping students between fall semesters.

Long: increased persistence rate and increased graduation rates within 3.5 years

If you can’t message your entrepreneurial programs you’re going to have a difficult time selling it to students and the administrators.  Message it as discovery and critical thinking skills rather than traditional business ownership or startup.  Many students don’t want to be entrepreneurs, but they need entrepreneurial skills and the mindset.  The word entrepreneurship has blended too much with business management, make sure to clarify that these two activities are wholly different.

PPCC has an Icehouse community including:

  • Pikes Peak Library District

  • Small Business Development Center

  • Pikes Peak Workforce Center

  • Junior achievement

  • Black Chamber of Commerce

  • See the Change USA

  • Peak Freedom Forum

Pulling together all of these partners is instrumental to making Pikes Peak Community College a beacon of light for community college entrepreneurship and community engagement.  They have taken a fresh look at what being an entrepreneur means and the Icehouse curriculum and program have given them that ability.  A little luck, a lot of hard work, and tremendous vision can make any college campus a leader in the new era of employment.

Tags:  12th conference  conference 

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Posted By Megan Ballard, Monday, October 13, 2014

#NACCE2014 Lunch Panel: From Mindset to Meaningful Action

Submitted by Braden Croy - Syracuse University

Lunchtime Panelists: Julie Lenzer Kirk | Earl Gohl | Jon Robinson | Timothy McNulty

This discussion will revolve around entrepreneurship ecosystems and building vibrant communities.  No one owns the ecosystem and every member comes to the ecosystem for different reasons.  However, this diversity is critical to building strong business

What role do you see yourself playing in an entrepreneurship ecosystem and how does the ecosystem work with community colleges?

Julie: as a recovering entrepreneur, ecosystems are extremely important to me.  In my role at the federal government and as a founding member of Startup America, I find ecosystem to be vital.  There’s a lot of thought leadership happening right now with what ecosystems need to be developed.  Ecosystems move up the hierarchy of needs:

  1. Basic infrastructure

  2. Technology infrastructure

  3. Business support

  4. Engines of innovation

  5. Connected ecosystem

The government helps fund every aspect of this hierarchy.  The government is a catalyst to what community’s needs, especially communities in need—economic distress.  However, now the government can help with seed funds, technology purchases, and program developments.

Earl: Appalachia runs from Alabama to New York and could be considered one of the great next investment opportunities of the century.  The area has everything and every type of entrepreneur.  Huge potential in education, health care, energy, etc.  It will be vital for diverse partners to help facilitate, finance, and grow entrepreneurial ecosystems.

The community college structure throughout Appalachia is critical to its ecosystem.  These colleges are important technical training and stepping stone institutions for students and potential entrepreneurs.  Poverty is a serious is in Appalachia though.  Strategy has ebbed and flowed to reflect the political whims.  Residents and leaders have taken over and defined the region from a grassroots movement.  These communities are incredibly engaged and committed to working together to build their own ecosystems from the ground up—they’re taking their destiny into their own hands.

Jon: The Kauffman foundation tries to operate in the top three slices of the ecosystem’s hierarchy of needs.  The organization is an evangelist for the prosperity of communities, it’s a leading resource for research, and helps with the specific performance of various entrepreneurship assets.  It does a little myth-busting as well, to show what truly helps entrepreneurs grow.  The Kauffman Foundation also has numerous educational programs and curricular opportunities for colleges and communities to leverage.

Put simply, Kauffman is a catalyst for collaboration; both regionally and nationally.  Helping to create that patchwork quilt.

Tim: If you’re dealing with communities facing radical changes, community colleges are a key anchor everyone can rally around.  The ‘maker movement’ is becoming a critical aspect of the modern education and method for preparing students for 21st century jobs.  Hundreds of thousands of campus space has been devoted to the construction of maker spaces.  Community colleges have played a critical role in growing the maker movement and empowering students to build in new ways, with new technologies, and generating new companies.

Maker spaces have attracted some major corporate collaborations and helped bridge the gap between 2 year and 4 year institutions.  We have the chance to work together to develop entirely new tools for makers and entrepreneurs.

What are examples of successes or failures to developing ecosystems and what is the specific role of the community college?

Earl: It’s a challenge because there’s no finish line.  There’s lots of goals and mileposts, but just because you’ve completed one project doesn’t mean you’re done.  You’ll spend your career working on new and old programs.  However, that process helps you community grow best.  It will always be an ongoing process.

Julie: Forget about thinking outside of the box; here is no box.  It’s important to look at the synergies across the community, no matter size or scope.  It doesn’t have to be just a university thing, everyone needs to be involved and helping to find those gaps.

Jon: many times community colleges are the most collaborative institutions in an ecosystem—no ego and no need for credit.  However, this means you’ll have to deal with very large egos from larger, more brand conscious institutions.  Community colleges can at some level be considered the most democratic organization in an entrepreneurship ecosystem.  Many organizations are rent seekers, looking to extract some sort of value from the entrepreneurs they say they’re trying to help—the community college isn’t like this.

Vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem s are entirely about talent, human capital.  Very few institutions outside of community colleges can say they are solely focused on developing human capital.  If you really want to help you entrepreneurs, you have to get off campus and find where the entrepreneurs live.

