1871 CEO advises future entrepreneurs
By Brittany Grosser-Basile | Student reporter
Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871, joined students and faculty for an interactive conversation in November, co-hosted by the Baumhart Center and Ignite Lab.
1871 exists to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses and is working to create a more inclusive entrepreneurial sector. Ziegler said, “We believe that entrepreneurial talent and aspiration is everywhere, but opportunity and access is not.” 1871 runs specific accelerators focused on women, the Latinx community, and veterans.
Ziegler shared seven tips with students on how they can be successful leaders and entrepreneurs:
Develop your influence skills
Ziegler believes that influence skills are one of the most important things to learn and practice at every stage in a career. “You have to be a really good listener, ask really good questions, pay attention to what others care about, and leverage that,” Ziegler said.
Be confident and passionate about your work
Ziegler believes some of the most successful leaders in the early stages of a business are ones that “are so passionate and committed to what problem they're solving that obstacles won’t stand in front of them.” These leaders will figure out how to get around any obstacle at any time. This might be done by reimagining a portion of how they do their work or thinking differently about their customer.
Don’t underestimate human resource management
Ziegler said that she often sees entrepreneurs underestimating anything related to people and HR. She emphasized how important it is for a company to establish values, have a philosophy of how they’re going to work, and to know what kind of culture they are going to create. She has seen businesses grow without any of these systems in place and so they’ve had to play catch up. At 1871, they are working to get businesses to do this sooner so that when they scale, they have the systems in place that will help them recruit and retain talent.
Strengthen your analytical skills
Ziegler has witnessed a gap on core analytical thinking and problem solving. People struggle to take something out of theory and put it into a practice. She said, “Everyone should graduate knowing how to think about and leverage Google analytics. There’s a handful of programs or tools that I think every college student and grad student should know how to do because you’ll be faced with it at your job.”
“You have to put yourself out there and tell people what your idea is and be willing to get beat up a little bit,” Ziegler said. Entrepreneurs need to let people ask them tough questions because it will ultimately make them better. It is important to be someone “who is willing to take feedback from an individual or the market and take that in and shift.”
Develop mentor relationships
Along with this is the importance of being both a mentor and a mentee. Ziegler has had a different group of people that have mentored her in every phase of her career, and she actively works to create opportunities for the people that she mentors. “A lot of you will go into organizations and they will assign you a mentor, but it’s unlikely they will turn out to be your real mentor,” Ziegler said. “The true mentor-mentee relationships are based on mutual shared interests and shared liking of one another. You are invested in one another. That doesn't naturally happen through an assignment process.”
Learn in as many ways as you can
Ziegler recommends going to as many events as you can, asking questions, and networking. She also suggests visiting incubators like 1871 and spending time there. Loyola students, faculty, and staff have access to a dedicated LUC @ 1871 Suite onsite. This partnership provides access to 1871 member workshops and networking events. Other incubators in Chicago include Matter, focused on healthcare startups, and mHub, focused on manufacturing startups.