By Alyssa Gregory
This post is sponsored by Capital One, and includes highlights from the recent #CapXTalk panel discussion as well as my own personal entrepreneurial experience.
When I started my first business more than 15 years ago, I had very little experience in the world of entrepreneurship… so I made a lot of mistakes. In fact, I made so many mistakes that I had to admit the business was a failure and closed up shop barely two years later. But I knew that wasn’t the end of the road for me, so I started to look to successful entrepreneurs who came before me for advice so I could fix some of the areas I had messed up the first time. The lessons I learned proved to be invaluable when I launched two more businesses, and that was when I really understood the sheer awesomeness that comes from collaborating with and learning from others.
This was why I was so excited to hear about the Capital One live panel discussion entitled, “Reimagining Perspectives: Identifying Gaps that Revolutionize Industries” that took place last Wednesday. Not only did the panel include entrepreneurs from a variety of companies (Lovepop Cards, WeWork, HourlyNerd, Rue La La), but it also provided an opportunity for participants to get their questions answered by experts live. The session was short, but it was packed with a lot of useful advice for both current and aspiring entrepreneurs. I captured some of the best pieces of advice below that will help any entrepreneur supercharge their journey.
Eat Your Own Dog Food
One of my favorite gems shared during the discussion was from co-founder and co-CEO of HourlyNerd Pat Petitti who explained how the HourlyNerd team gets closer to the customer experience by “eating the dog food.” Pat’s advice was to take time to use your own products and services so you can truly understand the customer’s experience, and be able to engage and communicate with your customers on their level.
The World Is a Sandbox
Dave McLaughlin, General Manager at WeWork, shared his perspective that the business environment now is one that provides unlimited opportunities to try things out before committing, especially when it’s easier than ever to access key people who can help you make the most of your ideas. If you’re considering starting a business, he recommends finding things that allow you start playing around in the space and just going for it, focusing own what you can learn instead of achieving a perfect performance.
Do What You Love, the Rest Will Follow
One of the lessons I’ve learned is that if you don’t truly love what you’re doing, it will never be sustainable. Wombi Rose, Founder of Lovepop Cards agrees, saying it’s not just about launching a business, but also about knowing who you are and what you get excited about. Discover your passion first, and then throw yourself into it. Mario Armstrong, who moderated the session, summed it up well when he said to just do what you love, and the profits will come later.
Think Big, But Start Small
Feng Chang, Director of Digital Marking Strategy at Rue La La, said that it’s possible to have big ideas, but test the waters before making a major commitment to a new product or service. Instead of making a tremendous investment up front, test out and sell the idea first, then commit the resources to make it happen once you know there’s a market for it. Jim Kresge, Head of Digital Commerce Engineering at Capital One concurred with this piece of advice, saying that it’s critical to expand how you think about barriers so you’re not limiting yourself and what you’re capable of achieving.
The session was inspirational and motivating for entrepreneurs in all stages of business, and I bet you will walk away with at least one tidbit of advice that will change the way you operate. Watch the panel discussion and catch up on #CapXTalk tweets that were shared during the session to find the advice that will help you take your business to the next level.