Tim: The opportunity space is huge for community colleges.  The direction of technology is towards democratization of access.  Things like Kickstarter make it so easy for an entrepreneur in a rural area to find supporters and sales.

Community colleges are key intersections for communities to help entrepreneurs find tools.

Julie: failures in ecosystems have happened because of ego.

Jon: you really have to work to keep egos from creeping in and destroying an ecosystem.  It behooves you to focus on tools not credit.

Heather: the role of the community college should be as a voice and as a leader.  They can unify because of a lack of ego.

What would be your ask of community colleges and what would you like community colleges to ask from you?

Jon: The Kauffman foundation is looking to you, the people in this room, to help entrepreneurs.  We need help testing our hypotheses and communicate to us what entrepreneurs are asking for and what type of help are they looking for.  We need sample size and lots and lots of data.

Julie: we’d like to see good projects come from community college projects.  We have money and are eager to fund your projects.  November 3rd is the deadline for EDA grants—apply!

We’re looking to develop a mentor protégé program.  We want to be the catalyst for your community.

Tim: The most critical thing we can do together is break down the silos and break down the barriers.

Earl: My ask—be bold, don’t hold back.  Be engaged in your community and when other people have sharp elbows, have sharp elbows yourself.  The opportunity is now and community colleges are critical to helping build the future workforce.  We are becoming an entrepreneurial nation, community colleges can be the leaders and the center for this national change.  With your ideas and our help we can put together some pretty great community structures.


NACCE Lifetime Achievement Award…

…and the honor goes to John Chemaly!

“Some people enjoy being an employee, an entrepreneur enjoys being an employer.” ~ John Chemaly

A man with a good spirit and good heart.  John knows how to get the audience laughing and applauding with this short anecdotes.  Only 60 something, John believes he still has many accomplishments ahead of him and opportunities to help his fellow entrepreneurs.

John takes us on a journey 12 years back, recounting moments with his daughter and family.  A man who plays the tough love thing but is never heartless or uncaring.  He cares deeply and is truly grateful for what Middle Essex Community College has given to his daughter, other students, and the community around it.  The college has given hope and opportunity, but most importantly, it’s given possibility to those who could never find their way before.

A small world indeed.  Pat, an employee at Middle Essex, was unexpectedly brought up on stage and it turns out her son works for Trinity.  John truly loves this college.

The time fast approaches when the majority of jobs will only require an associate’s degree and community college certificates.  We have the opportunity to make that future vibrant and prosperous.

John disagrees with the freedom to fail.  A true entrepreneur has the mindset—failure is not an option.  In his own companies, john has zero appetite for failure. 

The definition of value is doing more with less.  Everyone wants more for less in a quicker period of time.  Community colleges embody the definition of value.  They have figured out affordability, access, and employability.   

You can teach accessibility and affordability, but you can’t teach passion. Being an entrepreneur is like being in love.  It’s a feeling of, “I can do this.”  Daily being able to look your business in the eye and saying I can do this.

Tags:  12th conference  NACCE2014 

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Posted By Megan Ballard, Monday, October 13, 2014

The Entrepreneurial Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Externally and Internally

Submitted by Braden Croy - Syracuse University

The entrepreneurial mindset is the critical thinking skill needed for the 21st century.  Students will either be intrepreneurs or entrepreneurs in the future.  Through incubation, degrees or certificates, and classroom or club presentations, colleges can help foster the entrepreneurial spirit on campus.  An important aspect of making this transition will be using entrepreneurship as a recruiting tool—getting in front of faculty and students at community focused activities.

K-12 outreach for entrepreneurial training is a great way to recruit, as well as foster an innovation ecosystem.  Young Entrepreneurial Scholars (YES!) camp is a great collegiate activities which Asheville has had great success with.

ESTEAM—entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, art, and math—replacing the STEM focus.  Cross cultural and departmental activities are critical to building useful skillsets for students who are interested in starting their own companies.  Students need design, technical, and sales training.

The crazy quilt principle is imperative to building entrepreneurship ecosystems.  One great way to do this is to partner with your college’s diversity and global education committees.  Also connect with the college library to host an entrepreneurship exhibit.  Or perhaps, sell student made items in the college bookstore.

Great curriculum to use include IceHouse Entrepreneurial programs, as well as HP Life (discussed in my previous blog post.  These programs focus heavily on project based learning, which any entrepreneurial leader, will understand is critical to success for your students.  You can’t expect theory to get a student from idea to exit.

Everything thing and every program, person, business is interconnected and as campus leaders, we must make it our mission to help clarify how these connections should be made and the foundations from which they will form.  Serving on committees and institutional panels is critical to fostering collaboration and creating more nodes for students, faculty, and mentors to connect to.

Sometimes it’s the simplest things which make an entrepreneurial ecosystem strong.  Like CC’ing diverse stakeholders or scanning documents to cross campus tribes.  Or, joining staffing meetings with leadership and commitment from the top.

A-B Tech has a 12 month extracurricular business incubator.  An impressive timeframe for student incubation and engagement.

Leadership from the top can be just as important as grassroots movements and support.  A-B Tech has nicely defined their vision and mission:

Vision: Locally committed; regionally dynamic; world-class focused

Mission: A-B Tech inspires, nurtures and empowers students and the community toward a better quality of life through progressive teaching, bold innovation and supportive collaboration.

