Author: Burr, Harrison

2020-2021 First-Year F3 Cohort

Georgiette Adejayan
Major: Allied Health Sciences
Graduation Year: 2024

Allie Davenport
Major: Undecided
Graduation Year: 2024

Zoey England
Major: Public Health
Graduation Year: 2022

Serene Feng
Major: Electrical Engineering
Graduation Year: 2024

Ilana Goldner
Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Graduation Year: 2024

Sasha Hussain
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Graduation Year: 2024

Raina Jain
Major: Undecided
Graduation Year: 2024

Madeline Kizer
Major: Marketing
Graduation Year: 2024

Rachel Laemle
Major: Communications
Graduation Year: 2024

Phoebe Liou
Major: Biological Sciences
Graduation Year: 2024

Sudiksha Mallick
Major: Political Science | International Relations
Graduation Year: 2024

Marianella Salinas
Major: Computer Science | Math
Graduation Year: 2024

Yuliana Tsapar
Major: Marketing | Spanish
Graduation Year: 2024

VentureWell Grant: Up to $25K to Student Innovators

Students teams that are developing an innovative solution to a social, environmental, or health challenge can take the first step in applying for an E-Team Grant by submitting a brief executive summary for the E-Team Qualification Phase.

Apply for the Qualification Phase (Due March 24)

The Qualification Phase offers early validation and customized feedback on inventions that align with our mission to solve the world's biggest challenges and create lasting impact. Selected teams will receive an invitation to advance to the next stage of the program, where they can unlock up to $25,000, along with the essential entrepreneurship training they need to advance their product.

Over 600 teams in the past year have taken advantage of the Qualification Phase as they move their innovation from lab to market!

Submission Deadline:
Date: March 24th, 2021 (03/04/2021)

Start an application now

Program Information

  • Selection for the Qualification Phase will be communicated on a rolling basis to teams who submit an application by the March 24 deadline.
  • Stage 1 applications are due on May 5.
  • View our FAQ to learn more about the Qualification Phase and how to apply for an E-Team Grant.
  • What goes into a winning grant application? E-Team Program Officer David D'Angelo offers great tips to help teams submit a competitive proposal!
  • For questions about the E-Team Program, contact David D'Angelo, Program Officer.

iQ Winter 2021 Workshops

SCFS Student Panel

iQ Winter 2021 Poster

iQ Winter 2021 Workshops Kickoff

iQ (Innovation Quest) is starting its Winter 2021 workshops!

Do you have an idea that you think could turn into a successful business? Do you want to work with others who do?

Sign up for Innovation Quest (iQ). Kickoff Workshop is Wednesday, February 10th!

Advantages of Participating:

  • Opportunity to win money for your start-up ($30,000 up for grabs)
  • Make connections with successful entrepreneurs and business mentors
  • Join or form a team! (You do not need your own idea to participate)
  • Meet iQ mentors who can help you start a business!

About iQ

The Innovation Quest (iQ) Program fosters creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship across campus. Students who have new ideas for a product or service can compete for cash prizes and the opportunity to develop their idea into an operating company.

Past successes include:

Encapsulate, Flush Warranty, Land Maverick, Macroscopic Solutions, PartsTech, Phood, ProVelocity Bat, QRfertile, SimpliGreen, Smpl Bio, Sobrio/DashRide/EverTransit, The Momentum App, Veradermics, Voda/Elkay, VoltXon, Voxion, and YouComm, among others.

This is the perfect opportunity to stake your claim on your chance of winning a share of $30K, work with successful entrepreneurs, and join a team of likeminded students -- even if you do not have an idea of your own.

Success is everywhere. Why not you?

The Innovation Quest kickoff workshop will be held on Wednesday, February 10th , from 6:30PM – 8:00 PM

Sign-up for the Feb 10th Workshop and receive the ONLINE meeting Access point!

Click here for more information on UConn Innovation Quest:

How to deal with failure

failed it book cover


How to deal with failure

By Jonathan Frenkel

The economic outlook for the coming months does not look particularly rosy, especially for those who graduated this spring. There may not be a robust job market to enter, and as such, graduates may be thrust into the deep waters of having to learn how to create a career for themselves, by themselves. Youth does not need to be “wasted” on the young as many students will emerge from their studies with a more sophisticated view of the world than previous generations. And with time on your hands and lack of good job opportunities, you may now have the chance to launch that startup you’ve been dreaming about.

