Uptown Greenville, NC


Entrepreneurship Summit Held

By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

October 4, 2012 - Businesses experience more failure than success on the road toward prosperity, making strategies for building and sustaining entrepreneurial efforts highly prized by those looking for a competitive edge.

That explained the packed audience Tuesday at the Hilton Greenville when some proven strategists shared advice with area business owners and East Carolina University business students at an entrepreneurship summit.

The event was the product of the Office of Engagement, Innovation and Technology at East Carolina University’s College of Business; the N.C. Rural Center; Pitt County Development Commission; Eastern N.C. Investor Network; the Small Business Center Network; and Greenville SEED.

Keynote speakers included Randy Goldsmith, creator of the Goldsmith Model for development and marketing of new products. Also featured were Bill Whitley, an entrepreneur and nationally known expert in crafting and delivering stories that business people can use to attract clients; and Bion Schulken, senior director of field operations for the Small Business and Technology Development Center.

Topics included improving business and marketing strategies; money-saving ideas and resource identification; and strengthening community development. Goldsmith shared his ideas about how to instill values and practices in a community that promote and build entrepreneurship.

“He’s been one of my idols,” summit co-coordinator Marty Hackney said. “Many businesses in eastern North Carolina have benefitted from Randy’s model, but have never met him.”

Hackney said she follows the Goldsmith Model for entrepreneurial growth because it is easy to use to accelerate development, reduce risk and eliminate costly mistakes.

Entrepreneurial success follows a clear formula and the devil is in the details, Goldsmith said.

“If we can identify the steps along the way — and the steps within the steps — to help an entrepreneur move efficiently from idea to market, then we’re increasing their probability for long-term success,” he said.

Entrepreneurs are the agents of change in good and bad economic times, Goldsmith said.

“Research shows that all new net jobs originate from entrepreneurial startups,” he said. “That means that it will be entrepreneurs who lead the way to our eventual economic recovery.”

John Chaffee, director of North Carolina’s Eastern Region economic development association and the summit’s co-host, noted that current economic conditions do not hinder the entrepreneurial spirit to create products and services that solve problems and improve lives.

“We often find that challenging times spur entrepreneurship as people look for different ways to get out and make money or create a position for themselves in the business community when, for instance, companies merge and people get forced out,” Chaffee said.

Chaffee highlighted the importance of engagement, noting Tuesday’s combination of those who came to learn, network and gain experience and the hosts, sponsors (some competitors) and speakers, all working together toward the common goal of building a stronger local and regional economy.

Whitley and his co-panelists, comprised of local business owners argued that poor economic conditions are no obstacle to success for those who plan well and persevere toward their goal of turning ideas into working businesses, evidenced by their attendance at Tuesday’s summit. One of the panelists, Will Corbitt, an entrepreneur in health sciences, said economic conditions do not factor into the formula.

“My wife didn’t want me to form my first company during an economic recession,” Corbitt said. “With all the ups and downs and obstacles through history and ahead, if you wait for all the lights to turn green, it will never happen.

“When you have a need to do something, it doesn’t matter what the economy’s like, the idea will work if it makes people happy.”

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9571.