Values: Innovation- to actively seek creative solutions and cutting edge initiatives that lead to best practices.

The creation of an innovation task force help to create a common language and purpose for the collegiate community.  The task force help define an intellectual property policy which encouraged entrepreneurial activity not hindered it.  Entrepreneurial outcomes were also added to the strategic plan.

Leadership of the colleges care about metrics, and if you can place entrepreneurship metrics and outcomes into the strategic plan, you are more likely to get very high level buy-in for your entrepreneurial initiatives.  Some metrics include expanding entrepreneurial outreach (college community and external community).  These metrics are also important for being able to secure grants for your programs.

From these programs and outreach, you can form an Education and Entrepreneurial Development Foundation.  This foundation will work to promote entrepreneurship and act as a strong economic development strategy.  The foundation helps to enable entrepreneurial action with the college community and administrative systems.  When done properly, programs can turn into additional revenue streams for the institution.  An Entrepreneurship Foundation can become a sustainable business model by offering consulting and continuing education programs.  The foundation could even be used to establish a venture fund, providing seed and small scale funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs.

A-B Tech has a 200,000+ business incubation park which so generously donated by BASF.  A site they now call the BASE houses a Small Business Center, business incubation program, light manufacturing facility, the Education and Entrepreneurial Development Foundation, customized training and workforce development programs, and a brewery training facility.

A-B Tech has used BASE to drive an even large crazy quilt.  They’ve included State and Regional partners including Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Bent Creek Institute, NCCCS BioNetworking, and the NC Biotechnology Center.

How cool is it for a college to have a seven barrel brewing system?!  Who doesn’t love to learn how to make beer?

One of the major problems many colleges face is the cross campus dissemination of entrepreneurial curriculum.  If you can’t find program evangelists on campus in every school, many times course launches will fall flat and be discontinued.  It comes down to marketing and partnerships.

How does a college assess whether they should launch an entrepreneurship initiative?

First brainstorm to identify all entrepreneurial service providers, as well as entrepreneurial leaders who have influence.

Second, try to form external partnerships, even if you don’t have all of the pieces figured out yet.  These partners will help you find and define the system as you go.  Think of it as just-in-time program development.  These partners can include; cities and counties, existing incubators, entrepreneurs/small business owners, entrepreneur service providers (lawyers, accountants, etc.), and of course higher education providers.

Third, host a beta program.  Keep it small and affordable but make it robust enough to provide real value—get those early wins.  The program will grow slowly but you’ll be able to tailor the entirety of your programs to your entrepreneurs.  This is true customer discovery.  Some events will fall flat, but if you learn from and listen to your entrepreneurs, you’re events will launch without an issue.  As the ecosystem grows you can host more and larger events.  Consider making these initial events free and open to anyone in the community; using partners and sponsors to keep costs as low as possible.

Fourth, grow you programs and offer them more regularly.  By this stage you’ll know more people, have more buy-in, and know exactly what resources your entrepreneurs need.  Keep the effectuation principles in mind and make sure you’re always listening to your entrepreneurs.

By starting with a vision and defining the values of your entrepreneurship ecosystem, your future and the future of your entrepreneurs will be bright.  Be entrepreneurial, start small and grow along side of your entrepreneurs.  You can’t boil the ocean, but you can start with a single cup of water.

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Posted By Megan Ballard, Monday, October 13, 2014

Using Digital Content to Reshape the Learning Process for Entrepreneurship Students

Submitted by Braden Croy, Syracuse University

The first part of the breakout session is presented by Jon Krabill.

This breakout session explore how Columbus State Community College used digital content to help entrepreneurial students.  They decided to switch to digital content because it allowed class to be taught in ‘real time’—no new textbook versions or outdated material.  It also allowed for an emphasis on presentation skills and flexibility for students—traditional and non-traditional.

The classroom experience should be molded to individuals and their needs/requirements for an entrepreneurship education. 

The college was working through a transition with the stated goals to create a structured environment that fostered student success.  The implementation of free technology was very important because certain students can’t afford the Adobe suite or Microsoft suite.  The last goal was to utilize their Columbus, Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem, which happens to be driven by Ohio State and to Buckeyes.

Some hurdles which CSCC and other colleges may face during this transition process include psychological impact of losing a textbook.  Student love the index and glossary a textbook gives them, it acts as a safety net.  Thus you must think through providing that information in another easily accessible manner. 

Another hurdle is differing goals between the course and the students businesses.  Course goals and curriculum should be defined by an entrepreneurial ontology—innovation, small business management, or high growth company formation.  You must ask what the students want, and how can we give it to them.

The course was broken down with one main goal in mind—the formation of a business plan.  Structured in four units with specific deliverables, students learn introduction, marketing, financials, and operations of their businesses.

We’ll be focusing on unit 2, Marketing, a five week unit with internal and external resources.

Short video introduction kicks the unit off with goals and learning objectives.  Many times this includes the instructors interviewing local entrepreneurs.  Clear deliverables and rubric are provided to students with a detailed video explanation for why each step in important from the instructor.  Students seem to do much better on assignments if they understand why they’re doing a certain task.

Main content videos are 5-7 minutes long and are supplemented by Tweets, YouTube videos, and article readings.  The activities list is always growing because businesses are always evolving.

Students are provided weekly lecture notes to help guide their learning.  These notes given them reference for what they should be learning.

