Lessons from Three Years as an Entrepreneur

Agricultural Food Systems has now been in business for three years!

It’s been an interesting year for AFS: we completely redesigned the TenderID prototype, took part in another round of testing with the USDA, continued fine-tuning our technology, and were featured on CNNMoney’s website with fellow John Brown University alumni businesses James+James and Craftistas.

Any entrepreneurial journey must be one marked by constant learning. Sometimes this learning comes through success, other times it comes through hardship and failure. As Winston Churchill put it,I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” In other words, every situation presents an opportunity to grow. During my first year running AFS, I learned the importance of thinking strategically, constantly moving forward, and staying humble. The second year as an entrepreneur taught me to not let my identity be defined by my work, the benefits of delaying gratification, and how collaboration is an integral part of innovation. Those six themes were prevalent again this year as we continued to move forward with our R&D. Here are three additional lessons I learned this year:     Read more of this post

Don’t Miss the Target [Guest Post]

 

On Target

[Guest post courtesy of Nvulane Nhlapo. Scroll to the bottom to learn more about Nvulane.]

While there is an older, more established generation of entrepreneurs who have devoted their lives to their craft, there is a growing new wave of young entrepreneurs who are taking their expertise into new territories. Along the way, some of these young businesspeople can get blinded by the strict formalities the business environment has put in place and, as a result, may never pursue their dreams or work on that ground-breaking project they once saw potential in. At the end of the day, they miss the target.

Here are a few tips that have personally helped me to never miss the target:

  • Keep it Simple
    The complexity around us can be overwhelming. As a result, many people are now looking for simplicity, not only in the products and services they use, but also in the way ideas are communicated. Simplicity is all about making sure that the whole message connects with an audience. One of the ways to excel as an entrepreneur is to keep things simple and promote simplicity in their young companies. Breaking a compound project into smaller pieces not only makes it easier to understand and communicate, it could get potential investors to buy into your vision.
  • Pursue Opportunities
    Always be alert. There are a lot of opportunities around. As long as people have needs, there will always be opportunities. Look for ways to improve peoples’ lives. Help to solve the problems in your community. Sometimes the opportunities come at a time when you may not feel ready, but you should still give it a shot and pursue them. These kinds of occasions help us grow even though we may be uncomfortable at first.
  • Start Small
    All entrepreneurs yearn for a massive launch of their projects. While this may seem like a decent idea, it is often better to start small and scale one step at a time. Often by trying to build up to a huge launch, you lessen your chances of getting started and at the same time delay the time until you product or service can hit the market and start making money. Working on a venture without the conviction that it works or that people will like it adds risk to the whole plan. Start small, scale in increments as time goes by and you meet milestones.
  • Help Yourself
    Potentially, the most painful part of the entrepreneurial journey is losing and forgetting yourself during the process.  The bottom-line is this: yes, you should help others; but help yourself too. Make allowances for the personal areas of your life.

If there was ever a time to follow your passion and work on something that matters to you, that moment is now. Do not wait for any other time. Incorporate these tips, do your research, and it will help you hit the target. Go for it!

Which of these tips are important to you? What are some of the principles that have prevented you from missing the target? 

___________________________

Guest post courtesy of Nvulane Nhlapo. Nvulane is a BSc (Hons) Information Technology student from Lesotho and he works at Basotho Crafts. He is growing as a young entrepreneur, blogger, speaker and a casual drummer. Follow Nvulane on Twitter: @NvulaneNhlapo

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[image credit: vizzual.com on Flickr]

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