Entrepreneur Village: No one over 22 years old allowed

entrepruenerThe title of this article may not be exactly accurate but there is some truth to it.  I had the opportunity to visit Belmont University’s 2nd annual Entrepreneur Village recently and must say it was one of the most inspirational days I have experienced.  But to understand that statement you must walk into the village.

Belmont’s academic programs include a Center of Entrepreneur Studies.  Students (both undergraduate and graduate) may pursue a degree in entrepreneurship or courses may accompany another field of study.  The Village allows current students and alumni to showcase businesses in various stages of development.  This year’s Village featured 34 different businesses.

Enter inspiration.  I met several students who have either recently graduated or are in their final year of study who have functioning businesses and are serving the public now! Meet Clark, a recent Belmond grad.  His business, Buck Branding blends together video, web and new media strategies to earn the attention each brand deserves.   And there is Brooke.  Her company, Glen & Effie is an accessory line where each piece of jewelry is hand assembled from various vintage finds across the region, including pieces customers bring to her store.  She is a student, business owner and definitely entrepreneur.

What makes these stories so inspirational? These young professionals have a passion – something they love to make, a service they love to provide or problems they are wired to solve.  They also have a drive – a push and discipline to create a business plan, research customers and test an idea in the market.  They have courage – a willingness to take a risk and see what happens.   I don’t know about you, but that is refreshing and inspiring.

Now skeptics may say, “Sure, these kids can do those things.  They are young and can take those kinds of risks. Technology can help them do things much easier than in the past.”  And yes, while those statements are true, technology does not create personal drive or discipline.  Youth does not necessarily create courage.  These young professionals are doing things differently and I believe we can learn from them.

Being or becoming an entrepreneur in its simplest form is a willingness to try something different.  Blaze a trail with an idea, share that vision with others and then try your hardest for success.  Yes, the life lessons will come to these young leaders and they are lessons you just have to experience to really learn.  That is how wisdom comes.

But in the interim, I am challenged by the students and alum of Entrepreneur Village.  I need to pursue my calling passionately. I need on-going discipline that helps me hone my craft in pursuit of excellence.  And I have to take chances – those steps that require faith and courage – and try new things in the business, in technology and even my own professional development.

I don’t know where you are on the entrepreneurial scale but I encourage and challenge you to try something different this week.  Your “tent” at Entrepreneur Village is waiting.

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