FWB – New Venture Formation Class Notes

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

This spring semester I took my first two courses in my Masters in Entrepreneurship progam at the University of South Florida. One was awesome and eye-opening and the other a hot mes of a confusing online simulation. Guess which one I’ll be sharing my notes on!

While I’m an awesome note-taker I am not an awesome note-organizer. I apologize for any sporadic-ness but please do enjoy my notes and lessons learned. (It’ll be like you pretty much took the course yourself!) (PS – I earned a B!)

First things first, becoming an entrepreneur is a four step process:
1. Learn to see things differently
2. Build or create things – anything!
3. You’re gonna need to fail
4. REPEAT 1-3!!! (see, build, fail. . . again and again!)

My professor stressed the importance of failure and that a lack of failure means a lack of learning. So go, go be one with the failures, my friends! Embrace them! To demonstrate the importance of failing and admitting failure he had us all write ‘failure resumes’ – it was actually really fun.

We did a few creativity-sparking exercises that I thought were pretty neat. One was done in groups – each group coming up with the worst business idea that they could think of. After giving us time to come up with some really awful ideas we then had to switch with another team and then convince everyone who it was a truly GREAT business idea. My group made up shoes for fish then ended up having to convince the class how awesome reusable condoms would be. It got us to think and just spew out ideas, no matter how ridiculous.

Another neat tool was the PPCO method. That’s Pluses, Potentials, Concerns and Overcome. Look it up on the internets!

Something that I had never heard of (having no background in business) was the phrase ‘sellability’. I tend to be a head-in-the-clouds kind of person so this concept brought me back down to earth and made me critically think about what I truly wanted out of my future business. The professor explained that unless the business that you produce is sellable you will be stuck with it forever. Which if that’s ok with you then cool, you’re right on track! However, if you dream of one day retiring you need to think about how viable your business will be in order to gain an investors attention. He gave us 8 factors of sellability but I won’t cover those here – that’s what Google’s for!

Something I had never thought of before – if you want a brick and mortar business you should be buying the property, not renting, so that it becomes an asset. Instead of thinking about revenue, he explained that you should be focused on what assets you’ll be left with.

We also covered networking and how connecting people is super beneficial for you because then both parties, should they gain something from knowing each other, now owe you in a way. Pretty neat.

We had an entire class dedicated to learning about the different types of investors. This was something I had never even thought about as I figured I would be on my own (which as it turns out, you usually are).

So those were the highlights of my notes. Taking the course was very eye-opening. The professor was very blunt and although he was positive he was very realistic as well. It was a lot of food for thought. The exercises we did in class and as homework were fun and sometimes challenging which was a surprise – I had thought my courses would be dry and boring. Nope!

Hope you learned something new!

FWB – The Fear of Failure

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

And yet again. . . I have gone off the grid. . .

But I’m back! And this time with a really important realization. No seriously, REALLY important!

I have come to terms with the fact that I am afraid of failure. They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step so I think this is a pretty big deal.

It’s not that I haven’t failed before, oh trust me, I have, I think it’s that once I go awhile without failing I get this crippling feeling that it’s right around the corner waiting to attack. That turns into a long hibernation of creativity and any sort of ambition. It seems silly and it certainly isn’t productive but I haven’t been able to place my finger on the cause of that cycle until now. Now that I’ve acknowledged the fear of failure I feel I can identify start the process of overcoming it.

I know that in the entrepreneurial world failure is actually seen as a good thing (it means you’re actually trying) but that doesn’t make the threat of it any easier to face. I’ve been so hesitant to put both feet in that I’ve been cowering on the sidelines merely reading about OTHER people’s success. So silly!

But now it’s time to take things one to-do list item at a time. I love me some to-do lists! And calendars! So I’m turning that love of nerdy organization and planning and making it work for me. If I chart out my goals and turn them into doable action items I can reach my goals one step at a time. That’s not so scary now, is it?

Step one of getting back onto the productive kick is writing that post about what I learned in my New Venture Formation course. . . expect to see it soon!

