The GigTank teams arrived just in time for the start of the Experience Talks seminar series, which kicked off Wednesday at the Camp House.  Hosted by CO.LAB and Tennessee Small Business Development Centers, through the sponsorship of Cohutta Bank, the eight-part series offers advice and anecdotes from seasoned entrepreneurs.

Wednesday’s event, “Survival Stories,” featured a panel of local entrepreneurs who have experienced success – but not without a few roadblocks along the way. Each panelist had some words of wisdom for young professionals whose start-ups are just starting up.

  • “As you grow, your best asset is yourself.”Justin Guthrie, ACA Beacon Verification Services LLC. Guthrie acknowledged that money might be tight in the beginning, but as an entrepreneur, you need to know when to start delegating and outsourcing. Growing your business means freeing your time.
  • “Make sure your family is with you.”Mike Bradshaw, Next Knowledge LLC. Start-ups often begin with an idea or a vision. Turning that vision into a reality can require sacrifices on the front-end. You might have to work for free for a year – and as Bradshaw put it, your significant other might have to swallow hard.
  • “If your background isn’t an exact match for what you’re doing, that’s OK.”Stephen Culp, SmartFurniture.com; delegator.com; Causeway.org; Chattanooga Renaissance Fund. Culp speaks from experience: U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, FBI intelligence research specialist, law school graduate – his resume is not linear, to say the least. But linear doesn’t always equal successful. In fact, Culp said that being “all over the map” can give you the ability to create something wholly original.
  • “It’s really important, if you have a partner, to make sure your partner has different skill sets than you have.”Ted Alling, Access America Transport Inc. As someone whose first profession involved hauling brick, Alling said he had to pinch himself last week while sitting in the Starbucks of the Amazon headquarters. Having a partner whose strengths complemented his own played a major role in getting him where he is today.

The stories and experiences shared by Wednesday’s panelists were a great resource for the GigTank teams and other local entrepreneurs. The next event in the Experience Talks series, “Recruiting Your Team,” will be at 11:30 a.m. on June 20 at the Camp House – we hope to see you there.