Dozens of students at Arsenal Tech High School who have an interest in starting their own business gathered in the historic courtroom on campus to listen to panelists from a variety of backgrounds talk about their experiences with entrepreneurship. This is because being an entrepreneur is more about having a certain skill set and mindset than anything – and that skill set can be helpful whether it results in founding a business or pursuing a more traditional career.
After a presentation from Kathy England of Regions Bank about the importance of understanding the realities of how financials play a role in starting a business, Joseph Eldridge of 100 Black Men Indianapolis moderated the panel, along with questions from students. Below are some highlights from the panelists:
Chris Hoyt – Founder, Apprenace
“Often, people are searching for how to get to the top when the solution is right next to us. When I found something that I do well, I wanted to see how to turn it into a business – but just because you do something well, does not always mean customers are ready for it. The first thing you need is customers, if you don’t want to fail. Once I had enough people saying ‘yes, I would like to try this,’ then I used their feedback to create my initial product offerings. We did a lot to understand businesses and what their concerns and doubts are so that we are offering something specific rather than ambiguous.”
Melita Carter – Founder & CEO, Natural Born Leaders Academy
“As you are building your business, you don’t have to be good at every aspect of your business, but you have to know a little bit about everything to make sure other people you hire do their job well… As long as you know a little about a lot, to hire the right people, you can be successful. And that comes from reading and reading and researching and researching.”
NaShana Mitchell – Founder, Studio B; Co-founder, Design Bank
“You need to ask yourself why, what, who, where? Why am I committed? What am I offering? Who is my customer that will use this? And where do the transactions take place? Is it a building or online? And as you figure that out, it always circles back to ‘why,’ and you go from there. I had a business where once we made a $10,000 mistake – so after that we asked lots of questions and learned from it to make the right decision next time.”
Aundre G. hogue – Regional Vice President, PFS Investments
“You don’t have to be good at everything, but your business does. To go to the next level, it is more of a mindset – too many people never get off the ground because they are scared to fail. I don’t know anyone who is successful who hasn’t failed first. You need to fail forward, and keep moving.”
Dani Williams – Entrepreneur, Creative Leader, Social Media Strategist
“When I decided to become a special media strategist, it is because I found a need… Some people have wants, and some have needs – I have been most successful when I find a need and try to fill it. I am also a big believer in collaboration over competition, so I find ways for entrepreneurs to raise each other up through business.”
“Thank you for doing this. No one has ever done something like this for us.”
– Arsenal Tech student after the event
For more about the panelists, view the program from the event.