Scared of the Danger Zone? Be ready. The 3 Situations you will face with a Q & A as a Young Entrepreneur.

Imagine, you are on the spot after giving the best presentation you could give. Someone has countered your presentation with a question you never even considered. Blindsided, you get nervous, you sweat, your face gets hot, and you begin to stutter. You have no way to reply and you are afraid of how this will impact your overall appearance, credibility, and presentation. How do you cover yourself from this happening?

Question and Answer Audience

In your time as a young entrepreneur (or an entrepreneur in general), there will always be someone older, smarter, or more experienced than you. Additionally, there will be occasions when you are faced with giving a presentation that will undoubtedly end in a question and answer session. There will be three common situations you will face with each question. This article will cover what you should do or how to react to present yourself the best way possible.


The “I Know This!” situation:


For those questions where you have the answer just forgot to mention anything about it during the presentation, these questions are gold for you. They make you gleam with knowledge, excitement, passion, and insight. The best way to respond to a question where you know the entire accurate answer is to: be confident, explain the answer with detail and cite specific applications, sources, and methodology. If someone asks you, “Have you considered how you will handle complaints against your service, specifically, as a laundry service, what if I complain that you brought my clothing item back to me ripped and stained?” and you know the answer you may consider replying in such a way, “We have a method in place to handle such an occasion. Each time we process an order, we go through with the customer a detail report of the items we are receiving and the condition they are in, the customer then signs off on the document agreeing that the clothes are in the stated condition and will be returned in the exact same state. This releases us from liability.”

Judges during a presentation

The “I Kinda Know This…” situation:


When you are hit with a question you’ve considered but not given great thought to, this will be the zone you fall into. It is slightly uncomfortable but you feel you can wiggle through it. The best way to navigate these questions during the question and answer portion of your presentation is to: breath first and collect your thoughts, explain what you have given thought to and how you might grow upon the process from there, then wrap up with explaining that it is currently an area you are working on and will be able to give a more detailed explanation in the near future. You may consider asking for input or advice while on the topic. In an example, the person asking might pose, “How will you make sure that the people working for you report all the earnings they make and don’t undercut you out of the process?” This is a great opportunity for a response that might go, “An excellent question, one that I’ve had many disucssions about and am still working on figuring out the best plan of action. In the current stage, all financial transaction will be operated through the company website and sales commissions will be issued on the second weekend of every month. There will be some room to work out kinks to ensure complete honesty by the salesperson but I am sure there will only be minor altercations. I would love to hear any feedback or thoughts you might have to make this process more air-tight.”


Employing this process where you explain what you know gives the impression that you are forward thinking and aware of possible issues. Starting off the sentence with a filler gives you time to collect your thoughts, and offering the person to give their thoughts on the subject makes way to establish future relationships, collect additional methods to solve your problem, and show that you are willing to listen to others.


The “I Don’t Know This!!!!” situation:


The DANGER ZONE! This are is where you can do your personal reputation and the presentation some real harm. In the case someone throws you such a question, there is one way you can do yourself the most good. By no means will you escape scott-free but you will at the least seem grateful for the question. For those questions that you have no answer for, follow this path: “That is a very difficult question to answer and something I don’t have enough information on to make an intelligent or thought-out point on. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention so that I can research more about it and find an answer. I would greatly benefit from your input on the topic if you already have a solution that might work.” In addition, if it is something you can swing to a personal conversation, you may say, “I would love to discuss this more one-on-one (or in private/personally).


The perks to approaching the answer in this process is that you are remaining honest with them, they will admire such a trait. By adding that you intend to research and find an answer makes the person posing the question feel as if you are taking their question seriously and in a way, they helped you. Asking for the input of this person is a valuable step, if someone asks a question, they may already have an answer in their head that they are expecting. Probing them for what is in their head can solve a problem for you before it even arises and the person posing the question will once again be happy that they got to chime in and make you stronger for your next presentation. The worst thing you could do in this danger zone is to lie and fib to get a loaded answer that will make you sound good at the risk of fumbling and ruining your credibility. If you cannot quickly give the already prepared and known answer, the audience will know you are making it up.


Keep in mind for your next presentation these three zones. Allocate each question mentally into each category and respond appropriately, it is better to ask for someone help then to continue walking in the dark and run into an unexpected trap. Opening up to feedback and thoughts from others increases your likability, engages support and future mentorship opportunities, and makes you to appear as if you are willing to listen to everyone no matter who they are and how you know them. Remember to speak loudly and clearly always to ensure everything you say is well interpreted as it should be, watch for your fidgets and bad habits that show your nerves and uncertainty, and avoid getting nervous when you fall into the danger zone, instead, ask for their input to make you stronger.


