What did you want to be when you grew up?


A doctor? A fireman? An actor? An astronaut?

That question catapults us back to our youth, often with a smile, recalling our youthful answer to that question. Now that we’re a few decades older, have you pursued your childhood dream of becoming a…? What twists and turns got you to where you are now? What obstacles, doubts, or fears did you have to overcome? Or are you still pursuing your goal?

At age 8, I knew I would be a writer. It started with journaling my dreams and progressed to fiction writing: science fiction, fantasy, adventure, and romance. I played with several niches without specializing in one. With Dad’s encouragement, I pursued anything related to writing with the intent to be a writer ‘when I grew up’. When it came time to enter college, Dad asked, “What are you going to study?”

“English and writing.”

“That will make a nice hobby, but it isn’t something that will support you,” he debated.

The argument continued for 2 years. While I attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Dad lovingly, and with the best intention, signed me up for courses he thought would lead to a stable career: chemistry, biology, computer science while I filled the electives with anything related to writing.

At the end of my second year, still an undecided major, Dad once again sat me at the kitchen table and gave me the ultimatum, “You have two weeks to name a major or you’re out of college.”

Those were the most stressful two weeks of my life. On the chosen day, I faced Dad across the kitchen table with Mom sitting between us. “Well?” he glared.

“Writing,” I mumbled, on the verge of tears.

“Try again!”

“Exercise Physiology.”

The look my parents gave me was unforgettable. If I hadn’t been so frightened, I would have laughed.

“What the hell is ‘exercise physiology’?” there was a distinct sneer in his voice.

After I explained the extensive medical and science background involved, the career opportunities, and income potential, Dad roared, “No daughter of mine is going to sweat for a living!”

I cried. Dad cussed. My brothers fled the house. Mom waited for the right moment. “Bill, dear, she fulfilled your requirements. So which will it be—writing or…exercise physiology?”

By 1986, I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine at BGSU, and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology at Utah State University in 1990.

However, it took me until 1999 to get a job in my ‘chosen’ profession, with a 45-minute one-way commute over a mountain pass (no kidding), working 3 days per week at a dollar above minimum wage. In my off hours, I secretly wrote: stories, articles, resumes, poems, anything to keep my desire-to-be-a-writer alive. I was a niche-less wonder, but enjoyed it all. As Dad predicted, it became a nice hobby. I submitted fiction stories with occasional success, but never gave up. I was still determined to become a writer.

A window of opportunity opened while attending the Cache County Fair. A friend had a booth promoting his fly-fishing shop and was asking passers-by to enter his tagline contest. Intrigued, I read the existing entries added mine, and won. Because of the overwhelming response to my tagline, he asked me to write catalogue descriptions and a brochure. The big bonus: he offered to pay for my writing! Up until then, I had been writing for free, believing ‘free’ would get my writing ‘out there’. That experience became my first entrepreneurial pivot, with a new focus on copywriting.

The second, and scariest opportunity occurred in 2008. I quit the hospital job to pursue writing full-time. I was on the verge of divorce and needed a sustainable income to support myself. By 2009, I still wasn’t making enough to comfortably support a gnat, but the home life was no longer tolerable. In the midst of the economic recession, with no job, and only $729/month as income, I divorced, left the state and moved in with my cousin. I was terrified, heartbroken, and desperate.

Unaware of the true economic impact, I applied to jobs, but soon learned no one was hiring, especially a 45 year old, unemployed exercise physiologist with an outdated degree. Down, but not out, I cast all of Dad’s wisdom of a ‘stable career’ out the window and buckled down as a copywriter.

With my cousin’s help, I built a website and learned the basics of social media. I cussed and cried as I struggled with all the technical intricacies of owning an online business. Writing jobs began to pick up and I was becoming known as the outsourced writing expert for microbusinesses.

Yet the growth didn’t stop there. While I built a business, I also struggled with extreme social anxiety. In my early days as an entrepreneur, I dreaded networking and promoting myself, but knew it had to be done. What had started out as hours of ‘parking lot panic’ before an event, developed into blogs about how to overcome our fears in order to grow a business. The blogs led to offering a series of one-on-one sessions to teach ‘Social Success for the Quiet Entrepreneur’ at a local co-working space. The sessions filled up fast and I soon received requests for private coaching.