Pulling in cultural references is a great way to apply content to real world scenarios.

Coopetition is a lot more useful than head to head competition.  Something many students don’t realize or can’t operationalize in their own businesses.  Speaks to Saras’ effectuation principle of the Crazy Quilt. 

Hearing it from the instructor is good, hearing it from a real world entrepreneur is the best.  These short mentoring sessions occur at the end of a unit so as to help students aggregate their entire learning from that unit.

How can technology help facilitate this entire process.  Two perspectives: student support and _____

Social media—great for secondary research, marketing, CRM.  CSCC makes their entrepreneurial students sign up for a Twitter account, easy for young students, a little more challenging for non-traditional students.

Survey creators—great for primary research.

Screen capture—presentation and asynchronous learning.

Info graphic creators—marketing materials

Microsoft suite—presentations, appendices, etc.

Virtual meetings (Webex)—mentoring and presentations

Example business plans—breaking existing business plans down for analysis and mentoring.

Some great technologies which are affordable:

Apple Products

  • Explain Everything

  • Animation HD

  • Vizzywig

  • iMovie

  • Keynote


    Web Products

  • PowToon

  • Adobe suite

  • Animoto

  • Phone and YouTube

The ecosystem around CSCC is based entirely around Ohio State.  However, this isn’t a bad thing.  The enthusiasm for entrepreneurship has grown enormously because of this collegiate cultural influence.  CSCC’s entrepreneurial support is enhanced by the media and PR attention created by a holistic entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Even if you’re a speck on the outside, you can crate great programs by talking to everybody.  Show up, ask questions, and get community/collegiate leaders involved in your college’s classrooms and curriculum.

CSCC has had some great successes.  They’ve proven the classroom can be flipped.  Each week entrepreneurship students must prove what they’ve accomplished and that anyone can do this business ownership thing.  Because they’ve had to prove their effort in the business, students are now able to understand the process and why business planning is important, even if circumstances change, planning sets a framework to help guide the business owner’s actions.

9 CSCC classes went ‘textbookless’, saving $216,000 in student savings and has saved CSCC over $1 million since July 2013.


The second part of this breakout session is presented by Israel Dominguez who truly believes in the power and usefulness of HP Life’s e-learning platform.

This discussion revolves around HP Life and e-learning.  An open education resource for students, entrepreneurs, and small business owners around the world who want to gain real-life business and technology skills.  Best part is—it’s free!  It’s interactive, module based, and designed around core business competencies.

Contextualized entrepreneurship modules help students and educators apply learning across industries, geographies, and desired outcomes.  Special topics fall under either finance, marketing, operations, or communications.  Exercises take between 30 and 60 minutes for students.

Each course features seven steps:

  1. Start: brief overview of course objectives and components

  2. Story: the scenario of a real-life entrepreneur facing a common business challenge

  3. Business concept: principles and strategies to respond to the business challenge (with guided and unguided interactivities)

  4. Technology skill: skills linked to the business concept that can help save time and money, includes tutorials, interactivities, and downloadable exercises

  5. Course discussion: an online global forum to share ideas with others

  6. Certification: a celebration and validation for students

  7. Next steps: things entrepreneurs could/should do after the course

Great outlets for HP Life and E-Learning include applied business and CTE courses, on-line, in-class, or hybrid courses.  Also great for high school and college career path counselors.

Instructors guide has five sections:

  1. Introduction

  2. How to get started

  3. Facilitating e-learning

  4. Use cases

  5. Common challenges in working with e-learning materials

If you’re interested in learning more and giving the software a test drive, go to


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Posted By Megan Ballard, Monday, October 13, 2014
Updated: Monday, October 13, 2014

#NACCE 2014 Morning Session 10/13/14

Submitted by Braden Croy—Syracuse University

Heather will be missed dearly as President & CEO of NACCE. 

She will certainly be remembered for her dedication and service to the organization.  We look forward to meeting her possible replacements who are here at the conference with us now.  Dr. Massey has laid out a wonderful plan to find, interview, and onboard Heather’s replacement.  As her true character shows, Heather will stay around the help train and transition the new CEO and organization.

#NACCE 2015 has just been announced for October 11 in Houston Texas.

Lee Lambert will be stepping up to the podium in just a few minutes.  His CV is much too long to reproduce here, but we can certainly say he’s a wonderful speaker to have.

Blue, green, brown, and yellow

Water and trees traded for desert and sunshine.

What does it mean to embrace and entrepreneurial mindset.

Two words and one acronym.

Don’t be afraid of… salt…

Will a college education become the modern day equivalent of salt?

Everyone needs access to salt (education), wars were fought over salt, but it has become common place.

Everyone needs access to education, however, it has become too expensive.  We MUST bring down the cost of education or else an entrepreneur will step in to equalize the market

Demographics, globalization, technology, and lack of government support has put us into a VUCA world.

The real question becomes, how will be replacing our aging population?  Millennials are the most diverse generation of young adults and their potential is huge.  They have never been without the internet and their potential is huge.

Poor nations and poor communities are becoming rich.  95% of all customers do not live in the United States.  However, we must develop a cultural competency which allows us to access those markets.  Technology has allowed us to democratize and access markets we could never before tap.  Can colleges use this new access to keep their business models sustainable and growing?

