Startup Roadmap: Blazing the trail as an Entrepreneur


Business ownership is part of the ‘American dream’ and more and more people are beginning to make that dream a reality.

The Entrepreneurial Landscape

Starting a small business takes hard work and dedication. But, as we continue to navigate the ever-changing waters of the pandemic and its impact on the economy, the challenge of opening a new company takes even more perseverance. One thing is for certain: entrepreneurs continue to blaze trails, setting out to solve the problems that have been identified in the last two years.

Erica Wassinger, general partner at Proven Ventures, noted that now is a great time for new entrepreneurs to take the leap of faith of opening a business.

“There’s never been a better time to start up in Nebraska,” she said. “Entrepreneurs are identifying solutions to problems that were pronounced through the pandemic. Access to multiple forms of capital is abounding. And the broader business community is finding their role in supporting the ecosystem.”

Julie Hockney, president, and founder of JH Interior Design Studio agreed.

“I think so many businesses have hit the reset button and society as a whole is thinking differently,” she said. “It’s a great time to evaluate the needs of consumers and create a needed business.”

Aspiring Entrepreneurs Unite

Opening a business not only takes an idea, but it takes a village of support. Wassinger recommended that if you want to walk out your dream of being an entrepreneur, surround yourself with others that want to see you succeed.

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“Always start your journey with a problem to solve, then find others who share the challenge and want a solution,” she said. “Focus on the one or two things ahead of you — nail them. Then keep moving.”

And once you start working out the kinks and begin to see the seeds of growth, don’t be afraid to start appointing other people to help scale the business.

“As you grow and begin to give away hats you wear, find people you trust and like that can do parts of your business better than you can,” recommended Hockney. “Delegate and try not to watch … it’s all about trust.”

Launching a new business takes a lot of research, in addition to a detailed plan. It also takes curiosity and a willingness to step out on a path that may not be completely paved yet.

Catherine Lang, state director of the Nebraska Business Development Center said, “Get involved in your local business ecosystem. Meeting and connecting with other entrepreneurs can provide great insight into the path ahead for any business owner.

“In Nebraska, we have several organizations that assist people who are still in the idea stage. I would strongly recommend a local SBA SCORE chapter, with volunteers with experience in starting and growing a small business. This mentoring can be extremely valuable for someone who is still exploring their options.”

Wassinger recommended keeping your ear to the ground as to what customers want, in addition to identifying long-term goals. Then, continuing to work and refine those goals as the business gains traction is key to long-standing success.

“Talk to customers early and often,” she said. “Also, entrepreneurs, especially those seeking capital, need to really evaluate what their long-term goal is for the business. It’s too easy to get caught on an escalator of financing before you realize you had a different endgame in mind.”

Above all, don’t give up.

“Great entrepreneurs are disciplined, consistent, and rigorous,” Wassinger said. “Usually, their head is down, and they are executing.”