Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During August 2016...

Week 8: Finishing Strong

Saturday, August 27, 2016 7:42 pm

It was truly an honor working for Azione this summer, and I am excited to have discovered a real passion for PR while doing so. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to work directly with a female entrepreneur who has taken the PR industry in an entirely new direction. By the end of my ten-week internship, I completed all my long-term research projects and was extremely successful in compiling the entire Holiday Gift Guide List that the CEO had requested.

Perhaps most rewarding, I was treated like any other team member. My ideas were valued and always taken into consideration, and I felt like I was able to make a real contribution for my company. One of my biggest takeaways was that you must always approach projects and client requests with a creative mindset. By the end of my internship, I was able to target a specific market a client should utilize, and was also able to pitch our clients’ products to the media by myself.

It was very exciting to see a mid-stage startup continue to flourish, landing exciting new clients, and expanding in size. I could not have asked for a better internship and look forward to seeing what exciting things are in store for Azione!

Jennifer The Entrepreneur

Saturday, August 27, 2016 12:42 pm

One of the biggest things I have learned about entrepreneurial management this summer is that you have to be patient when starting something from the ground up. It takes so much communicating and meeting with various people and it does not happen overnight. Even something as simple as a logo can take days or even weeks trying to decide on the look, color, and overall approach. I think this lesson is useful because at the end of all the long days you can look back on what you have done and genuinely feel accomplished and as if it is coming together. As for myself I have learned the amount of work it takes and that it is okay to collaborate with others in order to reach a common goal which is good for me because I value teamwork.

Week 10: The End of My Internship

Monday, August 22, 2016 12:38 pm

Now that my internship has ended, I am able to reflect on this very wonderful experience. I have learned many lessons and I am grateful for the opportunity. With my legal background, I came into this internship certain that I knew what to expect and could predict how things would run from week to week. This firsthand experience definitely opened my eyes to the daily operations and obstacles faced by a new law practice. The most important lesson that I have learned is that there is nothing predictable about running a new law firm. Ultimately, I plan to open an international law office and I believe that I now know what it takes to get it started. Additionally, I have seen the amount of work that will be required to market my firm and help it become a success. There will be challenges, but it is important to face each obstacle head-on and to continue to persevere and remain persistent in spite of any discouragement or difficulties that may occur. In the legal field, it is difficult to be the newbie and at the same time gain a competitive advantage. However, during this internship, I have been involved in many projects that I will be able to use in my own law practice including, various marketing techniques, community relations projects, a law practice management program, and effective office policies and procedures. I have learned many valuable lessons while helping to research and implement each of these projects. In the end, I am glad that I was able to participate in this experience, and I am encouraged now that I see the wide range of possibilities for my own practice.

Slender Seven – Week 8

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 8:06 pm

I’m so extremely grateful to have had the chance to work with Nikki and Slender Seven. I never thought that I’d be able to eat cookie dough and call it part of the job! While there were definitely some pain points in relation to distribution and inventory, each hurdle was a learning experience that helped me grow as a person and will hopefully help Nikki grow her company with her next interns. I’ve loved working with someone who genuinely cares about others’ opinions and frequently asks for suggestions. I didn’t feel like just an intern at Slender Seven, I felt like part of a team. While I’m going to miss my team, I’m enormously excited to use my experience from this summer to achieve new goals and discover new opportunities.

I came into this internship knowing little to nothing about what it takes to run a business, particularly a start-up. So, needless to say, I learned a lot. First of all, I wasn’t even aware that places like Union Kitchen existed, which is pretty cool. It’s been interesting see the relationships between the different businesses in the kitchen. I’ve loved watching these different people with similar goals collaborate and give each other advice and support. One of the most important things that I’ve learned from this opportunity is that running a successful business requires an astounding amount of initiative. Having a great product is a start, but to make a great business you need much more than that. You need to be confident enough in yourself and in your product that you can contact anyone and everyone in search of support, whether that be in terms of funding or guidance. We have resources all around us, but one needs to make the effort to tap into them.

I’ve also learned that not every day is going to feel like a step forward. Some days are all about making phone call after phone call, email after email. On the other hand, some days are about receiving positive responses, making breakthroughs, and even just selling out of dough during your demo. When you genuinely love your product, you’ll take the extra steps to get ahead. You’ll create as many connections as you can and absorb as much information as others can give you. Then, eventually, your business will be as successful as you know it can be.

TapInfluence – Week 8

Sunday, August 14, 2016 3:08 pm

One of the big reasons why my supervisor was hired earlier this year as to build an attribution model for TapInfluence. The goal of an attribution model is to be able to track a lead’s journey throughout every interaction with our company. Once we obtain a leads basic information, we can track what reports they are downloading, which advertisements people are clicking on, which social media posts people interact with, and so on. An attribution tracks the user journey. For example, if a lead watched a webinar, downloaded one of our eBooks, talked with one of our Sales Reps, and then became a customer, we want to know the entire process they experienced and what happened to them in the end. As we track more leads, we are able to understand what the most effective methods that convert a lead to a customer. And TapInfluence is hungry for new customers.

