PSU has a Business Outreach Program where they choose a few minority-owned businesses each year to receive entrepreneurial advising from them. I’ve been working with them for a few years but my contract ends this year. The support has been wonderful.
Last week they had an appreciation luncheon where we listened to several people talk, including Shelley Gunton, new Executive Director at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at PSU.
Shelley has an amazing past involving international business and entrepreneurship and sits on numerous boards at prestigious organizations. An industry she’s worked in for years and knows very well is dog food. Yes I said dog food. It’s big business! Therefore her advice to us entrepreneurs was organized in the acronym FIDO.
F: Follow your passion.
…but don’t let it become your albatross. If you start to dread your business or dream, be brave enough to move on to another business venture.
I: Invest in yourself and those around you.
Build up a network. Read and continue to learn. Invest in your community – volunteer, donate, mentor, get mentored.
D: Don’t get stuck in the weeds.
Pull back and think about the big picture of what you’re doing. Give yourself a chance to unwind.
O: Own it.
Once you decide what your business stands for, live it and live up to it. Only include people on your team who also own it.
I felt like I wanted more, so I looked online to see if there was some more wisdom available from Shelley, and found the following nuggets in an interview of her on PSU’s MBA Hub website:
“Q: As a successful entrepreneur, and someone who counsels other entrepreneurs through your work with the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, what inspires you about your fellow innovators?
[Shelley Gunton]: Deep-seated passion and commitment.
Q: What is the most common mistake among entrepreneurs and start-up ventures?
A: I’d say three things: Not projecting or understanding your cash needs and then running out of money. Not understanding what your weaknesses are as a leader/CEO (including the ability to delegate/trust others in your organization). And not dealing with bad hires or partnerships quickly enough.
Q: What is the most common trait among successful entrepreneurs?
A: Perseverance. The ability to find ways to make things work even when you are teetering on the edge of collapse. That’s different from being totally committed to any one idea, product or technology or “never giving up”; the successful entrepreneur quickly determines whether their original idea isn’t going to work or needs serious tweaking and then works to fix it. They persevere.
Q: Where do you personally find inspiration? Any favorite business leaders, authors or other resources you recommend checking out?
A: I’m a junkie for reading about or listening to successful entrepreneurs, regardless of their industry. They’re all so inspirational, particularly when I know from personal experience how hard it is to take an idea and turn it into a viable company! I read loads of magazines (Fast Company and Inc are amongst my favorites), books, blogs, and websites. And, I love talking to entrepreneurs, period.”
Photo by Seth Lemmons, Creative Commons License