Top takeaways for entrepreneurs at RISE Austin

Austin’s leading businesses came together last week at RISE Austin to share ideas, resources and support for the entrepreneurial community. This unique conference for entrepreneurs is independently organized by entrepreneurs and connects people from wide backgrounds with leaders in non-profits, high-tech, government and more. Business owners come to the conference for many reasons, but there is an overall spirit of collaboration and cooperation rather than competition.  Here are my favorite takeaways from the conference:

Think big. Work small. A home-based business can still be big business if you’re resourceful, creative and passionate about your work. Lorie Marrero, author of The Clutter Diet, has grown her business into a very diverse and successful company. Yet, she still prefers the flexibility that a small home office gives her and doesn’t see this as a limitation. Big goals attract motivated people who can help you achieve them, so no matter what the size of your business it’s important to dream big.

Go fish. Leave the shrimp. This metaphor came from Anne Tiedt, owner of Momentum Public Relations. While it was meant in the context of media relations, I also found it useful when thinking about ways to grow a client base. The arduous process of shrimping requires casting large trawl nets and then sifting through the enormous catch to remove shrimp from seafood that isn’t of value. In comparison, fishing focuses your time and attention on producing the big catch. Rather than pitching your message indiscriminately, in much the same way as shrimping, first determine the most efficient media outlets and spend your efforts on those media for the big catch. Similarly, get choosy about the clients you want to work with and place your resources and efforts seeking them out.

On the far side of a fear is a freedom. Many of the RISE Austin presenters and those of us in the audience were interested in discussing ways to overcome fear, which was no surprise given the uncertain economy. Gay Gaddis, president & CEO of T3, reminded us that a setback is also an opportunity for innovation or change. Apart from finding opportunity even during a recession, I found roomfuls of encouragement for overcoming the very common fear of taking risks. Why not embrace it instead? Fear can keep us motivated, focused and aware of potential pitfalls. Melinda Garvey, publisher of Austin Woman Magazine, summed it up well by saying, “Your goals aren’t big enough if you don’t have fear.”

Give back to your community. Offering up your time and your talents ties in well to being passionate about what you do. Austin is a dynamic city and offers many ways to plug in to the community. Carol Thompson, president of The Thompson Group, reminded us always to ask, “How can I help you?” VolunteerMatch and Austin’s own I Live Here, I Give Here are excellent resources for finding a cause that you can feel passionate about supporting.

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