This week marks the launch of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco, a new state-of-the-art mentorship resource for entrepreneurs. The center utilizes a pay-it-forward application promise and looks to give entrepreneurs ongoing educational programming, workshops, and hands-on guidance from leaders across the Nasdaq ecosystem.
Nicola Corzine serves as the Executive Director of the Center and shared with me her top 5 do’s and don’ts for entrepreneurs. Wise words indeed!
5 Things to Do
1. Optionality is key, build in options from the start.
To ensure that you're protected from market conditions and not dependent on a single strategy, build various paths to profitability for your company. One of the key things we focus on at the Center is helping entrepreneurs evaluate all paths of funding so you have a deep understanding of alternatives when positive or challenging developments occur.
2. Know more segments of people.
Don't only network with prospective clients. We teach aspirational entrepreneurs to surround themselves with people from various types of businesses. You never who will become a great mentor or help refer future resources for your business.
3. Work backward to identify your message and strategy.
From investor pitches, board meetings, key hires, and first sales pitches, it's important that you work on your brand and communications strategy. At the Center we're focused on helping founders understand how to identify what's core to their values while understanding how to work backward from the needs and perceptions of their industry, stakeholders, and the media.
4. Have a sustained thirst for information.
Insights are only as good as one's understanding of how to bridge your experience with the real-time current landscape. Whether you're looking for partnership, funding, or referral, new contacts will have trouble believing you are set-up for the future if you aren't synced with the current landscape.
5. Understand that meetings are for connecting as people, digital is for being empirical.
You've heard it at least one-hundred times, but the greatest business leaders see meetings as a chance to really get a feel for the values and insights of the person. Save your persuasive, linear case for whatever you're proposing for emails or digital communications. Pitch yourself at a dinner, pitch your ideas later.
5 Things to Avoid
1. Don't opt out of entrepreneurship because you don't fit a "typical” build.
More and more entrepreneurs are leading great companies and solving real problems from various backgrounds, industries, and regions. There is no "one size fits all" approach to entrepreneurship and fewer people from your background in the industry actually means fewer folks who've tried your unique approach.
2. Constantly feed yourself and others as founders.
This is not a path best traveled alone; pursue organizations and situations where you can learn and grow with peers. Also commit to paying it forward to others who have not yet begun the entrepreneurial journey. Founders need a safe haven to learn from other founders, if for no other reason than to understand the perspective of those with more experience.
3. Keep the user alongside for your entire journey.
We believe that it's critical to engage users, early, often, and at all stages of development. This is why we've created opportunities for entrepreneurs to have access to storefronts and concept pop-ups to ensure they are designing with the end-user in mind.
4. Create something positive out of the rainy days.
Challenges are the greatest opportunity to make alliances stronger and lead critics to reconsider. If you approach these situations knowing that some ground will be lost but that you can use the opportunity to show grace and balance, you'll quickly find peace in not trying to control the uncontrollable variables.
5. Don't forget that leadership is about evolving and improving.
Smarts alone don't create great leaders; commitment to improvement does. Look to improve your product, reflexes, morale, and team. In turn you will grow into a savvy and powerful leader.