5 tips for first-time entrepreneurs

Nurturing entrepreneurship is central to our mission at SeedSprint. One way we achieve this mission is through our Startup and Technology Ambassadors for Recruitment (STAR) program for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM. Through the STAR program, interns learn about technology transfer and commercialization by researching and engaging with science-based startupsresearch institutionscorporate R&D leaders, and incubators and accelerators. One of our STAR interns, Hannah Polk, is an undergraduate Natural Sciences and Communications major at the University of Pittsburgh and took a course last semester called Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Technology. After taking this course, Hannah has five tips for budding entrepreneurs, and especially, scientist-entrepreneurs, new to the world of innovation!

(1) Research. Research. Research. An idea, no matter how groundbreaking it sounds, is only as important as the problem it solves. When developing your product or service, conduct market research and user research to ensure there is a market for it and people who will use it. The best way to conduct user research is by interviewing your prospective users or customers. Do your prospective customers need your product, or would it just be nice to have? 

(2) Always be ready to pitch your ideas. You are the expert on your ideas. Your ideas may have the potential to disrupt your field, but you still have to convince others, too. Having a well-rehearsed elevator pitch that you can deliver with confidence and passion will go a long way

(3) Grow your network. Take advantage of networking opportunities at conferences and events and through personal introductions. Even spending 5 minutes chatting with someone can lead to a valuable new connection. The person you are speaking with may know someone who would be an asset to your team or may know about a new product that competes with yours. He or she may even become your mentor. You never know how another person can help you achieve your goals, so always be networking!

(4) Manage your time. Keep a calendar broken down by day, week, and month. You may prefer to separate your business and personal schedules, but either way, keep work-life balance in mind. Set and work toward short and long-term goals along the way — you will feel good knowing you are always accomplishing something! 

(5) Adopt a growth mindset. You may reach a point where you become stuck, but moving forward is what matters. Frame your challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. Learn to acknowledge your weaknesses, accept feedback, and adopt a growth mindset of continual learning and improvement

So, how can you put this advice into practice? Here are some easy ways you can get started!

Develop user personas. Before you dive into interviewing your prospective users, develop user personas to guide your research. User personas are semi-fictitious representations of your target users. Many marketing thought leaders like Hubspot and CleverTap have great resources to help you take the first steps!

Sign up for Seedsprint. Our platform is free for startups, research institutions, and nonprofits and is available to corporate subscribers at a flat fee. Our profile templates help you tell your startup’s story clearly and succinctly and our messaging feature enables you to connect with industry partners!

Attend a virtual conference. As people practice social distancing, virtual events happen weekly. These events are usually more affordable than in-person events and are still great for networking, so register for one…or five!

Set one goal per day. Set just one goal per day to help you stay productive, organized, and motivated! You can even add the goals to your calendar to help you stay accountable.

Take an online course. Want to improve your project management skills? Don’t know enough about marketing? Many universities offer certificate programs and courses that help you build new skills in just about any field! 

Good luck! You got this!


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