Realistically speaking, what starts out optimistically may not end as well, and the survival rate for early stage startups is dismal. A snapshot of “data from the BLS shows that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.” This is just a fact of life, and while businesses can fail for several reasons, at the end of the day a founder (or founders) of a startup must deal with the emotional fallout of this experience. There has been a trend that emanated from Silicon Valley to glorify failure as if it’s something desired, or even sought after. Sadly, failure is a painful process and should be avoided. As well-known PayPal founder and investor Peter Thiel states “every time a company fails it is not a beautiful working out of the Darwinian free market and it is not a fantastic educational experience for all involved. Every death is a tragedy and that is even true of deaths of companies.”

Building a business or doing anything worthwhile is difficult, and if one believes it’s a pleasant thing to blog about, they’re not in it for the long haul or the right reasons. A founder should push through and do whatever they can to make sure their business survives. Nonetheless, if you want to be an entrepreneur and do amazing things you need to accept that failure is a fact of life. You will have to stand on the mountain of no’s before you get one yes, so come prepared with the right mindset.

Know that it's OK, and you'll be OK

This may be the first time you’ve encountered a setback, the operative word being setback. Every single successful entrepreneur has dealt with failure and setbacks. However, it’s not that failure doesn’t happen, it’s about what the person does in response. Are they going to sit and feel sorry for themselves and give up? Or are they going to push through, learn from their mistakes and go on to do something bigger and better? Everyone deals with obstacles, but winners push through despite it all.

Dealing with what may seem like the end of the world, intense emotions happening within, and possible shame will be tough. But “this too will pass” and know that time and action, even small steps every day, taking care of yourself, and thinking about the day after will start to remedy what has transpired. History is littered with people with big egos who couldn't get out of their own way and did not let themselves pick up and try again. You do not need to be one of those people as you have the perspective to know that you are strong enough to bounce back by taking positive steps in the right direction.

Processing failure through self-care

Self-care is an important part of being an entrepreneur as you’re running a marathon and not a sprint. Sleeping enough, working out, and eating healthy are all part of managing your mental state when you’re going through the challenging process of building a business. When you’ve dealt with a failure like the closing of your business or being let go from a position there needs to be a way to process the difficult emotions that are likely to follow.

An effective way to deal with any difficult emotions, and maybe even process the situation that has just transpired, is to work out. An intense workout, alongside a healthy diet, can help someone cope with the day to day initial regret that accompanies failure. Journaling and writing down everything are actions that help the brain process trauma other ways cannot. It’s not a magic cure but one may find writing down what happened makes it less painful and gives the mind a way to get all those negative feelings out on a piece of paper. As this article highlights “writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.”

Give things time and space

There is some truth to the “idea that time heals all wounds”; that what may seem intense and cause severe discomfort when it occurs will eventually fade. This is difficult as we often want these feelings to go away immediately or to occupy our time with something that masks those feelings. But time is necessary to process and make sense of what happened, as well as learn any lessons (see below).

Space is another important concept. It’s not about running away, but taking some space, a breather to collect yourself, could also prove to be beneficial. Some people change locations for a time, but if that’s not possible even taking a walk or changing your environment can help. Getting out of our heads by taking positive steps like journaling is one thing, but sometimes you

Look for the meaning and the lessons

Philosophers such as the Stoics prepared for the worst, and there are so many lessons to be learned from their experiences in ancient Greece and Rome. Throughout history, people have been able to overcome what seemed like life-ending failures, and they were able to use these setbacks as rocket fuel to propel them to greatness. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius stated “the impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” These words encapsulate the essence of failure: it’s just another opportunity to learn.

It’s important to reframe failure, and to understand what risk entails. One does not fail; they succeed because they try. And not like “try” where everyone gets a prize for participating, but because you put yourself out there. We tend to tie our whole identities to one or two failures that happen in our lifetimes, when the reality is that we need to try things and really understand our life’s true mission. We embark on a path because society, our parents, our peers, etc. tell us it’s the “right” thing to do. It may be for them, but not for us. Failure is life’s way of nudging us towards where we need to be to truly complete our life’s mission.

