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Seven Ways to Learn From and Celebrate National Entrepreneurship Month

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Do you know the origin of the word “entrepreneur?” Why is someone who chooses to start their own enterprise or create an entirely new industry called this term? Its origins come from the 18th century, where the French word “entreprendre” (an undertaker or an adventurer) was first modified into entrepreneur to designate a person who forges out on their own.

November is National Entrepreneurship Month, a time to recognize those innovators and leaders that accept taking the big risks in order to reap big rewards. Below are seven ways to celebrate and learn from these leaders and how you as a business owner can empower the next generation of entrepreneurs.

1. Study the innovators — Whether you are a starting a new business from scratch or looking for a way to potentially launch an offshoot or new side enterprise, a great first step is to learn the history of truly great innovators, especially ones you personally admire. Spend a bit of time immersing yourself in the biographies of those that blazed a trail or dive deep into some TED talks given by leaders you feel have truly made an impact in your industry or community.

2. Support locally and vertically — Many times an entrepreneur is looking to fill a need in a specific niche or neighborhood; whether geographic or industry-specific, they see an opportunity to improve an issue or enhance service. Show your support for those taking a chance by shopping local or purchasing from a startup versus larger vendor from time to time.

3. Examine opportunities around you — Many of the most successful businesses have grown from an entrepreneur that was simply looking for a way to improve production. Creating a machine that helps bottle sodas faster and minimize human labor needed doesn’t just give the company a tool to make product faster; it enables them to dominate a market and deliver above and beyond their competitors. Within your own industry, what process could be improved? Utilize your knowledge to identify ways to improve the way something is done — without realizing it you may innovate an entirely new business!

4. Inspire the next generation — Let’s face it, you can’t be the leader forever; times change, new ideas emerge and disruptors shake things up. Instead of attempting to push innovators down, embrace their ideas and foresight. Be a mentor to a younger business owner or participate in information-sharing exchanges such as SCORE or Rotary Clubs and you may even find yourself helping to build a new business or find a new way to improve your existing one!

5. Ignore the calendar — Anyone thinking it’s too late or too early to begin a business or try something new should remember these key facts — Colonel Sanders opened his first official Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise at age 62 after finally perfecting his unique blend of 11 herbs and spices through countless previous failures and Mark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook before he was old enough to buy a cocktail.

6. Be prepared for risk and setbacks — Much like the word’s origins, being an entrepreneur is an undertaking — Full of highs and lows that may stress you physically, emotionally and financially. Part of the learning from other entrepreneurs is to see how roadblocks turned in to opportunities or others in your field navigated difficult times. Accept that the path may be quite winding to success but look to the stories and guidance of mentors and others to help choose the right course of action.

7. Don’t wait — Embrace your idea NOW! National Entrepreneurship Month is the perfect time to stop saying “someday” and start saying “now” to your idea or innovation. Use the month to set a task for yourself each week towards launching your concept. For example, designate November 1-7 to researching competitors, patents and requirements; November 8 – 15 to finding trade shows, conferences or other relevant networking events to attend in the coming year; November 16 – 23 to learning about ways technology and other tools might assist in either running or streamlining your business; November 24 – 30 to immersing yourself in all the applicable social media channels most appropriate to your industry and how to make them work for you. Remember, every great idea needs a spark to set it ablaze and that spark could be you!

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