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Archive for the ‘College Interns’ Category

College Campuses Are Amazing Resources for Entrepreneurs to Utilize When Launching a Business

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

by: Geoff Ficke

College Campuses Are Amazing Resources for Entrepreneurs to Utilize When Launching a Business

Recently I read about a new cosmetic product that was launched on a college campus. This bootstrapped product was taking advantage of a resource that can be available to all, but is rarely accessed by any. The entrepreneurs behind the novel lip balm Kisstixx offer an example of just one way to leverage the benefits that are present in abundance on university campuses everywhere.

Shake Smart natural smoothies are another example of a start-up bootstrapped on a university campus. Clever entrepreneurs for this breakthrough concoction looked closely at their personal environment and realized that many, if not all, of the assets they needed to perfect, test and launch their product was on offer within their schools facilities.

The modern university is an amazing amalgam of talent, facilities, knowledge, money and energy. Students are almost universally ambitious. Faculty is experienced and keen to see their student charges succeed in their chosen fields. College administrators are excited to leverage their facilities and resources in ways that drive institutional reputations and endowments. This is the perfect confluence of opportunity and assets for innovators seeking to commercialize their novel business concepts.

Let’s start with the student body. Each member is majoring in an offered course of study. Each is driven to gain as much education as possible in their field of study and compliment this knowledge with practical, complimentary work experience; Thus, the scramble for internships.

For our client consumer product development projects we often visit college deans and ask for student participation in accomplishing specific research and development tasks. Inevitably the dean is happy to recommend one or more students. The students are thrilled for the opportunity to add to their credentials with a hands-on work
experience that can be detailed for future employers to consider. Our clients always are amazed at the enthusiasm and quality of the work product provided by
their interns.

We all read about the technology advances that are born in some university and then become massive commercial successes. Universities across the country have taken notice of this opportunity and almost all have Technology Transfer programs established or in development. They actively seek ideas that can be patented and commercialized by utilizing the massive resources, and fixed overheads, that are a constant in every college. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to approach these programs with their concepts and ideas for review, consideration and possible joint venture collaboration.

We have utilized the resources of colleges and universities on a number of our Consumer Product projects. Schools are not only keen to develop science and technology opportunities. They are aggressively seeking products and services that can be perfected and launched in many areas. For one client we used the Nutrition and Dietary college program to develop a gluten and sugar free line of bakery goods. Focus Groups and test markets conducted at colleges are ideal venues for gauging market sentiment about key elements of Branding, Packaging, taste, pricing, etc.

Business Schools today almost universally emphasize an Entrepreneurial course of study. A capstone class requirement to qualify for a degree is that each student must write or collaborate on creating a customized Business Plan. Let these eager students work on your Business Plan.

Many inventors approach us seeking help in designing, prototyping and engineering their product idea. Many colleges possess every tool needed to create CAD art, scale models, assembly and engineering plans. The College of Engineering is a wonderful tool to access when needing prototype work completed on a small budget and with professionalism.

Wellness drinks and supplements, skin care, oral care, exercise and sporting goods products, fashion design and juvenile products are all product areas in which we have used the assets that are available, and FREE, at a local college or university. Students, faculty and administrations actually welcome the chance to apply their theoretical knowledge to gain practical project experience from working on real world product development. Take advantage of this wonderful resource. After all, as a taxpayer you are
paying for these excellent resources.

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on KWYD 1580 AM The Business For Breakfast Show on May 8 at 8:30 MT

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

www.duquesamarketing.com

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on KWYD 1580 AM The Business For Breakfast Show on May 8 at 8:30 MT

Duquesa Marketing Founder and Expert to Discuss Personality Traits to Success as well as The Best Jobs for Your Future – Creating Your Own

Florence, KY  Nancy Ficke, General Manager, announced today that her Branding and Product Development firm Duquesa Marketing has scheduled another in a series of national radio interviews for Company President and Founder Geoff Ficke in the Colorado Springs area.

“Geoff Ficke will appear on The Business For Breakfast Show with Hosts Marc Mandel, Harriet Fox and Roger Cridlebaugh May 8th at 8:30 am MT”, said Mrs Ficke. “The discussion will be about the best jobs for your future – creating your own. There are opportunitities to take hold of your life and career options by exploring Entrepreneurial opportunities that people find around themselves in their hobbies, homes or jobs”.  There are also certain personality traits within each person that will determine their success.