FWB – Medication Roller Coasters

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Holy geez it’s been a while.  Sorry for the interruption of your regularly scheduled blog posts – I went on a bit of a depression hiatus.

Due to my inability to see my old psychiatrist (he’s back where I used to live – an hour away) and a really long wait to get in with my new psychiatrist, I had a week’s lapse of taking my mood stabilizing medication.  Unfortunately, said medication can cause severe rash in a minority of patients so as a precaution most psych doctors will prescribe a titration up to the full dose starting with a tiny dose.  Because I missed a week the titration had to start all over again.  When I usually take 200mg I was starting back at 25mg which caused one hell of a depressive swing.  (Yes, yes, I know I broke the ultimate rule of staying on my medication. . . trust me, it will NEVER happen again.)

Because of this, the past few months have been a roller coaster of emotions, mostly hovering over the lowest point.  Yes, I made it to work and got out of bed and ate food regularly (maybe too much?) but everything was a grey haze and I enjoyed very little.  I neglected this blog because I had nothing good to say – it would have been an awful negative mess of discouragement and nobody wants that!

But here I am, back on 200mg for the past couple of weeks and feeling so much better.  This whole bipolar thing is a lot of work and can cause a lot of grief when not properly cared for (yes, I know it’s my own damn fault).  Luckily my boo is an awesome support system and I have some great understanding friends.

Onward with the news updates!

I passed my two Masters of Entrepreneurship classes!  An A in Strategic Entrepreneurship and a B in New Venture Formation – pretty good for my first ever semester of a Masters program!  I plan on getting a blog post together summarizing what I learned – the juicy bits at least.  Strategic Entrepreneurship was painful.  A good chunk of my grade was based on this online simulation that was just awful and taught me very little.  New Venture Formation was great – the professor was blunt in his honesty of just how hard it is to start a business.  We had some great speakers and did some fun group activities that better explained and encouraged the creative process.

I was elected president for my chapter of ABWA (the American Business Women’s Association) for the 2014-2015 year.  Pretty exciting!  My group joined the local Chamber of Commerce as a recruiting tool which should be a lot of fun.  I’ve already attended one event – just to scope it out.  It’s going to be a challenge for me to reach out to strangers and actually talk to them. . . about adulty business things. . . without saying things like ‘adulty’. . .

I play recreational roller derby but had to miss it during the semester since my class fell on the same date as practice.  This weekend AND last weekend I skated 14 miles with the boo at a really great local park/trail.  I’m trying to get fit and lose the ‘depression/lack of derby’ weight that I seem to have accumulated.  Hopefully this will also help with keeping me motivated in other areas (*cough cough blog and Etsy!*).

Anyway. . . on to helping YOU, the reader. . .

I’ve got a lot of resources to comb through and pick out the best to share with you!  Now that I’m back up and running at an optimal level this shouldn’t take too long.  Stay tuned!

Also keep an eye out for my course synopses!

Hope you all have been productive in your own business adventures while I was gone!

FWB – AEROLOGIE, Vintage Style and Design

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Well hello again!  After a couple weeks with a total lack of inspiration I’m back behind the keyboard!  I’ve been busy with lots of important things but I’ve also been busy tying myself up with lots of little unimportant/nonproductive things.  Alas, I am human and sometimes I can’t even take my own advice.

However. . .  It’s time I got this thing kicked into high gear.  I have Entrepreneurial Domination on my master checklist and that baby ain’t gonna check itself off!  I’ve been busy moving in with my boyfriend of 3 months – wait, what??  Three months and you’re moving in??  Yup, yup I am.  And did.  Sometimes you just know and I’ve got a good feeling about this one.  He’s a super great dude who supports me 110% and appreciates every aspect of me – even the sometimes sassy attitude part!  He’s also been a huge motivation to put my money where my mouth is and get my nose to the grindstone with all the things I want to accomplish.  (That was a lot of cliches, huh?)

