How to get better? Learn from the best.
Sounds simple, but many entrepreneurs and startup companies don’t know how to connect with, and learn from, industry experts in order to improve their operations. At LaunchTN we know how vital that information exchange can be, and that’s why we produce a series of Learning Days for the startups in The TENN program.
These sessions are pretty simple. We bring in some of the best and brightest to talk about:
- Marketing/Public Relations/Sales
- Human Capital and Culture
To start with, everybody’s in a room, and we have a panel discussion that covers key topics that are pretty much universal to all early-stage companies, Then, we break into small groups and each expert spends 45 minutes with 2 founders at a time – 20-25 minutes with each founder, while the other founder listens to the dialogue. This structure gives founders an opportunity to hear what issues other companies in the cohort are facing. We rotate rooms throughout the afternoon so that the founders get access to various experts who have been brought in for that particularly topic.
We recently wrapped up the last of these meetings for this year’s TENN group, and came away with some lessons that we’d like to share:
Develop relationships. The Learning Days themselves are a prime example of the value of networking. Meeting other innovators in your space, as well as in the larger professional community where you live and work, is vital to success. At LaunchTN, the relationships our accelerators and participants have built with mentors, coaches, capital providers, existing industry and others has made the difference between startups that flounder, and those that flourish.
Prioritize every day. As every entrepreneur knows, the life of a startup company is far from static. Every day brings multiple challenges, and often that’s overwhelming. Take time at the beginning of each day to outline your key objectives for the day, including your one “top task” that needs to be accomplished. Have all team members do this and share with each other during the morning huddle time.
Camaraderie in the trenches. Yes, it’s important to get advice from those who’ve gone before and found success, but it’s also key to reach out and communicate with fellow entrepreneurs. Having conversations and strategy sessions around real-time challenges is invaluable in building the skill sets to overcome the unique obstacles faced by startups in today’s competitive, dynamic climate. In my entrepreneurial journey, I have found the EO Organization the best way to network with other entrepreneurs on a regular basis.
Marketing matters. Good marketing provides a halo effect that helps leverage all aspects of the business. Remember that you are always marketing, in everything you and your associates do. This idea reinforces a definition of “Brand” that I really like – the sum total of the emotions, perceptions and experiences people have with your company.
Selling yourself. Too often, sales people focus primarily on the product. You need to sell yourself first, then your company and then the product. Think about your own buying habits. If you don’t like the sales rep, are you likely to purchase his or her product, no matter how good it may be?
Letter of the law. A startup owner is worried about getting product to market, and may have a tendency to overlook some of the key legal nuances around intellectual property, contract law or other legal issues. Having an experienced attorney at the ready is well worth the short- and long-term investment.
There was plenty more; in fact, we could host Learning Days pretty much every week and never finish mining the expertise of our mentors and other guests. We appreciate their support and participation in this year’s TENN program. As LaunchTN continues to grow its network of friends and collaborators, we increase the chances that every group of entrepreneurs we mentor will be even better prepared than the ones who came before.