Find a community

There can be no two ways about this. You will struggle with setbacks, and failures if you want to build something great. It is a lonely journey, especially if you’re an entrepreneur without a co-founder. A partner or co-founder can row the boat along with you when you feel you’re lost at sea. There are, of course, downsides in having a partner as well. But a community of people who help you and listen when you struggle is important.

Tenacity is a trait needed to persevere, but so are people who will join you on this marathon. Sometimes it is hard to bounce back, hard to start again, and be tenacious. That is why having a community that supports your efforts, whether that be a group of fellow entrepreneurs, a religious group, or even your peers from university is vital for your ultimate success and mental health. This idea of the lone wolf entrepreneur who flies against the conventions of society is maybe good content for an Ayn Rand novel, but is far from the truth. It does take a village, or a community, to help young entrepreneurs on their long journey, so it’s important to turn to your friends when you need solace.

Today, failure is approached in two ways, either as something swept under the rug or glorified. Both views are unhealthy as failure is a very normal and natural part of life, like death. It is not bad or good, it just is. When you learn to accept that, and lean into it, the ultimate outcome will be less debilitating. When it does not own you, you are free to truly go where you need in order to succeed. Upon reflection, world famous author J.K. Rowling stated it best that “it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

The difference between entrepreneurs

live work create spray painted on brick


The difference between entrepreneurs

By Jonathan Frenkel

There has been a focus in recent years on the feats of tech entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that if you want to be a wildly successful entrepreneur, you need to build a tech company. It is true that high-growth, high-risk startups have made a disproportionate impact over the past 15 or so years. The same goes for the return on venture money these entrepreneurs took on to build and scale their companies. However, tech startups represent only one type of business model, and historically speaking most entrepreneurship in this country has been of the traditional kind: lone business owners building their businesses, every day, in what would become legacy brands. It wasn’t called entrepreneurship back then, but simply making a living.

As we’ve noted in previous articles, we may be entering a period in which you’re going to have to start your own business to survive. So, before you rush headfirst into a business model that is not ideal, you should understand what different business models look like. There are many factors one must take into consideration when they’re looking to build a company, and self-awareness and honesty are key before embarking on this difficult but ultimately fulfilling path. If you are not building a business in order to solve someone else’s problems and make money by offering value, don’t start one. Additionally, if your intention is something short of solving problems to make a living for yourself, seriously reconsider if you want to be an entrepreneur.

OPM: Other People's Money

Taking Other People’s Money can be the rocket fuel for your endeavor aka startup or can be a curse if you and your investors’ interests are not aligned. Putting aside public markets, taking private money and venture money can raise your business to the next level. This is the standard model these days in VC, but while things are changing, know that you’re going to have to give up a lot of your business for the ‘privilege’ to take an investor’s money. Furthermore, you’re going to have to be held accountable to them, they will want regular reports, and will most likely start telling you what to do with your business. This article highlights the fact that “fewer than one per cent of all companies in the US are venture funded, and once you take other people’s money in exchange for equity in your company, the clock is ticking. They want their money back, plus a multiple of 3x to 10x, so your company will either need to ‘go public’ through an IPO or be sold in a trade sale.”

There are entrepreneurs who bootstrap and go for as long as they can without taking outside money; for some that is a good plan until they make the decision to take investor money. If there is one difference between a tech entrepreneur and a regular business owner, it is the decision to take venture money. An early stage startup’s success is based on scale, and getting sizable market share, so they need to burn through money to do so. While they need to grow, traditional businesses can grow at a stable rate, and start to make a consistent profit.

What problems to solve

Not everyone wants to solve some world pressing problem or disrupt an entire market. If you do, more power to you, but be aware it’s going to be a lot of work. Some people are driven to change the world and want to use technology to do so. They believe their destiny is intertwined with building a revolutionary startup. If you’re going to go big and want to make sure you raise a lot of money, find the biggest market to address.

There are others who want to solve more local problems, or want to build a business helping other businesses deal with tangible problems such as communications, strategy, etc. It’s important to work backwards and figure out who your customers are, and what is the problem that your business is going to solve. Some problems can be solved with an agency model, some need a SaaS model, and some can use a consultancy, but these are things you need to consider before you begin.

