By: Natalie Nkembuh
Young entrepreneurs often tend to overlook many resources that could be useful to them either because of ignorance or wrong assumptions. For example, most people say finding a mentor is difficult and costly, but this is often not the case as there are many successful entrepreneurs out there looking to give back to the community through mentoring. In the following interview, Paul MCNeal shares some important hacks related to this.
Tell me a bit about the Next Gen Summit and your vision for the startup community or entrepreneurs through this. Do startups in developing economies have a place in your plans?
I guess the first thing to tell you would be I am not a principle of the organization just a mentor. The Next Gen Summit community is amazing. Filled with very successful young entrepreneurs that are creating value and making a difference in the world around them. I met the two co-founders: Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella in 2014 at the very first Next Gen Summit conference in Austin. After attending that 3 day weekend conference I knew this was going to be big; I even offered to pre-pay to get into every conference going forward. I’ve not missed a conference in the last 4 years. My vision for the startup community is that it’s a community filled with top notch, humble and helpful leaders; mimicking the character of the two co-founders. I’d want to see it continue to be a community of young entrepreneurs building companies that care. As it pertains to developing countries, the Next Gen Summit community is filled with entrepreneurs all around the globe.
I noticed you are really active in the entrepreneurship space, what advice will you give a young startup during its first years on the market to prevent failure?
I would have a lot of advice but here are a few that I believe are key to the success of that young
Solve a problem that has a budget line item. My first business we did just that. My co-founder understood that the product we were creating would have a budget for that item. In other words have Market Validation before launching any business. Before you spend one cent on building websites and spending money make sure the market really wants your product or service.
Build a team that you can work with. Being in business is like a marriage. It requires patience and exceptional communication skills. Daily you will run into challenges based on understanding others viewpoint. So basically ensure you are working on your interpersonal skills.
Operate lean in the early days. Spending money because you have it isn’t smart. Budget and be frugal. There comes a point where operating lean can hinder your success so don’t be afraid to spend money but ensure that money will bring in more.
Mentoring is key in entrepreneurship but not everyone can afford a mentor, what advice will you give founders as alternatives to this?
You would be surprised how many successful entrepreneurs are looking to give back in the form of mentoring. Building relationships are key so my advice is for those young startups to leverage their network and if they do not have them, reach out to SCORE or other organization that can be found at through the SBA to help.
What is the place of interpersonal communication in today’s entrepreneurial world?
In my opinion many startups especially in developing economies fail because of lack of strategic planning, I see you master this concept, what is it all about and what is your opinion? Strategic Planning involves goal setting. I encourage all startups that I work with to have a clean vision of what it is they are trying to achieve. It was Napoleon Hill that said, “Whatever the mind of man can CONCEIVE and BELIEVE it will ACHIEVE.” You’ve got to see it and then ensure everyone on your team sees it as clear as you do. Vision leaks. Once you have a clear vision, set missions, things that will help you reach that vision. To further break this down to daily task, set goals weekly and execute on them daily.
What has been your greatest challenge through your journey?
Ability to find real problems to solve that I am passionate about. I believe it’s the struggle of many young entrepreneurs around the world. We all want to help but how does it align with my passion?
About the Author
Paul McNeal, is Speaker, Brand Evangelist, Technologist, Co-Founder of CryptoMarket360, LLC. Spent the earlier part of his career serving in the United States Navy Submarine Force working in communications. After 10 years serving his country, he held leadership positions at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) overseeing the global wireless device program. He Co-founded a Content Curation startup which grew rapidly and is still operating today. Mentoring young entrepreneurs is a passion of his and through The Next Gen Summit he works with groups daily. Being on the cutting edge of technology means everything to him and he helps businesses leverage it to move forward faster. He currently resides in Northern Va and is the Vice Chair of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce Technology Coalition.
Specialties: Connecting. Brand Evangelism. Speaking. Bitcoin Blockchain (CryptoCurrency). Content Curation. Sales. Interpersonal Communications. Troubleshooting. Problem Solving. Strategic Planning. Mobile Communication Technology. Cloud Computing Solutions. Marketing. Entrepreneurship. Mentoring.