Education vs. Experience in Entrepreneurship

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Experience taught me that I never wanted to be an entrepreneur; education taught me that I did.

This is a strange place to be.

Growing up my parents and grandparents had their own businesses. From the time I was tiny I would sweep out my grandparents’ trucks for a few bucks or sit around the dinner table with them discussing logistics, direction and profitability. I didn’t know the actual terms because I wasn’t educated. It was just part of every day life. To this day I don’t understand why people use fancy phrases like “synergy,” “efficiency,” and “ROI” when they’re speaking with one another.

I always thought it was simple: work hard, figure out what makes money and keep doing it to make more.

I also saw that they worked really hard. One set of grandparents had a mushroom farm and my Dad worked there; the other set had multiple businesses ranging from mushroom farms to selling Tahitian Noni as an independent rep to hauling Amish and running farmer’s markets. Regardless of where I went I was surrounded by people who were their own bosses who labored just as hard if not harder than those around them because they had a family business to run and grow. Their livelihood depended not only on their effort but also on the market.

I learned that when you work for someone you’re paid regardless of the outcome. When you work for yourself you work regardless of the pay.

As such I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to take the safe route. I wanted to work for National Geographic, which I did, and go into journalism, which I did. I wanted to get paid. I wanted to put aside 20 percent of my paycheck, labor for someone else and slowly chip away at savings and remain debt free.

I did this by becoming educated in English, Mass Communications, pagination, photojournalism, and social media. I did this by spending less than I earned—until I got married and subsequently divorced then I had someone else dipping into my paycheck, so essentially it was like being an entrepreneur where you work your tail off and lose money anyway—but that’s besides the point.

I figured out ways to learn for free. I read all of the books I could in my discipline. I imagined what I wanted to do and set out to do it. I didn’t know it, actually, but I was manifesting my future by being intentional about my education and career path.

But then I studied small business management and entrepreneurial studies at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Business. Suddenly everything changed. I realized that I was in an intrapreneurial role where I worked. This means I was using entrepreneurial skills in a department within an organization. I felt like an entrepreneur with training wheels. Syracuse taught me four things that I was able to apply to my job as a magazine editor.

First, I understood that money was a driver to either make or break the project I was working on and ultimately it wasn’t profitable because, in my opinion, it didn’t solve a need.

Second, when I took on the role, I came across all sorts of ideas that were planted in my little head and began to take root and without asking for permission I would often do them. This is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because I learned that if I made a decision I could execute it—without financial resources, without backing, and without permission. This is a bad thing, also, because it got me in trouble. I wasn’t trying to be a rabble-rouser. I just thought I could do something, so I did. When it panned out, it did well. When it didn’t, it flopped miserably.

Third, I learned to pivot—when things didn’t work one way I’d have to try another. Most ideas didn’t work the first five, 10 or 15 times but every once in awhile I’d stumble onto a gem of an idea that worked beautifully and I could replicate the results.

Fourth, and most importantly I learned to say no when I didn’t agree with something based on ethics, mentoring and business acumen. In business saying no can be costly. It can cost you your job, potential customers and relationships. But it can also do something important: it’ll give you a backbone, it gives you the courage to say if you think a process is working or isn’t and it gives you ownership of your project.

At some point I came to a crossroads: I knew the project I was working on was no longer feasible longterm. I knew that I like taking ideas and figuring out how to pull them off even if I had little experience and I learned that I had an entire network at Syracuse where I could call and rely on for questions and expertise.

At this juncture I became—for better or for worse—an entrepreneur and I learned the same lessons all over again from a different perspective: work hard, figure out what makes money and keep doing it to make more.

I worked hard. I became my own boss and even though I might not get paid for my efforts, my livelihood still depends on my efforts and that others will get paid regardless of the outcome.

At present, experience is teaching me that even though I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur, I am. Ongoing education is teaching me how.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page

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Now, Have the Luxury and Education of an Ivy League at a Price You Can Afford

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I may have mentioned this before but I have always longed to go to Harvard. That’s been a huge dream of mine since I was small and time and time again my friends, family and even strangers would tell me it couldn’t be done. I don’t have some prestigious last name or a big bank roll and unless you trace my family history back to Charlemagne you’re not going to find any big wigs in my lineage. But today, I proved the naysayers wrong. Today I started with MIT and before long I’ll be going to Harvard.

I’m continuing my education through a Massive Open Online Course, which is is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. Today I took my first class at MIT. I have goosebumps.

