IncubatorCTX, located on Concordia University Texas' beautiful campus in Northwest Austin, hosted Gay Gaddis for the November Speaker Series. Gaddis is an experienced business owner, author and artist. She shared insights and lessons that she has learned as an entrepreneur.
Here are six expert tips you need to know to become an entrepreneur.
Tip 1: Understand the benefits of being an entrepreneur.
Gaddis described three overarching benefits of being an entrepreneur.
It's about helping others. You develop a product or service to meet a need people have. Furthermore, you hire people, providing a way for others to earn a living for their families.
It's about having lots of great options for yourself. You get to choose what you want to do, and you get to make your own decisions, such as which businesses to work with, which markets to operate in, and which products or services to offer.
It's about building goodwill. You have the opportunity to build goodwill for you, your family and your community.
As an entrepreneur, people will call on you for help or references, and helping them is the right thing to do. You can also get involved in a nonprofit or other organization to make a difference, whether it's donating time, money, products or services.
Tip 2: Determine what you can do better than anyone else.
Just like businesses, entrepreneurs must differentiate themselves to compete. In other words, you must offer a skill, product, service or idea that is unique.
When she decided she wanted to start an advertising agency, her husband, Lee, challenged her to figure out how she would differentiate the business from competitors, especially since Austin at the time was flooded with advertising agencies.
She decided that she wanted to form an advertising business that worked with clients who were willing to take risks and embrace what's next.
"Identify your strengths and areas in which you can excel," Gaddis said. "Work hard to be good at something."
Gaddis recommends using personality tests, such as the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Gallup StrengthsFinder, to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Concordia's career center, Vocation & Professional Development, provides assessment tools, including Gallup StrengthsFinder and Focus 2, to help you identify career paths to which your personality and strengths are suited.
Contact Vocation & Professional Development to learn more.
Tip 3: You can become an expert on anything.
Because of the information age, we have instant access to information at our fingertips. There are articles, videos, courses and other educational resources that allow you to learn more about a particular subject.
Research something that excites you. Research takes hard work, but you will learn more about a topic that is interesting to you, and you can use this knowledge in your entrepreneurial endeavors.
For example, one of Gaddis' employees became fascinated by artificial intelligence (AI), an area that was completely unrelated to her role. She researched AI thoroughly and became so knowledgeable that Gaddis brought her into meetings as a subject expert.
T3, Gaddis' advertising company, worked with Dell when they were a small company looking to begin selling computers on the internet. To promote Dell's online store, T3 researched and utilized an emerging form of advertising — digital — and launched some of the first successful digital marketing campaigns internationally.
Tip 4: Understand the bottom line.
Entrepreneurs need to understand the financial inner workings of a company because a company's success is determined by its ability to make a profit.
The bottom line of a company refers to its net profit. In other words, it is the total money a company has after deducting all of the costs (including taxes) from the revenue generated.
"The more you insert yourself in helping the bottom line, the more valuable you become," Gaddis stated. "The more valuable you become, the more negotiating power and credibility you possess when working with clients."
Tip 5: Entrepreneurs embrace change opportunities.
Everyone encounters things that knock them off course. Gaddis stated that these are great opportunities to learn and become a better entrepreneur.
"The setbacks I encountered in my business helped me make smarter, more insightful decisions than if I wasn't knocked off course," she said.
The best thing entrepreneurs can do when they encounter setbacks is to learn from them and implement changes that improve the business.
Tip 6: Eat risk for breakfast.
Being an entrepreneur required risk. Gaddis launched her marketing company in the middle of a recession and cashed in her IRA to get started.
After expressing concerns to her mother-in-law when she began her business, her mother-in-law showed her a box that said, "Everything is sweetened by risk." She gave the box to Gaddis, which continues to sit on her desk.
Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur, but the people who are entrepreneurs not only assume risk but are also motivated by the risk to succeed.
About Gay Gaddis
Gaddis is an entrepreneur, author and artist. She is the founder of T3, a digital and marketing agency that rose to national prominence during her 30+ years of leadership. She also authored "Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business and Life" and sells her paintings across the world.
She has now transitioned into entrepreneurial efforts of leadership training, speaking and art. Gaddis and her husband own and operate the Double Heart Ranch in the Texas Hill Country. The working cattle ranch also includes the Fossil Ridge Creative Center, which is a venue for thinking, creativity and collaboration.
IncubatorCTX Is Designed for Entrepreneurs
Are you interested in becoming an entrepreneur? Do you need support launching your innovative idea?
IncubatorCTX offers coworking space and a host of other resources, including mentorships, to support entrepreneurs of startups and early-stage businesses.
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