Entrepreneur seminar teaches students to start businesses from the ground up

Sacramento entrepreneurs spoke at a seminar to encourage and teach aspiring businessmen and businesswomen to reach their potential in the business world.

The seminar was held at Cosumnes River College and was put on by Professor Man Phan, chair of the business department. The five entrepreneurs featured at the event were there to talk to students and answer their questions on what it takes to be an entrepreneur, as well as being successful in the business aspect.

Matt Burgess, one of the speakers at the event, gave an encouraging start to the seminar by telling students, “Understand one thing. You too can sit where you’re sitting and go where we’re going as long as there is sacrifice.”

Matt and his brother Jon Burgess were two of the entrepreneurs who spoke at the event, and who entered the business world when they opened the Burgess Brothers Burgers restaurant and food truck and created the Burgess Brothers bottled barbeque sauce.

Other speakers included Ronnie Lim, an entrepreneur in the software industry with a contract with PG&E; Tracy Saville, a “serial entrepreneur” who has owned and sold 11 businesses since the age of 14; and Saada Najir, an entrepreneur in mobile repair and marketing.

The five speakers all had many different pieces of advice and perspectives to offer to students.

Najir told students the importance of saving money.

“You have to save money in order to get places,” said Najir.

He spoke about how, because he saved money, he was able to open a location to start his business and expand from there.

He also spoke about how business is not just about having an idea, and that there are many important aspects to it, such as getting a business license.

Lim discussed the importance of passion. He told the audience to do something that they love, and that they will have a drive for.

“You have to find something that you’re interested in so that work doesn’t become work,” said Lim.

Lim also discussed the importance of mentorship. Lim said that when he was first starting out, he surrounded himself with smart people and people who could act as mentors to him and show him the dos and don’ts of his industry.

“They told me, ‘I can see you as a CEO,’” said Lim. “They gave me the confidence to start my own company and go after PG&E.”

Lim said that without those mentors, he would have wasted a lot of time.

Matt Burgess explained to students the differences in working for someone and being an entrepreneur.

“You have to work, and you have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before because you’re working for yourself,” said Matt Burgess.

Jon Burgess emphasized the importance of having a plan for your business. He said that having a plan beforehand can be beneficial for when you’re meeting investors and other entrepreneurs who may be able to able to give you advice on your business.

Saville said to students that failure is part of the process.

“The concept of entrepreneurism is that it’s more about failure, in fact, than success,” said Saville.

“You know what you know, you know what you don’t know,” said Saville, “but you don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t see what you’re not even aware of.”

Think of something that hasn’t been solved that sets you apart from the next person with the same business or something similar.”

— Tracy Saville, entrepreneur

Saville also told students the fundamentals of starting a new business. She said the best thing to do is to look for what they are passion about, see what problems are in that area and see what would the solution be in the form of a business.

Jon Burgess agreed and said that you have to find what makes you different.

“What is your niche? What is going to set you apart?” he asked students. “Think of something that hasn’t been solved that sets you apart from the next person with the same business or something similar.”

But perhaps the most important aspect of being an entrepreneur was networking.

Lim emphasized that networking and putting yourself out there is key.

Lim told students that events such as this are a great place for that as they are filled with fellow aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs. Striking up a relationship can lead to a successful partnership.

“Once you know people, they are the ones that connect you to other people,” said Lim.

Matt Burgess said that when networking, you cannot come empty handed. You must always understand what it is you have to offer.

Phan said that events such as this seminar are important for students, specifically business students, at CRC because it gives them a real world perspective because, in the classroom, these concepts are all taught theatrically and on paper.

“Events like this seminar bridge the theoretical with the practice by having real entrepreneurs showing the students the ropes of what it takes, how it works and what is involved in starting, launching and managing your own business,” said Phan.

Business administration major, Cheron Beatty, 33, said she found the seminar was helpful, and that it emphasised a lot of the things that she had been learning in class.

Beatty, who runs an online boutique business and whose business plan was one of the finalists for the business plan competition at CRC, said that it was nice to see other entrepreneurs who are successful. She also said that the speakers gave her confidence in continuing with her business.

“I’m glad to see people locally that are entrepreneurs and successful or becoming successful,” said Beatty. “It was good encouragement.”

The business department at CRC plans to told hold many more events such as this for business students to benefit from.
Phan said that future events may be more focused, featuring one speaker in one particular industry, and events for networking can also be expected.