The absence of traffic lanes gave way to a coagulation of metallic bodies dancing endlessly into the cacophonous night. Dark shadows darted boldly from unlit corners of the road. An incessant stream of neon lights reflected off old taxi windows. We grip the asphalt and dodge an onslaught of surely fatal head-on collisions as the driver bravely turns by instinct. This modern day matador battles the urban monster at every corner.
During the few days I spent in Kolkata with my family at the onset of our recent trip to India, we visited a famous temple called KhaliGat.
Our driver guided us through the chaotic streets of the city and stopped just outside of a bustling market. He turned and said he couldn’t take us any closer. We disembarked from our car and joined the masses of people rushing through the street. Within the first paces away from our vehicle, we were approached by a man who said he would not only be able to conduct a puja for us inside the temple, but was able to skip the four hour wait to get in. Despite our uneasiness with his overeager sales pitch, we decided to hire him. He quickly shuffled us into a tiny storefront with a dark hallway behind it as we were instructed to remove our shoes. A lady standing in the shadows ensured that our shoes would be safe from looters. Before entering a temple, one must remove their shoes. Unfortunately at many temples in India, people “exchange” their shoes upgrading their footwear for free. We proceeded barefoot to a few more street vendors just outside the storefront to collect the supplies for the forthcoming puja. As soon as we finished foraging our prayer goodie bag, we set out to the nearby temple. We did not walk with presence of mind to keep our feet clean, there was no clean. We stepped cautiously only hoping to avoid the severest levels of grime. I contemplated remedies to my impending ailments. My soles paced nervously on asphalt forgotten by city sanitation. The narrow street was outfitted with dozens of storefronts catering to every need a worshipper may have to undertake a puja at Khaligat. Beggars lingered and hassled us for 30 yards at a time desperate to squeeze a few rupees free. I wondered if our guides intentionally persuaded us to dirty our feet on the street in order to symbolically remind us of any languishment in our lives we wished God to wash away.
The doorframe of the outer temple wall was lined with a light brown metal detector. The frame beeped episodically as each body passed through its field. As a person enters a temple, they ceremoniously ring a bell to alert God that they have arrived to worship. The poetic significance of this metal detector ringing during our entrance swirled through my brain. The Indian tradition was appropriated by security and modernity. Two police officers sat idle next to the door and stared in a daze at the commotion inside the gate. Neither law nor their knight sticks would have any luck quelling the craziness in the crowd. The one man who initially sold us on the “express lane to God”, as my sister called it, picked up a friend to assist with our transport to the diety at the front of the temple. They advised us not to open our wallets or purses inside since pickpocketing was inevitable, though I rather thought it was our guides who were robbing us blind.
The temple itself was a great hall with giant pillars and marble floors. Through a small window sized opening, one could see the Kali diety, which was perched on a table in another small room only big enough for the statue and a Brahmin to sit. Situated between the great hall and the small room was a hallway where a stream of people entered to see Kali for a few seconds only to be pushed to the other end of the hallway and exit to the great hall. Evidently, our guide’s strategy to avoid the four long wait in line was simply to cut it all together. Black stone steps led up to the end of the hallway as one of our guides pushed through the exiting people in order to escort us inside. As we worked our way into the hallway I felt the immediate pressure coming in from the flow of people. We had entered into a deep rushing river against the current. My stress skyrocketed as I scanned the small mob of people pushing each other like a giant school of fish turning in on itself for a chance to get close to Kali’s statue. We stood single file against the wall for our turn to pray. One by one the guide took each member of my family into the pit of chaos for a few second glimpse of the small room as he castigated the crowd behind. The wave of the people ebbed and flowed in the hallway with constant crashes to each wall spilling over as people were forced to exit. Drums from the large hall pounded like the heartbeat of the collective scene. We stood strong against the current and when a chance arose, we bled out of the hallway, down the stone stairs and into the great hall.
The pillars were stained with ash four feet high where previous worshippers conducted their puja and sparked a ceremonial fire. Teams of two approached us selling paths closer to God for a small donation. One came with string and began tying it around my sister’s hand before seeking permission. We reluctantly gave in and everyone got one. As he wished good blessings on our family his assistant counted the donation my mom had given him. The hall was full of dealers selling dimebags of happiness and strings of peace.