One thing he’s been encouraging me to take on is restarting my neglected Etsy shop,AEROLOGIE.  (pronounced air-all-o-gee)  It’s been so far from my to do list that it’s not even on the back burner – it’s somewhere in the refrigerator.  If you clicked to check out my shop you can see the sad state it’s in.  A handful of items, no actual models for the clothing and I’m sure if you actually looked at the items (I can’t bring myself to do it right now on my lunch break when I can’t fix it) their descriptions are a little sparse.  I let my entrepreneurial baby decay into a skeleton of a shop.

But no more!  It’s time for action!  I’m having a garage sale to rid myself of all the junk I’ve accumulated and after that it’s game on for AEROLOGIE.  It’s amazing how clarifying moving can be – seeing all you have and missing what you don’t puts your life into perspective.  I want fewer random craft supplies (I do not need 10 pounds of decorative paper. . . NO!) and I want more items to put in my shop.

Thanks to the encouragement from my boo (that’s how I say significant other, it has nothing to do with ghosts) and a trip to a vintage flea market I’m revved back up!   I’ve got some great new vintage costume jewelry and I’ll be splitting the ‘band room’ with the boo to make a little studio to shoot the product photos in.  The hardest part is being patient until the garage sale is over (March 22nd!) and not losing my motivation.

Here’s to hoping April is THE month for AEROLOGIE!  I see a new launch in my future. . .  (and lots and lots of work to make it good!)

FWB – Book Review: “Show up, be bold, play big”

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Oy vey!  Between work, school, moving, Etsy domination and daily life I have been one busy little bee!  I’ve been finding it a little difficult to manage my priorities and give attention to the things that will help me succeed more than I give to the things that just take up time (Did I really need to watch all episodes of that show on Netflix in one weekend?  NO!).  It’s so easy to fall into that trap of doing what’s easy and feels good versus getting your hands dirty tackling the not-so-awesome tasks on your to-do list.

One thing I’m proud of having done this past month (where did February go, anyway??) is finishing the book “Show Up, Be Bold, Play Big” by Kim Hodous.  It was a silly little read with her 33 strategies for ‘outrageous success and lasting happiness’.  A lot of her strategies were common sense but she managed to put her own spin on most of them.  I saw Kim speak at the National Women’s Leadership Conference last year (part of my American Business Women’s Association adventures) and was energized by her spirit and passion for women in leadership roles.

A couple things that really struck a chord with me were her encouragements to stop thinking and start doing as well as putting focus on the activities that will net the biggest gain.  I fall victim to the eternally mental checklist/idea book.  Everything is in my head tucked away nice and neat which is no help if I actually want to DO something.  I can keep a mental checklist or calendar but what good is it if I can’t TRACK my successes (or failures, both have merit)?  Kim did a great job reminding me that putting pen to paper is the best way to start something.

With Cannibal Crafts, I spent a lot of time doing what I loved doing regardless of what the customers actually responded to.  I enjoyed making chewed gum magnets (one of my many quirky venture ideas) and loathed making mustaches on sticks (again, quirky endeavors are endless when it comes to me).  However, at craft fairs and on Etsy my mustaches on sticks did WAY better than the chewed gum magnets.  (Is it just me or does that sentence seem a little ridiculous?)  Granted, I wanted to do something that I enjoyed but if my end goal was to be self-sufficient with a crafting business I should have listened to the masses.  Kim also talks about your to-do list and what aspects make you money.  Does organizing help bring in money?  No.  But making more of your listings certainly does.  So put priority on those things that will get you the biggest return.  Don’t spend 8 hours organizing your inventory when you could have been working more productively for at least a portion of your day.

So that’s it.  My first business book review.  It was a quick easy read and provided some feel-good inspiration to be more focused and live/act with more purpose.  Was it revolutionary?  No.  Did it have a few good tips?  Yes.  Did it motivate me?  Yes.  I’d give it a good 3 out of 5 stars for its inspiration factor.  You can find her book here or learn more about her here.

FWB – Female Entrepreneurs and the Fourth Wave of Feminism

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Having grown up with a very strong female role model in my mother I knew that women were equal to men in ability and skill.  Seeing my mom succeed in her career and participate in the local women’s groups I was perhaps a little sheltered in my understanding of the outside world’s view of women.  It wasn’t until my 11th grade American History class that I learned about the suffrage movement and heard my mom recount personal stories of growing up as a woman in the 60’s.

