Dayton Startup Week is an annual five-day celebration of learning, entrepreneurs, and community brought to us by Techstars. Events this year took place at the newly renovated Steam Plant building downtown. From keynote speakers, networking socials, and co-working in a new space, Dayton Startup Week is full of innovation, excitement, and education.
Luckily for me, I was able to make it to at least one event every day of Startup Week. I chose events with topics that varied between marketing and branding strategy, community engagement keynote speakers, and, of course, networking.
On Monday I had the opportunity to listen to Katie Hill, the co-founder of Computer Ads and a certified WKI Coach. She spoke about how to find your key customers as a small business or entrepreneur and reminded everyone in the room not to obsess over their product.
Of course, we think our product is amazing! Business owners wouldn’t constantly be producing, tweaking, and trying to sell their products if they didn’t! But, the general public does not always feel the same way. Business owners must pinpoint the unique attributes of their products and tell the customer why they want it. This requires marketing your service or product differently to every potential customer you have
Tuesday I attended a program called, “Unstuck: Getting Past the Creative Block.” The co-founders of Flourish & Co., Cady Vance and Jennifer Gilman, spoke about their own entrepreneurial experiences and how they overcame the dreaded creativity block.
Whether you have writer’s block, are hesitant in moving forward, or let perfection get in the way of your everyday work, their advice was to keep up momentum. There is no rule book or set of guidelines for starting a small business, and if you overthink things, it is likely you will fail.
Wednesday, I sat in on a Q&A style seminar where Kwame Christian, a corporate attorney, introduced a new way of thinking about negotiation. His program was titled “Negotiate like the Boss” and he was, in my opinion, the best speaker that I saw. His definition of negotiation is this: any conversation where somebody in the conversation wants something.
Now think about that. We negotiate with loved ones, supermarket attendants, children, and even auto replies online. We are always wanting something tangible or intangible from someone or can offer someone else what they are wanting.
Negotiation is a two-way street and sometimes one person needs to pass while the other stops in their tracks. There is a mutual understanding of what needs to happen between both parties, and if this doesn’t happen, neither party will get anywhere. When you negotiate and have a conversation, you build a relationship. As a business owner it is important to expand this relationship regardless of the outcome of the negotiation. Christian pushed the idea to always strengthen your relationship with the counter-party and to leave with as much of a positive attitude as possible.
The next day, Sara Moore, founder of SEA Media, tied in some ideas from day 4 in her speech, “How to Deliver Valuable Content that Attracts Followers.” She spoke about setting SMART goals for yourself and listening to your audience for feedback, which can also help build a relationship with your audience. A positive relationship can make your audience feel appreciated for supporting your product and both parties will benefit from it.
By engaging your followers on social media, we are likely to reach a larger audience and receive more positive feedback (every business owner’s dream!). Moore shared an acronym that she uses; IEMEI. Inspire, Educate, Moving forward, Entertaining, Informational.
IEMEI encompasses all parts of persuasive communication and advertising that a marketing professional should use to relate and engage their customer base. Moore’s priority is to focus on people instead of her business. By making small changes in your media posts like “Watch how to…” instead of “Watch me do…” customers will feel more connected and inclined to follow your posts.
Friday was all about community and growing together as entrepreneurs. In speaking with fellow attendees, I learned that much like the earth has systematic trends in weather, geography, and living species relationships, small business’ share systematic socioeconomic trends. In order to have a high-functioning society, we must all collaborate, grow, and share resources to survive. We are interdependent and are always moving forward.
Dayton Startup Week opened my eyes to the importance of all small businesses and how they bring a unique aspect to our city. Everyone has a different purpose with different people supporting it and runs their business a different way. Yet, all are connected. They are connected by geography, the economic market surrounding them, the common broad goals of the entrepreneurs, the internet and media, and so much more.