This week’s blog is from Layne Livingston, a Georgia Southern student bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Layne recently participated GSU’s 3 Day Startup program then upped the ante by competing in FastPitch 2016 where she won second runner up in the student category. Read on as Layne shares three key takeaways from her foray into the wonderful world of entrepreneurship! FYI – – The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonderers. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map…
I thought there had been a mistake when my product idea was accepted to 3 Day Startup at Georgia Southern. For a moment, I was worried there had been a misunderstanding and that I was thought to be an engineer of some-sort. I am definitely not an engineer, and, in fact, I did not think of myself as an entrepreneur at that time. I was just a Hospitality student with an idea in my head. Thankfully, I was encouraged by my entrepreneurship professor to attend 3DS and explore my idea further.
During the weekend, I gained more skills and experience in start-ups than ever before. I learned so many valuable lessons and my confidence in my entrepreneur abilities was strengthened. There are a couple lessons I learned that I think are valuable to share. So here are the top three lessons I learned in only three days.
1. Criticism is a compliment
After a few hours of brainstorming and building up the possibilities of my product with my team, we were more than happy to welcome any advice from mentors. It only took one hour before I found a corner of the building in which to hide and call my mother. “They hate my idea! They are all in our room dissecting my idea and explaining what’s wrong with it.” Our conversation only lasted a couple moments before I realized something. If you paint a picture, you want to make sure every line, every color, every detail of it is perfect. Sometimes that means painting over things or changing the original sketch, but it is necessary for you to end up with a work of art. After that first meeting with mentors, I decided to take any criticism with an open mind. If someone cares enough about your product, then they will point out a weakness so you can fix it. Once I understood that the mentors wanted me to be successful and believed in the product, I was able to take every bit of advice they gave me and use it.
2. Don’t be afraid to talk a lot
Half way through the weekend, my team started calling me “Boss Lady.” At first, I was worried that I was talking too much. Is that a bad thing though? I was a competitive public speaker for years, so I am very good at communication. If I see a task needing to get done, I’m not afraid to ask for help or explain what steps need to be taken to accomplish it. One of our most powerful tools in the start-up tool kit is strong communication. How can you be successful explaining your business to a consumer if you can’t even communicate to your team?
3. You are your biggest limit
In the world entrepreneurship, there are lots of bumps in the road. There are plenty of limits. The biggest limit of all is a lot closer to home than you think. It’s yourself! Ever heard the expression, “Your only limit is your imagination?” Well, when dealing with a business that was born from your creativity and innovation, that statement has a lot of truth. When going into the “shark tank” world, we have reservations. That’s ok! Being nervous about risks means you are smart, care about your business, and understand that your company isn’t immortal. Just don’t let these reservation get the best of you. Remind yourself that entrepreneurs have walked this path before and as scary as it is, it can really be worth it in the end! What if Edison had given up on his lightbulb on the first attempt? What about the second time or nine-thousandth time? What if Walt Disney had listened to the nay-sayers who insisted a cartoon as a full-length motion picture would be a waste of time and money? What if you let the simple fear of failure stand in your way? The only true failure is letting that fear win. What if this Georgia Southern senior believed the lie she was telling herself a month ago that a hospitality major has no place in an entrepreneurship event? Don’t listen to your fears, but look at the possibilities instead.
So, to sum up my first experience as an entrepreneur: Use criticism to perfect your idea. Talk a lot! Brand yourself! Don’t be afraid to be called the “boss” of your business. Become the one investors and potential customers know to bring their questions to. Keep thinking big and follow through. Have confidence in yourself and your idea.
I promise you won’t regret it!