The empty peacefulness of the land graced me as we traveled deeper into the Indian oasis. The people were compelled to live entranced by the beauty of life. Their days were starkly different from the callous panic of Kolkata streets. They embraced bright colors and leisurely pace. The countryside was adorned with large and exuberant palaces. Royal Rajasthan.
The driver recommended a local hotel as a great dinner experience. We were in deference to his knowledge as a Rajasthan native. The hotel stood mightily on the side of the road with a façade of a royal gate and a doorman in traditional garb. Most of the upscale establishments in the area wore a similar jacket. Inside we found a large green field encompassed inside the wall. On the close end of the field, several vendors cordially invited us to view their merchandise. At the end of the line of merchants a canopy of cloth covered a stage where two men and a boy sat with instruments. They were the house band. As the few other patrons and myself rounded up to watch the show, two young dancers joined the men on stage in costume jewelry and bright saris. They sat behind the band politely and remained silent except for their sonorous bangles. The sound of their music was magnificently hypnotic. They sang not to us, but to the sky. Not to entertain but to harmonize with the universe. I stared at the massive night sky twinkling with stars above our heads. I felt like the cobra I saw earlier in the day dancing innocuously to the rhythm of the pungi. The encircling wall of the estate was my basket and the moon my focus.
During the day we visited palaces. Haughty tour guides inside each palace recited the history of the kingdom and its corresponding Maharajas. They recounted great battles against foreign invaders, Mughal and British. But all admitted defeat to Indira Gandhi’s end to royal pension. Some guides were insightful while others were high. They scrambled us through their shortcuts in the palace, which meant unlinking chains of staircases that were blocked off. Each of the three cities we visited had a distinct history but the pride of its people was uniform. The victory and wealth of their respective royal family was their own. The sentiment was beyond comprehension. The views were breathtaking.
Millions March DC
Revolt in the District
You Must Be This Tall To Start A Business
(Appeared in Epicenter at Stanford University's blog: http://stanford.io/1wfTxCB)
Excited students scurried into Blaire Hall early on a warm Monday morning in July. For many of them, the next two weeks would be their first touch point in innovation and entrepreneurship. The participants transcended the titles of "student" and "teacher"; they were active and engaged learners who discovered the most important lessons by trying, failing, and trying again.
The first "I-Corps for Young Innovators" camp took place at Bullis High School in Potomac, Maryland to teach high school students the foundation of venture creation and analysis. Teams of three or four came in with a venture idea, which they were to flesh out and analyze through the duration of the camp.
Organized by DC I-Corps, the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, and Bullis High School, the camp brought together design thinking and Lean LaunchPad experts from throughout the region including UMD, George Washington University, and Georgetown University. As a newly hired innovation specialist with the Academy, my role was to observe and participate in facilitation to prepare myself to teach in various UMD classes in the fall.
The forty high school juniors from schools in Maryland and Virginia came with a diverse set of interests and backgrounds, creating an ideal ideation soup from which fertile ideas came to life.
While the potential to impact these students was high, the challenge was also substantial. For the students, it meant wrapping their heads around concepts like customer segmentation, value proposition, sales channels, and iterative design while their peers were off enjoying the jovial days of summer freedom. For the facilitators, it meant simplifying seemingly complex topics without diluting the core principles.
I noticed in customer discovery, most of the campers were hard pressed to define a target demographic without using age. This was a concept we needed for them to abandon. We realized that until a student is out of college, most of their community is segregated by age. Because of this, many popular products or services they use are targeted to their age group. We emphasized shared values being the glue that brought a customer segment together and not age; however that people of the same age might share similar values. This distinction created a paradigm shift for the campers who were better able to determine their customers moving forward.
Strengths of Younger Students
Young adults can often be underestimated. Youth might be associated with a lack of worldly experience or a perceived disposition to navigate large systems. This naivety might be seen as a weakness, but we validated it was most certainly a strength. The first segment of design thinking is empathy. This stage pushes people to get out of their comfort zone and interview potential end users. In his 2010 TED talk “The Marshmallow Challenge,” Tom Wujec chronicles a design exercise that asks teams to build a tower with uncooked spaghetti and tape and to fix a marshmallow on top. He found through facilitating the challenge that kindergarteners spend less time planning and more time trying ways to accomplish the task ultimately creating a better tower than MBA students, who spent the majority of their time planning.