Can bragging about Yourself and your Business help you be a Success?


I said to my friend the other day, after he was published in Singapore’s #1 English language publication, that “Any PR is good PR” to an extent at least. When I was just starting out as an entrepreneur, I was 14 years old. I remember even before this was ever a thought being featured in the newspaper for a good act I had done in my community, unrelated to my startup idea. I walked into the building of the Lincoln County Journal, the major local newspaper publication in my area. Sitting down in a conference room with a reporter, Bob Simmons. The recorder, his note book, and him asking me question after question. A few days later, my picture was circulating to over a dozen thousand people. This was thrilling to me, to say the least.


Fast-forward a few years, to my first start-up. I was running a children’s theatrical production company in Troy, MO. I was dependent upon a few things to help me succeed: my team, my family, my community, and potential marketing messages I could employ. Luckily, I realized very quickly thanks to outside positive reinforcement that what I was doing was rare; a young teenager starting a business and employing a few people in the community and offering services for local kids. This, I was informed of, was a story that needed to be told. Without hesitation, I called the Lincoln County Journal and asked to talk to Bob Simmons. He was not in the office so they connected me to another reporter, begrudgingly I followed through with my plan. Little did I know, this new reporter would come to be a huge attribution to my success in the community. Each time I had any glimmer of what I believed to be a news story, each event, each milestone, and every update, I called her directly and gave her the scoop or simply sent her a press release. A few emails later, my news would be swarming around the local communities.


A few things to take from this small story:


Find who your connections are in your community, in media. Learn their names, what they write or talk about, and how you can get in contact when the time comes. When I work with my media professionals, I develop friendships and even keep in connection via social media.


Know your story. What are you or someone else doing that needs to be made known. When you know the story, if you are a good writer, put it on paper in the form of a press release. Then send it to them, follow up with them in person or on the phone, and keep them in the loop with all the details.


Be prepared to tag in a line or two about “why should you care”. Why do the readers/listeners care, why should the media outlet promote it, and why would anyone support it (is there a benefit to the person, the organization, the community, or other).


Have a template ready for each and every press release you write. You can find plenty of examples online to use. A simple press release template will make your job of doing and sending a write-up to them much quicker and easier.


Don’t be afraid to call and talk. If you don’t speak up about yourself no one will know you are there. You may consider it bragging and that may be bad but it is just informing others on what you are offering the local community. People love to be aware of what is happening in the community, you are an agent of your community and therefore should be able to inform them of what you are doing.




When you let media outlets know about what you are doing, why you are doing it, who it benefits, where it happens and when you are supplying them with all the details they need to produce buzz for you. The more attention you can get, whether someone writes about you or you write it and send it out, the better off you will be. My first company survived by posting endless press releases in the local publications. You can have the same if you learn how to constructively brag about yourself and your business in the right way to the right people. There have been a set of articles that I have created, each one explains an idea that one of my entrepreneurship students has and is working on. I created these articles as the stepping stones for them to use to become present in the media. Since writing the articles and making the media aware of these students (doing the bragging for them), most of them have been or will be featured in their local publications and a few are set for radio interviews. This is the power of bragging on the great things you are doing that others aren’t. In turn, the things you do and promote in the press will see higher success rates meaning that your odds of overall success increase.


Try this out: Write a 500 – 1500 word press release on an event, exciting personal story about you and your business, or even the grand opening of your business. Take that press release, get it edited by an educated friend, family member, or English teacher. Call the local newspaper, television station, or radio channel and ask them to cover or support you/the event. Offer to send them the article and get their contact to stay in touch. Feel free to comment or let me know what happens with your usage of this method.

1 Tip that Guarantees a Lifetime of Success


There is a hidden secret, a personal choice you get to make in life that will lead you towards success or leads you towards a personal and professional plateau. To get trapped on the plateau is to surely doom your business and your own personal growth. Within this article, I will explain 1 guaranteed tip for you to exercise that will set you on a proper course for a lifetime of success. To precursor this, there is a something to be said about how you listen.


