April 17, 2015 – A sold-out crowd at The Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville, VA enjoyed a full day of presentations and panel discussions on a variety of entrepreneurship topics from an all-star cast of entrepreneurs, investors, and  university professors.  Event organizers did a fabulous job crafting and implementing an educational and attention-grabbing agenda from start to finish.  Here is a list of 10 of the most memorable tips and observations that sttod out to me:

  1. From Doug Muir, serial entrepreneur and currently an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the UVA Darden School–The secrets of being a successful entrepreneur are (i) be persistent, (ii) have an unwavering passion for what you are doing, (iii) be open minded and flexible, (iv) have a desire to be an expert in your industry, (v) be forward-looking, and (vi) promote a culture where ideas are constantly flowing in the workplace
  2. From Alexis Ohanion, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Reddit–There’s nothing glamorous about te start-up process.  Do not wait until your product or service is perfect–get to market as quickly as possible and respond to feedback/fix problems as you go.
  3. From Kip Tendell, founder of The Container Store–Having one great employee is better than having three good ones, so surround yourself with great people and then train them well and treat them well.  By doing this, cutomer satisfaction and profitability will fllow.
  4. From Raj Sisodia with Babson College–Millennials are the most purpose-driven generation in history and are the driving force behind conscious capitalism/social entrepreneurship.
  5. From Peter Rojas, founder of Gizmodo and Engadget–Entrepreneurs should be less secretive and get lots of feedback on their product or service.  Don’t be paranoid about confidentiality.  Don’t feel compelled to compromise with your business partner all the time, sometimes being less agreeable (along with a sensical division of decision-making authority) yields better outcomes.  Also, remember that raising capital is not a sign of success; it often just raises the bar of how success gets defined for that particular business
  6. Entrepreneurs must be flexible and ready for change on a frequent basis.
  7. Failure is inevitable as an entrepreneur, the keys are to hedge your downside risk and minimize the expense of failures and use them as learning experiences or as catalysts for future success.
  8. An entrepreneur’s focus should stay on customer development (i.e., producing something that people want); fall in love with a problem (and its solution), NOT a product.
  9. While certain skills and technical expertise useful to entrepreneurs can be taught in school, generally speaking, the essence of entrepreneurship is not something you can learn in school, but rather through the ongoing trial-and-error process of actually starting and growing new businesses.
  10. As far as educating tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, one key is to stop discouraging people from pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams and following their passion.