By: Indra N. Kar
The “What’s Next? Entrepreneurship” Panel Discussion took place on November 5, 2014 at the new Leslie eLab. It was a very informative program that was organized by Wasserman and co-sponsored by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Association (EIA) and the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute. As a senior majoring in Economics with an interest in business, I was curious to hear what the panelists had to say regarding startups and the entrepreneurial world.
There were three key takeaways from the seminar:
Why to Become an Entrepreneur:
A couple of the panelists worked in the financial services industry prior to creating their own start-ups. In fact, both of them left the industry during the height of the financial crisis to find something where they could control their own destinies. Another panelist was happy to leave his cold-calling job prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors. The three of them expressed a desire to directly observe the results of their work. Whether it was finance or cold calling, they had difficulty seeing the impact they were having on people’s lives. However, by starting their own businesses, they experienced more person-to-person interactions. This allowed them to observe the ways they were affecting individuals’ lives and the influence they were having on the final product.
Learning from Failure:
The unpredictability of a start-up’s success can lead many to shy away from starting a business. However, the speakers emphasized that failure can teach you several things including your own personal weaknesses, the business strategies that don’t work, and the fact that the best ideas are often organic ideas.
Furthermore, the majority of the panel believed that the journey and the end result are equally important. Along the way, experience is the best teacher. You can either let past failures discourage you, or you can learn from them and move on. One of the panelists described entrepreneurship as “a state of mind,” which I think nicely captured the emotional aspect of innovation.
Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur:
Words and phrases that repeatedly came up during the discussion were “risk taking,” “focus,” “curiosity,” and “creativity.” From the discussion, it appeared that the work of a successful entrepreneur is reflective of these four things.
The riskiness of starting your own business is inherent. You are starting something from scratch, often times without a lot of capital in the beginning. In order to secure a significant amount of funding, you need to prove yourself first. You have to find the right business partners, and sometimes, you have student debt to worry about paying off. But, how will you know success if you don’t try?
This is where the risk-taking nature and the ability to maintain focus come in handy for an entrepreneur. The panelists generally agreed that entrepreneurs need to have goals in mind and keep striving until the goals are met. Intellectual curiosity is another source of motivation that they mentioned. It helps jumpstart your creativity, which can help you think on your feet when something doesn’t go as planned. The success of a start-up is not guaranteed, but the panelists believed that the right qualities and right attitude could help you become a successful entrepreneur.