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Why Entrepreneurs Don’t Need Business Experience to Start Their Own Company

On this episode, Entrepreneur Network partner Business Rockstars spotlights designer Shaun Neff, who talks about the power of branding, what he has learned from starting his own business and the most rewarding aspects of becoming an entrepreneur. Plus, he explains why it helped him to have no previous working experience and why being naive can be a good thing.

Watch the video to learn more.

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7 Lessons for Young Entrepreneurs from a NASCAR Solopreneur

Julia Landauer knew she wanted to pursue racing as a career by the time she was 12. At that time, she and her parents started organizing her life around her dream. Landauer began working hard on and off the track, trying to land small sponsorships and grow brand awareness. Since that time she has become a NASCAR Next and NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver. At 24 years old, she has made a name for herself in a male-dominated sport, and done it all on her own, from handling her own publicity to personally pounding the pavement for sponsors — landing herself on the One Love Foundation/GCR  team. She has also become a sought-after speaker and an advocate for women in STEM.

As entrepreneurship grows in popularity, and the internet continues to provide new opportunities, more and more tweens and teens are following their entrepreneurial passions. Here are a few lessons for those hustlers and their families from the successful speaker, spokesperson, athlete and driver.

Be present.

Pursuing a dream and building a business, while still in school, requires a lot of energy and focus. Landauer missed around 130 days of high school for racing. She missed not only homework but also the big games, pep rallies and birthday parties as well. The way to juggle it all well, she says, is to be fully present where you are when you’re there.

“When I was at school, I really dedicated myself to being in school. I try to be very present where I am, and I knew I wasn’t gonna be able to hang out with [friends] on the weekends,” she shared. “So when I was there, I really tried to make sure I was giving my friends the attention.”

Tailor your education.

There is an entire discussion about the state of the four-year college education in the United States that we won’t dive into here, but you can see why someone building a racing career may decide to skip university altogether. Landauer wanted her degree, though, so she decided to tailor her major for her specific needs. She blended computer science, mechanical engineering, communications, history and English. She wanted to “get a well-rounded education to be able to help, primarily with my racing career and brand.” At 18, having been in racing for eight years, she knew what was expected. She wanted some technical knowledge about the machinery, but she also needed to excel at communicating on camera, writing sponsorship proposals, making presentations and selling herself.

“When you’re hungry for something, you figure out what you need to do to make it work,” she explained.

Figure out the training you need to set yourself up for success, outside of your specific talents. This could mean honing your writing skills, learning basic coding, public speaking, etc. A few of my guests on The Pursuit say focus only on your strengths, but I have found that the reality for most is this: You won’t be able to outsource all of your weaknesses for years. Build your strengths in the most important brand-building areas where you need improvement.

Tell your authentic story.

Learn from one of Landauer’s mistakes. During college she had the opportunity to be a contestant on Survivor, but she did not get much exposure because she was “bland.”

“It was a good branding lesson for me. I chose not to tell people I went to Stanford, but I was a sophomore in college, so my whole world I was concealing, and I just realized I didn’t have as much to talk about.”

From then on, she realized she had to own who she is and accept that she will not appeal to everyone. She advises people to work on conveying their personality and telling their story in a way that will benefit other people.

 

Find mentors.

Landauer has made a few really smart moves. For example, she met someone who worked in investing and asked the person to look over her pitch deck, simply for the critique.

“That kind of help was really great, and that’s a blessing and a gift,” she said, “Just practicing stuff when people say no, I had no shame in asking them, ‘Okay, what was not attractive to you? What didn’t work?'”

It takes guts to ask for that kind of honest feedback.

She is also not afraid to reach out to her mentors for guidance and support. These mentors include past teachers, her parents, industry acquaintances and Lyn St. James, who formed the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Capitalize on what makes you different.

Obviously, performance is the main driver (pun intended) of exposure and sponsorship. However, Landauer realized early on that she can use her disadvantages to appeal to certain sponsors.

“Danica [Patrick] is a really good example; she hasn’t won a race yet, but she’s one of the highest earning NASCAR drivers and she brings in a ton of money to the sport. So, it really depends whatever value the company is looking for.”

Related: 5 Lessons You Learn From Your Business Mistakes

She explained that finding those ideal sponsors takes a lot of research and clear communication with potential brands. She said she has to ask, What do you need? What problems are you trying to solve? And is there a way that me and my platform and NASCAR can be beneficial to that?

Which leads to my next point . . .

Realize it’s not about you.

Young entrepreneurs — and even seasoned entrepreneurs who are working on a brand new project or business — are overflowing with passion. Sometimes that passion leads to the belief that everyone else will also be excited, and ready to get out their checkbooks. Realize again that results are what matter. What value do you provide? Remind yourself that the market is the market and, frankly, it doesn’t care about your passion.

Landauer explained, “[One important lesson] is that you have to assume that no one’s gonna be supporting you and no one’s gonna be in your favor. Assume that your agenda does not align with other people’s agenda . . . . You have to be your harshest critic. Hopefully you have a group around you, whether it’s family or friends, or partners who will help you. But, I found that, I would assume that people would have wanted to help me and they didn’t,” she added. “Don’t let other people’s lack of creativity and lack of vision get in your way.”

Which leads to my last lesson from Landauer:

Believe in yourself.

Breaking into Nascar, especially as a young female from New York, is no easy task. To her fellow underdogs out there, Landauer says you must find a way to stay confident and believe in yourself.

“I know that sounds kind of silly and cliche and everything, but if you don’t have confidence, why would anyone else want to help you if they were interested? So if you have a journal to write, if you need to look in a mirror and pump yourself up, do that.”