I am passionate about learning—not education—but learning. I love absorbing as much information as I possibly can, not to the point of mania, but it’s a passion. When I called my mom the other day and told her I signed up to take classes for free at Harvard she said, “You should just apply for a job.”

Really? I have the opportunity to learn for free and you’re telling me, “just get a job.” So I apply for jobs where I have the skill sets that would be applicable knowing I can work on my business part time, go to school online for free part time and I still hear it daily: Get a job. Get a job. Get a job.

That’s when the old adage by Friedrich Nietzsch comes to mind: “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Here’s the music that’s playing online: They’re singing a tune of entrepreneurship. They’re singing about how I need to build a vibrant culture of hackers, hipsters and people on the fringe of society because that’s where I’ll get my traction. They’re singing about how I’ll most likely fail but I’ll be able to parlay those skill sets into my next venture, opportunity or job and that’s okay. There is a music in the air about how I need to find my specific niche and listen to their pain points so I can solve them and allow them the opportunity to solve their pains. Still I hear the drums in the background thundering to stop getting an education, slow down on my goals because I’m not getting results and take a safe route through life. I don’t know which is right. I can only listen to my gut, listen to educators at Ivy League schools and go after my goals even if I have to do them part time.

The songs that resonate from Massive Open Online Courses are for me, and for people like me who want to learn without the hindrance of paying. They’re for people who want to learn, not for people who want to be educated.

I plan on building an MBA type curriculum for free and getting the necessary mind set so I can learn to, as Steve Jobs put it, be a pirate instead go joining the Navy. However, hopefully these classes will help me become a pirate but with the skills of a Navy Seal. If I fail? So what. At least I dared to learn.

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

 

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How to Go to Harvard for Free

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From the time I was small I dreamed of going to an Ivy League. For free. Many would say this sounds crazy, because most spend about a quarter of a million on an Ivy League education but with the digital revolution, it’s no longer impossible. You can get an MBA education from a top tier school for free but it’ll take discipline and self-direction.

Welcome to the world of MOOC, an honor-system type education for self-starters who want a self-paced education. Professors deliver content in real time through Power Point, videos and books and students respond in message boards and receive student support.

Coursera, edX, and Udacity are social entrepreneurial companies that form partnerships with schools to develop the content and students have access to education for free. MOOCs stands for Massive Open Online Course and it’s often times used for personal enrichment in lieu of a standard diploma, though some offer a certification of completion.

That doesn’t mean that the education isn’t valuable, it just means that the idea is too new to have the market determine the value of it.

What’s interesting is that although anyone can have a university-level instruction  anywhere, it’s mostly white-collar males who are pursuing it.

If you’re interested in dabbling in Ivy education, for free, here are nine places to begin:

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

 

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Adversity: A Distinct B School Advantage

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When I was taking classes at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University’s Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Program, my professor Dr. Mike Haynie challenged my thinking. He had this knack for storytelling and he’s so insightful that he was recently awarded a Ted Talk. But on this day in class he let Aimee Mullins do the talking through a brief video. Mullins shared her story about how being typically thought of as disabled has given her a distinct competitive advantage. I’d argue it gave her the ability to think creatively. In her Ted Talk she asks children to give her suggestions on if she wanted to jump over a building, what sorts of legs would they build for her. Immediately the children took clues from nature like frogs and kangaroos. And what’s interesting to note is that those children were doing exactly what the folks at the Biomimicry Institute do on a daily basis—they were looking to nature to solve a problem. And what’s interesting to note is that not only were the children limitless in their thinking but they imagined a far greater outcome than just jumping over a building—they thought she could fly, too.

Professor Haynie brought to light the idea that innovation often comes from adversity, limitations and shortcomings. He made us think how we could look at the world around us and see problems that others found invisible and begin to brainstorm solutions that were previously undiscovered. As further illustration, Mullins said that she called for innovations—one might argue who are childlike in their thinking: curious, limitless and unhindered by others’ perceptions—to design new legs and make prothesis making an art form. Fashion designers made her boots, innovators created kangaroo like legs that allowed her to sprint faster than many people with two naturally created stems and others allowed her to vary her height based on the size shoe she wanted to wear that day and Mullins friends’ became jealous of her previously-thought-of-disability because it gave her the advantage of changing her height.