My biggest project was taking all of these user journeys we tracked in Q2, and creating a report that showed the which methods made a lead became a customer. In a presentation to the CEO on my last day, me, my supervisor, and his boss presented our findings, what we learned, and our plan for the rest of the year. She was very receptive to our presentation and gave us better guidance on what she wants us to focus on moving forward. In sum, she pretty much affirmed that my supervisor and I are doing our jobs right. What a relief!

A couple factors went into getting me to where I am right now: an opportunity, luck, and hard work. It took about one week for me to learn about this opportunity, accept it, and figure out the logistics. I didn’t have a background in marketing operations, but I loved entrepreneurism and wanted to see what it was like at a startup. That being said, I needed to prove myself to be an asset to the team, not a liability. This is where some luck came in. The first half of luck was my supervisor (who was an awesome mentor) and the marketing team (who was incredibly fun to work with). I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. The second half was my role as a Marketing Operations Intern. My background in Finance taught me how cash flows through a company and where to invest. Marketing operations focuses on how people flow through the company and how we can develop relationships with them. Similar concept, but different approach. People are complex, and understanding how, why, what, when, and where they want to connect with TapInfluence is tough. I was lucky to be very interested in this area, but it was a steep two-fold learning curve. It took a lot of time and practice to understand the technical side of tracking and reporting leads, and then how we can create value to retain their interest.

A couple takeaways from this internship: I got loads of experience in a field I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, I learned how to more effectively work in teams, I loved working in a fast-paced, startup environment, I get to continue working part-time with Tap, I got close with my extended family, and that I surpassed every expectation I had coming into this internship.

TapInfluence – Week 7

Sunday, August 14, 2016 2:59 pm

Leadership in any company has a trickle-down effect. The CEO of any organization sets the pace for the rest of the organization, and their passion and devotion to the company’s goals must not only be seen but also instilled throughout the entire organization. This is how a company’s culture is formed… or transformed. No easy task.

As we trickle down, CEO’s need a strong C-Suite, the C-Suite needs strong managers, and so on. On the recruiting side, leaders within an organization need to bring in top talent that shares the same passion towards the company goals as they do. It’s not hard for companies to find potential hires that fit a job description. There are tons of people for any position. What’s really hard is finding employees that fit the job description and match/exceed the passion towards the company set by the top. Within an organization, top employees need incentives and rewards that encourage exceptional performance. As top employees move up, they create a high-barrier to entry with new-hires, which is a good thing. As more and more employees align with the company’s culture and its goals, that’s when the magic can happen. The only reason I say ‘can’, is because most startups fail, but without this fundamental building block, failure becomes a lot more likely.

As a budding entrepreneur, I have realized that having great technical skills for your job is not enough for a startup. What are your values and your beliefs? What is your work ethic? Does it all align with the company? If not, you, your co-workers, and the company will take a hit.

The Last Week

Friday, August 12, 2016 10:14 am

My internship at Flywheel has ended, and looking back on my 9-week experience (which flew by!!) I feel accomplished and more knowledgeable in the field of entrepreneurial management as well as marketing. During the first half of the internship, my responsibilities seemed like menial tasks, but when the manager left for a new job and I was faced with the job of running the show until a new manager was hired, I was grateful for those menial tasks because they really gave me a better understanding of the company so that I was ready to assume bigger roles.

For the second half of the internship, I was in charge of several things, but the main one was handling all of the marketing strategies for Flywheel. This included updating the website landing pages, writing and publishing blog posts about current Flywheel events, posting on every social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) strategically and creatively, and engaging with the Triad community by contacting leaders in the community to spread the word about Flywheel – all while staying in the actual coworking space every day to man the front desk, answer the phone, help any of the 100+ Flywheel members that had questions, keep the kitchen clean, give tours to potential new members, and more.

For some of these responsibilities, I excelled and found a lot of success. For others, things definitely could have gone better. As far as being knowledgeable about the space and answering questions fully and thoroughly, things went very well. I feel as if I did a really good job of connecting with the Flywheel members as well as external individuals and companies that utilized the space. I did my best to learn every members’ name and a little bit about them so that I could greet them when I saw them and check up on how their company/project/startup was doing. On the other hand, I found challenges in the more administrative roles. I did all that I could with the information that I had learned to take care of invoices and managing member information, but working with new technologies to handle sending invoices was a challenge for me.

My biggest takeaway from this experience was learning how to work with people instead of things. Flywheel isn’t a company that sells merchandise to customers, it sells memberships to individuals looking to enhance their work life environment. As a service business, I learned that catering to the needs and desires of members was the priority. Learning how to “sell” the idea of a coworking space as a service as opposed to selling a product was something that I had never done before, but I really enjoyed learning how to be successful at Flywheel. I do not take for granted for one moment all that I learned at Flywheel this summer, from marketing techniques to entrepreneurial management to customer service and more.