The risk factors

It’s not that people on paper don’t understand being an entrepreneur is a risky endeavor. And of course, the flip side is that there is a risk in not taking a chance in life if you really want to launch your own business. Simply put, if you launch a high-risk high growth endeavor such as a startup your chances of failure are higher, and certainly higher than if you launched a cash flow business that quickly turns a profit.

The thing about risk is that many people look only at the upside, on all the things that could go right. But you need to approach the situation thinking about what could go wrong, as most things will be harder than you expect. With startup risk, however, there is no upside at looking at the downside. This is how VCs view risk, as they’re banking on 1 ‘knock it out of the park’ winner out of a portfolio of 20 companies. It’s like a rocket ship: its fuel propels it to the atmosphere and space, and there is the very real risk that it could blow up on the way there. No wonder it’s called rocket ship growth!

Camels on the horizon

Since the pandemic started there has been a shift in the tech community regarding the growth of startups. Yes, you have your Zooms and TikToks of the world, but these are outliers. Right now, the idea of unicorns, billion-dollar valuation startups are not on the horizon. As more bad news comes out surrounding the economy and many companies continue to go under, a new model is emerging. That is of the camel, a startup that can go long periods of time without outside money, and is built for profit, almost like a real business.

“In today’s world, unicorns represent more than a valuation. Rather, they represent a philosophy, an ethos and a process of building startups. When being a unicorn is the objective, very rapid growth is the method. The tools are abundant venture capital, a deep and ready talent pool and a supportive startup ecosystem. This approach has worked well in Silicon Valley for some time. But in the wake of failed IPOs, the pushback against tech models and the range of social ills plaguing the Valley, the approach is losing its luster.”

Because of COVID-19, and for the first time in at least 10 years, we are facing an economic downturn. For many in the tech industry this is their first time dealing with such a situation. Nonetheless, this might be the right time, as many successful companies were built during economic downturns, and these new hybrid models may be the way forward.

Know thyself

In the end, after a long day of work, when you put your head on your pillow you must ask yourself if you are on your mission. You need to ask yourself and look to visualize what your future will look like. Will it be as a solo entrepreneur where freedom is a priority, or will you run a team and build a culture around your idea? Ultimately, these things will change, as you learn from your mistakes, grow and develop. As this article states on understanding yourself, “as an entrepreneur, you will have no place and no one to hide behind. Knowledge of yourself is the key to confidence, and confidence builds leadership. Building a new business requires good leadership to develop the market, attract customers, motivate the team and conquer the unknowns.”

Maybe being an entrepreneur will not be in vogue anymore, and that stability (like a well-protected government job) will be sought after during these tough economic times. Either way, it’s important to understand what makes you happy, and how you feel when you’re by yourself. Telling people at cocktail parties that you’re an early stage tech entrepreneur may sound like a cool idea, but you must be OK with the stress of raising money, dealing with customers, and everything else. You need to ask yourself: if this is what you really want?

Now is a good time as any to start a business, and if you want to get a job that’s fine as well. Many of us have been indoors and have had time to think about where the next few months are going to lead us. That could be building a high growth startup or a business which we slowly build on our own. Taking time to think through the type of business you want to build and envision the end in mind will help you mitigate the risks involved with entrepreneurship. There is no one way to build a business, but there are best practices. Just know the difference before you embark on this journey.

Sustainable Community Food Systems Student Panel

SCFS Student Panel

SCFS Student Panel Poster

Sustainable Community Food Systems Student Panel Showcase Event

Sustainable Community Food Systems Student Panel Showcase Event.

About the Panel

The Department of Service Learning is hosting a student panel event for one of their minors, Sustainable Community Food Systems. The panel will consist of student alumni discussing their scholarship within the minor and the opportunities the minor presented them with both professionally and academically.

How to Participate

The panel will be hosted through WebEx and will take place in the first week of the Spring 2021 semester. For more information, visit the SCFS website at

To register for the event quickly, fill out the following Google Form:

Student Health and Wellness Healthy Habits Challenge

Student Health and Wellness Points Challenge

A challenge to build healthy habits for student health and wellness

About the Challenge

Student Health and Wellness would like to present the Wellness Points Challenge! This is a challenge to motivate students to develop healthy habits or be rewarded for those that do. The goal is to increase student wellbeing through an incentive process. Once you sign up, you will automatically receive a free laptop sticker. After that, you just submit a photo of yourself (or your ID) engaging in a healthy activity to earn points. The more points you have, the more prizes you receive! The top three point-leaders will each win an additional Amazon gift card, with $100 being the top prize. The challenge will run from January 25th to April 28th for the Spring 2021 semester. All UConn students are welcome to participate, including graduate, regional campus, and online students. Click on the link below for more information and to sign-up!