Professor Haynie made us think about how we too could solve problems as entrepreneurs, how we could change our thoughts to imagine the impossible, think of solutions to things that were once thought of as impossible and he demonstrated through Mullins that adversity is not what we think. It is not a setback but rather an opportunity uniquely to the person facing the obstacle to trek a path that was previously unexplored.

I’m not saying that Syracuse is the only B school to be touting ideas like these to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, but I can say with confidence that unless a college or university can challenge your thinking in this way that it is a waste of time and money. If B school doesn’t drastically alter the way you’ve been thinking, working and imagining the future than it has failed in it’s endeavor to educate you.

About the Author


Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.
Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.
She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

View her Google+ page here. 

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The Best Undergrad Tip I Applied In B School

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Allow me to illustrate how deeply my hubris blinded me. Back when I was doing my undergrad on a scholarship from the Hortatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans at Missouri Valley College studying for my B.A. in English and Mass Communications, I had a teacher named Professor Virginia Kugel-Zank. She was one of my favorite professors because she challenged my thinking. She made me think deeper and differently and this one time in class she said that our assignment was to doodle. I was aghast. I could not believe that she would suggest such an idea. I was so pompous. I thought it was ridiculous that I was going to college to learn how to doodle.

I soon ate crow. Not only did I begin to doodle all the time but I found that it enhanced my thinking. She told us about the lady who discovered the old doodle program on the computer that allowed you to sketch out ideas because she was a visual learner. She was planting a seep of entrepreneurship and doodles.

As a doodled, I found that I could imagine something, come up with a rough idea of what it looked like, sketched it out and than began to create something from the ground up. I did this when I created a digital magazine, when I imagined how I’d want a room decorated or if I wanted to zone out I began to take my doodling a little more advanced and I took an art class. I’m not any good—granted—but I can get the message across. Plus, it’s therapeutic.

As I grew older, I realized how right Professor Zank was about doodling. I learned in the Harvard Business Review that “People who doodled while listening to a monotonous message recalled 29% more information than non-doodlers on a surprise memory test, according to a study in Applied Cognitive Psychology cited by blogger Eric Barker” according to The Benefits of Doodling.

Furthermore I have used in it in a business I developed at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. It’s called Ruby, Inc. and it’s a doodle I use to drive business results.

As I said before I was blind but now I see: Doodling works in entrepreneurship.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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Sophie’s Choice and Entrepreneurship

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Not a literary buff? Here’s a little tale you ought to familiarize yourself with from the cannon. It’s called Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron. Amazing novel, but that aside, if you haven’t read it, here is the crux of the book and actually, one of the smallest scenes in the entirety of the piece.

I read it sometime during my undergrad studying Mass Communications and English at Missouri Valley College.

It goes a little something like this:

Sophie just arrived in Auschwitz with her 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. There a sadistic doctor said she can pick one of her children to live and the other will be killed. She couldn’t make the agonizing choice until several officers get ready to rush both children away and Sophie picks her daughter to die.

The unfortunate side to entrepreneurship is that many times you’ll face decisions that have no right answer, much like Sophie’s choice. And no I am not comparing running a start-up to the horrors of the Holocaust. I’m only using the movie and the literature as an example of impossible choices and the story illustrates that clearly.

I can’t speculate why she made the decision to save her son but not her daughter but I know tons of factors can do into a split second decision. Sometimes there’s so much pressure you blurt out an answer just to move onto the next problem you have to face. Sometimes your brain moves slower than your mouth and you just spout out something because you have to choose and neither answer is right and neither is wrong. Other times you agonize over a decision—stay up late at night tossing and turning to try to make one and still not know the answer but are forced to make a choice when you don’t know what the outcome will be.

As an entrepreneur, I studied at Syracuse University through the Whitman School of Business, and after graduating I’ve faced numerous tough choices and I don’t know the right answer, akin to the tale I learned in my undergrad.

I just know the path I took. Here’s some of the decisions I have had to make during my time as a small business owner that maybe you’ll have to face, too. Or maybe your choices will be something far more interesting with little quirks that push you in one direction or the other. I won’t tell you the answer I went for, I’ll just pose the quandary and just like in college, you get to think about the answer.