Week 9: Out-take Procedures

Friday, August 12, 2016 2:09 am

As I finish my internship, I have been tasked with helping to revise the firm’s out-take policy. The main purpose of the out-take policy is to put specific guidelines and procedures in place for when the obligation to the client is complete. It may seem simple, but it is important for a law firm to make stipulations for things such as, how to inform the client that you have finished your obligation, how to keep track of clients to advise them of changes in the law, and how to make sure your clients think of you the next time they need a lawyer.

A law firm must set clear expectations and effectively communicate information to clients to ensure that both parties are on the same page. Letting the client know every step of his case will prevent any misunderstandings, and can help the attorney avoid frivolous malpractice suits. A well-written closing letter can greatly aid with finalizing the attorney-client relationship. The closing letter that I assisted with left instructions for the client, and included a handy reference guide for when there is confusion. This extra detail makes a great impression with the client, and can help alleviate a lot of future stress and concern.

In addition to the closing letter, I helped update the procedure for following up with former clients. This additional service can help the client feel valued and can lead to repeat clients, which is a great marketing tool for the firm. Even if former clients are not likely to need the services again, statistics have shown that repeat clients spend more and refer more.

I have personally seen the gratitude that clients have when they feel their case is given extra care. That is why it is important to have effective out-take procedures in place. These procedures may take some time and work to implement but it is well worth the effort.

Week 8: (CLE) Continuing Legal Education

Monday, August 8, 2016 3:42 pm

This past week I attended a CLE on professional ethics. The course was taught by licensed North Carolina practitioners. This course covered the codes of conduct governing proper professional behavior and the obligations owed to clients and society. After attending the course, I learned that CLE’s are beneficial and can be very enjoyable.

Most states require continued legal education for attorneys, known as CLE’s. The continued professional development consists of professional education courses for attorneys. These courses take place after admission to the bar and are required each year an attorney is actively licensed. North Carolina requires a minimum of 12 CLE credits per year, and failure to meet the requirements can result in suspension of your license.

The purpose of CLE’s is to fill out the gap between the theory and the reality of legal practice. They keep lawyers updated on new regulations and trends in the legal field. The goal is to make lawyers more competent and to ensure that attorneys will not allow their knowledge and skills to diminish after passing the bar. Each state requires a minimum number of CLE credits, which are measured in hours. CLE credits range in various legal topics such as ethics, diversity training , family law, professional responsibility, basic skills, substance abuse , prevention of malpractice, and attorney-client disputes.

A lawyer might be unsure about a particular area of law, or have doubt about certain legal issues. By attending CLE courses, you learn about current and relevant topics. Additionally, you can get answers to any questions you may have, and have the opportunity to participate in active discussions with other attorneys. CLE’s are an excellent way to connect with other attorneys that may have similar questions or concerns.

Continued educational training for attorneys is not a requirement in Saudi Arabia, where I am a professor and attorney. In the US, it is critical to remaining actively licensed and an important aspect of networking within the profession. By attending the course, I learned about the latest updates regarding the rules of professional ethics and had the opportunity to network with other legal professionals.

The Final Week

Sunday, August 7, 2016 9:10 pm

This week was the final week of my internship in Silicon Valley. The best part was that the company flew me down to LA to visit the new headquarters – a 4,000 square foot mansion in the middle of Venice, CA. This place was magnificent and right in the heart of the famous Venice Beach area. We were across the street from the famous Muscle Beach.

Venice, CA is a trendy neighborhood on the west side of LA on the beaches. It has the designers, models, and new tech companies moving in and restoring ugly houses into multi-million dollar properties. Snapchat, Google, and BuzzFeed are three of the many tech companies that have set up large offices in this small residential neighborhood. The Silicon Valley companies want to start moving here because it is a well-liked neighborhood with cheaper rent than San Francisco. In addition, they can start to tap into the talent pool and industries of LA. A lot of digital media companies have chosen to move to Venice because it allows them to work closer with the entertainment industry giants in LA.

The work/life balance in LA seems to be a little different than that of San Francisco. Residents of LA seem to enjoy being outside a lot more and enjoy the beach lifestyle that Venice and Santa Monica have to offer. The LA neighborhoods offer a variety of excellent restaurants, boutique stores, and fun things to do.

What is difficult about being in LA as a tech company is that the talent pool is much smaller than that of San Francisco. With fewer engineers, it is difficult to recruit top-level talent to build products that can rival those in Silicon Valley. However, each year it seems that more engineers are moving to Venice to take advantage of the lower rent and high salary offerings that Venice-based companies are promising.

The question remains: should Silicon Valley move to LA where there’s more room and more industries to integrate with?

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