Registration and more info

Visit the Student Health and Wellness website to get more information on the challenge:

BUILD UConn Internship: Apply Today!

BUILD UConn Internship Infographic

BUILD the UConn you want to see

with this unique internship that lives and breathes entrepreneurial opportunity!

About the Opportunity

Students earn 1-credit for working on a team of three in one of the four subject areas. The experience will be 8 weeks, ending at the beginning of April. BUILD UConn is empowering UConn students, staff, and faculty to create solutions to problems in academia today. The challenge will provide participants with an entrepreneurial "tool belt" and pathway to critically think about and design interventions to improve the education experience. There are five teams each looking for three students.

BUILD the UConn you want to see!


Kickoff Event – 2/9/21
Workshop 1: Customer Discovery – 2/16/21
Workshop 2: Idea Generation & Storyboarding – 3/2/21
Workshop 3: Steps to the Solution – 3/16/21
Final Presentations – 3/26/21

Apply Today!

Visit the BUILD UConn website to apply:

How to manage stress as an entrepreneur (and a student)

man sitting on dock by mountains


How to manage stress as an entrepreneur (and a student)

By Jonathan Frenkel

Dealing with the day to day stress as an entrepreneur or a student looking to excel is tough these days even without the fear of contracting COVID-19. If you’re reading this, you may be young but that does not mean that what is happening in the world does not affect you. Stress is a part of our lives, but not always something that should be avoided, and can help propel you towards your goals. According to the Harvard professor who studies positive psychology Tal Ben-Shahar “the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” The reality is that we don’t anticipate a life of ease if we go down the path of entrepreneurship. We seek a life of meaningful challenges in which we work to overcome obstacles along with the process of learning about ourselves in order to find life satisfaction.

Money may lose its initial significance and even become less relevant over time. What you will remember is the journey, what you learned, and how you pushed through the adversity to achieve your goals. Life can be tough, as every major religion and philosophy acknowledges, so you may as well embrace it and, as Nietzsche stated with the concept of “amor fati”, love it!
Sometimes though, life throws situations at us that can prove emotionally overwhelming. Below we’ll cover some of the tools that will help you perform at your best, whether that’s building your first business or working to get good grades as a student. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to use these tactics, as they are also relevant if you’re working for someone else and could help you excel at the role by managing your stress.

Intense and regular exercise

If there is a turnkey solution in helping one cope with anxiety, manage stress, think more clearly, and create a general sense of well-being, it is exercise. Now, walking and yoga classes are nice and have benefits (which we’ll cover below), but what we mean by exercise is sweating by working your body. That can be weight training, running, CrossFit, bootcamp classes, whatever, but you need to exert energy and get rid of that anxiety by sweating it out. Entrepreneurship is all about maintaining and managing energy levels, and, as this Mayo Clinic article states, “exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.”

You will discover that after you work out you have more energy. You will also develop keystone habits as you start working out and seeing results. You’ll want to improve on those results, so you’ll be eating healthier. In addition, you’ll be sleeping better thereby improving your workouts’ intensity and general wellbeing and causing a positive upward spiral. If you’re an entrepreneur, you most likely have an abundance of energy so that needs to be managed and focused. There is so much research out there on the mental benefits of exercise in addition to the health benefits such as “sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.” You also may find that some of your best ideas come when you’re in the weight room or on a long run.


It’s almost become passé at this point as it has gained such widespread popularity, but the fact of the matter is that meditation and mindfulness can help reduce stress. If there was one trait many of the world’s top performers practice, it’s meditation according to the quoted article below by lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss. As he states in this article, “of all the routines and habits, the most consistent among guests is some form of daily meditation or mindfulness practice. More than 80% of the world-class performers I interviewed shared this trait” and that “it is a “meta-skill” that improves everything else. You’re starting your day by practicing focus when it doesn’t matter (sitting on a couch for 10 minutes) so that you can focus better later when it does matter.”

