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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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NACCE's Entrepreneurship Specialist Certificate Online Training

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Tuesday, December 03, 2013

What is the recipe for successful campus engagement in your entrepreneurship program?

As we approach the holiday season the campus is buzzing with the passing of secret recipes, invitations to get-togethers, even how to re-gift without getting busted, and it gets me to thinking that there has to be a way to get the buzz going on campus about the entrepreneurial future for each of our colleges.

We spend a great deal of time promoting what we do in entrepreneurship to the larger community and to the businesses we serve, but what about the internal commitment to making our campuses more of an entrepreneurial institution? If we "toot” our internal horn will it seem like self-promotion or an open invitation to join the party?

Here are 5 tips to help you achieve that balance of the buzz that will increase the participation level in your efforts on campus:

  1. Don’t praise the people- profile the effort. Sell the campus community on the impact of the effort instead of the great works of the individuals. You can say thank you, but do it with subtlety.

  2. Make what you do really sound like fun. And then follow through and make sure it IS fun and not hype. When was the last time you volunteered to be involved in something that sounded boring or difficult? Oh and remember fun is in the eye of the beholder not your definition- know your campus community.

  3. Don’t be afraid to say what’s in it for them? We get caught up in what’s good for the institution, and forget that people have needs. Feed the need!

  4. Compartmentalize. Not only do you get more mileage when you share little "bite-sized” news flashes or requests for participation, you will get greater comprehension of what you are looking for and how people can specifically engage.

  5. Invest in an effort that gets people on board at the front end of the effort. When you include the larger college in on the action planning instead of making them free labor, they own it.

One idea to consider is to engage a cross campus team in putting together an entrepreneurial campus action plan. NACCE has a variety of resources that can help you build your buzz. Check out the NACCE bookstore for the essential practices series ( or gather your team for a facilitated online training ( that starts on February 3rd . You can also contact one of our NACCE member ambassadors who can help your college or program find the perfect recipe for growing and developing entrepreneurship on your campus.

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Udacity Founder Rethinks MOOCs – Do you?

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Monday, December 02, 2013

In a surprising Fast Company article, Professor Sebastian Thrun, Founder of Udacity states: "I'd aspired to give people a profound education--to teach them something substantial…But the data was at odds with this idea." Considered the godfather of MOOCs by some, Thrun was disappointed that while Udacity had 1.6 million students, on average, 5 out of 100 learned the coursework. An article from The Chronicle of Higher Education points out that many faculty are not surprised by Thrun’s findings and that Udacity will not disrupt higher education as originally imagined. Jonathan Haber, columnist in the Huffington Post still believes that technology can bring education to more people while "enhancing rather than tear(ing) down the existing college system".

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Top Trends in Community Colleges in 2013

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Sunday, December 01, 2013
Updated: Sunday, December 01, 2013

As the fall semester comes to a close, my thoughts have turned to a year-end review.  I decided to check-in with two of our "Innovative Solutions for Challenges Facing Community Colleges" panelists from the NACCE2013 conference. Dr. Angeline Godwin, President of Patrick Henry Community College and Matt Reed, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College, blogger and author of my personal resource guide - "Confessions of a Community College Administrator" gave their points of view on trends they saw. Listen to the podcast. 


"Community colleges are a 360 degree enterprise."  

As a community college president, "we are looking for the broadest and deepest engagement with our community and students" says Dr. Godwin.  She gave stackable credits as an example of the innovative work that serves both industry and students as the stackable credits are usually industry driven. With these credits, the students are more marketable and more mobile. While the downturn in the local economy was a driver for Patrick Henry Community College to take a 360 approach, Dr. Godwin hears presidents across the country addressing their community colleges as 360 degree enterprises.


"Improving Student Success is Mission Driven and Now Funding Driven"

Starting at minute 6:50

Dr. Reed notes that while community colleges have always been focused on student success, in 2013 many states moved to performance funding. States are funding based on the metrics that they define as indicators of student success. One of the ways that Dr. Reed is meeting that goal is by using Big Data to better understand his college's actual results and outputs. Listen to hear other trends around technology that Dr. Reed is seeing. 

What are trends that you have seen? Leave a comment below.

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Tags:  2013 trends 

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Inspiring & Engaging Student Trep

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Monday, November 18, 2013

Excited to live blog

Presenter: Felecia Hatcher, Chief Popsicle Officer, Feverish Popsicle & Gourmet Ice Cream

I need to get the video for Felecia's talk. Too many good things (and laughs!)  to type.


Big "Ah Has" 

  • She got $120K+ in scholarships as a C student. Yup, C.
  • She used her college assets - dorm phone, copy machine - to launch her first business.
  • Her mom, who said she had to go to college, also said she should start a business based on work she was doing without charging. As a mom myself, I tend to focus on being an employee. Shame on me, I know. 
  • You cannot take passion to the bank to pay your bills.
  • Dad told her not to "take a break" from a business even though she was in debt and had a lucrative presenter gig lined up. Parents are Influencers.
  • More people need to share their stories of failure. The myth is that it is a straight line to $3 billion buyout. In truth, there are a lot of ups and down and not always a buy out.
  • "Adversity" - double job layoff for husband and wife founder team - helped then launch their business.
  • Lots of stories about "Bird in the Hand" - "We used what we had."
  • Entrepreneurs are scrappy. 40 year old truck for catering event broke down, so they towed it to the site and then when it broke down again, they pushed the truck to the site.
  • When she work at large firms, she made to sure to learn from those firms their best practices that she could apply to her company.

Tags:  Miami Dade College; Regional Summit 

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