If you were like me, the entrepreneurial drive was INTENSE. It was so intense that I couldn’t think of ANYTHING else. I HAD to be a successful entrepreneur. I was TIRED of working for someone else. I had SO many great IDEAS and the DRIVE to make a HUGE IMPACT! It was this need for significance, coupled with a few great ideas that really led me to make the leap into this unknown and uncertain world.
But honestly, my past schooling didn’t teach me how to proceed as an entrepreneur. It taught me how to survive in the workforce, as an employee of someone else! Thus, with no experience, I had NO idea where to start. None. And on top of this, I was in a COMPLETELY new city. So not only was I setting out on this brand new venture, but I was in a brand new place where I essentially had to start from scratch.
At first, this was extremely intimidating. But the drive was too strong. I was going to learn and read and talk and find ANY and ALL knowledge I possible could and NEEDED to. Below I have compiled a list for you on resources you may be able to start to get a handle on how to proceed with your own entrepreneurial venture. One thing to keep in mind…it will not be easy. it Will take a lot of work, it will take a LOT of time, and it will take a LOT of energy. But listen here, it’s not your resources, but your RESOURCEFULNESS that counts. Do what drives you and fires your soul! The key to each of these categories, is to research the entity that is specific to your area.
- MENTORS – The BIGGEST and MOST important thing I can tell you is to find a MENTOR. You must find a mentor. I don’t care where you are or who you are or what you’re doing, you will be successful QUICKER and more effectively if you utilize the knowledge of someone who has done it BEFORE! Remember, the most effective way to become an entrepreneur is to not reinvent the wheel, but to build off of what someone else has already done. In my experience, people you approach about being mentors are more than willing to help you. If they are not willing to help you, they are not the type of person you’d want to learn from anyway. RESEARCH big names in your area in your line of work you are trying to entre, contact them, and simply ask them. The worse that can happen is they say no. You may even be able to utilize someone out of your immediate network. But mentorship and guidance is a must these days, and any successful entrepreneur and business professional who’s worth their salt has learned, or continues to learn, from their own mentor.
- Local government organizations – many times your local entrepreneurial ecosystem will be supported by local government organizations. Why? The government wants entrepreneurial ventures and small businesses to succeed in your city to BOOST the economy. If you go to your local government website, you may find small business bureaus, small business educational resources, entrepreneurial grant opportunities, and much more.
- Local entrepreneurial accelerators – if you live in a bigger city, chances are there are local entrepreneurial accelerator non-profit companies. Most of the time you will find these in share or co-working spaces for remote workers and small businesses. These accelerators usually do application processes 1-2 times per year to bring an up and coming entrepreneurial venture into their accelerator program. Even if you do not get into the program, they usually have innumerable resources for the young professional or entrepreneur, including a list of local mentors.
- Local young leadership networks – In my experience, these are getting more and more popular. The young, millennial and Gen Y workforces are gathering together to support each other in the professional landscape, as well as entrepreneurship. These can be found through a simple consultation with Dr. Google. For example, New Orleans has YLC (Young Leadership Committee), a vibrant community of young professionals and budding entrepreneurs that benefit from shared resources and social networking events.
- Meet up groups – Meet up is an app that groups together people of similar interests, and sets up “meet ups” (duh) of these people at an event to talk about the specific topic. If you search for ‘entrepreneurial meet up groups’ in your area within the app, chances are you will find some like-minded people to share stories, tips, knowledge, or maybe even a potential business partner.
- Public/international organizations – These groups are everywhere and are full of young and established professionals that would be willing to help young entrepreneurs like us. Sometimes, these organizations require fees for membership, but if you do your due diligence and find the ones that are right for you, the networking opportunities would be endless. Some examples include: BNI, Toastmasters, NAWBO, AWBA, etc.
- Local Chamber’s of Commerce – Here is where I’ve done a lot of my networking and making connections. The Chamber of Commerce is full of business professionals looking for referrals for their businesses, but also with small business owners or entrepreneurs looking for networking/business building opportunities. Again, this organization is fee based. It also usually requires you to be an employee of a business or a business owner before joining. So if you are an entrepreneur in the idea phase, it might be a difficult join. However, if you are currently employed at another employer while building your entrepreneurial venture, you can always register with your current employer, but ask around for resources and advice on your own individual business building.
- Local universities – Fiinalllyyy we are beginning to see entrepreneurship built into course content, especially in business programs such as MBAs. Even if you didn’t go through a Master’s level program, or even if you didn’t attend the local university, many times there will be programs, resources, or whole departments dedicated to helping young professionals and entrepreneurs be connected with community resources that will help them.
- Social media groups – Lastly…even if you don’t like it…you MUST utilize social media when building your business or looking for helpful resources. FaceBook ALONE has THOUSANDS of groups dedicated to young professionals, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial lifestyles, small businesses, etc. All you need to do is request to join, or follow a certain group you’ve researched, and INTERACT with the members of the group. ENGAGE on the page, ask questions, make yourself known and BUILD your NETWORK.
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