  • Do you file taxes if you only broke even?
  • Do you press criminal charges against a family member for something they did during their time in business with you?
  • Do you pay for a website or ask an ex-boyfriend to do it for you?
  • Do you give trade secrets away on the Internet for free or do you lock them down and safeguard them so your client base has to pay for them?
  • When finances are tight, do you pay yourself or someone else first?
  • Do you stop running your business so that your partner can’t collect a portion of your business or do you continue to work knowing they’ll get a portion regardless of how much they put in or not?
  • If you’re paid in cash do you deposit it in the bank or does that money not exist because there’s no paper trail to prove it?
  • Do you eat the cost of a lawyer with a business partner or pay for it yourself knowing you’re investing in social capital within the relationship?
  • Will you risk suffering to do something right, or will you take the easy way out to save the hassle?
  • Will you devalue your products and services by lowering your price to make the customer happy or will you turn down customers who won’t pay your fees?

These are just a tiny iota of questions I’ve had to answer during my time as an entrepreneur. Some feel like Sophie’s choice–an impossible decision that you don’t want to make but must because of the situation that surrounds you. Others are not. But they’re all questions that you can’t Google. They’re judgement calls and regardless of the choice, there’s no undoing it.

What impossible decisions are you making today as an entrepreneur?

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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Get a B School Education from a Professor You Can Be Proud Of

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I’m here today to tell you a simple story about one of my favorite professors.

To say that Dr. Mike Haynie is passionate about veterans would be an understatement. He’s been known to shock bystanders on planes by telling them about the suicide rate of our nation’s all-volunteer armed forces. But just as much passion as he exudes for veterans he finds room in his heart for arguably his second love: entrepreneurship. His doctorate degree focuses on entrepreneurship with an emphasis in social innovation, decision-making, self-identity, and cognition. Before he was an academic, Haynie served for 14 years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. So you can see how the two loves intersect.

Haynie was, hands down, one of the best teachers I have ever experienced at Syracuse University. I remember he didn’t teach in the typical PowerPoint manner. Rather, he stood in front of us, telling us stories of businesses in an engaging manner. He made me want to learn because he understood that our brains would remember bigger concepts before they’d remember details. My favorite tale was about the crew from New Belgium Brewing Company.

Haynie said:

I love hippies. I love beer and this is a story about both.

He talked about how Jeff Lebesch, the brewery’s founder, took his homebrewing passion commercially and was so successful that he rallied an entire crew of hippies to keep his company going. They were so passionate and so successful that a large brewing company wanted to buy them. The company was faced with a critical decision: sell the company that they were passionate about and all become millionaires or continue to build their empire based on their hippie culture.

I won’t tell you the end of the story. I’d much rather you sit back and ponder what you’d do in the same situation. Would you sell or would you develop a culture? Would you pick people or profits?

I think these are the sorts of teachers that budding entrepreneurs should pick in B school if at all possible: teachers who don’t tell you the answer, but rather allow you to explore the possibilities in the safety of a classroom first before you have to make those real-life decisions later. They’re the sorts of teachers who plant a seed and wait patiently for it to turn into innovation in the real world through the lives, actions and companies of his students. He created a veritable innovation factory for families of veterans and veterans themselves and so, bit by bit, person by person he’s creating a world that’s safe for vets to come home to, a place where they don’t feel anonymous, and a place where we can spawn the next generation of ideas that will change the post 911 world.

Don’t believe me? Just listen to his Ted Talk.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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Intrapreneurship: Lessons from B School and Experience

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When I was taking classes at Syracuse, Professor Mike Haynie introduced me to the concept of intrapreneuship. I had no clue such roles existed but I reflected back on the job I was working at the time and realized that I was an intrepreneur.

That was revolutionary.

I learned an intrepreneur behaves like an entrepreneur within a large organization. Famous examples might include the Skunk Works operation at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs (ADP), formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects. Their job was to come up with new ideas in aerospace, whereas mine was to develop a magazine from the ground up in a digital-only fashion.

In hindsight I can tell you that intrapreneurship is much more challenging that it’s more famous counterpart.

Having studied under Guy Kawasaki a bit at school and having read his books, I can tell you that when he says from the outside it looks like intrapreneurs have it made because they have pre-existing infrastructure, sales teams, technology, and really, they don’t have to worry about writing a business plan or raising capital—it seems like a cakewalk.

But it’s not.

One of the most challenging aspects of intrepreneurship is that you have to assume the risks of the endeavor but relinquish control of the success. For example, I personally won an award, I didn’t win it, the company did. But if I failed in some endeavor, or if anyone failed for that matter, I had to assume responsibility for it. It’s maddening at times but it also serves as entrepreneurship with training wheels.

