How can young business owners leverage their mentors and professional contacts that might be just out of reach for them? What are your recommendations?
This is such a relevant question, especially in the conversations that you and I have had in the past, because really, my solution to this is meeting people just like you, Nettie, and finding people that you can click with that might be a little older than you or they might be your same age, but people that are interested in the same things that you are. And networking is my favorite thing to do. Just talking to people, coming on here, being able to show my face and hopefully get to meet a few more people after today is what really excites me and makes me wake up in the morning.
My solution to trying to get after professional contacts who might be outside of your reach as a 20-year-old college student is really just putting yourself out there. For those of you that don’t know, I’m a part of the Momentum Live group. And I attended the Momentum Live conference just this past year. And it was an amazing experience. My friends looked at me like I was crazy when I said I was going all the way down to Maryland, from Pittsburgh, to attend this conference by myself. But it was an amazing time. I got to meet some amazing people, and doing things like that, I think is essential to being able to expand that reach. And obviously, of course, at the end of the day, improve your professional career.
Connecting with those outside of your normal circle is super important on several levels. You start to have perspectives that are outside of your own current trajectory. You can get feedback and you can get the answers to some questions you may have but based on other people’s thoughts and experiences. They can add to that fabric and make it more colorful.
And I think what you shared is applicable at any age when we’re trying to connect with somebody who’s outside of our regular circle of people that we are used to talking to. Whether that be age, gender, professional group, or socio-economic group – or even just where they are in their business – we might be intimidated, but you’re saying just go ahead. Put yourself out there, find the common ground, and be willing to have conversations with people. And you did that – not only did you come to Momentum Live, but you came as a scholarship winner. We do offer for this particular program, scholarships for business owners under the age of 30. You can apply to our Young CEO Scholarship to attend this event. And the idea here is really to provide that mix because I know as a young entrepreneur, that the depth that you have, as far as your contacts is just shallower, just given the number of years you’ve been on the planet. And sometimes it’s hard to get access to those circles – that’s why we put this scholarship together.
I think that that guidance, though, is applicable at any stage when you feel that you’re only connecting with people that you are comfortable with and those that are in your current circle.
In what way should entrepreneurs approach partnerships with organizations outside their direct market?
This is an interesting question because the way that I approach this, may be different from the way some other people might. I don’t know that it would work for everyone, but what I tried to do is connect with someone on a personal level first, getting to know them, who they are, what their values might be. And that might be hard with a quick three-minute conversation at a networking meeting, but I think just connecting, making that first connection with someone, grabbing their LinkedIn, social media, whatever it might be, and then looking more into them and having future conversations and trying to find out just what they’re about.
I think if you meet the right entrepreneurs, their message, their vision, and their personality will really shine through the services or the goods that they provide. Because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re trying to help each other out with. How are we going to have an impact? One of my favorite sayings is: Impact over profit. The reason that we start businesses is to create value for the people that we’re trying to serve. And I think when I find that, that’s when I know I want to connect with someone. That’s where I start.
Forming that important personal relationship to see where you have common ground eliminates the other barriers that you might have about all the different kinds of factors that we were talking about. One of the ways that we’ve done this at the Sappari Group is through the Momentum CEO Network, which is a place where you can just come and meet other business owners. That is the criteria – that you’re a business owner – that’s it. And we’ve formed deep conversations and relationships, just right off the bat. You really get to know the people, find the common ground, and then take that conversation to the next step on your own.
What is your strategy for rising above “ruts” in progress as a startup founder?
I am juggling many things right now with school. I’m at a period in my tech startup FINFO, where I’m making a whole lot of progress very quickly. I’m also currently in the beginning stages of my first deal as a real estate investment professional. I just have so many things clicking at once, and when I meet a rut, in one of them, it almost shuts me down on all fronts.
For example, if I have a contractor cancel on me and then the next day, I have a meeting with the marketing team for my tech startup, I’m all screwed up in the head. The way that I try to rise above those ruts is by keeping people by my side who are my friends, establishing that personal relationship, but they’re also professional acquaintances. Those are the people that are going to keep me motivated. Those are the people who I can send you a message to on Tuesday night saying “Hey, can we get coffee maybe on a Thursday or this Friday and just talk about stuff. I’m kind of in a tough place right now and I may need some guidance.” Having those people that are going to say, “yes” to that invitation, and offer you positive feedback is so important.
In my very limited experience, I have found that it’s important to keep those relationships because sometimes if you don’t maintain them, then you can lose contacts. And that’s never something that we want to do, at least in the field that I’m in, especially working in marketing. Keeping people that are going to help you rise above those moments where you may be feeling like you’re hitting a wall are so important. And I’m just so blessed to have a great group of friends and partners that work on my businesses with me that I’ve been able to do that so far.
That last part is a great reminder – just reaching out. Reaching out when you are having difficulty and asking for that circle of friends to come around and give you the support is important.
3 Action Steps
1. As a young entrepreneur, put yourself out there to connect with other entrepreneurs who can help you expand your reach and improve your professional career.
2. Form personal relationships with entrepreneurs who are putting impact over profit when it comes to business.
3. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those in your circle when you find yourself facing a challenge or stumbling block.
Please comment, I would love to hear from you.