By Eduardo Sienra Lempeke, co-chair of the Entrepreneurship Club: Nowadays, entrepreneurship is not anymore an activity related to people with a lot of monetary resources, connections with an elite society, and influence in public laws. Now, thanks to the internet and social progress, the entrepreneurial world has been “democratized.” A billion-dollar company can start in a garage with two, three young students with just an idea and similarly, a college entrepreneurship club which provides tools to rising and current students who are entrepreneurs can start with nothing but just motivation and the desire to make a positive impact.
However, since entrepreneurship is a constantly changing activity, you must adapt to its changes and apply those in your context if you want to be successful. In my case, it is starting and developing a long-term, ambitious, accessible, and inclusive entrepreneurship club at Oberlin College.
How can a group of young students achieve this goal without having enough resources at the beginning to provide to entrepreneurs and as a result, complete its mission? Well, when I first visualized this idea of starting a club and then shared it to my potential co-founders, I got inspired by what I believe are some key successful factors about today’s successful companies: promote a collaborative no competitive work environment, create long-term partnerships asap, and create something bigger than yourself (start making a strong, short, and clear mission statement that also reflects your values as an organization.)
Collaboration vs Competition
This is something that companies normally cannot understand. How can we grow as a company if no one has incentives to work hard and compete with each other to scale and get a better job position? Well, this is a wrong approach my friend. Millennials and young students (future employers/employees) are more incentivized by other things than just a key position in an organization, such as: opportunities to make important and relevant decisions, have a voice in the group, connect them with resources outside your organization, mentor, among others.
In order to accomplish this ambition in our club, as the co-founder and co-chair of the Oberlin Entrepreneurship Club (OEC) I must be prepared to delegate and give power decision to all members equally. Of course, there are some decisions that I have to take for everyone. Nonetheless, it is the freedom and responsibility you give them that makes every member want to be part of that team. AFTER this, you can start seeing the fruit of a REAL collaborative environment; ideas flow easily, members are happy, and challenges are creatively resolved.
Networking is basically the first step you do to create bonds with people and organizations. Doing it as quickly as you start your club can save you a lot of extra costs and time.
Here are some tips to find the perfect partnership:
- Find one with values that align with yours. If your goal is to provide resources to entrepreneurs (like us) you want to work with organizations that are similar. Here are some located around the U.S.A.: your Entrepreneurship/Business Department at your school, Junior Achievement, Plug & Play, and Techstars.
- Be clear about your goals and what you want to achieve in the future. Be honest, and if you can’t come up with an answer show that you are open to receive suggestions.
- Show that you want a long-term relationship. Companies/organizations want to partner with someone who will also provide benefits to them and not someone who will just take their resources once and as a result, waste their time (and probably money.) Normally, the best way to demonstrate you are fully committed to the partnership is by showing them you care about the relationship and you are willing to make your best to make them successful as well… it does not matter how long it takes you.
Create Something Bigger Than Yourself
No matter what you are working on if it is a new school club or the next Apple you have to dream and act big. What truly matters is your mission and the reason WHY you are doing that particular thing. It is easy (and a cliché) to say “We want to make a better world”…this is not an option, this an obligation in modern business.
By having a short, strong, and clear mission statement you can attract people more easily and let the world know what you do. Let’s look at some examples:
- Apple: To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.
- Microsoft: Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
This little sentence is what will take you places, it’s going to be reason why you are going to wake up early, sleep late, cry, and smile… so be sure you LOVE it and you FEEL it.
SPECIAL THANKS to Bara Watts, Director of Creativity & Leadership @ Oberlin College !
- This whole club couldn’t make it through the daily challenges of being a new player in the game without her advice, knowledge, sympathy, and never-ending support. I learned how to become a better entrepreneur and mostly a better person thanks to her. Bara, undoubtedly is the kind of person who makes her surrounding a better place to be and someone who future generations will look at and say “I achieved my most ambitious goals thanks to your effort, dedication, and passion which inspired me to never give up.” Well, at least she can be sure that one person feels like that.
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