It teaches you balance: can you balance the demands of the customers with the demands of the company? Can you balance the wants of the stakeholders knowing that it’s not going to work with the technology? Can you tell someone why an idea isn’t going to work because you have become a specialist in your field and still have them listen even when you’re not the ultimate decision-maker?

It’s maddening at times. I remember as the project reached year three, having won awards, grown readership and figured out how to parlay blogging techniques into a medium where those strategies weren’t previously done, it seemed like everything changed. I felt like I was a blind dog walking around in a house where the furniture kept changing. I’m not saying anything disparaging about the company where I was working nor is it a comment on the stakeholders. Rather, I think it was growing pains for the publication. We reached a crux where we weren’t sure where we were going: turnover, lack of sales goals met, management structure changing and more. About two years before the magazine ultimately ended, I realized that the magazine wouldn’t survive because I had learned a critical concept in business school that I didn’t know before: brands and companies exist to solve problems. This concept I was working on created more problems than it solved and the pain point that it aimed to solve wasn’t pressing enough to overlook the other details. Had I have known that concept before I started the magazine I don’t know if I would have taken on the project. Yes, I would have worked for the company. Yes, I would have continued in journalism and yes, I loved figuring out problems that didn’t have a solution before but if it doesn’t solve a problem it’s all ultimately futile.

If I were to do a post mortem on the project, I could dissect it and see all the instances where I went wrong.

First, I would have looked at the project and asked myself seriously: does this project solve any pressing problems? If not, it’s going to fail.

Everything that works for a large company will be the antithesis of what works for an intrapreneur. If everyone is going in one direction, you have to stop and go the other way. It’s painful. It’s embarrassing to present ideas that no one else supports, but because they’re not operating from a start-up perspective, they won’t see the problem until it impacts them and their cash cow.

I wish, in hindsight, all of my meetings with the team were in a separate environment. It sounds silly but you’d be amazed at how many times we’d pull off an idea only to get in trouble for it first and then have it succeed later. Getting in trouble used to mean that I was on the wrong path, but with intrapreneurship it meant I was doing something that was getting attention and therefore it was frightening to the stakeholders. If we could have operated in a silo and presented to the company what we were learning from first-hand experience developing something from the ground up, I think it would have made the team more cohesive and we could have celebrated our accomplishments without being fearful of losing our jobs because of the failures—and there were many.

My team and I were often left alone with our projects—which is good in many cases but it also made us feel isolated from the rest of the company. However, it wasn’t until the final season of the publication did I feel like I had a team with that something special where they weren’t afraid to take risks and see what worked, and have the grit to say, well, that didn’t, let’s try again.

I wish we would have been able to share the data and lessons we learned with the rest of the organization. We learned some valuable lessons from our experiment. We learned what worked, and what didn’t. We could have used these best practices for other publishing houses to emulate. And in some ways we did, but we could have contributed more.

I learned that success within a company is measured in miles and success in an intrapreneurial role is measured in millimeters.

Finally, I wish I would have just flown under the radar. I wish that I would have been able to keep my trap shut and just have done my job quietly so that when we succeeded, someone else could tout our success and when we failed, no one would be impacted by it. But I didn’t.

And so ultimately I learned that intrapreneurship, in some ways it very much like entrepreneurship. It’s riddled with risks. It might not work. It’s got to solve a pressing problem and ultimately it has to make money to survive.

Had I have known all of these lessons from Syracuse, and not the school of hard knocks, I think I would have been able to make far wiser decisions.

In the end, would I change any day of it? No way. It paved the way for me to start my own company because in its failure it gave me the ultimate lesson of all: the courage to fail publically and continue to try despite the many obstacles against me.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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Poverty, Prosperity and Entrepreneurship

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In business school I took a class on poverty. That might seem like an unlikely area to study considering many entrepreneurs aim for prosperity, however, I might argue it was one of the most important classes I took at Syracuse. The professor talked about how poverty isn’t only for individuals and families if their annual pretax cash income falls below a dollar amount but rather poverty is made up of any lack of resources including financial, housing, education, family structure and more. She said we’re all susceptible to the three major causes of devastation in our lives: job loss, illness, death or divorce. She said in a sense, we’re all one day away from poverty.
Now this is a sobering thought to many would-be entrepreneurs in business school. Many are in business to create abundance, prosperity and fortune. Some are in it to create an entity that will outlive themselves—they love the idea of creating a legacy through an organization that they designed. But so infrequently do we, as entrepreneurs, think about poverty.