We found this same principle to hold true at Bullis. Erica Estrada-Liou, Director of Curriculum & Student Experience at the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, led the design thinking facilitation during the camp. She was pleasantly surprised that “these students weren’t afraid to go and talk to people. They even talked to more people than industry professionals. They are okay talking to strangers.” The ability to reach out to people to test assumptions and find needs is of paramount importance to venture creation, an ability which these students had no trouble exercising. It seemed that the lack of experience allowed the campers to be more open to learning than their elder counterparts.
Failure is Relative
I graduated from college a few short months ago and am currently working for the university, so I have seen both sides of the behemoth called higher education. As a result, I feel I can speak to the tremendous aversion to failure education instills in students. This idea that failure is the worst possible outcome to an endeavor is the polar opposite to the entrepreneurial world where failure is an important learning experience, which should not be feared. While there is a growing movement in the country around entrepreneurship and an increased need to provide millennials skills to tackle the world’s problems, such efforts will be futile until the day failure is no longer a dirty word.
At Bullis, we found the group initially asking for rules and a rubric for which to base their ventures upon. In order to fully understand the process we were teaching, it was necessary for the campers to understand how to exercise autonomy with their ideas and not operate under rigid guidelines. Part of this autonomy included the ability to completely change their mind at anytime if they felt unsatisfied with their venture. Pivoting is a natural process in entrepreneurship and one which we wanted groups to understand was far from failure. Yasmin Mulla, a 16-year- old rising senior at Winston Churchill High School, reflected on the camp: “One of the most unique aspects about I-Corps was that they taught us to embrace our failures and (that) it’s a very significant part of the process…(Failing) can help you create better solutions, come up with better ideas, or influence you to pivot- which is perfectly alright!”
After each enlightening day, I’d lay my head down and close my eyes only to notice that customer segmentation and value proposition were branded deep into my neurons. The camp in some ways was even the impetus for me to make the decision to narrow the target audience for my own venture, MADE. While these students gained empathy for their customer segment to launch their businesses, we gained empathy on what engaged them in order to better teach innovation and entrepreneurship. The versatility of the applications of both design thinking and Lean LaunchPad are seemingly limitless. It can be used to teach people to start a business and it can be used to teach people how to teach people how to start a business.
The Young Innovators Camp was a step in the right direction. It was an initiative that should try to be emulated in order to better equip the students of tomorrow to view education differently and create a demand for a change in the aging education model. It was surreal teaching students about innovation and entrepreneurship. What I’ve come to realize is that students can pick this stuff up pretty quickly; it’s all in the attitude of the teacher. That may sound cliché, but its true. It all depends on the facilitator’s mindset going into it. We believed we could effectively teach this material to sixteen year olds, and we did just that.
In order for students to have unique and disruptive ideas, they must be introduced to unique and disruptive thinking. Why not introduce the mindset while teaching tools to help them bring their ideas to life? You’re not only teaching steps and process, you’re teaching framing and critical thinking. And don’t forget, even though you might have a syllabus at hand, you should listen to the students' needs. After all, as a teacher, they are your customer segment.
Innovation & Determination
(Appeared on the Epicenter Center at Stanford University's blog: http://stanford.io/1mzGkg5)
As I embarked to lead an Alternative Spring Break trip to the Dominican Republic, I had no idea the next week would be a life changing experience.
The community we worked in was called Barrio Blanco, named after the man who started the community, Blanco. Blanco is around sixty years old, but his passion for maintaining the barrio makes him move like he’s twenty-five. A small neighborhood hidden away in the bustling tourist attraction of Cabarete, Barrio Blanco represents the determination of community organizers to withstand gentrification. The wealth and abundance that kissed the beachside resorts didn’t make it to the barrio. In fact, half a mile from the five star restaurants, people were walking on unpaved streets covered in trash.
The three service projects our group focused on were teaching children at the DREAM school, painting a mural on the entrance of the neighborhood, and making mobile garbage cans. The mobile trash can project was primed for the design thinking process.
The Problem: The entrance to the community was a quarter mile long with two cinderblock walls on either side. The opening was only wide enough for one large truck. The side streets were far too narrow for the truck to make its way around so the residents could either carry their garbage to the truck or throw it out in front of their house. By and large people chose the latter. As a result, trash lay undisturbed, free to enjoy the Dominican sun. Unfortunately, trash leaked into the nearby lagoon behind the houses, contaminating the water and causing health concerns for the residents. Upon learning about design thinking from the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UMD, my co-trip leader and I quickly introduced the methodology into our facilitation identifying potential benefits of using it in a social context. I had hoped to give my twelve participants tools such as design thinking that would allow them to more easily tackle large-scale problems after the trip, a process known as activation.