Over the last 8 years, I have learned that pursuing our goals isn’t as scary as thinking about it. We paralyze ourselves by the what-ifs, that we never take that first step. Additionally, I listened to, and believed, others who told me my ideas wouldn’t work. When I refused to believe it any further, I took a leap of personal faith. Whatever would happen, I had to trust that something would happen, and that I would be a stronger person for it. What has emerged is a joy of writing, solving content catastrophes for my clients, and an opportunity I never expected: encouraging introverts and others to pursue their own opportunities.

What did I want to be when I grew up? A writer! Did I expect to write for businesses? To become an introvert coach? To own my own business?

NO!!

However, I’m enjoying it all because I accepted the challenges and pursued them as far as they could go. The added bonus is the thrill of discovering what’s yet to come.

What’s your entrepreneurial/growing up story?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Networking Fear? Start with GOYA!

No doubt you’ve heard several practices to make networking work for you, but what isn’t addressed is what to do when you the cat has your tongue and your feet are buried in cement. We can make it our goal to attend two or more networking meetings each week, but they aren’t helpful if we can’t get moving and talking.

For years, this was my problem. My pre-networking activities consisted of staring at myself in the mirror, rehearsing my elevator speech and practicing opening lines. Then I’d get in the car and practice more while driving. I would always arrive early, because I needed time for ‘parking lot panic’. However, my pre-networking habits have diminished and I’m more comfortable with networking events (I still sometimes get the jitters, though).

It didn’t take long to realize that if I didn’t get moving and talking, I wasn’t going to reach my goals. I had to make changes and do it fast and it began with GOYA: Get off your Ass!

Here are my GOYA exercises to shake the networking jitters:

Remind yourself: you are not the only one feeling awkward or uncomfortable! Some hide it better than others, but most networking attendees have the jitters. AND, they are looking for ways to start a conversation, too.

In case you haven’t read it already, take a look at another blog I wrote on the benefits of arriving early: The Early Bird Gets the Leads.

If an early arrival isn’t possible, look for people you already know. Walk up to them, and even if they’re engaged in another conversation, it doesn’t hurt to wave and say a quick hello. Most of the time, the friend will introduce you to the new person.

Reach out to those hovering in the corner, near an exit or who are paying a little too much attention to their cell phones. These are classic ‘I’m not sure what to do next’ cues. So many times I have been that person and am building up courage to just say hello. Now I recognize the same behaviors in others and they are the first ones I approach.

Most networking meetings offer food or drinks. If you still have the jitters, stand next to the edibles because everyone comes by to check out the offerings. It’s also a common gathering place for others building up their networking courage—we can look busy and attentive while nibbling on snacks instead of looking lost and awkward standing alone in a large room. Say hello to everyone who approaches. Mention how yummy the dip or the hummus or the punch is. This is the perfect opportunity to add, “What do you do?” In a minute or so, the person will ask about you.

These GOYA exercises have helped me ease the pain of reaching out during events. How do you handle the networking jitters? What networking exercises do you have? Share them in the comments below. (Thanks to Eva from Knews.co for inspiring this topic!)

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

4 Years Strong and 1 Million Cups Continues to Inspire

In 2012, The Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri introduced the first 1 Million Cups program. Their mission was to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs with their community and resources. In 2013, St. Louis added the event to their entrepreneurial activities.

An entrepreneur myself, I first attended the event December 2014 and attended their 2nd anniversary in 2015 (read my experience here). Now, 2 years later, I have returned from their 4th anniversary with equal inspiration, motivation, and insight.

Similar to their 2nd anniversary, the St. Louis 1 Million Cups invited past presenters back for a session on what they learned, highs and lows, and advice.

When asked how their original 1MC presentation made a difference, the common reply was the unexpected reach their video provided them, archived on the 1MC site. Secondly, their presentation validated their credibility and presence in the entrepreneurial environments.

