The ABCs of becoming an entrepreneur
New entreprenuer Victoria Adams starts a six-part series on how she went from teacher to entrepreneur and what she has learned from A to Z.
I love learning and, more importantly, helping others learn. This is why I became a special education teacher. However, as much as I love teaching, it was my hope to one day work for a company with an education-related focus. Never did I imagine that company would be mine. Yet, here I am – teacher turned entrepreneur.
Four months ago, while pursuing my MBA at Malone University in Canton, I developed the idea for a wearable educational device that will help students take ownership in learning by tracking and rewarding behavior and engagement in the classroom. My professors at Malone encouraged me to move forward with my idea by surrounding myself with knowledgeable partners. This led to me seeking legal expertise and joining the Akron Global Business Accelerator. At the Accelerator, I have received invaluable direction and insight into every aspect of creating a start-up. They encouraged and supported me in The National Science Foundation’s I-Corps Sites program at The University of Akron where I conducted extensive market and customer research to validate market need. Since then, The Bit Factory mentors have begun providing me with the technical expertise that I need to develop the idea into a quality product. I am very lucky to be near Akron where there are such resources and opportunities available!
That said, the journey has not been easy and I have learned much in a short amount of time. As a teacher, I would love to share some of these lessons with you. Naturally, I have “alphabetized” those I feel have been most important in my journey so far with the intent to continue to share every few months here at the Accelerator blog. Starting with A-D, I hope you’ll join me – and possibly learn something that will help you, too.
A – Ambition
If you want to do well and be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be ambitious and willing to work hard. On your own, seek legal advice, explore joining an accelerator and find support groups that offer an opportunity to network. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are unsure of the process and your product’s potential. Make the calls, send the emails, go to the meetings and stay up late working on presentations – no one is going to do it for you. Ambition with proven actions will bring positive results.
B – Businesses
Spend some time researching your competitors and their products. Get to know their products – how they function, as well as cost and quality. If possible, get the product in your own hands to evaluate and compare. Knowing how your product relates to others helps determine whether changes need to be made to make yours viable.
C – Customers
To be a successful teacher, I need to know what drives my students’ decisions and actions. Likewise, you need to know who your customers are and what compels them to buy. Through market research, you can learn the difference between your customers, influencers and decision makers as well as the marketing message for each. If you can, get in front of them, talk with them and get their feedback. That will help you discover what they need and want in a product and then ask how yours aligns with it.
D – Design
There is no doubt you will need to make revisions to your initial product idea after consulting customers and researching competitors. I had to change aspects of mine based on feedback and it was hard, but it’s essential. And once you’ve got it where you want it, go back and get feedback again. Never reach a point where you know there is nothing that needs to be changed – there is always something that can be done to better meet someone’s need. Your product is not perfect, despite how you may feel about it.
Being an entrepreneur, you are continuously learning and improving. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself. I hope this blog series will help you prepare for the lessons you may encounter along your own journey to success!