The Task: Design and build eight mobile trash cans which can be pulled on unpaved, uneven streets and be light enough for children to pull.
The Process: First, we observed. I jotted some preliminary ideas for the frame and wheel placement after our work was finished each day. I pulled two participants who displayed interest in the design process to help, Taylor and Young-Ju. It was imperative for both of them to share their opinion during the prototype and test phase. At first, both were hesitant to give their input. After relentlessly insisting they share their ideas, Young-Ju exclaimed, “I don’t know, I’m not an engineer like you, you know what you’re doing.” I was both shocked and relieved. Shocked because it felt like I was finally breaking through timid Young-Ju’s shell and relieved because this was something that I could tell was on both of their minds. “What does engineering have anything to do with this, we just need to solve a problem,” I explained turning the focus on the task at hand.
From that point on, they both opened up throughout the design process.
After numerous trips to the hardware store and shipping parts in from Puerto Rico, we were finally ready to build all eight trash cans on our last day of service. It started at noon. To start building we created a six-person team. The inconsistent electricity made it difficult to make progress and it seemed like everything was standing between us and our goal. Through sheer determination we pushed forward. As people in the community saw us working, they began coming out of their houses to offer help. A group of men who ran a hardware business nearby stopped working in order to make sure we were adequately equipped to finish the project. Timid Young-Ju who had once held her tongue when asked her opinion now had no problem barking orders at other participants to ensure they were building the frames correctly. Wiping sweat away from my sleep deprived eyes, for a minute I observed at what was happening around me. There were at least a dozen people helping in some capacity now in an assembly line type fashion. My original design team acted as quality assurance. We even brought in someone else from the community to weld handles onto the sides of the can.
The schedule said to end work at 4:30 and head to a nice dinner on the beach, but we couldn’t leave until the job was finished. We finished the last can at 7:00pm as the sun forfeited its position above. Even though we were all battling heat exhaustion, sickness, and sleep deprivation, all ailments were buried the moment we finished. Accomplishment and satisfaction coagulated with the cool Dominican air. It felt like we just won the Super Bowl, everyone was in visible ecstasy. The community leaders invited us back the next day to give a proper thank you/goodbye.
The next evening we entered the barrio making the long walk to the school one last time. As soon as we began walking down the entrance, we heard the pitter patter of running children and in the distance tiny voices yelling “they’re here! they’re here!” in Spanish followed quickly by the muffled thuds of them running into and embracing us with their small arms. They guided us to the school where leaders of the community and kids alike prepared speeches for us. They praised us for the work we did but most of all for caring about the barrio. Everywhere I turned all I heard was “nunca te olvidare” (I will never forget you). I was blown away that people we had no idea existed just five days prior were now telling us we changed their lives. I couldn’t describe the way it felt when I heard the work I did impacted someone’s life. It was the greatest high I’ve ever felt. I ducked out of the party early to look at the trash cans one last time before we left.
As I headed back to our work site, I saw Blanco sitting there alone as if he knew I was coming. I looked up from Blanco’s silhouette to see all the garbage cans were gone. “Where are the garbage cans, Blanco?” I asked. In a calm voice he told me if I wanted to see them again, I’d have to walk around the whole community because they had already been put to use. I was speechless. Not even twenty-four hours after we finished the project, they were already serving their purpose. It was incredible to think through engineering and design thinking we were able to build something that would help this group of people we grew to love.
At times engineering can be nebulous and my mind would lay burdened by theory and formulas in class, but I wouldn’t have been able to help the residents of Barrio Blanco if not for those classes. It was amazing to be able to apply things from class to the real world and make a difference. It was also rewarding to be able to demystify engineering and design to non-STEM majors who found instant utility from its principles. I will never forget how happy the residents of Barrio Blanco were. Our closeness to the community greatly aided the human centered piece of our design process. Not only did we want what we built to be used, but we cared so deeply about our friends in the barrio, that nothing but the best was acceptable. If you’re passionate enough about a project and you remain resolutely determined on achieving the goal, nothing can stop you.