Meditation is hard when you’re first starting out, and it really doesn’t get easier, but it gives you a sense of where your stress comes from as you practice. Once you sit with yourself in a quiet place, you’ll realize all the noise in your head, and start to understand all the patterns and thinking that may not be helpful (and that are holding you back). We live in a society that does not let us get a moment’s break so think of meditation as a “warm bath” for the mind. Getting started is easy with one of the popular meditation apps like Headspace or Calm. Just make sure to put your phone on airplane mode while you’re using the apps, so you don’t get distracted by incoming messages!


A free/cheap way to manage stress is to write everything down. We prefer to type everything on a safe platform such as 750 Words but writing by hand in a journal can be beneficial as well. It may seem like writing won’t help, but once you put all the clutter and anxiety in your mind on paper, it tends to have a calming effect. This is free form writing and helps with mental clarity and improving your thinking. Clear decision making is important for entrepreneurs as they must juggle multiple things at once.
Writing has also helped people cope with trauma and difficult feelings, as well as separating themselves from their thoughts, and understanding that’s exactly what they are, just thoughts. The mind will throw all kinds of strange ideas at you, most of which are not true, and they’re just thoughts. As a personal preference we like to write first thing in the morning with a practice called Morning Pages that helps clear the mind and prepares us to tackle the day. But any time you feel stressed out, take some time to write down your fears and anxieties; you’ll find you come back to whatever problem it is with a calmer mind.

Taking time to walk

While technically “exercise”, walking can also be like meditation (just don’t take your phone). Taking long walks, particularly in the green outdoor environment of a college campus can bring a sense of distancing from one’s problems. The reason this is so powerful is that our ancestors spent so much time walking (on the hunt) and probably used that time to solve difficult and pressing problems.
Many great thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Henry David Thoreau, and Carl Jung spent time on long walks trying to figure out some of the universe's greatest riddles. A good way to think about it is as “like any other cardiovascular exercise, brisk walking boosts endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and alleviate mild depression.” according to WebMD. Sometimes you just need to take a physical step away from a situation and get some perspective. Taking even a brief walk in nature can help ground you and improve your decision-making process.

What I learned on my journey to entrepreneurship

blackboard with list item - own today


What I learned on my journey to entrepreneurship

By Jonathan Frenkel

It may sound cliché, but building a business really is a journey in which you take small steps every day down a road to reach your destination. For many years I was wandering, and while not all those who wander are lost (as I was still creating content and building my network), I was not sure if I was heading down the right path. In retrospect, when I did finally make decisions regarding my career path it was not opportunities that I sought out, but rather the people presenting them that approached me. I did, however, seize those opportunities and made the most of them. But there was always something incomplete that left me wondering if this was “it”; did I really want to continue in whatever role I was in for the rest of my professional life?

It has been over a decade since my return to the tri-state area from Israel after completing my army service, and before that an undergrad degree from a reputable academic institution in Boston. I cannot say that New York is a great place for an entrepreneur, but it is a place where perfect people who get perfect grades look to level up to their next corporate position. However, there is an energy to the city, and there are opportunities for those who want to seize them. In reflection, I have always been an entrepreneurial type of personality, and some environments are conducive to that while others are not. I cannot say I will remain on the path of running a content marketing agency for the rest of my life, or that it is the summation of my work experience. But there are valuable lessons I have learned that I believe are relevant for those looking to start their own business, whether that be an agency, small business, or startup.

Every task can be broken down

Initially I feel as overwhelmed as anyone else but feeling this way is not going to get me the results I want when I start a project. The most important thing is to write all of it down so that you get it out of your head, and just focus ferociously on the task in front of you. “Focus like a Roman” as the saying goes...for example: if I were going to answer email, I would allocate 52 minutes to it and put on my noise-canceling headphones with focus music. Then I would lock my email so that no incoming mail comes in, and of course, all other notifications would be shut off, and I would complete as much as I could in that time frame.

I am a disciple of “winning the day”, and if you just concentrate on the day ahead, I believe you will be able to move your business forward. I can say that I would need some assistance with a 6-month plus plan, but some lifestyle entrepreneurs such as Tim Ferriss might claim I am missing out on the razor’s edge of opportunity by being too rigid. I would also add that all bets are off during this period as we really do not know where things are headed with the pandemic. That is why just looking at winning every day (completing 3-5 major tasks) is so important and focusing on optimizing the experience.