The advice shared remains consistent from 2015 with some extra considerations:

  • Be persistent; stick to your values and your vision
  • Be humble
  • Maintain your focus; life will be easier!
  • Keep getting out there; entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on the phone or their devices. There is great value in meeting others, getting involved, and reaching out.
  • Surround yourself with a dedicated team
  • Be careful who you trust; not everyone will share your values and may sabotage your efforts
  • You know your business best; stick with your vision to avoid straying too far from it.
  • Apply advice with caution; while peers’ advice is well-meaning, it isn’t always the best advice. Remember that you won’t be able to please everyone.
  • If you build it, they will come; while this is the ‘dream’, it isn’t reality. Apply the wisdom above to attract the audience you desire.

When asked what fears they overcame, here are the replies:

Connie Fry of Pony Pizza Company

  • I dealt with a bug infestation in my product. It was devastating but I regrouped and overcame that issue.

Dawn Manske of Made for Freedom

  • I have a fear of failing so it’s the driving force that keeps me moving forward.

Nick Szabo of Get Swizzle

  • Becoming a new parent and startup founder was frightening. I struggled with how to take care of both simultaneously and emerged with extreme time-management skills.

Ali Ahmadi of AirZaar

  • Quitting my corporate job and the financial burden created fear for me. Also a new father, it was my child that got me through the emotional and mental turmoil.

Andrew Glantz of Gift a Meal

  • I feared my youth would be a deterrent; not having enough experience, not being taken seriously, and letting them down troubled me, but instead became the driving force to accomplish my vision.

Rob Rose of SaniTrace

  • I didn’t know anything about the food market or running a business. I taught myself while building and promoting my business.

In the short time since these entrepreneurs presented at 1MC, they have experienced growth personally and professionally. Ari Ahmadi summarized entrepreneurship best:

“Starting a business is miserable. Get up, get out and learn.”

The presenters, the audience, and I agree with his sentiments. We also agree that there is no greater satisfaction than to know we are helping to solve a problem in the world.

What problem will you solve?
Kristen Edens

Business Mistakes Learned the Hard Way: 5 Entrepreneurs Share their Story

Where are you in your entrepreneurial pursuits? Idea stage? Development stage? Growth Stage? Whatever stage that may be, there is excitement and uncertainty. Many of us know to seek out mentors, business coaches, and peers about their experiences and insights. For good reason too: learn from them. Listen to their advice. Take their words of wisdom and apply it to your own situation. Yet, regardless of where we are in the process, we will encounter obstacles and problems. We KNOW we will make mistakes; we KNOW there will be failure, but we fight to minimize the depth of failure. However, there are situations that pop up without warning or they creep up on us to create havoc. These 5 entrepreneurs share their story and lessons learned:

Jennifer Tamborski

Jennifer Tamborski, Virtual Admin Experts: “Hiring people and being a leader is entirely different from the corporate world. I hired employees and set them loose, assuming they knew what I knew. When they came back to me confused and lost, I realized I didn’t have the processes necessary for my employees to effectively perform their job. It’s a process I had to learn as I taught them.”

Lesson learned: a clear, concise, communication and documentation plan must be established. Follow-up with employees is just as important as follow-up with clients.

**

Chris MacLellan

Chris MacLellan, Whole Care Network: “My theological background inspired me to trust without hesitation. That approach to life did not transfer well to business. I didn’t discover this until I handed over the IP (intellectual property) to a business connection in which the gesture was not reciprocated. As a result, I lost lots of money and my humility. It took a great deal of time to restructure my business, much of which conflicted with my trusting nature.”

Lesson learned: Life skills do not always transfer well to business skills.

**

Mary Scott

Mary Scott, Make Believe TV: “Create a clear, contractual arrangement for each project which includes payment agreements and pricing for situations that influence the service offered. All decisions must be clear and understood before the project (or any part of the business arrangement) begins. If it isn’t clear, it will cost a lot of time, money, and frustration.

Lesson learned: Do not rush into a project without the proper documentation.

**

Angie Monko

Angie Monko, Harmony Harbor Coaching: “I jumped into business without a clear plan, quickly becoming distracted by multiple business objectives. I didn’t recognize the situation until ~18 months later when cash flow and momentum declined. It took another 18 months to create a business plan and to begin recovery.”

Lesson learned: Create a business plan, follow it, and revise as your business shifts and grows.

