March 20, 2018
“If you’ve ever shied from asking for help because of fear that you may seem weak, you aren’t alone,” writes Margie Warrell in Forbes. “It’s a sad irony that it’s during the times we most need to ask for help that most people are reticent in doing so.”
Entrepreneurs are not immune from the virus of being too proud or too ashamed to turn to others for assistance. Oftentimes, their businesses pay dearly for their silence.
The importance of asking for help was a frequent topic of discussion at a recent symposium that brought together some of Florida’s most impressive leaders from the private sector, non-profits, universities, government and business advocacy groups throughout Florida.
Co-hosted by HSN and the University of Tampa, the event was themed around “Cultivating Small Business in the 21st Century.” Sponsored by Quirky, it followed a similar conversation that HSN and the University of Tampa held in Washington, D.C. this past November to coincide with National Entrepreneurs Month.
Among the leaders in attendance in Tampa was Heidi Akers, the owner of Smart Sat, Inc. “When you talk about a community, the number one thing for any entrepreneur – I think you all will agree – is to make friends, ask questions and be prepared to look stupid; and that’s okay,” she told her fellow business leaders. “Smile and laugh your way through it because that’s how you learn. You fall down. You get back up. You fall down. You get back up. And then one day you realize you’re standing on your feet and then you reach down and bring somebody else up with you.”
Akers asked the audience to think about a time when they needed help in the middle of the night and wished they had someone ready, willing, and able to assist. She also challenged her fellow business leaders to go beyond their comfort zone when asking for help. “I’ve been surprised that sometimes some really big people in my industry may take pity on me,” she declared, adding “I’m willing to look stupid and say ‘Hey can you tell me about this?’ ‘How do you do that?’ ‘I know I should know that.’ ‘Can you tell me, how do I navigate my way through that?’”
“It’s not a one-man band,” Mike Harting, the founder of Three Daughters Brewing told his colleagues. “Even if you’re the only person in your company, you have to have support systems around you.”
Following the symposium, nearly 100 entrepreneurs attended a two-day American Dreams Academy, an interactive, educational and experiential scholarship-supported summit for emerging entrepreneurs looking to launch or expand their businesses.
HSN and the University of Tampa are hosting the academies on a quarterly basis across the United States. They consist of two full days of instructional, informational and educational lessons designed to help entrepreneurs understand important lessons in the areas of manufacturing, legal, quality assurance, branding, marketing, pitching/presenting concepts, and social media. To be eligible, applicants must have a product or business concept either in development or already established.
Like the American Dreams Symposium, the academies are sponsored by Quirky, a free community-led invention platform that brings real people’s ideas to life.