In the past year I stopped working full time to pursue entrepreneurship. I ventured out with savings, mutual funds, and a small nest egg. I went through a divorce and my ex-husband drained all of the accounts. As many know, cash flow can cripple a business and he almost succeeded. He also misappropriated funds and violated an operating agreement. He also filed my taxes without my signature and kept the refund. Again, this nearly crippled my dream. Add to it the fact that I had a serious illness that required me to have a portion of my skull removed, he refused to put me on health insurance and we had subsequent family deaths. If you look at the sobering fact: in 2013 I was nearly completely crippled. I was in poverty. I lacked resources. I lacked my health. I lacked my once nuclear family and I lacked my business partner.
But I thought back to the lessons I learned at Syracuse and I thought about poverty in context. Yes, I lacked funds but I had faith. Yes, I lacked health but I had a support system who could do physically where I could not. Yes, I had my funds depleted but I had a dream and once I was back on my feet I could pursue it. There were resources out there and I set out to find them because although I was crippled I was not defeated.

So here’s what I learned struggling in the process. Any government institution will require you to be on hold for at least 40 minutes and will most likely give you little information you need to make an informed decision. You will be told no at every pass. There is always some random guideline that you do not qualify for and therefore you have forfeited the opportunity to use it. Don’t lose heart. Just assume those resources are not for you.

In my opinion the government doesn’t make it easy on entrepreneurs. At all. Healthcare costs are astronomical. Resources are limited and hidden by layers and layers of red tape. Nothing is user-friendly. Unless someone knows you, most likely you cannot count on them for help.

But as an entrepreneur, and especially one in poverty, you have something far more powerful than you ever imagined. You have a story. You’re making a story of an American legend and that story will resonate with people. It’s riveting because you’re a real life David and Goliath fighting the only way you know how to fight.

So here’s what I’d encourage the struggling entrepreneur fresh out of business school that didn’t take this class at Syracuse. Poverty and prosperity are a state of mind as much as they are a real concept. Out of the greatest poverty we can create amazing entrepreneurial stories. Our country is rich with them from stories of immigrants coming through Ellis Island to prosper in the new world, to thread bare students going to Harvard on scholarship only to persevere and graduate the top of their class. Entrepreneurship is about struggle. Poverty and prosperity are a day away. Keep trying. Keep looking for resources because the best times of innovation come from abject scarcity.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

 

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The Smartest Thing I Ever Learned in Business School

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Quite a few years ago I took some business classes at a local community annex. They taught the basics of time management and P&L statements and had us craft a mission statement and 30-second elevator pitch. I won’t say that these things aren’t valuable because they are; however, the thing I noticed in class is that many of the budding entrepreneurs were pitching ideas that were self-aggrandizing. They were selling themselves and what I mean to say is they honed in on a talent or hobby or idea that they held near and dear to their hearts with little regard as to who would purchase their product or service. They made the business all about them.
When I went to Syracuse they had us think about this concept that I’ll call, “Will the fish bite?” before we ever started brainstorming our business plan. They wanted us to think about a need that people have and are willing to pay to solve. They didn’t want us to think about ourselves, rather they encouraged us to look around the world and begin looking for unsolved possibilities. The idea of “Will the fish bite?” means essentially, “Will you be able to hook a customer with your idea because they’re hungry enough to latch onto it?”

What problem will you solve?

That’s the smartest lesson I learned in business school.

The second most valuable idea I garnered from business school was the process of honing in on the fish that will actually bite.

If I were to continue the fishing analogy, if you’re hunting for Muskies most likely you’ll want to grab a Jensen Jig and head to Cass Lake, Minnesota for the summer and take out an experienced guide like Dr. Loren Gruber to a catch the beasts. Customers are like that, too. You’ve got to know what your customers who are looking to do one specific thing with you want. You’ve got to know what will make them hungry enough to pay money so you can hook them. You’ve got to know their hair, eye color, demographic, hobbies, friends, etc. so that you can craft an ideal image in your head of what an ideal buyer looks like. You do this so you can find your fish time and time again and know how to hook them.

Then you have to find your pond. You have to know where to fish. With Muskies you can go to Cass Lake. But where do your fish hide out? If you need a guide, reach out to the local library. They can help you pull demographics right down to addresses and phone numbers of fish right in your neighborhood. And from there if you have the right bait for the right fish and they’re hungry, I promise you they’ll buy.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.

For more information visit her Google + Page.

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