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Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship

Starting Up? Changing Careers? Here's Some Lessons from The Entrepreneur Podcast

May 10, 2022

At almost 50 episodes, The Entrepreneur Podcast is filled with a wealth of experience, best practices, lessons learnt, and personal stories of growth. Here, we look back to some lessons for those thinking of starting a new venture, switching industries, or choosing a path forward in their career.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, HBA'92

But it is seven years, kind of five to seven years before you know if your baby is going to be viable. You know, and so maybe you'll get lucky, it'll be two or three. But that's really not often the case. So I do think that the process of entrepreneurship can unfold right away, if you have a good idea. You can keep working your day job and work at night, you can put yourself in a startup. And sometimes when you're in those environments, once you start learning something, you get ideas. And I can certainly say that later in my career, I have lots of ideas for companies to start. In fact, many times I'm like, I should go hire a whole crew and just go start 10 companies at once because I don't have the energy to start 10 at once, but I certainly have the ideas for it.

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Ron Close, HBA '81

One of the things for young people starting up - whether they're entrepreneurial or heading into a career in a company - is to pick the right river... it's just a lot more fun to be in a rising industry. In an industry that's exciting, full of innovation, and growth with opportunity than it is to be in an industry that's sort of declining and shrinking and investment challenged, if you will. Whether you're doing a startup or you're joining a company, I think there's just more opportunity for promotion and learning and growth if the challenges are positive, not negative (like) consolidation, contraction, cost reduction, (and) preservation.

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Janet Bannister, HBA'92

You need to feel a level of passion and excitement for what you're going to be doing. And then. secondly, you want to go to a company, think about both the company and the role and make sure that you're role is central to the company. So for instance, I wanted to go into marketing, because I thought that was a good general grounding, I went to Procter and Gamble because marketing is a core competency of Procter and Gamble... Now, if I had wanted to go into finance, P&G may not have been the best place to go into... maybe you should go to a bank for example. So I think there needs to be an alignment between what functional area you want to go into, and is that functional area, a core of the company's success and a core driver.

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Nicole Verkindt, HBA '07

I see a lot is people saying I really want to do a startup, (but) I don't have an idea. And then I also see a lot spending a year or two brainstorming and coming up with the concepts and kind of going through that process, which is interesting... but I would just say that more and more people get an appreciation for the fact that the process to find out what you want to do, is actually the process of being on the field and making mistakes and doing your screw-ups. A lot of technical people, that's where they go wrong is they develop a product, you know, in their basement, and they're not sitting next to a customer. So I think the answer, unfortunately, because it's messy, lives in doing these very, very cheap experiments as often as possible... You can't go to Bali and find yourself with a journal and think that that's going to be how you come up with your idea. Right? You've got to be on the ice just doing things in an industry you have an interest in.

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Rami Helali, HBA '10

I had a path to, I think, a lot of success. And I was having a lot of success at a young age at the company, but just my gut told me like, “you're going to get comfortable.” And likely, at a certain point, it's going to feel too nice to kind of give it up... And it just happened to be that that was the idea that was kind of thrown out there during that period. Benjamin Sehl, my co-founder, called me and said, “Hey, you know, like how t-shirts are either really expensive, or kind of like not made well, and with shoddy ethics?” I was like, “yeah, this seems like enough to quit my job,” and (I) did that. And looking back now I really objectively see how little that is. But maybe reflecting now what I did have is a trust in us as a team, with our abilities and our convictions.

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