Eight key takeaways from Entrepreneur University


Great day today at the Northwest Entrepreneur Network (NWEN)’s Entrepreneur University today. Lots of ideas, notes, blog posts and more. Here are a few initial takeaways:

1. Even the successful people don’t know what they’re doing
I continue to be inspired by founder and executive stories, from really smart people, who clearly didn’t know exactly how things were going to go as they grew. Or who expected to do one thing and ended up doing another. It’s inspiring to see others we look up to struggle with the same strategic and tactical problems as the rest of us.

2. Lack of experience is a great thing
I’m starting to wonder if too much business education is a bad thing. Does it make us think too hard about problems instead of just executing? Does it make us over-analyze a situation vs. diving in and learning? Does it make you too much of a realist and not enough of an idealist or visionary or dreamer? Exciting today to talk with people who don’t have “formal” business training but have a great idea, passion, and enough ignorance and stubbornness to make it work.

3. Breakout sessions that look boring are probably the ones you should attend
I used to attend the sales & marketing breakouts at these events. Now I mainly go to the accounting, legal, HR and hiring sessions. Less interesting on the surface, perhaps, but far more valuable for me as I learn how to run a business (and I’m always learning).

4. More of us need to work on our storytelling
Did you catch the glassybaby keynote at lunch?  They’re not selling glass votives for $40 bucks each because they’re on Twitter. They obsess about brand, and their brand is primarily about the stories they tell (and help their customers dream and tell with them).

5. Be bold, introduce yourself, and ask questions
There are a lot of really smart, important, successful people in the room today. And it’s just awesome to see students walk up, shake their hand, and start asking questions. Even more awesome that those important people treat them like the most important person during that time.

6. Even students and unemployed people need business cards
I know a lot of people don’t like business cards, and would prefer to do things online. But in a live setting, your business card is a reminder of you. It’s a souvenir of your conversation. It’s a means of bridging the gap between your brief time together and the follow-on conversations that can lead to real business in the future.

7. Keep your elevator pitch fresh, relevant and externally focused
Is what you share relevant? Is it focused on you, or focused on what you do for your customers? Do you sound passionate when you give it, even if it’s the 50th time that day?

8. Attending events in person is still very important
Pretty cool that you can watch highlights from a conference like this via Twitter, but even better to be there. The live learning, the relationships, the hallway conversations, the getting out of the office and having a slightly different worldview for a day…all worth it.