**

Paul Heirendt, True Bearing Advisors: During my corporate days, I had ‘two young guys’ working with me. They frequently joked, ‘You’re not the boss of me’, which resulted in them learning very little and becoming a liability rather than an asset. I eventually left the corporate world and took one of these young guys with me. As his urging, we moved into his uncle’s free office space in downtown St. Louis. The caveat: the uncle’s son must become the CEO of my company. With no written partnership and nearly 100% of the company in my name, I dealt with legal issues, lost opportunities, lost revenue, and lots of bad blood.”

Lesson learned: It’s better off not partnering unless each member can prove their value AND share the same business goals.

**

These entrepreneurs faced some crushing blows to their business growth but regrouped, adjusted and recovered. Communication and documentation were the top business issues. How can you apply their lessons? Share your ideas or stories below.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Building a Team that Works with You

S. Miles of fdp.netWe love what we do otherwise we wouldn’t keep doing it, right? That’s why we start a business. It’s what motivates us to keep going, too. We hear plenty of stories about those that went from zero to gazillions of dollars in a matter of months, but the reality is it takes years of nights and days to become an overnight sensation.

You’ve also heard that if you start a business you’ll be able to work the hours you want and have the free time to do whatever you want. Again, that takes a lot of days of hard work and determination to make that happen.

And it takes resources, support and belief in yourself to become a success. Do you have the team to be successful? Let’s take a look:

Who is your support team? Friends? Family? Spirituality? Whoever or whatever it is, make sure they are totally supportive of your goals. If they doubt or question your intent or plan, it can ripple through your soul just like a pebble dropped in a pond. I have interviewed several business owners and most of them owe their strength and growth to supportive family. If you lack that support then let them know their support matters but without it you will continue on. Request that they refrain from expressing doubt or fears.

Gently weed them from your life. If they don’t support you, limit contact with them. When asked ‘how is the business going?’ you have the choice to tell a little or a lot. If you know they’ll follow up with a series of doom and gloom, tell them nothing. On the other hand, those that support your pursuits are the ones to hold on to. They’ll let you cuss, cry, scream or ask for input. Whatever your needs, they’ll be there for you.

Consider peers as your support group. Business peers can be a great source of support and ideas. They’ll help work you through snags or keep you on track. They can also be a source for new clients or can come in handy to cover an emergency situation. Professional organizations and LinkedIn groups are great places to find supportive peers.

Belief in yourself. This is often the toughest because we are our own worst critics. One day we feel on top of the world and can accomplish anything. The next day we feel we’re the worst and we’ll never reach our goals. Have you ever been so low that you consider working for someone else again? BLECH! Sometimes these feelings are triggered by nay-sayers, an unhappy client or a drop in Facebook analytics. Just know that this is going to happen. Some days will be glorious; other days will be gloomy. But you love what you do and it’s enough to keep you going.

The right resources. Solopreneur does not mean alone-preneur! We often start out doing it all by ourselves, but soon discover the needed time and resources can’t be found within. It can be overwhelming when you’re a new business owner and you’re not quite sure where to turn—especially if financial resources are tight. Bit by bit, we seek out the resources that will help us accomplish our goals. In my own business pursuits, it started with Missouri SourceLink. This non-profit resource has everything you need to get started. As a branch of the U.S. SourceLink, they’ll find the resources for you wherever you live. As your business grows, you’ll create your own professional team that is dedicated to your growth and success.

There are many benefits to starting to business and as you continue on your professional path, hold on to the things that support your success. It’s a sure way to succeed.

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

(photo credit goes to Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net)

Venture Café: Where Serendipity Really Finds You

Stuart Miles of fdpMy Venture Café number is 16. That’s how many events I’ve attended since December 2014.

I discovered Venture Café when a client suggested I attend one of their events at the Cortex Innovation District in St. Louis. I was hesitant to attend because, well, 5 hours was a huge chunk of my time. And I had work to do. And it was an hour drive, one way. Yea.yea.yea.

But, it was a new networking event and I’m always open to something new.

Upon arriving, I signed in and received a name tag with a large number 1 boldly indicating my attendance virginity. Like most first-timers, I skirted the walls and observed, falling back on some of my introverted habits. Then I kicked in my GOYA and got in gear. I spoke with other virgins and visited as many sessions as possible to absorb the Venture Café atmosphere.