There are two types of listening: successful and unsuccessful. The ladder of the two, unsuccessful listening, is a nail in the coffin in and of itself. This happens when someone begins to tell you a story, a bit of information, or even critique you and you shutdown. When there are words to be said to you and you listen but do not hear and process. This is unsuccessful listening. Successful listening is when, no matter the content you contently absorb every bit spoken to you. Despite the poison within the words, you admire the feedback. I’ll detail this with a short story:


“You don’t always have to be the first person in the room to talk.” These words were knives that pierced my skin by a mentor. Thick skin, no matter how thick, has a weak spot and can be pierced, this I found out that day. The person who spoke these words to me meant no harm by them, he said these to me in confidence that I would adjust my habits to better represent myself as I become more and more present in the eyes of public. In every class I have taken, each event I’ve been to, at all the networking sessions I’ve been to I have always been the outspoken go-getter. This has its perks and benefits. It has it’s drawbacks. I never noticed. The words, “You don’t always have to be the first person in the room to speak.” was the first time that I recognized the drawbacks. I finally noticed this was not always a strength but that all strengths even have their own weaknesses. I reasoned with what he said for hours before talking with him again. I could have kept silent. The silent treatment can be a venom too. I could have spit back with sharp words or rolled my eyes. Rather, I apologized and promised to reflect on the words he said that day in his office. In addition, I explained that I meant no negative impact for the group or company. He assured me no negativity was imposed. From there, I did as I said. I reflected on his words to understand how I might improve. Furthermore, each time I am in a room, I look to others to speak before I chime in. I might always have a thought, a bit of advice, or words bashing my teeth to get out. I hold, steadfast. When appropriate, I speak.


This story is important personally. It was the first time I felt beaten down by a role model and mentor. Moreover, I felt weak and hurt in general. However, the key here to learn is the key tip for the lifetime of success. All business owners, teachers, students, and mentors all have their faults but if they are willing and able to listen to others and hear their words, reflect and process what was said, then apply it to better themselves or their business, then they are truly able to succeed. In other words, the one phrase I want you to be familiar and accepting of is this; Be Coachable. If you are coachable, you absorb all bits of information, consider the true meaning and character of what was said, then find the applicability in your life to make yourself better than you were the day before. If you show “coachablility”, mentors will flock to you, strengthening your skills, knowledge, and practices. If you show you are coachable then every bit of feedback you receive will have more meaning.


Being coachable is the one tip I can give anyone to set themselves up for a life of absolute success. It begins with listening and hearing what is being said, digesting these words, then applying the knowledge given to you. Be coachable and you will build a network of contacts who see words are not wasted on you, that you graciously accept critique for personal development, and contacts who will be willing to introduce you to their contacts unafraid of you soiling their reputation. Be coachable, all else will come in time.

Successful Tactics to Maximize your Exhibit Booth Interactivity

Mug's Catering knows how to get and retain attention and interest by local customers at Trade Shows.

Mug’s Catering knows how to get and retain attention and interest by local customers at Trade Shows.

Business grow themselves through customers. Business reach new customers in a number of methods and way, one of which is conferences and exhibits. There are a few things that can really increase the results you see from your exhibit booth. Too often people take a relaxed and non-engaging approach to their booth. To correct this and maximize the interactivity of your booth, there are a few tactics you can employ that are sure to make your next booth a success.


Stand in front of your booth.

By standing in front of your booth it shows you are present. You won’t miss an opportunity and you are present to answer questions. Too often exhibiters make the mistake to sit in a chair behind their booth. This is ok if there is no traffic, you have need to sit, or your booth requires you to be seated (one business I saw, the lady sat down to spin silk. This was her business, spinning and weaving.) to illustrate your business.


Very simple, yet so powerful. It has been said many times, the one language that has no barriers across all ethnicities is a smile. Your smile should be warm, casual and inviting. By doing so you encourage people to interact with you and show you are friendly. The more warm and inviting you can see the more likely people are to want to come and visit your exhibit booth.


Stand in a neutral pose.

A neutral pose once again illustrates that you are non-hostile to visitors. Negative signs are crossed arms, cocked head, sighing, leaning on your table, and many more. You should be showing yourself as strong, disciplined, and calm. Hands at your side or clasped gently in front of you are good points for neutrality.


Shea presenting her idea to a group of interested and engaged local customers.

Shea presenting her idea to a group of interested and engaged local customers.



Call a welcome to them.

Diversify your welcomes so no one hears the same common greeting. Asking them a question, “How is your day going?” or “Great day we are having, isn’t it?” are both great ways to introduce conversation. You can similarly induce conversation by complementing them. “Your shoes look great, where did you get them?” or “That tie is awesome!” each of these inspire the person to immediately like you if your complement is genuine.


Begin the interaction with a “Hello and Handshake”.