Through my membership in the Ringling Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association I have learned a lot about women in the workforce and just how difficult it can be to attain the same achievements as men in business.  It seems as though we have to fight harder and tread more carefully for fear of being seen as too docile or too aggressive.  Assertiveness in women is still seen as a flaw rather than celebrated as it is with men.  It’s just downright unfair and I’m sick of it.

With the emergence of the handmade community I’ve seen a lot more women take on leadership positions by starting their own businesses.  Etsy.com is a huge source of empowerment for women entrepreneurs.  It allows for creativity and business to combine in one fluid way.  You can read articles on women who have quit their day jobs or stay-at-home moms who can conquer home and business life.  It’s inspiring.  I highly recommend you check it out.

Now for my views on feminism (because although this blog is about business I also have to throw in little personal tidbits so you get a better idea of who I am and where I’m coming from). . .

I believe the Fourth Wave of Feminism should be about equality of ALL.  All interpretations of gender, all sexes, all socio-economic levels, EVERYONE equal.  Is that such a crazy notion?  No!  I also believe that as female entrepreneurs we are in fact part of the FOURTH WAVE.  Let’s claim it for our own and spread the revolution!

So everyone, can we please band together and kick start this fourth wave through entrepreneurship?

FWB – The Beast That Is Marketing

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Ahh. . . marketing. . . I have such a love-hate relationship with marketing.  I love the aspect of creatively reaching out to your target market but dread the actual implementation of said marketing.

I truly struggle with marketing – for one I have too many ideas to narrow it down.  The most intimidating this is just how many possibilities there are when you start to think of how to market your business.  Facebook, twitter, wordpress, tumblr, blah, blah, and more blah. . .  TOO MUCH!  And did you know that you’re supposed to make an actual marketing plan to follow?  A real PLAN.  Like written down.

I found this lovely article to help you with your marketing goals – it’s pretty neat so you should check it out!  Let’s see if I can’t stick to my own guns and follow their suggestions. . . Here’s to hoping!

FWB – National Mentoring Month – What SCORE Can Do for You

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

Hello, friends!  Did you know that it’s National Mentoring Month in January?  I sure didn’t!

Check out this article on just what a mentor is and what they can do for you and your budding small business.  Even if you just have an idea and need some input, a mentor is a great way to see if entrepreneurship is something for you.

If you haven’t heard of SCORE yet I would highly recommend scooting over to their site to check it out.  You can join a local chapter or get in contact with a retired entrepreneur to help mentor you through the business-starting process – how cool is that??

The SBDC is a really great resource too – face to face counseling for FREE??  Yes please!

Go, go and be one with these resources.  Use them for all their worth and gain more knowledge on your own quest for entrepreneurial domination!

FWB – Grad School: The Final Frontier

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

I think I’ve done it – officially become a graduate student. . .  I’m super intimidated just thinking it let alone typing it and putting it out there for all to see.  What if I fail?  What if it’s a huge waste of money?  What if I HATE it???

Panic!

I applied and was accepted into the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship in Applied Technologies at the University of South Florida.

This is huge for me.  At the age of 29 I will be going back to college and trying my hand at something I think I’ll find interesting enough to finish.  I loved undergrad but this is a whole ‘nother level of pressure.

Pending my student loan coming through (yup, one more loan for me to pay back. . .) I’ll be starting classes in a FEW DAYS.  Did I say PANIC! already?  Yeah?  Oh, ok. . .  Well I’m nervous as all holy hell.

So here I go – one more step toward entrepreneurial domination!!

Wish me luck!!!

FWB – 2014: The Year of Creativity

(This post is from another Jessie blog, Fourth Wave Business, and is republished here for your enjoyment!)

That’s it!  I’m calling it!  2014 will be the year of creativity!  Get out your thinking caps and rain jackets as you prepare for brain storms galore this year.

I found this great article that should help you jump start your creative juices and keep them going all year long.  Go ahead, read, take notes and conquer 2014 by thinking outside of the box!

Happy New Year!