This access may also be a double edged sword.  Great access means cheaper programs.  Simple economics—supply and demand.

Is curriculum your intellectual property?  It should be marketed outside of the United States.  Leverage your curriculum to expand internationally.  Take curriculum to markets in which you specialize—i.e. automotive engineering, go to China.  Train the train to help foreign universities teach to the American standard.

Use technology to keep the costs affordable.

One course, many sections.  Start a new section every Monday at Rio Siloto College.

Cocheese College, right here in Phoenix is stepping up to advance unmanned aerial systems. 

Dr. Srasvathy has given us all a common language to speak about entrepreneurship and starting businesses.  You can find more about Effectuation and the 5 key principles at

“You must trust the dots will connect in your future” ~ Steve Jobs


We will now be welcoming Dr. Shari Olson to the stage.

She is an entrepreneurial president who exemplifies effectuation in action at the collegiate level.  She fully understands that at times you must set your affordable loss and budget wisely so she can cover those risk taking opportunities which might not pan out.  As any great entrepreneur knows, you will never be successful 100% of the time, you just have to be successful 51% of the time.  Key to her success has been forming partnerships both on campus and off campus.  Diverse stakeholders who believe what you believe will always help you achieve your greatest successes.

She deserves the Entrepreneurial President of the Year Award which has been given to her.

Dr. Olson had humble beginnings in a dairy farming family and community.  From a very young age she was given tremendous responsibly and handled it deftly with grace and caring.

Who doesn’t love a good dog story and picture?  Family runs deep with Dr. Olson’s dedication to her college, her faculty, and her community.

Her best mentor never let her go into the red.  Keeping careful watch on the bottom line and justifying every purchase is an invaluable skill for every entrepreneurial president, faculty, or staff.

Through the Learning Studio, Dr. Olson is giving her students every possible opportunity to succeed as entrepreneurs.  Collaboration, community involvement, and support networks will help students start their businesses.

We owe it to our students to help them explore their entrepreneurial passions.

“Always, always, be happy doing what you love.” ~ Johnny Cupcake


This conference wouldn’t be possible without the support of our amazing sponsors.  Check them out on the website and learn more.


We welcome to the stage, the woman, the myth, the legend… Dr. Saras Sarasvathy!

Oh the places we’ve gone… in only one year. 

Entrepreneurs came up with effectuation.  Saras understands that she was a student of her entrepreneurs.  They taught her just as she now teaches us.

What is it that people learn while they’re building multiple enterprises?  What about along the way when they experience failures, heartbreak, and lower lows?  Simply stated, they learn effectuation.

It’s not all about chasing resources, it is more about working with what you already have.  Those things you can control to co-create the future.  Every successful entrepreneur has followed that basic premise—you can only control what is within your power.

The real question, however, is how.  How can you work with what you have and co-create the future?  We’ve heard the principles in many ways but Saras has given us a common, uniting, language.


  1. Bird-in hand: you already have enough within your control to change the world.  Look at scarcity not as a bad thing because you already have enough.

  2. Affordable loss: focus on controlling the downside, not imagining the upside.  Believe you can live through the worst case scenario.

  3. Crazy quilt: control the downside and leverage greater resources by brining diverse stakeholders onboard.  Find people who already want to go with you—start with why.  People who pass the ‘choose me’ test.

  4. Lemonade: if life throws you lemons, make lemonade.  Even when something negative happens there are ways to turn those bad things into opportunities.

  5. Pilot in the plane: the future is within our control.  We can co-create the future.

So what can we do today to get started?

Start with who I am, what I know, and whom I know.

What can I do which may create some value?

Interact with other people.  Get them to put some skin in the game.  Get them to help define and build the vision.  The future is about what WE, as a group of dedicated stakeholders, can do together.

Build effectual stakeholder commitments to urge people along and develop great programs.

The final product may never be fully visible, however, by minimizing downside risk, no one will lose more than they are able to lose.  Thus reducing the cost of failure holistically.

Taking effectuation into the classroom, or the dean’s office, is doable.

We are dreamers with wholesale ambition, but we become demoralized because of small retail action. However, all of those small actions will build into a very large something.  WE can only solve world hunger or poverty by taking small steps.  It’s fine the dream, but take small bites first.  Action, even the smallest step, will build into something great.

The only criteria we should think about when evaluating business opportunities, instead of massive economic upside, is whether we are happy, even if everything fails, doing the smallest task.  Other people may be as happy, or even happier, doing those tasks with us.  We should seek to partner with other hero’s.

The common student misconception—Steve Jobs wouldn’t ask for help or partners.  Simply stated, not true.  Steve has never found someone to say no or hand up the phone when he asks for help.  People who dream will never pick up the phone, successful entrepreneurs won’t be scared to pick up the phone and ask.

So what should we, our students, our communities be asking for?  It isn’t just about asking for money or resources or tangible things.  Entrepreneurs need much more help than can be provided by capital.  Mentorship, tacit knowledge, relationships, enthusiasm, we should be asking for equal buy-in from everyone involved in our entrepreneurs’ lives.

The Grameen Bank is a perfect example of asking and doing without being constrained by ‘what is’.  Learning along the way and asking for help from clients and supporters.  Why not ask people, in rural, poor regions, why are things the way they are?  Can we, should we, build a business around giving money to women, who have never touched money before?  Only through asking women, men, and village leaders, could Unis actually answer this question.  Proven time and time again, of course you can find opportunity by asking potential customers.

