The following are highlights from Corey Ford’s presentation at the Collaboration Culture Symposium March 21 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Ford is the co-founder and managing partner of Matter, a startup accelerator that focuses on supporting media-based companies. Its accelerators are located in San Francisco and New York City
1. Storytelling is the backbone of entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs don’t sell products. They sell feelings. They sell stories. This might seem hard to grasp, but it’s incredibly true. When you tell your story to customers, you earn their trust. And nothing is more important than this, as it truly gives your customers a reason to value what you do. The story of your business is the soul of your business, and if you were to remove the story from the business, it would fail. Stories add that touch of humanity that all businesses need to grow.
2. Design thinking is worth taking the time to understand
Design thinking is one of those ideas that will change your life (and the life of your business) forever. It is different from customer market research in that design thinking is a more immersive process. Customer market research focuses on the ideation stage and is business-focused. Design thinking utilizes in-depth research to understand what the customer truly needs and how a product can be built to meet those needs.
3. Success is a drunken walk
This saying by Corey Ford truly hit home for me. There is no clear path to success, and there is no golden ticket. You will stumble, and you will probably fall down. But you’ll get back up again, and you’ll try again. Entrepreneurship presents the ups and the downs, and your path can easily look like a zigzag. Embrace the messiness, and understand that it’s not easy to get to where you want to go. It takes some time, some stumbling, and a lot of getting back up.
4. Collaboration — use it wisely
Ford mentioned how important collaboration is for entrepreneurs. I completely agree, as long as it’s used wisely. And by “wisely,” I really mean “efficiently.” In the ideation stage, entrepreneurs should collaborate on everything. However, there are some things that just require straight execution. If you’re finding that collaboration is getting in the way of your team’s ability to make decisions, it’s time to do some rethinking. Efficient and effective collaboration should lead to options, which should then lead to results. There’s a very distinct and important difference.
5. Failure is OK. It happens to all of us
You are going to fail at something along the road. And luckily for you, it’s all going to be OK. Every entrepreneur, and every person, needs to understand that failure is going to happen. You’re going to learn from it, so you might as well embrace it. Failure makes the success so much sweeter, and failure puts you in a position where you can learn even more from your successes (once you get there). Understand why the failure happened, and understand how you can make sure to never let that happen again. You’ll get back up, and you have the choice to keep going, which is incredible.
Natasha Brewer is a senior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.