One of the biggest challenges that is ahead for Minds Renewed is getting consortium members to join and dedicate some of their time to the organization. Given that many of these people have been contacted via email it is hard to judge how much time they are willing to put into this project as a whole. Another big challenge is getting people to understand that Minds Renewed is not a referral service. There are many referral services out there that can connect people to individuals who can help treat their mental illness. However, Minds Renewed is different in that it will be set up more like a network where people can search for themselves and find providers near them. One of the ways Minds Renewed is going to address this problem is by making an explainer video which will be sent out to potential members to help them understand the concept a little better.
Through working on EZ Cork, I think we have both learned a lot in terms of how to take initiative with projects, how to see things through, and more generally the basic characteristics of leadership. The concept of management from the perspective of our own venture is very different than what we have experienced previously, and certainly different from what I expected. Since we ourselves are the “management”, our decisions and development process are much more fluid by nature, rather than following the by the book way of doing things. I think that captures the main difference between corporate and entrepreneurial leadership- since it is a novel venture, the so-called “by the book” method is yet to be established. Our own specific styles, however, do at times differ slightly since there are so many possible paths for us to take with our company. We work through our differences by trying to find a balance between a structured, task oriented approach, and a more laid back, goal oriented approach.
The leadership aspect has been unique in the sense that because it is only the two of us currently, we have learned not so much how to lead others, but instead how to lead ourselves. The flexibility in our venture has made it possible for us to focus on the creativity that sparked our idea in the first place, and to not be weighed down by excessive oversight. As we begin to understand ourselves as entrepreneurs, we have been able to grow our passion for innovative thinking, which allows us to easily change our focus in the pursuit of the evolution of our product. One example is our consumer research projects, which we have undertaken in order to understand and to prove what the consumer really wants. For the most part, we have gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback on our concept, but what we really want to know are the potential problems that could be associated with it. In order to take EZ Cork to the next level, we have to be able to address those kinds of concerns and improve on our existing concept, which sometimes means that we will be forced to change our original agenda. That is why the flexibility we have currently is so valuable to us, and we have come to appreciate the uniquely entrepreneurial way of doing things.
One of the things that have become quite apparent during my internship is the importance of networking in the legal profession. Networking is an invaluable tool in any business but is fundamental to the success of a solo practitioner. Still today, the most common way to get a new client is through a referral. Having a successful practice requires acquiring and sustaining meaningful relationships. Therefore, a new law firm’s success is contingent upon the ability to network with peers and build a strong reputation in the legal community.
The legal profession has changed dramatically over the last few years. The current market has become over-saturated with licensed attorneys, which has led to increased competition between attorneys and law offices. As well, technology has led to increased competition with legal services such as LegalZoom. With the abundance of legal options, it can be very difficult to maintain a successful law practice. That is why good networking is essential.
Through meeting new people and attending networking events, an attorney can market their firm, as well as, add to their list of professional contacts. A firm’s network is a group of people who may, over time, refer business to the firm or become clients themselves. Effective networking requires determining your networking goals, developing a plan of action, and committing the time needed to produce meaningful results. For attorneys, networking frequently occurs through professional associations and being in the community. Additionally, many networking opportunities arise from business conducted in meetings or the courthouse.
Networking is not always in an office or business setting, it can also include community activities or the occasional party. For attorneys, the opportunities are endless. I have been surprised to learn the amount of time that must be dedicated to networking ventures. It truly requires a commitment. Throughout my internship, I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and professional contacts through different networking opportunities. I have met amazing people and I hope to maintain those relationships. Ultimately, this may help with my plan to open an international law firm.
I can’t believe that I’m already almost to my last week here at Slender Seven. I feel like the past weeks, filled with new experiences and lessons, have flown by. While some of the work, such as the demos, can seem a little repetitive, I look back on each day and realize something new I’ve learned. For example, I’ve learned which stores are more receptive to our samplings and at what time of day people are more likely to buy the product. Through trial and error I’ve also figured out which facts about our cookie dough are more likely to make consumers take time out of their shopping trip to stop and listen. In most stores I can even tell shoppers where the bathroom is, or in which area they can find a shopping cart. Having to demo almost every had has seriously improved my social skills and tested my ability to react properly to all types of people.
Though I’m going to miss Slender Seven next week when I have to leave, I’m extremely happy with how the past (almost) two months have turned out. I’ve made some great friends, created amazing connections and eaten delicious food. On top of everything, I’ve learned more about the workings of a start-up business than I ever expected was possible. Thanks to Nikki, I’ve had genuine hands-on experience in the entrepreneurial world that I will be able to keep with me and use in future endeavors.