Consistency above all

This may sound like heresy, but I believe being consistent with content is more important than it initially being ‘good’. This is a hard pill for some to swallow, but you only get good by doing. And the reason most people fail is that they do not actually try. They wait for the perfect post, the perfect article, and they just sit on it. As Sheryl Sandberg famously stated, “shipped is better than done”, or going back to Voltaire, “perfect is the enemy of the good”. The uncomfortable truth is that you are not as good as you think you are. I certainly was not, and I had to produce a lot of content and take feedback to get to where I am today.

You can probably beat most of your competitors simply by showing up every day. Many people get intimidated knowing that their competitors are going to keep showing up and creating content, come hell or high water. That is why consistency, discipline and the resilience associated with these qualities are so important. I have seen this in my own work: I keep showing up, pushing hard, and producing more content while under lockdown. Meanwhile, I see others in my space spending time feeling sorry for themselves and complaining on Instagram, all while generating bad content.

Guard your focus time

I do not think I am a lazy person, but I do not have a lot of willpower, so that is why I set up systems to make sure I win. You only have so many hours of your day to move along what you want to work on. One email or text from a client can send you on a wild goose chase and before you know it, the day is over. For those gurus who just tell you to sit and do it, it is not that easy, and even for the most committed, you need a daily system.
Personally, getting up early, not checking my phone (this is essential), and getting my 1 or 2 most important tasks done first thing in the morning kick-starts my day. That, planning the most important tasks I want to complete, and spending some time thinking and visualizing the night before. This is where the importance of breaking tasks down into their smallest bits are important so that you do not get overwhelmed. If you cannot focus, then you probably will not be able to accomplish that much.

Find a reliable way to make decisions

One of my pet peeves, and what seems to be the one reason many businesses fail is poor decision making. We are irrational creatures, and as countless studies show we make emotional decisions first, then look to justify those choices with “logic”. If you think you are immune to this type of behavior, you are mistaken. Do I think I am more emotional than other people? Perhaps, but my emotions certainly come on strong, and I have learned to create distance between my feelings and actions before deciding.

As the famous Viktor Frankl quote goes “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” The reality is that you are going to be assaulted by exceedingly difficult emotions when you launch your own business, especially when things go awry, and they will. That is why my daily workout regimen (with plenty of sleep and healthy eating), journaling my thoughts in the morning, and meditation to give my emotions space all help me make clear-headed decisions. I am not saying I always make the right decision, but I feel going into the decision that it is the right one given the information I have.

Persuasion is key, and it is not just about “sales”

What separates those entrepreneurs who can get an endeavor off the ground or raise venture money from others is that they can persuade. When investors state that they love passionate entrepreneurs, it is because they are taken by the entrepreneur’s persuasive energy. That does not mean you need to be a natural-born salesperson. I certainly was not, and I do not think you will be taken as seriously if you are too ‘salesy’, but you need to know how to persuade.

Here are where things get interesting. You can be a persuasive relationship developer (what I focused on when I started), a convincing public speaker, or a good writer. But you need to be good one-on-one, build trust, and be likable, which are things you can learn. Having a skill, product, and service is important but you need to learn how to persuade to have a business. For those who think sales is slimy, it does not need to be. You need to get that out of your lexicon and learn some form of persuasion. Sales ability, in my opinion, is the hardest and purest skill as the results can be measured, but it is a lifelong journey.
Those are my humble views and what I have learned. And in 5 years’ time I will make more mistakes and learn different things, and who knows, maybe I will reverse some of these views. I chose this path, and while I was scared when I started, I wish I had embarked on this journey earlier in life. But it could be worse, I could have started this later in life, and not self-actualized now nor leaned into my truest self. This is my personal journey, and if you have any questions, I would be happy to offer my advice.

Jonathan “Yoni” Frenkel has been involved in the New York-Israeli tech community for many years, mentoring startups on marketing, hosting events connecting investors with startups, and publishing on the topics of tech and venture regularly. Professionally, he heads a content marketing agency, YKC Media, focused on engaging millennials, Gen Z, and tech professionals through written content and social. You can follow his thoughts on Linkedin here.