The most traditional of all business greetings, a firm handshake. Master the handshake and the world is merely putty in your hands. A handshake can say wonders about your character before you even begin speaking. Attempt for the best initial handshake you can, be known, some people give bad handshakes and that can throw you off, its no fault on you, move past it.


Explain things shortly and simply, then do the turnover.

Initially you need to explain your booth in a short simple manner to peak their interest. You wont appeal to everyone so don’t feel bad if you get an excuse and they leave. In contrast, you will really pull with other individuals and trigger a story time. I highly encourage, cover all your basics in 30 – 90 seconds, then turnover the conversation to the listener by asking an engaging question. An engaging question will inspire further communication, a feeling of realness, and continue your interaction which can ultimately lead to great things.


Always throw the conversation to them.

People hate to be pitched (unless they initiate it with interest). People hate to be talked at. People hate to listen. You need to be the listener. Talk shortly and then ask a question. If you ask questions it puts the ball in the court of the other individual which initiates them to open up to you. When people open up to you it builds trust. Trust translates into relationships and such wraps up with eventually a sale. Don’t hog the conversation, allow them to talk for most of the conversation.


Wrap up with a call to action or “gift”.

Eventually the time will come for them to leave. The conversation got stale or you have others you need to attend to. Regardless the reason, you need to be able to wrap up the conversation naturally with good taste. A call to action is a traditional method businesses employ in almost everything they do in their marketing. The call to action is a message that encourages the customer to do something for you. This can be as simple as, “I would love it if you checked out our website.” In addition, you may add a “gift” in the call to action. A gift is a takeaway. A business card may be a simple gift you can tag by saying, “I know you have some concerns with our product before you buy, here is my contact information. Give me a call after the conference and we can discuss your reservations.” Lining the gift up with a direct call to action can translate very well.


Tina knows the importance of welcoming individuals to get a moment of their time.

Tina knows the importance of welcoming individuals to get a moment of their time.


Smile and salutations.

As they leave, smile and say goodbye. Add that handshake and explain how or why it was nice meeting them, “It was great meeting you, Jenny. I really appreciate that tip you gave me on improving my services.” Reaffirming your connection with them by providing a direct citation will strengthen your newfound relationship with a potential future client.


A last additional note: No Food on the Table!

Everyone eats. You will need to eat at some point and time, if there is no one to excuse you to take a lunch break you will be left with no other option than to eat at the booth. A classic mistake is to bring the food to your booth, set the food beside you resting on the front of the table with all your materials. You should find space behind your tri-fold or on your chair to set the plate and eat the food only at opportune moments. This also keeps crumbs from getting on your table cloth. Food on the table looks unkept and messy.


Your table represents you and your business, don’t misrepresent by making a mistake.  These simple notes can really increase how you view expos as a way to grow your business and connect with local consumers. Smile and greet people, treat them with genuine kindness, and shoot to build a relationship with them while avoiding “Hot Topics” such as religion, politics, and other sticky situations. Launching into these scenarios can distance you from potential consumers.

Pitch Your Best: The How to Guide

Give your best presentation always. Follow these simple steps.

Give your best presentation always. Follow these simple steps.

Pitches are the spine of a startup. With a strong pitch you can go anywhere and do anything and even capture funding. This simple guide give you 8 steps to make sure you work through your pitch and leave the best mark possible. It should be said that cultivating a proper pitch takes time, trial and error, and lots of feedback.


Consider what the expectations for this pitch, what is the audience expecting to hear? What interests do they have? Each pitch needs to be curtailed to each individual audience or situation. Think about what you would like to say and how you can effectively cover your idea in detail. Take this time in silence to yourself just to consider all aspects.


After you have taken 5 – 10 minutes to consider the aspects of your presentation, take out scrap paper and a writing utensil. Create notes, outlines, flow charts, and bullets on your speaking notes. I often find that it helps me to take a sheet of paper, draw square boxes that represent each slide for my powerpoint presentation and draw pictures or write words in the boxes to depict the story I will be telling. Next, I draw arrows to connect the boxes or number them in the order they need to be in. Make sure all these boxes cover what is at least expected, then go above and beyond that to fill the extra time.


Now that you have a sketch of the content, open your presentation software. Begin translating this flowchart of ideas into slides. Create your slideshow, create the supporting documents to accompany your presentation, and create one master set of everything for yourself to study and keep on hand. The standard of your presentation should be higher and more detailed than what is expected.


