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19 Tips for Entrepreneurs

Mar 10, 2014
Experiential / Reality-based Learning

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1. Don’t be afraid to fail.

“If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own business, make 2014 the year you take the risk -- even if you fail. Whatever happens, you’re guaranteed to learn a lot in the process.” — Elana Fine, managing director, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

2. The only thing that is certain is change.

“In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, the unknown has become the only real thing we can count on.” — Andrew J. Sherman, adjunct professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business; partner, Washington law offices of Jones Day.

3. Communicate effectively.

“The companies that win communicate the best. The ones who make it are the ones who focus and truly commit themselves.” — Kevin Plank ‘96, founder and CEO, of Under Armour, speaking at 2011 Cupid’s Cup competition

4. Be patient.

“If you are trying to attack a big problem and you have a big idea — a change-the-world idea — rarely do they happen overnight. You have to have the perseverance to see it through the ups and downs.” — Steve Case, former CEO and chairman of AOL, speaking at 2011 Cupid’s Cup competition

5. Empower people to let down their guards.

“Give your team a safe environment where they are free to brainstorm, discuss and explore new ideas without ridicule or too much negativity. Once the idea has been massaged, shaped and restated, the more burdensome tasks of execution, adoption and sustainability begin.” — Sherman

6. Dress for success.

“The faded T-shirt from high school of your favorite band’s world tour will simply not be the best attire to make the right impression for meeting with potential investors or clients.” — Liz Sara, entrepreneur-in-residence, Dingman Center of Entrepreneurship; managing director, Best Marketing LLC

7. Mitigate risk.

“Understand your affordable loss — and do what you can do to mitigate risk before you start.”  — Fine

8. Blaze new trails.

“Don’t just travel where no one has gone before — create a new trail that others can follow.” — Sherman

9. Trust your instincts.

“Follow your gut if you have an idea; often the reward will be worth the risk.” — Ed Snider, Chairman, Comcast Spectacor, speaking at 2011 Cupid’s Cup competition

10. Stay true to your core business.

“The worst thing you can do is focus on everything but your core business. It is easy to get caught up with other things.” — Plank

11. Think global, start local.

“Startups need to understand and solve global problems. Every business is a global business and every entrepreneur is a global entrepreneur.” — Fine

12. Find comfort in what is uncomfortable.

“Talk and learn from people from different cultures. Travel to places with language barriers. Get lost on subways and experiment with food. The ability to partner with international companies and comfort travelling to meet a potential customer will give you a competitive advantage.” — Fine

13. Make a great product and tell a great story.

“The best merchants aren’t predicting what’s cool, they are dictating what’s cool.” — Plank

14. Avoid cynics and naysayers.

“There is a major difference between cynics and skeptics. Skeptics tend to be healthy contributors to the innovation process because they ask all the right questions, even if they start with a negative bias. Creativity needs both a yin and a yang to make a perfect circle, but it does not need someone throwing cold water on the process.” — Sherman

15. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

“If you don’t do anything, you can’t do anything wrong.” — Snider

16. Stay focused

“Ignore everyone else and don’t get discouraged by over-hyped claims from the start-up ecosystem. Keep your eyes on your prize and build your own business. Let others build theirs.” — Edward Barrientos, entrepreneur-in-residence, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship; president and chief executive, Brazen Careerist

17. Trust in yourself and your team.

“People don’t innovate without self-confidence, and teams can’t perform without trust. Earned praise can be a great motivator for your team, and building trust can fuel creativity and innovation.” — Sherman

18. Play to your strengths.

“Do what you do well and grow it.” — Snider

19. Embrace America’s culture of entrepreneurship.

“If you look at our history as a nation, starting with our founding fathers, they were basically entrepreneurs. They were willing to get on boats and sail across the ocean because they had an idea, and they had a passion about that particular idea. The whole growth and success of our nation over the last couple of hundred years has been a similar kind of phenomena.” — Case

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The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.