By: Diamond Stewart and Sinclaire Johnson
Photos by: Francisca Villegas
On October 10, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute (ENI) at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business held their bi-annual Influential Speakers Series at Launch GSU. Georgia State University students gave a panther welcome to Sharmeen Hawkins, an Atlanta-based entrepreneur. Hawkins spoke with and encouraged students on how to navigate their path to entrepreneurship.
Sharmeen Hawkins went from climbing the corporate ladder at McDonald’s to being CEO of SOAR Hospitality. After working in the corporate world for over 11 years, Hawkins had held over 12 different positions before she left to start her own journey of entrepreneurship. She now owns several different fast food restaurants such as Popeye’s, Burger King, and Einstein’s Bages, in addition to a a real estate company.
“We selected Mrs. Hawkins as the fall 2017 Influential Speaker for the H.J. Russell Center because Sharmeen and her family are proud supporters of the Georgia State University community, and she is an excellent role model our students,” said Jackie Davis, Assistant Director of ENI.
In the seminar, Hawkins states some tips before becoming an entrepreneur and how funding is the most common problem for entrepreneurs.
“Every experience that you have, is preparing you for your ultimate destiny,” said Hawkins. “Don’t lose stability in a current job or finances.” Hawkins wants to help students feel prepared they are ready to become an entrepreneur.
“Do not wait until it’s too late. Also, do not make excuses” said Hawkins. She explains that there is no perfect time to start a business. “If you are serious about entrepreneurship then you have to incorporate it into your life,” said Hawkins. “Understand, that I know you are afraid of failure but you have to walk out on faith.”
According to the Small Business Administration, nine out of every ten businesses fail at some point. “As a student at Georgia State University, you should leverage the resources available to you, and don’t let failure hold you back,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins ends her talk by giving students a step-by-step plan on how to become an entrepreneur. She suggests that young entrepreneurs follow 10 simple steps.
The first step is to take a self-assessment. Before investing money in a startup business, Hawkins suggests that you ask yourself if entrepreneurship is for you. “Figure out the what and why of your wanting to be an entrepreneur,” said Hawkins.
Second, Hawkins suggests deciding on exactly what you are going to sell and create a business plan. Having a plan can save you from a lot of financial trouble along the way, and it could help you figure out what type of business owner you would like to become.
The third step is to do a cost projection plan and make a budget. Hawkins notes that before launching your business, make sure you look at investment plans,include a reasonable salary for yourself, and share your plan with at least three trusted professionals.
Lastly, set-up your business legally. Hawkins also expressed that establishing a strong support system can help when starting up a business.
“Make sure that throughout this process you are establishing a strong support system. You will need it,” said Hawkins.
These tips can help a starting entrepreneur get to the next level in their business. Inspired student Jasmine East said, “I am glad Georgia State invited Mrs. Hawkins because she was very inspirational and I feel that if she can do it, then so can I.”
Georgia State University wants its students to have the best connections in any career. For more information on entrepreneurship and how to start-up your business, visit Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business Entrepreneurship and Innovation Insitute.