Asking is the only way to solve our world’s problems.


Saras is throwing a curve ball on stage.  In the spirit of effectuation, members from her workshop/master class yesterday will step up to the plate to ‘ask’ the audience.  What will they ask, we’ll have to see…

4 colleges will be given three minutes to make the ask…

Everyone is readying their phones, laptops, and notepads to help these intrepid entrepreneurs.

  1. Seminole State College of Florida

    1. A college of 32,000 students.

    2. Their second year of attending #NACCE Conference

    3. In the fall of 2013 they kicked off their entrepreneurship programs with 50 students and have now reached 300 students.  They have their bird-in the hand, they’re building their crazy quilt, and they’re learning from their failures.

    4. Their students want to be part of the process and the institution wants to go global.

    5. No ask for money here…

    6. They want some sort of collaboration with schools around the world.  They want to help these international institutions teach American/Western entrepreneurship.

    7. “Knowledge and collaboration without action is hallucination”

  2. Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell

    1. Looks like they’re bringing up the whole school on stage

    2. “Get an education that’s out of this world” ;-)

    3. President has his arm twisted by his trusty advisors to join the #NACCE2014 conference, he’s sure glad he came though.

    4. The college and community are having trouble adjusting to entrepreneurial, institutional change—leave things lie.

    5. They’re looking for an entrepreneurial mentor to help them make that change.  The benefits are endless for mentor and community

    6. Pay it forward

  3. Feather River College

    1. Representing the new world of work—the impending massive workforce shift we’re bound the experience if we haven’t already.  50% of the workforce will be entrepreneurial, freelancers, small businesses, and high growth companies.

    2. How do we prepare students for the future of workforce dynamics?  This is not a trend, it’s a global reality.

    3. Effectuation method can be applied on an individual basis.

    4. They would like NACCE to create the new workforce as a key topic area.  Prepare students for all the challenges ahead.

    5. 530-410-1182

  4. Prairie State College

    1. Located in an area known for manufacturing.

    2. Many manufactures have an aging workforce and can’t see a stable pipeline of educated, technically trained, graduates.

    3. A makerspace could solve all of this.

    4. 3D printers, CNC machines, etc. are exactly what students need to learn how to use.

    5. 2,000+ sq ft space identified.

    6. They have their crazy quilt identified (wow is it a long list of excited partners) and are ready to pull the trigger.  They need everyone’s help though.

    7. They want us involved in any way, shape, and form.

    8. 708-912-0418 or

Heather has one last ask… For those who had an ask, please let us know how it went.  We can all learn from this little exercise.

Time for some awesome breakout sessions.  I’ll keep you updated and expect more info to come.


Tags:  12th conference  NACCE2014 

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Family Matters

Posted By Timothy R. Mittan, Friday, September 19, 2014

Family Matters

By Tim Mittan

In The Pocket Business Coach: Creating and Enjoying an Entrepreneurial Life, much of what I talk about is how entrepreneurs deal with starting and growing a business all while trying to balance a personal life that often includes a spouse and a family.  There are obligation that need to be met by the entrepreneur that are not just financial.  They must also remember to be a good husband or wife as well as father or mother all while venturing into this fun world of launching a business. 

I joke that 90% of what I do is marriage counseling.  Fortunately or unfortunately that has been the trend with most of the clients I have seen over the years.  When someone wants to start their own business they usually do not think about how it will impact their life at home.  They usually only look at the financial side of the launch, and forget about the personal side.  This trend follows along every type of household and family; culture, race, or sexual orientation does not matter. What I learned is that communication is key.  Entrepreneurs sometimes get so caught up in everything they are doing in their business that they forget to tell their spouse or partner what is going on.  That is never a good thing.

In a chapter titled “Family Matters,” I write about some of the issues business owner or potential business owner face at home with spouses.  In one such instance, my client decided he did not want to face his wife and wanted me to do it for him.  He just failed to let me know that I was the one that was going to break the news to his wife.  Here is his story… 

I was scheduled to meet with a client who needed some basic information about starting a business.  I figured he would want to know about obtaining a tax ID number, business planning, hiring employees, finding funding, or challenges like that.  I was not prepared for the questions that were really plaguing him.  When he told me he was scared to talk to his wife about his plans, my reaction was to avoid the personal questions, to tell him that he should be able to figure that out for himself.  But when I looked into his eyes, I could tell he needed an honest answer.  From that point forward I have always tried my best to answer any and all questions that come my way except for ones that I am not qualified for. 

This particular young entrepreneur came to talk to me about opening a gym.  It was to be an athletic venue where patrons could do rappelling and Olympic-style training.  He wanted to open it in the area of town where he and his family lived because he knew there was no such facility there.  He loved that type of physical training and had managed a similar company earlier in his career prior to getting married and moving away for school.  After he asked a few questions on how to open that type of business, and my thoughts on the best locations, he asked out of the blue, "How do I tell my wife what I want to do?  She doesn't understand me.  She believes I need to be working full time, but I really want to have my own business.  I don't even know how to bring it up to her."  I was speechless.  I had no answer for him because I was only looking to provide business advice on his new venture.  I ended up giving him some non-committal remark about spouses being generally supportive, making sure he explained his plans carefully and thoroughly, and to tell her about the potential.  With that information she should get on board with the idea.

