Imagine a room with several entrepreneurs passionate about their businesses and startups and ready to share knowledge and learn from mentors concerning their ongoing business ventures. These are people in the business world and not merely sharing from theory, they are in the gutters everyday starting and running real business with successes and challenges. The Entrepreneurs Assembly (EA) offers such space to people both young and old – experienced and those merely starting out.
Matt and friends started entrepreneurs Assembly after seeing the need for entrepreneurs to meet regularly (once a month) to listen, encourage, and help one another succeed on their entrepreneurial journeys. They realized that among themselves, they almost had all the skills and knowledge needed to run a successful business because they were at different phases of their business. The level of businesses ranged from startups, some on their second or third startup, some established business and other just really on ideas stage.
The Entrepreneurs Assembly Reno or simply EA as commonly known among members is a 3 hours session, which happens once a month between 9am – 12pm unless communicated otherwise. The ‘leaders’ agree and communicate about the venue for the next session before the next meeting because they did not have a fixed venue for meeting.
On the meeting date, they arrive earlier than 9am to put together the meeting before the attendees come in. The program is simple, focused on equipping each other to do business better and provide links to one another. Consequently, this makes EA one of the best places to network with people who are genuinely interested in your success and that of your business.
I had the privilege of attending one session while on the Mandela Washington fellowship at University of Nevada, Reno. The agenda was something close to what I share below,
- Introductions from members – name and business venture. Share what their 30-day matching order was and what they accomplished. (what they promised to focus on for the past 30 days)
- Speaker and topic for the day (Often someone from among the members gives a talk on a topic in line with business e.g. basic accounting and book keeping, social media marketing etc.)
- Break into small groups with each group having a mentor. Some of the questions in the small group were,
- How many customers do you currently have? How many more do you need?
- What kind of help do you need? (Find someone with the skills you need, look outside of yourself)
- Have you launched your product? What do you need to be ready for launching? Have you tested it with potential clients?
- Share about a business challenge and get feedback from mentor and others in attendance in your small group.
- Get back into the big group and answer the question “What 2 or 3 things are you going to do or focus on in the next 30 days?
The time in this session provided questions that got me planning better for my business. I have worked through the question about what service I offer to clients and why they should choose me amidst all others. This quote from Matt summarizes it all “Business is about making money or saving money – spending time /saving time.”
My visit to Quincy, California got me to experience the American cultural I had not experienced before. I met Amy (our host) in Kampala while she was visiting Uganda and participated in lecturing at a training conducted by African Graduate Entrepreneurs. I connected with her LinkedIn with plan of contacting her in case I needed further clarity on the topic she discussed – which for some reason I do not recall but I suspect it had something to do with business plan writing.
We left for Quincy from Reno on 3rdJuly with a plan to spend weekend so we learn from Amy about grant writing and take a much-needed break from Reno. This was coincidentally the famous 4thJuly weekend, which is a ‘big deal’ in America as I later learned. Our first stopover was at Graeagle, which opened the Independence Day celebrations – a big part of the American culture. The activities there were family friendly with children and some adults swimming in the pond, camp fires and people roasting mash mellows (too sweet for my taste buds). With several cars parked, I noticed that a lot of them were campers/caravans something common in America.
Since this was 3rd July, everyone waited in anticipation for fireworks as it got closer to mid night. The excitement reminded me of the New Year celebration excitement back home. The fireworks and ululations from the ground were a sign that the people present were grateful for their country and in a way honoring the fore fathers who were involved in setting it up. We had conversations around the country and several questions about our own countries.
The next day in the evening after a day trying to work on our proposals with almost no success, together with our host we visited another home where they had a barbecue. After the barbecue with different people, we visited the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy. This festival seemed to be a highlight for the residents who get to host people making an extra buck from the music festival attendees and also ‘spices’ up their social life. The show gave me a perspective of America than I had not experienced before. It had mostly young people and some surprisingly older people that chose to explore and relieve the days of their youth.
I must say what an experience it was, a real immersion into a different face of the American culture. I watched in awe numerous hippies that I had only heard about from reference in some news articles. This was a good spice up of the otherwise seemingly quiet Quincy. That marked the end of our Quincy weekend with amazing hosts and great countryside with spiced up exposure of some of the American culture.
It is almost a year since I last posted a blog on this site. The reasons are numerous but they all ultimately come down to work, work and more work. There has been a lot of on goings since my last blog post – In June last year (2015) I spent six weeks at the Universtiy of Reno Nevada as part of the Mandela Washington fellowship of Young African Leaders. This is an initiative by President Obama to equip and expose young Africans in the areas of Business and entrepreneurship, Civic engagement and public management with US best practices and provide linkages for growth. This was a roller coaster of events, lectures, and above all networking. I lived and interacted with 24 other young African leaders from 16 other African countries and several American families and individuals. I will try to unpack some of the experiences even though this is 8 months ago (O, how time flies). I wrote about 2 articles while away, I am now interested in adding about 3 articles about my impressions of the places I visited and lessons learned from while on the fellowship.
After the time on the fellowship, I returned to Kampala where I found lots of work on my desk demanding my attention. It was the first time I was being away from my work for such extended time with opposite time zones. On appositive note, it offered time to think about growth and the process of detaching myself from the business. It was as if the work was punishing me for being a way and demanding its ‘rightful’ attention from me. I quickly got absorbed in trying to put accomplish pending assignments and building new content for the website. It needed more time than I had predicated. After a long while, I am beginning to have ‘breathing space’ a lot of the work is now in a good place and therefore I can take on more work. I need to more inspiration to catch up with my writing and eventually grow this skill.
In addition to the travel to the USA for the Mandela Washington fellowship, I have traveled in many places and so there is a lot of backtracking on the articles. The six weeks in the US lead me to several town in Nevada, California, and Washington DC. More travels have included Brazil, Kenya, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Tanzania, Rwanda and several locations in Uganda. There is so much content to catch up on the writing via my travels that my fingers are itching. My hope is that I will put together my experiences traveling in these destinations even if the blogs are short with only a few paragraphs.
I am challenging myself to get back into blogging and I invite you to take this journey with me as I share some my impressions, experiences, and lessons picked along the way over time. I will work towards having more frequent blog entries and appreciate your feedback.