Tips from Entrepreneurial Alumni
Panelists from the three University of Illinois campuses shared their experiences and advice
On April 17th Michele Dorvil Agbejule, Executive Director, Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, and Director, Illinois Small Business Development Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, moderated a panel discussion on exploring entrepreneurial careers.
- Wayne Chapin, ’11 CS (UIS) CEO, Owner of Xerillion, an IT service and support company (a small business owner)
- Patricia Dortch, '91 MBA (UIC), Program Manager (Contract) for AT&T Mobility; Independent Consultant, JDL Service Consultants (independent contractor)
- Ken Weine, ’86 BUS (UI), President at JVP Partners (self-employed)
To be successful as an entrepreneur, the alumni panelists advised attendees to:
Follow your passion- Chapin, Dortch and Weine all have a love for what they do. Their passion is what continues to drive them when times are challenging.
Approach mentors - Find people that you can get feedback and advice from. This can be a formal or informal relationship. Chapin bartered time with his adviser for the IT support the person needed. Dortch didn't formally engage someone as a mentor, but regularly uses people in her network as soundingboards.
Network - Weine advocated getting involved in professional groups. He also takes this one step further by organizing an annual insurance forum. While Dotch's first opportunity came through LinkedIn, Word of Mouth has driven her business since then.
Manage Your Risk/Debt - Chapin balanced the growth of his staff with the growth of his clients.
Agbejule, Chapin, Dortch and Weine felt the rewards of being an entrepreneur were freedom, being your own boss, building relationships and their personal accomplishments. The challenges include: the economy, money, managing employees, competition, finding good 3rd party providers and handling rejection. To be successful alumni need to be fearless, frugal, organized, honest, have integrity, provide strong customer services and have good sales and relationship buildings skills.
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