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Insights from entrepreneurs at Sierra College panel discussion

Nicole Cheslock
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE and#8212; and#8220;If you are not afraid of failure you are well on the path to owning your own company,and#8221; Joanna Walters, owner of Sierra Cost Management said during the March 30 Entrepreneurs Panel held in Sierra Collegeand#8217;s Introduction to Business class. The sentiment was echoed by the other panelists: 2001 Truckee High School graduate Robert Bousquet, founder of New Leaders; Duane Andrews, CEO and Co-Founder of Clear Capital and Charlie Riley, owner of Sears Hometown Store.

and#8220;Our panel of local entrepreneurs had great advice for our business students. Their advice comes from years of experience persevering as entrepreneurs. Sharing this real world experience with our students is certainly more valuable than material covered in a textbook,and#8221; said business instructor Kurt Heisinger, CPA, MBA.

Learn from failures

Bousquet has been building web sites since he was in middle school and founded New Leaders, a team of designers and developers who create web sites, applications, and marketing campaigns for customers all over the world from offices in Truckee and Santa Barbara. Bousquet told the budding entrepreneurs, and#8220;You are going to fail a lot. The key is to not fail in the same way twice.and#8221; One student reflected this piece of advice would stick with her most and commented on how important it is to learn from mistakes.

Differentiate

Andrews shared advice one of his college professors gave him, and#8220;Set yourself apart. Pick something that will be different. Get an internship or specialize.and#8221; Andrews became a Certified Public Accountant and worked for KPMG in San Jose where he embraced banking clients at a time when the majority of his colleagues were interested in technology companies. and#8220;I liked banking. I liked seeing how money moves and#8230; I could see how banks made money on arbitrage.

and#8220;So, I volunteered for banking audits. That is where I got exposure to the banking world and I loved it. I learned about loan loss reserves on the balance sheet, and those experiences contributed to the formation of Clear Capital.and#8221;

Build on strengths and passion

Walters didnand#8217;t want to deal with employees and had little interest in food or food preparation. She focused on her strengths and interests when evaluating franchise opportunities. She also sought an income opportunity that wouldnand#8217;t be limited by billing only for her time. Sierra Cost Management examines solid waste and recycling and figures out how to save clients money. and#8220;I am only limited by how efficient and effective I can be, not by the hours in a day,and#8221; said Walters. and#8220;If you are not actually working you are thinking about it. Look into what you are excited about and makes you want to learn more. [Running a business] should be fun and interesting.and#8221;

Bousquet concurred, and#8220;It is important to be really passionate about what you do.and#8221;

One student was surprised to learn when youand#8217;re your own boss, no one is as passionate about your companyand#8217;s success as you are. Another student was inspired by the idea that if employees are happy at work, theyand#8217;ll be more productive.

Andrews assured students they could be entrepreneurial while working for someone else. Riley added, and#8220;No one can take a degree away from you and#8230; degrees are door openers.and#8221;

Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee offers accounting, business and small business management classes in the fall and spring semesters. Apply online today and register for summer and fall classes beginning April 27.

and#8212; Submitted by Nicole Cheslock, Sierra Collegeand#8217;s Career Education Liaison. For more information, visit http://www.sierracollege.edu.


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