Be prepared: VC first-timers may feel a little overwhelmed. With over 300 weekly attendees, there is a lot happening in those five hours. Plus, this isn’t your typical networking meeting. The idea is more about building relationships and solving problems rather than pushing for a sale.

By the end of my first visit, of which I lasted four hours and had almost lost my voice, I was impressed with Venture Café’s:
• Energy
• Openness
• Enthusiasm
• Variety

And I was hooked. Even though I couldn’t attend every Thursday for the full five hours, I studiously watched my inbox for Travis Sheridan’s event email and scheduled my Thursday accordingly.

Then I learned something: too often we believe we must be invited to speak, present or provide. We wait for something to happen instead of making it happen. The best way to make serendipity happen is to LISTEN:

• Attend a session and listen to what the presenters say.
• Join a conversation and listen to what other attendees discuss.
• Ask a question and listen to responses.

Someone, somewhere is looking for a speaker, a volunteer, a solution or something YOU can provide.

In my 16 visits, here’s how my serendipitous collisions occurred:

Gabriel Feldman of Aegis mentioned his need for Whiteboard Series presenters. I approached him with a plan and presented ‘Deciphering Your Audience’ in April. I had 12 attendees, picked up new LinkedIn and Twitter followers, and one referral. The session was also recorded by Mary Scott of Make Believe TV, LLC, and I now use that video for my newsletter subscribers.

Marc Bowers of St. Louis Makes and ProductCamp spoke about the ProductCamp 2015 event at a 2nd Tuesday Venture Café. Following his presentation, I asked if one of my topics would be of interest. With a little encouragement from Marc, I submitted a topic. The result: my presentation was accepted, I had 26 people in my session and came away with three one-on-one sessions scheduled. I gained 8 new LinkedIn connections and 12 new followers on Twitter.

Kevin Harvell of StL TechTalk offered office hours. Out of curiosity, I signed up to learn about podcasting. The bonus: I got to participate in a 15-minute podcast and received a link to the show (be the first to hear about my new blog & services for senior entrepreneurs!)

As a blogger for Missouri SourceLink, I also found several entrepreneurs to interview for their Entrepreneur in Action series. This included:

Mark Neville of FinVR
Nep Orshiso and Dustin Strashelm of Motavera
Eva Tucker of Knews.co
Ryan Brennel of Gladitood
Eric Stoddard of SYNEK
Maria Frank of Set My Table

Here’s my advice: set some time aside for Venture Café. Listen! Reach out. Then get ready for those ‘serendipitous collisions’.

Happy networking,
Kris the Scribbler

(photo image courtesy of Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net)

6 Covert Advantages Gained from Networking

freedigitalphotos.net by Stuart Miles

 

Networking events have become the standard for building a business and developing relationships, but did you know that these events help with our personal growth? Through my own experiences and talking to other networkers, below is a list of personal benefits often overshadowed by the business aspect of networking. How many do you recognize in yourself?

  1. Discover your weaknesses. There is nothing negative about this; we discover in order to improve. Are you soft spoken? Was your elevator speech too long? Did you forget a call to action? You’ll be able to refine and polish yourself, your business and your presentation with networking experience.
  2. Discover your strengths. Don’t be surprised to discover that you have a knack for speaking. Or holding an office. Or sponsoring an event. The more familiar you become with networking, the more your strengths become evident. Take them on! It gets better and better!
  3. Personal growth. Just a few improvements to expect:
    1. You’ll develop a tougher skin.
    2. More courage & confidence with personal and professional pursuits
    3. You’ll overcome personal fears
  4. Desire to do more. Soon you’ll meet someone at one networking event that could benefit from the specialized service offered by someone at another networking event. You’ll make a connection which creates a deep satisfaction that boosts you to do more. When someone does that for us, you know that things are going right. Then you may consider volunteering to help at events or becoming a board member (possible with structured networking groups).
  5. New opportunities. It won’t take long until you receive requests to speak, sponsor, guest blog or participate. I was recently invited to submit a topic to ProductCamp 2015, an event I had never attended before. With a little nudge from the organizer, I registered as a first-time attendee AND a presenter. The result: my presentation was accepted, I had 26 people in my session and came away with three one-on-one sessions scheduled. I gained 8 new LinkedIn connections and 12 new followers on Twitter. Not bad for someone who use to be terrified of networking events!
  6. Learn about yourself. In addition to the points above, you’ll discover other tidbits that you didn’t know before.
    1. A preference for structured vs casual networking events
    2. A preference for larger vs smaller events.
    3. Lunch events vs morning vs evening: maybe morning events give you an extra motivational boost to get you started in the day (not so much for me; I’m not a morning person).

