5 Tips for Starting a Business Venture

Kathy ElliottTo kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week November 16-22, HPU’s entrepreneurship director shares five insights into business development. Discover her tips – and examples of how real HPU students are launching their own companies – below.


By: Kathryn Elliott, assistant professor and director of entrepreneurship



1. Let passion drive your pursuit.

Merriam-Webster defines “passion” as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” Starting a business requires this emotion that drives us when we need a push. While being an entrepreneur may sound like new-found freedom, in fact, it is a stronger commitment than most imagine.

Entrepreneurs who have this drive or passion are unstoppable. This is how entrepreneurs succeed and achieve what other people wish they could accomplish.

Ken Fobian

“I have that entrepreneurial passion and I have always wanted to start my own company. I am going to pursue my company upon graduating and it feels great that all of the hard work paid off. I am grateful for the help from everyone from HPU and the motivation from my friends and family.”


Ken Fobian, 2015 graduate
Founder of Resistance LLC
Winner of HPU’s 2015 Business Plan Competition


 2. Commit. Period.

Starting that venture will not happen overnight. But it will often feel like you stayed up all night in order to fulfill the dream of getting to launch. There may even be times when it feels like it is taking too much time from your life. Many will feel this IS their life. But for those who keep going, the rewards are hard to describe.

Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. That’s okay. Some people will be corporate entrepreneurs and many people will think like entrepreneurs. That is a valuable asset to the business world.

Whichever path, be committed and stay committed. Businesses need committed, creative and brave thinkers – both independent entrepreneurs and “intra-preneurs” – within corporations.

MacKenzie Allred
“Find something that you love, and if you can make money doing it then do it! If you are doing something that you love then you’ll never work a day in your life.”


Kenzie Allred, 2015 graduate
Owner of Printology Letterpress


3. Find a mentor.

Increase your chances of success by learning from others. To be successful, take advantage of every opportunity to meet mentors.

At HPU, there are many opportunities to interact with experienced entrepreneurs and renowned influencers like Marc Randolph, Seth Godin, John Maxwell and Steve Wozniak. The Entrepreneurship Center and classes frequently invite speakers to tell their own stories about getting started and staying in business. Students have learned from entrepreneurs who started family companies, entrepreneurs who have tried out for “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs who have innovations, entrepreneurs who have been wildly successful and even some who have failed.

No matter what kind of entrepreneur, innovator or mentor you meet, learn from them. Ask questions. Every story and lesson is valuable toward your own success.

Bobby Robertson

“While winning feels amazing, it was also essential to get feedback from the judges on ways to improve our company. Meeting them and hearing their thoughts on how we can change our plans and go after even more venture capital was just as important as the funds.”


Bobby Robertson, HPU senior
Cofounder of Tunetap
Winner of HPU’s 2014 Business Plan Competition


4. Define your desired outcome.

If you understand what you want to achieve and what is driving you, you are much more likely to reach your goal. Do you want to start your venture with the goal of selling it and launching another, or do you plan to start your venture and grow it to serve future customers? Is your challenge in the starting or the selling of the venture? There is not a right or wrong answer to this question. But just as is the case with any good travel plans – If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?

Know where you want to be.

Emily De Lena

“Many kids never wind up being the entrepreneurs they always wanted to be. Being a finalist in this [HPU Business Plan] Competition makes me realize that my ideas are valuable, and it makes me feel like I could really do this after I graduate.”


Emily De Lena, HPU senior
Co-founder of Track Rabbit
Second place winner at HPU’s 2015 Business Plan Competition


 5. Go for it!

Don’t hold back. Now you know that if you have an idea, you do not have to work it alone. Research and use every resource available to you.

At HPU, the Belk Entrepreneurship Center provides individualized assistance, competitions to test concepts and business plans, opportunities to win money to get students’ ventures off the ground, access to experienced business people eager to guide young entrepreneurs through their journey, connections to regional events and resources that can advance your venture, and so much more.

Once you make the decision to go for it, get connected so you will launch faster and smarter.

Kristopher Hovland

“Real people pay me real money for my product, and that is an incredible feeling.”


Kristopher Hovland, 2015 graduate
Founder and owner of Tekiture
Finalist in HPU’s 2013 and 2015 Business Plan Competition


The High Point University Belk Entrepreneurship Center fosters innovation and supports student-owned and operated business ventures. Helping students launch businesses brings the entrepreneurship program offered by the Earl N. Phillips School of Business to the next level of excellence.

The Center’s current activities and future plans include:

  • Granting actual funds for start-up businesses owned by students
  • Providing individualized advising for students, from start-up through a successful launch
  • Creating connections for entrepreneurs to become mentors to students
  • Offering guest speakers from HPU’s extensive alumni and friend networks
  • Working on projects for local businesses
  • Supporting and training students to succeed as they enter business competitions
  • Performing marketing research and designing marketing plans
  • Providing support resources across the country to utilize after graduation
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