Personally, in moments self-doubt, Landauer writes out “the facts” about her career and her accomplishments to remind herself she’s doing well. I love this approach and use it myself. Take out the emotion and instead write out your highlight reel as you would about a stranger.

Support Landauer’s NASCAR journey by following her story on Facebook and Instagram.

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Tech Education Startup Synkers Is Using Adaptive Learning

 

Launched in September 2016, Synkers is a platform connecting students with qualified private tutors. Parents and high school and university students can search and book qualified tutors based on preferences of prices, rating and location, while tutors can access a network of prospective students and manage bookings online. Utilizing the on-demand economy, the Lebanon-based startup provides tutoring services across an array of courses as well as standardized tests (SAT, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, etc).

From having launched with one university, to their current 11 network of universities, in this episode of #EntMETalks, CEO and co-founder Audrey Nakad discusses how the platform has grown and where it wants to head next, how it utilizes adaptive learning for teaching and learning approaches, as well as handling the hurdles of building a tech startup in Lebanon. On the startup’s USP, Nakad says, “We’re not only connecting students and tutors, but we’re also investing on our top tutors.”

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How Two Entrepreneurs Built a Major Business Through Minimalism

What do you actually need, and what do you just want because it’s exciting?

Public speakers, authors, podcasters and co-founders of the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus started their business by asking themselves what they really needed out of their day-to-day life. The answer they came up with shouldn’t surprise anyone: They needed time.

When Entrepreneur Network partner Emily Richett sat down with Millburn and Nicodemus, Millburn said, “For me, ‘busy’ has become the most vulgar word there is. It’s the worst four-letter word.” Then, the two entrepreneurs explain how they have branched out into several different areas of business — from making documentaries to writing books — without spreading themselves too thin.

Watch the video to learn how they did it.

 

 

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How One Entrepreneur Worked with More Than 300 Influencers Last Year

If you are a brand trying to work with influencers, or an influencer trying to sign with a brand, experiential expert Claudine DeSola shared her advice with Jessica Abo.

nside Caravan Stylist Studio, you will find Claudine DeSola working with brands and influencers. DeSola helps creatives like actresses, musicians, bloggers, editors and others get ready for red carpets, TV appearances, photo shoots and other major events, and introduces them to different products and fashion designers. Her New York studio is open to creatives who want to come in and have a “me” day or have an event, date night, style shoot or birthday celebration. Entrepreneur Network partner Jessica Abo sat down with DeSola to learn how she brings brands and influencers together.

Q: Claudine, tell us about Caravan Stylist Studio and how you are creating authentic interactions between influencers and brands.

DeSola: We have our gallery space that includes glam stations, a full-time ambassador for brands, an art showcase and a lounge. Programming happens inside the studio and then we recap everything on our website and through social media. There is more consumption of a brand or service after someone attends an activation and experiences that brand firsthand. Our hope is that after guests visit the studio and learn about a brand, they feel 100 percent more like they understand that brand, and share information via word of mouth to friends and families. At least 70 percent of consumers share something about the brands they have used via social chatter, which creates authentic relationships.

Q: You work with everything from OGX and LifewayKefir to cast members of Orange is the New Black and The Americans. What makes Caravan unique?

Our business revolves around these tenants: Visit. Learn. Sample. Influencers get to experience their next favorite product or service. At Caravan, we try to create that place, guests come and can relax, and while they are there they can hear about new products they might find useful. We are a marketing tool, so our goal is to talk about our brand sponsors. However, we umbrella that with just being like your girlfriends sharing other fun information with you from our favorite new art shows to our favorite new band — we make sure to only have the best playlists. As far as I know, there is no other full-time experiential hub in New York that is curating this type of influencer marketing as a program. We exist throughout the year so we have repeat influencers and we are constantly trying to meet new guests as well. We offer services every day, but we sprinkle that with events we feel will be of interest to our guests and our brands. With everything happening online it is important to have something that happens in an actual physical space where our brand partner ambassador can interact with our guests and tell them about products and services, benefits and how to use them. Our influencers often tell us our human touch in an online world is refreshing.

Q: There are so many brands working on influencer marketing, but they are typically short and expensive campaigns. How do you set yourself up for success?

We get a mix of creatives that come through and it ranges from those with millions of followers to those that might have a few thousand. The way we create our invite lists is by looking at content creation or projects they are working on. We have worked with actresses when they got their first role and had 2,000 followers because we believed in them and now some of those same actresses may have 1.5 million followers. We try to really get to know our guests and we love meeting actresses from new television shows to a new author to a cool blogger from Bushwick. They are entrepreneurs too, and it is all about supporting other entrepreneurs.

Q: What mistake do people make when it comes to influencer marketing?

I often see an influencer post a pretty photo with a bunch of products and tag the brands in the picture. To me that is not interesting. It would be so much better if the picture told a story about the person using those products. I am also seeing a bit of mismanagement when it comes to influencer marketing. I think brands need to be more careful. I see influencers talking about one hair brand one week and another one the next and being paid by both. I think brands need to seek out new influencers as well as working with the well known ones.

Q: What three pieces of advice do you have for brands?

1. Take your online, offline and back to human interaction.

2. Focus on bigger programs and strategies, such as what we offer at Caravan. Paying one person to post one time can produce beautiful content, but creating an ongoing program allows for continuous content and authentic interactions.

3. Be different. I love content producers and I too have some of my favorites, but there are tons of creatives that could create programs with brands that are unique.

Q: What is the number one tip you have for influencers?

Test products and learn if you like them before you agree to doing a campaign, so that you stay authentic.