“We work with hundreds of inventors, small and micro-businesses and entrepreneurs every year”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Business Development at Duquesa  arketing. “Many of these people carve out successful enterprises by capitalizing on things they experience in their environment. This is a topic that Geoff is passionate about and is always happy to share with an audience”.

Duquesa Marketing has assisted numerous individuals and enterprises start and expand Consumer Product opportunities over the past four decades. The award winning firm has vast experience in all Sales and distribution channels in the United States and internationally.

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on KRCN 1060 AM The Business For Breakfast Show on May 8 at 8:30 MT

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

www.duquesamarketing.com

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609
gficke@msn.com

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on KRCN 1060 AM The Business For Breakfast Show on May 8 at 8:30 MT

Duquesa Marketing Founder and Expert to Discuss Personality Traits to Success as well as The Best Jobs for Your Future – Creating Your Own

Florence, KY  Nancy Ficke, General Manager, announced today that her Branding and Product Development firm Duquesa Marketing has scheduled another in a series of national radio interviews for Company President and Founder Geoff Ficke in the Denver, Ft. Collins and Cheyenne, WY markets.

“Geoff Ficke will appear on The Business For Breakfast Show with Hosts Marc Mandel, Harriet Fox and Roger Cridlebaugh May 8th at 8:30 am MT”, said Mrs Ficke. “The discussion will be about the best jobs for your future – creating your own. There are opportunitities to take hold of your life and career options by exploring Entrepreneurial opportunities that people find around themselves in their hobbies, homes or jobs”.  There are also certain personality traits within each person that will determine their success.

“We work with hundreds of inventors, small and micro-businesses and entrepreneurs every year”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Business Development at Duquesa Marketing. “Many of these people carve out successful enterprises by capitalizing on things they experience in their environment. This is a topic that Geoff is passionate about and is always happy to share with an audience”.

Duquesa Marketing has assisted numerous individuals and enterprises start and expand Consumer Product opportunities over the past four decades. The award winning firm has vast experience in all Sales and distribution channels in the United States and internationally.

A “Wanna Be” Entrepreneur in Reality Is a “Wantrepreneur” and Will Never Be Successful

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

by: Geoff Ficke

A “Wanna Be” Entrepreneur in Reality Is a “Wantrepreneur” and Will Never Be Successful

Very few of the hundreds of Consumer Product projects that my Branding and Marketing Consulting firm review each year ever go much beyond the talking stage. Talk is cheap. Deamers dream. Successful entrepreneurs are relatively rare. The necessary makeup to compete in the marketplace of ideas and products is in fairly short supply.

The best descriptive I can use to describe the dreamer that will never launch is the portmanteau “wantrepreneur”. This is the word we use to define the eternal grazer. They hope, wish and want to be successful but will not take the absolutely necessary steps required to get into the game. This pseudo-entrepreneur wants a lot of things, variously including…

  • Wants a Business Plan
  • Wants Design Engineering
  • Wants Prototyping
  • Wants Branding Development
  • Wants Legal Counsel
  • Wants Patents and Trademarks
  • Wants Marketing Strategy Customized
  • Wants Market Research
  • Wants Focus Groups
  • Wants Licensing Opportunities
  • Wants Web-site Design
  • Wants Social Media Management
  • Wants Sales Representation
  • Wants a Public Relations Campaign
  • Wants Manufacturing Organized
  • Wants Fulfillment Systems Organized
  • Wants Investment, Funding
  • Want all of this and often much more!

The reality is that the aspiring entrepreneur has two options available to achieve the above work elements that are but a partial list of the items that must be present in order to achieve a Consumer Product or Consumer Service launch.

1.   Hire vendors that can successfully perform in their area of specialization.

2.   Do it yourself.

I started my first business in 1978. I did it myself. I was a self-taught entrepreneur who, once having figured things out, realized that I could repeat the process again and again. I did this for a series of ventures that I launched. It can be done. I and many others are proof that with enough drive, ambition and confidence in themselves and their ideas success is a real option. Option #2 is not a chimera but it is not easy.

Option #1 is the route that most prospective entrepreneurs are forced to take. The skills that must be mastered can seem daunting to a novice. The list is long, much longer than detailed above. Successful entrepreneurs always find the means to raise the monies needed to hire professional help in areas that they do not have mastery of.