Yes, networking events build the know-like-trust in the business world, but the personal benefits are just as powerful. They’ll provide opportunities that you would have never considered before and the results are eye-opening, empowering and oh-so-satisfying!

How have you grown and developed through networking events? Do you still have obstacles that hold you back? Comment below. Thanks to Maria Frank of Set My Table and Dale Furtwengler of Furtwengler & Associates, Inc. for their inspiration on this topic.

Happy writing—and networking!
Kris the Scribbler

photo courtesy of Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net.

Inspiration, Ideas, and Support Flourish at 1 Million Cups

Apolonia of freedigitalphotos.netBusiness ownership is tough. It starts with an idea that becomes an obsession. There are a lot of ups and downs every step of the way, but there is also the deep satisfaction that comes from knowing our product or service has helped someone.

Are you looking for an opportunity to share an idea and get feedback? Are you looking to meet other entrepreneurs and business owners? Do you want friendly feedback from business peers? Perhaps you seek to surround yourself with an energized business community.

Whatever your needs, 1 Million Cups is the place to be. In under one hour, you can meet, greet and learn from an assortment of business people gathered to support entrepreneurs. You’ll meet mentors, investors, organizers, entrepreneurs, students, and those that are curious.

December 10, 2014, I was among a few of the curious first-timers. It made such an impression on me that I have only missed one or two since. When I heard about their second anniversary event on February 25, 2015, I cleared my schedule to be in attendance. Paul Heirendt, the organizer, invited several past presenters to the anniversary program and asked them to share how 1MC has made a difference:

  • Invaluable feedback & support
  • Introduction to new people
  • The reach is greater than what could have been done on their own
  • Address problems, avoid lawsuits
  • Broader networking
  • Credibility and increased presence

Paul then asked each presenter one thing they remember from attending or presenting:

  • Fun to see where you were and how far you’ve come
  • Helping others avoid mistakes—failure & loss
  • Learned to narrow your focus
  • Be prepared for ideas and suggestions from unexpected resources
  • Be prepared to discover what you don’t know
  • Everyone is receptive
  • Learning how to better present & pitch an idea

And if that wasn’t enough to encourage you to pursue an idea, here is advice past presenters offered:

  • Be persistent; stay with your ideals
  • Stay focused
  • Don’t be afraid
  • Know what you know & know what you don’t know—gather info and feedback
  • Lots of advice-know what to take & what to leave behind
  • Don’t fear the tiny failures; keep moving
  • Just do it (make those daring connections)
  • It takes longer and costs more than you originally thought
  • If someone says you’re crazy, consider it a compliment and keep going
  • It must be an obsession

Now’s the time to give your idea life. The world is waiting to hear from you and 1 Million Cups is the place to start. To view the 2nd anniversary program, visit this link: http://1mcstl.org/2015/02/25/presenter-february-25-2015/

Happy writing—and growing,
Kris the Scribbler

photo image courtesy of Apolonia of freedigitalphotos.net

A Comparison of Cultures: Entrepreneurship in London vs St. Louis

P3110462If you consider yourself an entrepreneur, a few words may define who you are: risk-taker, problem-solver, and innovator.

Mark Neville of FinVR.com, describes himself as all three. “Entrepreneurialism is in my blood. I love taking risks. I love the hustle of running my own business and finding new ways to step out of my comfort zone.”

Mark’s entrepreneurial journey began in England, just as the internet began to bloom. “Web tech was in its infancy and London was building its own internet ecosystem.” With his background in software development, Mark started two companies in the early 90s; Asset Tagging Technology and Nanotech Scientific Research. His interest in hi-tech, virtual reality and artificial intelligence led him to St. Louis where he developed his latest startup, FinVR, a virtual reality and artificial intelligence trading platform.