Early Stage Recruitment Decisions
The first few hires of a start-up are some of the most critical decisions an entrepreneur can make. Each new member changes the dynamic of the company, its image, and the workplace behavior. A single destructive individual can break the organization. Due to the gravity each HR decision carries, it is important to thoroughly evaluate one’s enterprise before acting.
Best practice dictates starting small and expanding as needed. Starting with too large of a team limits the efficiency with which start-ups find their strength. Regardless of the idea, the team tasked with its materialization is arguably as important as the idea itself. The hiring process can be a tumultuous and difficult process, which is why I have crafted a checklist for each new hire.
Can this person bring new ideas to the workspace?
Unless you’re searching for an intern, the additional team member has to be able to bring something to the table none of the current members can bring. Test this through case questions during the interview. Are they someone who has been fed answers their whole life or are they able to think critically and independently?
How does the addition of this person change or reinforce the image of our company?
Well-crafted branding is essential for any start-up. Being distinctive puts the company in people’s minds and that thought starts with the people who represent the brand. Whether you’re going for the Mad Men look or taking tips out of Steve Jobs’ hygiene book, the way you look is the way people will immediately begin to frame the company in their mind. How will adding this person add or detract from the image you have carefully constructed?
Would you hang out with this person?
Working in someone’s apartment or incubator for hours tends to transcend a working relationship. The better question to consider is, will the candidate be someone you would like hanging out with? Company energy is pivotal in issues of motivation. No one wants to work with a robot for six hours trying to finish the presentation for the investor meeting the next day. People want to work with people. People have feelings, personalities, and interest - does your interviewee?
Take care to vet candidates before bringing them on board. Once you have selected them to work with the organization, the weight of each of their decisions is amplified. The time to determine their commitment, motives, and interests is during the interview. Personally, I’d rather know how the person I’m interviewing reacted to Breaking Bad season 4 finale rather than their GPA, but that’s what I’m looking for; what are you looking for?
Networking Tricks for College Treps
(Appeared on Entrepreneur's web site: http://entm.ag/1djgFG3)
In my six months of being the founder of nonprofit MADE Microfinance, a program focused on providing financial services for people that don't qualify for bank loans, I have begun to realize the true value of a network. Especially, being a young college entrepreneur and not having a lot of experience under my belt, these connections are critical to getting my startup off the ground. Everything from hiring to being introduced to mentors was done through the power of networking. And the stronger your network, the greater the resources.
Being in college is a perfect time to understand and begin to effectively meet people and stay connected.
If you need a little help getting started, here are a few tips:
Link in to leadership centers on campus. To have a successful business, your employees need to be high-functioning -- especially the first few hires. Yet, it can be difficult to find the right people to build your team. A good place to begin? Other student leaders. These go-getters have already taken initiative to run a program, a club or other activity, making them ideal for a startup environment. That said, there is a caveat.
The same traits that makes them attractive hires are also their downfall. Because they are so involved, they may lack the time to commit to your business. If you finding yourself chasing after them, possibly consider scaling their responsibilities back. For example, you could have them focus on being your brand ambassador and getting the word out to other students.
Find clubs that align with your company's mission. Collegiate clubs can be a hackneyed model: Logistical meetings with the bait of free pizza can only work on hungry kids for so long. However, members and executive boards are always looking for new ways to promote the club's mission. Take advantage of this. Partnering with a club that aligns with your company's mission can be an effective use of energy and resources. It is a mutually beneficial relationship, because it can help grow both organizations through joint promotion.
Gain institutional support. Some say college is the best time to start a business, due to the readily available resources (and having less responsibilities). Depending on which college you attend, there may already be entrepreneurship center to help students with their startups. Utilize it.
If not, find a professor or department who can connect you within your industry. People recognize the clout universities possess with employers, but the same pull can be applicable in promoting entrepreneurs. Having university support for your business can be extremely effective marketing and put you in contact with people who may be able to help you grow your business. This outlet is also a great place to find a mentor who has industry experience.
Trust is the fabric, which allows a team to work effectively. Without it, innovation and growth are stifled.
In order for a founder to focus on larger organizational challenges, each team member must effectively execute their job function. Start-ups are inherently vulnerable; keeping a company together relies on eliminating doubt from the work environment. Doubt is found in two ways. The first would be doubt of a proposed marketing campaign or organizational partnership. This is the good type and ensures solid analysis of each strategic move, improving decision-making. The other kind of doubt is internal. Doubting a team member, for example, can be the metaphorical kink in the track that derails your determined start-up steam engine.
