By: Lexie Newhouse
As Tom Freston once said, “A career path is rarely a path at all.” – And for those considering pursing entrepreneurship as a potential career path, those winding turns and uncharted territories can appear even more daunting. To help students navigate those opportunities and challenges, Georgia State’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute (ENI) and the J. Mack Robinson College of Business Career Advancement Center (CAC) collaborated to host “Entrepreneurship: Go Your Own Way” held on November 16, 2018 at the Georgia State University Buckhead campus.
Beginning with a networking breakfast, the event transitioned into a panel discussion moderated by Ed Baker, an Executive in Residence at the Robinson College of Business. The panel featured Antonio Barrios of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), Leon Morales of DNA Behavior, and Dr. Ben Lawrence of the School of Hospitality at Georgia State.
Baker offered a warm welcome to the panel and guests, where he spoke on his entrepreneurial experiences as an Atlanta native and former publisher of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Although Atlanta is known for expansive companies like Turner and The Weather Channel, he shared that the average company in Atlanta only has 9.8 employees, revealing the prevalence of small businesses within the region. “Go for it. Get inspired by it,” said Baker in an effort to encourage more students to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors as a viable career option, diving into the “DNA of an Entrepreneur” discussion.
Barrios shared his insights from over 25 years of professional experience in financial analysis, business consulting, and business management and stressed the importance of “understanding your cash flow cycle”. Through his work with ACE, he supports small businesses with securing capital, coaching and connections. “We are committed to economic development for underserved communities,” said Barrios, where 90 percent of ACE loans serve these populations with 46 percent being women-owned businesses, 61 percent being African American-owned businesses and 21 percent being Hispanic-owned businesses.
Morales focused on the psychology behind an entrepreneur. Business DNA offers behavioral talent data and technology solutions to empower entrepreneurs in making smarter business decisions. From hiring talent to building the team, Business DNA’s insights can increase personal productivity by 40 percent and team productivity by 70 percent through reliable predictions of candidate’s natural instinctive talents. “When we enter our careers, if it feels against the grain, you are probably not in the right type of role,” said Morales, referencing his personal experiences within the accounting industry working for companies like Blockbuster and Cox Enterprises. He stressed the importance of acknowledging your personality traits when determining what career to pursue. For entrepreneurs, he identified emotional intelligence, resilience and creativity as three key traits.
Lawrence encouraged students to consider franchising as a potential entrepreneurial opportunity, sharing that 40 percent of companies are actually franchise-based businesses. “Technology is driving the profitability of franchise businesses,” said Lawrence, only accelerating the rapid expansion and growth with these proven business models. Industries like healthcare and education are becoming more prominent within the franchising space with companies like Message Envy and Kumon. In evaluating what makes a franchise opportunity attractive, Lawrence explained that “If you can pay back the initial investment in three years, that’s a sign of a strong franchise.”
From funding to team building and opportunity seeking, our guest speakers offered their insights on the panel and answered audience questions through the breakout sessions. For additional events and resources to guide you on your path to entrepreneurship, be sure to visit eni.gsu.edu and follow us @ENIGSU!