“Wantrapreneur’s” always attempt to acquire talent and expertise with promises, futures, equity and histrionics. The approach they take always follows an obvious lineup of talking points. Their Toy or Board Game is the next Monopoly or Bratz Doll. Their Wellness Supplement will revolutionize the Joint Pain market. The Pet Product they have developed to comfort arthritic dogs will sell hundreds of thousands of units. The Juvenile Jewelry line they have conceptualized will be on every little girl’s wish list. The list goes on endlessly.

The “wantrapreneur” always wants vendors to partner. I always ask what a person does for work. When I am told, “Salesman, truck driver, insurance adjuster, bank analyst”, etc., I respond with another simple question: “Do you work for free”? Qualified engineers and graphic artists and consultants are paid for their work, their experience, their Rolodex. Proven professionals actually save entrepreneurs time, money and mistakes.

How an aspiring entrepreneur approached funding sources and professional vendors is crucial. We rarely see this introductory process handled properly by novice entrepreneurs.  Do your due diligence. Do not attempt to sell dreams. My dreams are almost certainly not your dreams.

The process of starting a business or launching a Consumer Product is arduous. There is a reason for this. If it was easy everyone would be doing it and they are most certainly not. The difficulties inherent in getting a product off the ground act to cull the marketplace and serves as a type of Merchandising Darwinism. Merchants, distributors, investors, venture capital, strategic alliances and partners all seek out projects that survive the development process and are representative of the old saw “survival of the fittest”. “Wantrepreneurs” do not need apply.

The 5 Essential Personal Traits Needed to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

by: Geoff Ficke

The 5 Absolutely Essential Personal Traits Needed to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

I am often asked by media interviewers, prospective entrepreneurs and college students I mentor to identify the most important qualities that are present in successful small business start-up owners and innovators. Obviously there are many personality traits that contribute to success in every sort of endeavor. Honesty, hard work, creativity and a positive mental attitude are only a few. However, I think that there are five traits that are essential keys to achieving entrepreneurial success. These are present in every successful entrepreneur I have ever worked with.

Passion

High achieving entrepreneurs have an unrestrained passion for their business or concept. This is not to be confused with cheerleading or hype. Their passion is born of a confidence that their project will help and provide real benefits to people, clients and customers. Of course, they hope to prosper financially from their work, but they really and truly are passionate that they can make a difference. The passion that Emeril Legasse exudes when he speaks about Food and Cooking, or that displayed by Tory Burch when she describes her Fashion Designs are obvious examples.

Drive

Successful entrepreneurs will not be stopped. They quickly come to understand that they will consistently hear the word “no”. To these driven people “no” simply means not today. They are driven to succeed and always find a way to overcome the “no” obstacles that the marketplace places in their path. Vidal Sassoon, born to poverty in East London, created one of the world’s great Beauty and Cosmetic empires through his sheer drive. Famous Amos overcame huge personal obstacles before he pioneered the creation and commercialize of the designer Cookie category.

Focus

By their very nature entrepreneurs are creative. This creativity, however, often results in lack of focus. Ideas seem to come in waves. The project at hand is undone by a bigger, grander idea, then another. Successful entrepreneurs are solely and totally focused on their Business Plan, executing their strategy and getting to market with a first mover advantage in hand.

Bernie Marcus, Ken Langone and Arthur Blank launched the Home Depot with a single store in Atlanta. They overcame numerous hurdles to perfect the DIY concept that is ubiquitous today by staying focused on the perfection of their business model in one location before they considered expansion. Levi Strauss built his eponymous denim work and Sportswear business from a base that was focused on the mine workers that were pouring into the California Gold Rush country in the mid-18th century.

Discipline

The ability to discipline ones emotional urges and stick with the plan when things seem bleakest is so important. The discipline to work though problems that seem too vexing is something that many people lack. Work ethic that demonstrates the ability to overcome problems is essential.

Thomas Edison famously conducted over 1000 experiments before perfecting the incandescent light bulb. Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds were aspiring young actors in the 1950’s in Hollywood. Both were fired by their studio on the same day and told they had no future in the movies. The same happened to a young singer named Elvis Presley at the Grand Ol’ Opry in 1954. None quit. They had the self-confidence and discipline to keep pushing until they achieved their goals.