From what I have seen and experienced thus far I would say that the culture of Minds Renewed is one where the people involved all share similar values. Everyone who helps and has worked for Minds Renewed all share the same passion for Christ and see the need for providing resources to those affected by mental illness. Decisions are made through Bob Mills since he is the president but I do know that there is a board of members and he often consults them for advice. I have not seen any failures handled during my time with Minds Renewed but overall I would say that as a whole we just keep on going and editing things along the way when something does not work out right. Overall, most people work independently and then come together when need be. I think this is most effective because it incorporates working alone when someone wants to but also having a team you can go to when you need help. I really enjoy that approach to a work environment because it helps most people learn more.
My eight week internship at Loopey Laces has concluded, meaning an end to my two main projects as well. Starting out, I had little idea at the scope that my work would cover or the audience that it would reach. My first project, a massive compilation of contact information for potential customers of the Loopey Laces sorority line, wrapped up nicely with a comprehensive calendar of fall semester Panhellenic bid days for over 75 colleges and universities. Information I collected also included chapter size and contact information for close to a thousand individual organizations. And I did not merely store this information for later use by the company, but instead individually contacted each and every chapter president or executive member on that list with hyper-targeted sales pitches. Both the volume and quality of the information that I spent much of my summer researching supplies an invaluable resource for the company, for both initial and future sales. During this process, I also learned the value of understanding the target customer, putting this to use with personalized messages and descriptions for each sorority or university. Understanding Loopey Laces customers also allows for more focused and directed advertising approaches by the company.
My second big project from the past eight weeks was a series of blog posts meant to drive traffic to the Loopey Laces website and optimize search engine results in the process. The peak of success in this endeavor was an article that put common marketing strategies to use: piggybacking on current trends to grab readers’ attention and sparking the sort of ideas that drive heated conversation. The title of the blog post was “Gotta Rush ‘Em All: Which Pokemon Represents Your Sorority?” and it was read by over 45,000 people! Many loved it, some were unhappy with their sorority’s result, but all of them read a piece of my writing that I never expected to be so popular. A vast majority of this traffic to the article was organic, meaning that social media likes and shares moved into the line of vision of friends-of-friends of each reader. This led to many more hits on the Loopey Laces websites and social media pages than ever before. Yet no other blog post in the series reached a fraction of this success; even articles that were promoted via paid advertisement reached less than 5,000 readers. I do not know how many of those article hits translated directly into sales (nor do I know if it is possible to accurately calculate such a thing), but it has worked wonders for SEO. Loopey Laces is now a top result for anyone searching for Greek apparel, particularly in regards to shoelaces. The blog also supplied Loopey Laces with a platform from which to promote other products in return for their endorsements or partnerships, expanding valuable contact routes. My work on the blog far exceeded any expectations I had for it.
My time at Loopey Laces has been a roller coaster. I am relieved to be able to look back on it all with a new perspective, knowing that my work made a difference.
This past week I have continued to monitor the office policies and procedures to ensure they are adequately meeting the firm’s needs. I have been particularly focused on the current calendaring policy. This policy is really important to the firm’s success.
Attorneys need an effective way to organize the many tasks that they must juggle during the course of a day. A successful calendaring policy sets the boundaries for employees to work within specific time limitations. This policy details the times set for meetings, client interviews, court dates, etc. To implement an effective calendaring policy, most law firms use law practice management software. This software provides attorneys with a convenient way to manage information electronically. A modern law firm uses practice management software to manage contacts, case information, documents and calendaring effectively. It also has a feature that allows associates in the same firm to share data, and helps prevent the attorneys from having to enter duplicate information. Fortunately, there are many cost effective software options available.
When choosing the best software many factors must be considered. Many programs link with personal digital assistants (PDAs) so that calendars and schedules are always handy. Some case management packages are web-based and allow for 24-hour access to all features. Another factor to consider is the size of the firm. Practice and case management programs vary in their compatibility by the firm size and features. Some programs are not suitable for larger firms, but may contain features that effectively service a solo or small firm. When selecting a case management program, it is important to first determine your case management needs. Your firm may not need every available function, but a program that enhances your practice seamlessly and effortlessly.
After careful research, I have found two practice management programs that adequately meets the needs of a new law office, particularly a small or solo practice. Both Clio and Rocket Matter law firm practice management programs offer starter and boutique packages that have all of the essential features needed to streamline a law office. They offer free trials and are relatively easy to set up and get running. Additionally, they offer support with excellent customer service.
