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“Do you like cupcakes?”
“Of course I do. Everyone does.”

It was my senior year at Duke, 2004, and I didn’t understand the line of questioning from my career counselor.  Already concerned my English major might not pave a career path of gold, I displayed my annoyance at the delicious digression.  “Find your niche,” he explained.  “Some slice of an industry for which you have talent, perhaps baking. Then apply your passion to one aspect of it, let’s say cupcakes. Be better than everyone else. Then grind.”         

Entrepreneurship was never on my agenda growing up, but leadership roles always appealed to me and hard work never deterred me.  I valued, fiercely, my independence, healthy competition, & pursuit of excellence.  Top Score Education has allowed me to channel that spirit into a vocation that I love, teaching students to demand the best of themselves, embrace the difficult, and expect, rather than hope for, greatness.

Find your niche.  Kick some butt.

The fun part of entrepreneurship lies in the infinite permutations.  Your company can be a high school project, a college or MBA application highlight, or a lifelong endeavor.  It can be an everyday service like a lawn mowing business or an exciting product like a fashionable GPS dog collar (I’d buy one!).  Find an intersection of your enthusiasm, your ability, and an unmet need in the marketplace.  Determine your business goal: to make money, gain experience and build a resume, or help others in your community.  Seek out mentors who have built their own businesses and ask for help getting started, whether strategic counsel or seed money.  Partner with a friend if you want to keep it fun and motivate each other.  Outline the stages of your desired growth and write a (basic) business plan.  Leverage the skills and knowledge of your friends and their friends, and push all of your personal networks to get the word out.  Then grind.

Key Takeaways

  • The Partner (if desired): pick one with complementary skills (organization to your creativity) 
  • The Idea: brainstorm needs, ideate solutions, define your niche, fine-tune your message
  • The Plan: work out how to deliver the service or product, predict expenses & profit 
  • The Counsel: select a willing mentor with experience, connections & bandwidth
  • The Grind: get to work!