Without trust in an organization, the CEO must constantly analyze every comment, idea, and motive a team member has. Dedicating extensive thought to each minute detail will drive you crazy and worse, ineffective. If you cannot trust your team members, they have to go. If you doubt whether or not a team member can execute a task in the way you direct, it is taking away from your vision. This detachment from the founder’s vision can debilitate the organization. It is too easy to lose track of goals in the infancy of a start-up; it is important that employees buy into the determined focus of the company and later make it their own. Everyone has to buy-in to earn a seat at the table. Once you trust their vision is aligned with yours, a working relationship can begin to blossom.
Each member of the team is a brand ambassador. At some point you will want to send them out to promote the brand of the company. Trusting that person is essential for complete faith in their ability to represent the organization. Not only does lacking trust add work to a CEO’s plate, but it will also make the employee feel undervalued. This feeling can be amplified if other employees are given their own initiatives while the doubted employee is kept under lock and key. It is the beginning of a very unhealthy and possibly destructive company culture.
I wrote a previous post about the fears associated with starting a business. These fears are ever present and can at times leave an entrepreneur feeling powerless. Having people to work with who you trust can alleviate that fear. Being in the company of those you trust also allows you to be more comfortable, which will ultimately extend to the work environment.
Trust is a two way street and must be earned. To represent a united front to the outside world, everyone in the organization must trust each other. This unity is good for branding but will also ensure a more comfortable work atmosphere.
How to Kick Fear in the Teeth
(Appeared on Entrepreneur's web site: http://entm.ag/1hGLqpj)
Like many young entrepreneurs, my fears are both plentiful and agonizing. But don't tell my brain that.
While most people see fear as a detriment to prudent action, I see it as fuel for calculated, deliberate decisions. After all, there are two reactions to fear that are rarely given equal attention: flight or fight. You are the only one who chooses which to pursue.
And while my thoughts are as plagued by fear as the next guy, I actively choose to fight. And fight I must, if I ever hope to see my venture successful. Here are my top three fears and what I tell myself to overcome them:
Fear: My venture will be imperfect
Initially, I admit that the need to perfect my website became an obsession. I constantly thought about it and tweaked it every day. Now, to a degree, you have to want to make your work the best it can be before you launch, but there is a difference between making something good and putting it to use in an efficient manner.
I feared that people wouldn't take my company seriously if my website wasn't perfect. This fear drove me to delay my marketing campaign and forfeit time I could have used for more important tasks.
Still, being afraid to share your venture idea with others simply because it has imperfections is a mistake. Let other people help you sharpen your idea. Be patient, understanding and open to criticism. Your best resource is having people who are willing to listen, not time spent scribbling your cluttered ideas on a whiteboard. I think you'll find that people who are willing to help entrepreneurs love imperfection because imperfection can also be seen as potential.
Bottom line: Nothing is perfect and that's why it's valuable.
Fear: Opportunity costs
Starting your own business is risky; that much is obvious. Yet due to this truism, you must be resolutely sure you want it. To make a venture successful you have to want it more than anything else. The need to succeed and the mission of the organization must live deep within your core and infect every inch of your brain.
There may be safer opportunities out there but if your mind is fixated on those possibilities, how can you fully commit yourself to growing your business? You have to be 'All In.' if it's what you truly want, go get it.
Bottom line: Think about it, then think harder.
Fear: Making ends meet
The life of an entrepreneur is not glamorous, as money can be hard to come by, particularly in the early stages. To supplement your business income, monetize your other talents. It may be presumptuous to assume you have other talents, but since you are an entrepreneur I assume you do.
I have always had an interest in photography, and after taking a photography class in high school I began snapping pictures in my spare time. It only recently occurred to me that I could sell my photos. This supplemental income may not be much, but I can turn something I am already doing into cash.
If you are in the non-profit field as I am, find a fellowship program to sponsor you. There are always institutions looking for social entrepreneurs to sponsor to create positive social change through business.
Bottom line: Find a side gig or programs that can support you when your business can't.
As I move forward with my business, I realize my greatest fear is inaction. As an executive director of a nonprofit, I am working for the good of my community. I see a problem that needs solving, and without my action the change I wish to see is uncertain. That scares me. Fear can paralyze you or make you come out swinging, but only you can decide.
In your mission statement there should be a problem or opportunity. Are you willing to give up on that because you are afraid?