Making it to the Other Side

(Photo source: Image by Ralf Unstet from Pixabay)

When our world was turned upside down by the coronavirus, my mind quickly began racing through my mental rolodex, wondering how everyone is doing.  Certainly my immediate concerns were for family and friends, especially those with health concerns.  Soon my web of worries shifted to all of the entrepreneurs I know — students, alumni, and friends.  I began a steady campaign of reaching out.  First to friends and family.  Next to my alumni entrepreneurs.

What I heard from my alumni entrepreneurs was particularly heartwarming and encouraging.

Entrepreneur’s Response

First, those with employees expressed how important it is to find ways to help their staff.  We are seeing story after story of business owners doing what they can to lessen the blow to their employees. Locally, we are seeing country stars do what they can to help the employees of their bars and restaurants on Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville.  Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line both committed to give each of their employees $1,000 to help them make it through the time while his Nashville bar.  Between the two establishments, this is over 200 employees.  John Rich has committed to keep paying his bar workers during the shutdown.  I am hearing the same commitment from several of my alumni entrepreneurs.

Second, I heard a consistent message of doing what it takes to “make it to the other side” of this crisis.  Reports from places like South Korea, which is several weeks ahead of the US in its outbreak, talk about a slow return to business.  This is encouraging, and supports those who predict we might see the beginning of a turnaround by early to mid summer.  The entrepreneurs I talk to are shoring up cash flow and making cash budgets that can see them through to June or July, even with little or no revenues.  These are often tough and austere plans, but they are doing what they must to keep their businesses alive.

Finally, I am hearing the indomitable entrepreneurial spirit in their responses.  They are worried, and even scared, but they are also showing hope and resiliency.  They inspired me.  Facing much more dire circumstances than I am right now, their optimism and courage reminds me that it will be our entrepreneurs who lead us out of this.  It may seem like a long, dark tunnel, but there is a light at the other side where things will improve.

The Other Side

I do want to offer a note of caution, however.  When we do get to the other side, and we will, it will look very different than the side we left.  Entrepreneurs will be tested to adapt to a new reality.  A shock to our economy, to our society, and to our culture as we are now experiencing right now will fundamentally change many aspects of our lives.  Entrepreneurs will need to be ready not only to survive during this short-term period, but to adapt over the long-term, probably like never before.  The other side will present a myriad of both amazing opportunities and significant threats.

Be ready to be more entrepreneurial than you ever have been before, and you will be alright when we get to the other side of this crisis.

And so it goes…


(Image source: Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay)

I am writing this from my back porch.  It looks like I will be spending a lot of time out here over the coming weeks.

The coronavirus is rampaging across our country, our state, and my community.  Mrs. C. and I are safe and healthy.  We have decided to hunker down and “self isolate.”  You might call it a preview of retirement!!

I had planned at the beginning of the year to get back into blogging over my spring break.  It was not a New Year’s resolution, per se, but more of something I have missed.  I am also starting up my digital work with Kane Harrison again.  More on that soon…

Little did I know that spring break would usher in something like this!

Many of us are having to adjust.  My adjustments are minor compared to many of the entrepreneurs I know.  For me it is adapting on the fly to online classes (thankfully I am a co-founder of a digital learning company!), advising via email, and mentoring alum entrepreneurs via text, phone, and email.  For many of the entrepreneurs I call friends it is finding a way to survive during the most uncertain times any of us have ever seen.

Some entrepreneurs I know have lost funding.  Many have had to close their business indefinitely to support “social distancing.” All are scrambling to manage cash flow and extend their runways just long enough to make it to the other side….whenever that happens.

On our afternoon walk, I was telling Mrs. C. about some of the stories I am hearing.  She said, “You need to start blogging again.”

So here we go. I hope this journalling around entrepreneurship, a pandemic, and an economic meltdown will be helpful.

So, You Want to be a Professor

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Teaching is one of the noblest of professions.”  It’s also a great gig!

I have had many conversations over the years with people who feel drawn to becoming a professor.  I used to have a pretty standard spiel.  After all, higher education in the Western world remained relatively unchanged for more than a century.

However, since higher education entered its period of market disruption over the past decade, my conversation with aspiring academics has changed considerably.

Continue reading So, You Want to be a Professor

Why is Tuition the Same for Online Courses?

There will always be many families that want their children to have the campus experience. For them, the total costs beyond tuition, such as room, board, and transportation, are more than worth the price. When I meet parents after graduation, their words clearly express their satisfaction with sending their child to our university for four years of education. I love working with our students in a traditional college setting, so I am grateful that so many see value in what we offer their children.

For a growing number of other families and for many adult learners, online education offers an alternative that provides a different bundle of features that meet what they want from a university education.

Education is not a homogeneous market.

What is interesting to me is that the tuition charged both on campus and online is about the same for most universities.

Continue reading Why is Tuition the Same for Online Courses?

Who is the Customer in Higher Education?

Just who is the customer? This is a question that comes up in all corners of higher education. Is it the student? Is it their parents? Is it employers? Is it the community and the broader society?

As entrepreneur, this question leaves me more than a bit unsettled! After all, if I don’t know who my customer is, I have no chance of success in the market. How can I deliver what the customer really wants? How do I effectively communicate to the customer what I offer? How do I strategically set prices? How can I deliver the product or service to the customer the way they want it? None of this is possible if I am not really sure who is my customer.

Continue reading Who is the Customer in Higher Education?

Welcome to The Entrepreneurial Mind 4.0

I first launched this blog fifteen years ago. It started quite simply as an experiment with a new medium that I knew very little about.  In 2003, you could probably fit all the bloggers in the entire state of Tennessee into one of my classrooms and still have room for a few more.

Over time, the number of people following The Entrepreneurial Mind grew. And so, too, did the number of people blogging. Today there are tens of millions of blogs published in the US and hundreds of millions of active blogs worldwide.

Up to this point, my blog has gone through three rather distinct incarnations.  Continue reading Welcome to The Entrepreneurial Mind 4.0

Life’s a Pitch. Be Ready!

Entrepreneurs need to be ready to pitch any time, anywhere.

Jake Jorgovan, an alumnus from Belmont’s Entrepreneurship program, is always ready to give his pitch.

“At the most random situations, I will find myself giving a pitch,” says Jorgovan. “Out at drinks with friends, or just out socializing and suddenly I run into someone who is a contact directly in the space that I am working in. It can catch you off guard sometimes, but you should have your elevator pitch prepared and not be afraid to deliver it anytime of day.” Continue reading Life’s a Pitch. Be Ready!

Same Wrong Answer

Once again we hear from Washington the same solution they seem to have for any and every economic issue — more debt.

This time the problem that they debt solution is being applied to is small business exports.  In a report released by the Office of Advocacy of the SBA we are told that if only we could make more debt available to small businesses they would be able to export more products outside the US.  The study says that smaller small businesses are in particular need for more governmental help with credit. Continue reading Same Wrong Answer