I thought that would be the end of that conversation.  However, about two weeks after the initial meeting I received a phone call from him asking if he could come in and see me again with more questions.  This time when he came in he brought his wife.  I assumed she was there to learn more about what he was doing.  Instead, I quickly found out he wanted me to explain to her what he was doing and why it would be beneficial to them as a couple in the long run, and how he could go about it with my help and become a success.  This was the first she was hearing of these plans.  She was caught off guard and so was I.  I found myself in a position I really didn't want to be in because I could tell immediately from the look in her eyes how upset she was at her husband and at me.  I had not done anything that I knew of except support him, but I had also given him encouragement to go forward and look at something that could potentially, in her eyes, ruin their world.  She had no problem expressing that to me, or telling me how upset she was that he wanted to ruin their world.  I looked at him to see if I could find an easy way out, but he had this pleading look on his face for me to make it better.  I tried to do just that. 

I encouraged her to look at the venture from her husband’s standpoint and how happy opening and running this type of business would make him.  I asked her if she was confident that her husband had the ability to train people.  She knew that he was good at that because he was doing it at his current job.  Her main concern was not knowing how he was going to be able to start his own business in a town where they knew few people and make a success of it.  They wanted a family, and she needed and wanted security.  I started asking her a series of questions: What were her fears?  Why did she not think that it would be successful?  How did she see herself playing a role in the business?  Then I went on to talk about financial rewards that can happen when a business succeeds.  I also emphasized the freedom in his schedule that he would have once he was able to hire an additional trainer.  I pointed out that he wouldn't be working as much on the weekends, which would give them more time together in the long run.  I did state that it would be a struggle at first, but if she helped it would not seem so bad.  I asked if she was working and had benefits.  She was and did have benefits, but was not bringing in nearly as much as he was, and it would be a burden on the family if he just quit his job. 

After an hour of talking, he was happy that everything was out on the table; she was a little less annoyed with the whole thing, but I could tell that she was not a happy person and she did not really want to be a part of it.  Unfortunately, I don’t always learn the outcome of my work with clients, and this was one of those cases. I do know that the business did not start, at least not where he said it was going to.

From that point on my style or questioning during coaching changed in the initial session.  I now always ask if they have someone to consider at home.  If so, I want to know if they have talked to them about what they want to do.  With the answers to these questions, we can then start an open conversation about their entrepreneurial venture and how to involve their spouse, partner, boyfriend or girlfriend.

To read more of The Pocket Business Coach you can order a copy from Kendall Hunt Publishing or 

I would like to invite you all to come hang out with me at the 2014 NACCE Conference in Phoenix.  I will be hosting a book signing at 4:00 PM on Monday. Have a cocktail and come say Hello!  If you do not get a chance to buy your copy in advance I will have plenty on hand for you to purchase there.  I also invite you to read more twitter and blog posts at  You can contact me through my website or at  See you all in Phoenix!

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Excitement, Enjoyment, & Enthusiasm for Entrepreneurship in Action at Kaskaskia College

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Friday, August 29, 2014

Submitted by: Steven Groner, Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Success

Kaskaskia College, Centralia, Illinois 

Kaskaskia College added new-for-us program delivery methods through the 2013-2014 Coleman Action Grant Project. We proposed three formats and have them all underway:

1)   Start Entrepreneur Clubs in two rural towns

2)   Deliver a concentrated, 16-hour business skill Summer Bootcamp

3)   Launch a CEO Roundtable targeted at 2nd tier companies- those having successfully progressed beyond startup

Each program has produced its’ own set of lessons learned and made our school stronger. As a result, we have increased our engagement with the entrepreneurs of our region. Our team wanted to share the experiences of one “E-club”- the one established in Salem, Illinois (population 7,500) last January. We have completed our eighth monthly meeting and can happily report on the growth and synergy of the group. In fact, you can follow the club on Facebook- Salem, IL Entrepreneur Club. You will find excitement, enjoyment and enthusiasm present.

EXCITEMENT:The group has two future-looking projects… tabletop displays at the Spring 2015 grand opening of a city walking trail, also a Christmas in July event for next Summer. We have a resource sharing/book lending meeting element that really opens up conversations too.

ENJOYMENT:We agree completely with Amy Schulz’s Feather River blog of a few months ago, where she observed “Listen to your entrepreneurs and don’t feel like you have to plan every minute. Build the framework for meetings, book the space, provide food, get out of the way and LISTEN.” The Kaskaskia College educational content for the meetings is brief and includes either a motivational video or an in-person guest speaker on a group requested topic. Our Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has donated interesting books that are used to reward those who “bring a friend”.

ENTHUSIASM:In addition to a club member starting our Facebook page, we have multiple volunteers each month that want to share their business story with the group. A “home run” for this club was catching the Salem Mayor’s interest. John Raymer has been a vocal supporter of the club and he sends his citizens our way. The E-club has expanded the Mayor’s vision of what our College can do for his community.


1.   It takes a core group of 15 to 20 club members to reach a sustainable inertia. We did not have this size initially so perseverance and follow up have been needed. Summer schedules are a challenge for all, yet we now have over 25 members. Keep prospecting!