I have passed these suggestions over to my supervising attorney and hope that they can be implemented and make a positive impact on the firm.
Some of the biggest challenges for this organization, in my opinion, are time and culture.
Time. Influencer marketing is a rapidly growing market, and TapInfluence is leading this sector that they created. With the pivot the company made last year, we are now in a crunch time to develop not only the company but also develop our platform to remain the industry leader. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but TapInfluence needs to be the go-to company for influencer marketing. With so many competitors entering this space, we need to continue to rapidly progress. Bigger corporations are going to start pouring a ton of resources into this market, and if we aren’t established, we’ll flop. No one wants to flop, especially in an industry that is about to explode.
Culture. TapInfluence’s culture has been constantly evolving. One of the biggest challenges is having the ENTIRE company buy into the fact that if everyone busts their tail, TapInfluence will win. Everyone needs to be on board. It is very difficult to change the company of a culture, and the rapid expansion of it isn’t making things any easier. Hiring employees who embody the company’s DNA is imperative. Grittiness is one of the most important traits an employee can have because growing this company will not be easy. Every employee, and this goes for any company that wants to get anywhere great, must take ownership of their role and be able to show exactly how they are contributing to the company’s goals.
In addition, I was asked by my supervisor to write a blog on my experience at TapInfluence so far. Feel free to check it out here.
As my internship is coming to a close within the next week, I realize how much I have learned about leadership, especially with regards to entrepreneurial management. There have been several ups and downs, but I feel like I have already gained so much experience working with a company that is entrepreneurial in nature. Coming into the internship, I pretty much knew what my roles were going to be and what to expect. Little did I know that my supervisor would change careers halfway through my internship and I would have to assume a managerial role while in a transitional state. Adapting to these changes wasn’t easy, but with the help of an awesome team, everything turned out just fine.
A few things I learned about myself as an entrepreneur…
1. Creativity is an invaluable asset. At the beginning of my internship at Flywheel, I was mostly just going through the motions as I got more accustomed to my position. As I felt more comfortable with the other staff members and gained confidence, I started to suggest unique ideas to implement in the space, such as ideas for social events, ways to boost marketing in a creative manner, and methods to keep track of member activity. Creativity knows no bounds, and I believe that every company needs creative minds offering new ideas to continuously improve upon the business model.
2. Organizational skills are vital to succeed. There’s over 100 members at Flywheel, many of whom contact me on a daily basis with requests and information. Writing everything down and ensuring that each and every detail is noted kept me alive this summer. Being completely obsessed with small details helped me immensely during this summer.
3. Entrepreneurship is a team sport. Regardless of how good an idea may be, that idea will most likely only come to fruition with the help of a diverse set of brainpower. Getting input from several colleagues about an idea, accepting constructive criticism, and taking into account different suggestions for how to successfully implement an idea is the only way to really do well in the world of entrepreneurship. Each and every person has a unique background and skill set, which I learned entrepreneurs must use to their advantage. Getting advice about an idea doesn’t make it any less yours. It just makes it that much better.
One of the most common questions we hear regarding our venture is something along the lines of “How did you come up with this idea anyway, as college students?” or, “I didn’t know college kids these days even liked wine!” But they couldn’t be more wrong. We first came up with the idea when watching some of our older peers become frustrated that they couldn’t find a corkscrew, or simply didn’t know how to utilize it properly, and it is because this field has such a potential for improvement that we jumped at the opportunity. People think that this industry is something that doesn’t relate to us, but in fact it does; the millennial generation in recent years has become the largest consumer of wine nationwide, surpassing the baby boomer generation for the first time.
The Wine Market Council, a nonprofit organization consisting mostly of wine producers and distributors, regularly releases new research regarding the industry, and their latest convention held just a few months ago in the spring was entirely devoted to the discussion of growth in millennial consumption. According to the report, millennials have consumed 10% more wine in the past two years alone, as compared to a decrease in other generations. The younger generation also drinks more per occasion, an average of 3.1 glasses per sitting, as compared to 2.4 for generation X and 1.9 for the baby boomers. Because of these trends, the industry has been moving towards using social media to market to their increasingly younger clientele, and many restaurants have been adjusting their availability of mid-range wines sold by the glass. More relevant to us, however, is the fact that this opens up possibilities for innovations in wine packaging, since the younger generation is less set in the traditional corkscrew and more likely to value ease and convenience. As more volume of wine is produced to meet demand, there will be more variation and thus more opportunity for new opening solutions such as ours. The traditional cork has had its day, and all evidence points to the idea that the industry is ripe for a competitor such as EZ Cork.