Having worked in London, Belgium and California, Mark comments that it’s a little harder for non-native St. Louisans to break into the important circles, particularly when developing a business idea. “It takes proof and persistence to become known and recognized in the St. Louis area, but there are programs and events that help make this happen.”

These programs include networking events, university programs, incubator & accelerator programs and ITEN. “Joining ITEN was one of the best decisions I ever made. These programs are fantastic hidden resources and St. Louis excels in this area.”

However, Mark states that London has a stronger platform for early-stage programs. “The St. Louis startup community prefers to be shown a more developed idea before financing occurs. London invests very early in the process and helps complex and ‘disruptive technologies’ get off the ground sooner.”

He also shares that risks are minimized if investment occurs at the seed-stage level. “The process is fun and I enjoy the challenge of taking an idea and adjusting as needed.” Mark applies the agile methodology theory combined with the Lean Startup Methodology:

Gather feedback–>test–>prove/disprove–>adjust–>repeat

Another St. Louis benefit is the talent and skill sets he seeks are more available here than on the East or West coasts. “Ideal people are easier to find. The untapped Midwest market makes it easier to find the right people for the job while they’re snatched up fast on the coasts.”

When asked what keeps Mark here, he says, “It’s the resources and the skill sets. St. Louis has the potential to become the next Silicon Valley. All the city needs to do is bring those programs here.”

He also adds, “Forget money and fame. The real satisfaction occurs when you bring a product or service to life.”

For many entrepreneurs, that’s what gets us started and keeps us going.

What have your experiences been while pursuing your entrepreneurial ideas? Comment below. If you have a story to share, email me at kristhescribbler@gmail.com.

To your success!
Kris the Scribbler

7 Top Tips to Bore Your Readers

Bored by pixgood.com

 

 

You’ve heard plenty of times what makes a great blog, e-newsletter, website and social media post, right? The goal is:

  • write something fantastic—often
  • get your readers hooked—through ‘engaging content’ and snappy headlines
  • start building a relationship—through touch points (more writing)

But what really makes content uninteresting? How do you know if what you write is flat or fabulous? If boring your readers is your goal, then these 7 tips are the sure way to make it happen and to get your readers to unsubscribe FAST!

  1. Talk about you. A LOT. Don’t solve their problems. Don’t provide solutions to their troubles. Tell them how you are a great (name your profession) and that no one has the experience and talent you do.
  1. Never answer questions. Keep your secrets to yourself and you’ll never have to worry about someone sharing your solutions with their friends and family.
  1. Write long chunks of stuff. Everyone is dying to hear from you and they have plenty of time to read your wisdom. Forget about bullet points, bold, italics and anything that makes your message easier to read. Put it all out there. Scrolling is fun and good exercise for people with lots of time on their hands.
  1. Write once; hit send. You are so great at what you do, there is no need to review it before sending it out to your followers. They know, like and trust you, so everything you say will be of value to them.
  1. Spell Check? Bah! Because you are so great, your followers will forgive and overlook any spelling errors. No need to waste time on silly homonyms or the proper spelling of ‘your’. They know what you mean. If they don’t, they’ll figure it out.
  1. Basic headlines and subject lines. No need to fuss over inspiring or entertaining headlines anymore. Titles and subject lines like ‘My newsletter’ or ‘Today’s blog’ are all you need to say. Remember: it’s from YOU and everyone wants to read your wisdom now. Don’t worry about identifying who you are; they will KNOW!
  1. And don’t forget industry jargon. You’re the expert and your readers want to be wowed by how much you know. Big words are impressive. Acronyms and industry-specific words are not used enough. If your reader doesn’t know the word, no biggie—see rules #1 and #2.

I’d ask if you have questions, but this goes against rule #2 above.

If, on the other hand, you want to break all the boredom rules, attract an audience, and solve their problems, I’ll break these rules with you, too. I’m ready! Are you?

Where do you struggle with your writing and touch points? Share below or send me a note.

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit goes to pixgood.com