2.   Involvement from diverse constituents and community groups is essential. For instance in our 2nd E-club, we are still hoping for a community champion or two. Have confidence and continue to press on.

3.   Allow the group to evolve and build its’ own personality. The first few meetings deviated from agendas and recent sessions are less structured. You are onto something when sessions are productive and group chemistry is building.

4.   Follow the Feather River College (California) philosophy of listening more and the college talking less!

5.   Make certain that your College commitment is sustained, supportive and long term if you want to earn community support.

6.   Proactively welcome participants and provide encouragement. Some entrepreneurs approached the initial club meetings with trepidation and are now actively contributing members.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  entrepreneurship  NACCE 

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NACCE - SAM'S CLUB SHARED VISION: When Shared Vision= Shared Success

Posted By Amy M. Pietsch, Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shared Vision =  Shared Success

Amy Pietsch, Director

FVTC Venture Center


Fox Valley Technical College’s (FVTC) Venture Center unveiled its newest business training to support small businesses and entrepreneurs, Marketing Made Lean, in March. The Venture Center is a leading entrepreneurship and small business center helping people to launch and grow their small businesses and entrepreneurial firms via targeted business training. The new series, Marketing Made Lean, has been designed to create results-driven marketing for micro and small businesses and enables us to increase entrepreneurs’ engagement with FVTC and the Venture Center. This series is an example of the Venture Center’s work in continuing to engage in the development and expansion of micro and small businesses in our region and beyond.

FVTC received funding as a participant in the 2014 NACCE-Sam’s Club Shared Vision for Small Business cohort. This funding enabled us to create and deliver a training solution to solve a problem area for small businesses: marketing. According to a recent Sam’s Club survey, marketing was one of the key challenges inhibiting greater small business success nationwide. As part of the commitment to the Shared Vision cohort, FVTC’s goal is to serve small businesses with knowledge about and participation in Marketing Made Lean through 2014.

The series pairs solid marketing fundamentals with the latest in tools, resources and professional insight in four workshops, each lasting four hours. Sessions are offered at FVTC campuses in Appleton, Oshkosh, Waupaca and in Green Bay through E-Hub. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Gateway Technical College are also partnering with FVTC and offering Marketing Made Lean in their service areas. Additional partners include Small Business Development Centers located at University of Wisconsin campuses in Oshkosh, Green Bay and Stevens Point. So often marketing programs are theoretical in nature. Our experience indicates that sustainable business success happens when training is concentrated on local markets and consists of real-life strategies that are possible to implement. Partnerships that allow us to share our wins and meet challenges helps all of us reach and serve more businesses.

Marketing Made Lean is challenging and it’s different, due to its pragmatic design incorporating marketing fundamentals with the latest in marketing insight and tools from today’s business thought leaders such as Alex Osterwalder, David Madie and Barry Moltz. Additionally, nine marketing experts from throughout Wisconsin and beyond, are featured during the monthly, marketing call-in session. These speakers represent marketing disciplines including branding, strategy, design, advertising, digital media and public relations. Our experts provide cutting-edge advice that works for people who are challenged with working on the day-to-day needs of their business, most of them are also entrepreneurs and have an affinity for understanding challenges faced by small businesses who may not have any marketing background.


Elements of the series include facilitation in key areas of marketing:

·         Linking business purpose with a strategic vision

·         Positioning your product/service within targeted marketing channels

·         Creating  customer relationships through service and feedback

·         Creating a budget that is can be implemented and is measurable


The series is priced at $249.00 and if participants are willing to complete a full grant application they can participate for $199.00 per person. Marketing Made Lean is an entry-level product for us at the FVTC Venture Center. The affordable price point, depth of interaction and application of marketing concepts during the sessions, combined with the tools and resources provided, make it an easy “yes” for business owners. Once we are able to engage and assist them during Marketing Made Lean, they are eager to learn about our other products, services and coaching that can help them.

From the beginning of this process at the NACCE 2013 Annual Conference through today, one of our biggest resources and supporters who is helping provide insight and ideas to ensure our success with this grant is NACCE Fellow Tim Putnam. Tim is patiently guiding us as we navigate and deliver on this opportunity. He is a passionate and talented economic development practitioner who understands the reality of having to operate an entrepreneurship center that drives economic development in its service area while also driving revenue to the college.

As with any new product launch, driving awareness and purchase of the workshop is our biggest challenge. Our extensive partnerships, executing our own marketing plan and mining community connections is helping us meet those challenges. To date, hundreds of people have learned about Marketing Made Lean, 40+ micro and small business owners have enrolled and participated in the offering, with momentum growing and results starting to emerge. Based on comments like these from participants, we’re excited to have an offering that will be in our repertoire for a while:

· “Great tools, I can’t wait to use them and make marketing something that is an integral part of our business.” –Seminar Participant April 2014

· “Very good. Really got me thinking about our current marketing and sparked ideas.” –Seminar Participant April 2014

·  “Very impressed with the quality of the program. Every small business owner should take it to get a better understanding of marketing.” –Seminar Participant April 2014


If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me at I’d enjoy sharing our process and steps to creating non-credit, professional development training that drive business launches/expansions in the communities you serve and revenue for your College. Are you offering non-credit training for businesses in your area? I’d love to connect and learn what’s working for you!



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