Courage

To me, this is the Number 1, most essential, but also rare trait that successful entrepreneurs possess. I do not believe that courage can be taught. The courage to commit fully to a project is what separates commercially successful entrepreneurs from dreamers and failures. Fear of failure chokes courage. Fear of hearing “no” again and again smothers courage. Risk aversion today runs deep in contemporary society where security is prized above anything posing  uncertainty and has become the norm.

Successful entrepreneurs fall early and often, but have the unique ability to get up and go back into action. Helena Rubenstein built one of the earliest international Cosmetic empires though she grew up impoverished in 19th century Poland. She scratched against huge odds and continually bet every asset she possessed on her products, and herself.

My Branding and Consumer Product Development Consulting firm is fortunate to have met hundreds of wonderful entrepreneurs. Unfortunately we have met many thousands more who expressed aspirations, but could not muster one or more of these five essential success traits. This is most disappointing because many of their products and concepts possessed excellent commercial appeal. Creating personal success, when starting with little or nothing, is never easy. If it was everybody would be doing it and they are not.

 

College Interns Can Be an Excellent Free or Low Cost Asset to Entrepreneurs

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

The economy is in the dumps. We all know it. Now let’s put that reality behind us and prepare for the coming inevitable boom that will follow once we digest all of the abuses that the government has dumped on business.

I lecture quite often at colleges and universities. My subject always involves the dynamism of the marketplace and the need for entrepreneurs to continually boost the economy with exciting new products, ideas, services and new, divergent business concepts. This growth is the real generator of wealth, new companies, jobs, tax revenues, and consumer benefits that have made capitalism the greatest source of improved living conditions in history.

I am always excited after meeting a new group of students. They are full of possibility, energy and creative enthusiasm. They are incredibly entrepreneurial. In their drive to gain relevant business experience they are also an amazingly available and inexpensive resource for small businesses, start-up businesses and entrepreneurs to utilize in their enterprises.

I attended college in the 1960’s. In those ancient days we worked mundane part time jobs of all sorts in order to earn money for books, tuition and general living needs. My friends and I never heard the term “Internship”. We were just trying to make it through this semester, the future would have to take care of itself in due time.

Today, the student universe is different. Many colleges, such as the University of Cincinnati, offer a formalized study/work co-op/internship program. Other universities have placement offices that help students gain important work experience, and often course credits, by working in companies that parallel the students major. The serious student today almost always graduates with one or more professional internships for inclusion on their resume. This makes them much more interesting to prospective employers.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses often do not have monies to hire the full contingent of staff that they need. These cash strapped entities cannot afford the competitive salaries, benefits, taxes and work rule compliance that full-time employment requires, and yet they have real needs for tasks to be performed.

An excellent win-win for entrepreneurs and students is an internship relationship. In the current economic malaise paid internships have been drastically curtailed. The need, however, for students to gain resume enhancing experience has never been greater. They will work for little, and in some cases for close to nothing, in terms of compensation in order to gain real business experience.

We have had students approach Duquesa Marketing, our consumer product consulting firm, seeking guidance in obtaining internships. Likewise, we have many under-funded entrepreneurs approach us seeking assistance in uncovering market research, demographic study, sales prospecting, advertising concepts and many other disciplines. This is potentially a wonderful marriage of need meeting opportunity.

Smaller businesses or entrepreneurs should contact the Dean of the appropriate College at a local university. Inform the Dean’s office of their needs, the project that will be assigned the student and conditions of work or employment. The Dean will typically post such opportunities on the College bulletin board. Important! Ask the dean, or a referring Professor, if there is a possibility that the internship could be a source of course credit or grade enhancement for the student. This is an excellent motivator for the students to aggressively pursue the internship opportunity, and then when engaged, to perform their assigned duties in a most exemplary fashion. Remember, the student needs professional experience, and a strong performance reference from the internship.

For students that lack and need internship experience we occasionally suggest offering to work on a “Proof of Life” basis. “Proof of Life” means that the prospective intern offers to work in order to prove their value. Often this strategy is undertaken to gain work experience, resume enhancement, professional references and course/grade credit. Obviously everyone deserves to be paid for their work product. However, these are different times, and the long view may require a bit of personal guerilla marketing strategy.

Local universities are a wonderful resource. They are not utilized as frequently as they should be by small business and entrepreneurs. Take advantage of this amazing asset, after all, your tax dollars heavily subsidize their existence.