I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit and speak with a class of MBA students at George Mason University's Fairfax Campus just down the street from our office this past summer. I spoke about Hedgehog Hosting, what our company does, how we got started and what lessons we have learned during our 15 years in business.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit and speak with a class of MBA students at George Mason University's Fairfax Campus just down the street from Hedgehog's office this past summer.
My good friend and fellow Consumer Technology Association member, Skip West, an adjunct professor who teaches MBA 752 -Turning Ideas into Successful Companies at GMU, asked me to come and speak about Hedgehog Hosting, what our company does, how we got started, what lessons we have learned during our 15 years in business and finally, what I would teach/tell today's MBA students who are interested in one day starting their own businesses.
This was such a great opportunity as I feel like I had so much to say and give. And as many of you who know me may have guessed, I started writing my script that day. You see, I like to prepare when it comes to these things. If I have to make a 5 minute introduction, I write it out in advance and time it to the very last second. If I moderate a panel, I have every last thought typed out on paper so I feel prepared and ready.
The problem I ran into was that nothing was really coming together. I had a nice outline but it did not flow very well. When I read it over and over, it felt too planned, too robotic. I was nervous. I was not sure how things were going to go and I was afraid of disappointing my friend, his class and myself. So what was I going to do.
I looked over the notes I had made and when I came to the part about what I would teach/tell the students as they started their own businesses, it hit me. I wrote down, "Don't be afraid to take chances. No matter how you, or anyone for that matter, thinks it will turn out, take risks and go with your gut."
So I figured I better listen to my own advice and I threw out all of my notes, I put on my most comfortable shirt and went in and I just spoke freely with the class. I let the talk grow organically. If I felt like I was hitting a road block, I changed gears. If the class wanted more about a particular topic, I gave more. We connected and I spoke from the heart... and the gut. After all, gut instincts have been a guiding factor for much of what we have done at Hedgehog.
In the end, the night was a huge success. I told stories of our past and in turn I heard many great ideas for new companies that the students were working on. It brought me back to a time when I, along with my business partners, had those very same goals and aspirations for our little company.
Asking to speak about our 15 year old company to a group of young and talented students was a bit scary. Would they think we were old fashioned? Would they think we were past our prime? Well, it was just the opposite. They were just as invigorated to get started as I was to continue doing what we do. We all want to make a difference and we at Hedgehog have always felt that we do; even when others may try to tell you differently.
Thank you to my good friend and colleague for the time to speak to his class and thank especially to all the students who are working so hard, many of them taking night classes after their day jobs, to continue making a difference through entrepreneurship and innovation.
About the class:
MBA 752 -Turning Ideas into Successful Companies is an advanced course in entrepreneurship focused on discovery and development of an achievable business concept. Students develop a formal business plan and associated presentation materials. They are assigned to teams and must hypothesize a new business, research and test their hypothesis, and develop a comprehensive written business plan.
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