Now that everything is created, begin your review and fine-tuning process. Look over everything and take notes. Once you have your review done, give your materials to a friend or mentor to critique, then adjust the documents and presentation accordingly.


Give a full-energy presentation using all your materials first off, don’t ease into it. Never do a slack-job practice run-through; practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. After you have become familiar with your presentation in its entirety, ask a friend, parent, or mentor to sit down and listen to the full session. Take their feedback and apply it to your presentation. Lastly, after you have a good grasp on the content, give a full presentation with no materials. If you can give a thorough presentation with nothing to aide you, you will be prepared for anything.


To make sure you are completely prepared for an on-the-go presentation, be able to give your presentation with no materials, no visual aid, and no prompts. When you can accomplish this, you will be able to give your presentation without staring at your cue cards, projection screen, or computer (these things will take from your credibility with investors, judges, and audiences). Again, this step gives you the ability to make a full presentation to anyone at any time. Know your presentation the best you can.


Nerves can be channeled into energy and make your presentation better. It is normal to be nervous. There are a few things you can do to help either expel the nerves or hype your nerves up to be beneficial. Arrive where you are supposed to be early, take time to breathe deep through your nose and out through your mouth.  This breathing will calm you down. You can slowly stretch to relieve stress. Stretch each part of your body (toes, hands, neck, face, feet, legs, everything). If you prefer hyping up and going into your presentation full of energy, finish by making noise, shaking each part of your body, and jumping around. These methods might make your look or feel goofy but you will definitely feel the difference, your presentation will exemplify the difference too.


Nothing left to it now but to do it! You can use this process each time you have an upcoming presentation.


Presentations can be daunting, nerve-wracking, and just plain scary. This process, if taken seriously will make you feel much better about yourself, sharpen your presentation to its finest point, and channel your best. Look your audience in the eyes, scan from person to person, speak with a confident, steady, but passionate tone, and use gestures meaningfully not abundantly. Be aware of your posture, if needed, roll your shoulders back and place your fingers at the seam of your pants this will put you in a strong alignment. Walk with confidence in a strong stride. Ultimately, just do your best, plain and simple.

Going Above and Beyond: The New Bottom Line

Go Above and Beyond to Be the Best!

Go Above and Beyond to Be the Best!

In a largely competitive market, sub-par and par are no longer acceptable. Those who shoot to be the new hire, the new crowned victor of a competition, or even a valuable member of an office team won’t see that position without going above and beyond. The new winner goes only to those, the best of the best who now how to supersede expectations and general requirements. For those interested, being the King of the Hill can be achieved by 7 simple steps.

  • Learn and Analyze the Requirements:


Everything in life has a traditional rubric. What are you being judged on? How will you stack against the others you are going against? Finding out the requirements can be done in a number of ways, searching the website or posting, asking the person of contact, or using a common sense approach if all else fails. Once you know what is being sought after, break down each part of these requirements and understand how you need to act or what you need to do to fulfill these parameters.

  • Fulfill the Stated Requirements:


If the requirement is to jump. Jump. Do exactly as the requirement would have it. This is the part where you do everything that puts you in the running with all other competitors and entrants for the same position you are running for. Don’t leave out any details. When you have done all that is said, look over everything and make sure your submission and effort is air tight.

  • Consider at Least 3 More Ways to Exceed and Impress.


Here is where you start to shine above the others. If the requirement is to jump, you consider “how high”. The power here is the effort you show. The amount above and beyond you go, the higher people will put you on their list. These are your possible “brownie point” areas. They aren’t on the rubric of critique but they are trigger features. These triggers are important by the fact that the hiring official, judge, or supervisor will take note and cast more favorable judgment on you.


  • Make Good on All 3 of These:


Continuing with the same example, if the requirement is to jump, you contemplate how high to jump, then you jump as high as you possibly can jump leaving the bar as high as possible for the others. The initiative you show to meet the basic requirement and bound over them three fold is bold. This boldness stands strong in the minds of others. It would be advantageous to consider more than three options and make good on more than three. The more you do, the better you do, the higher up you’ll land.


  • Do More on the Fly:


Prepare all you can, submit your best foot forward, and launch yourself forward. Once you are in the going: interviewing, presenting, networking, and so on, be sure you are on your toes. If you are on your toes, you should be ready at a moment’s notice to do more in person to show your worth. For example, if you are at an event and you are the speaker, you are no more mighty than those listening to you. That being said, if you see someone struggling to set-up the event, volunteer to help. If you are a worker, volunteer to help others in different areas after your duties are fulfilled. The purpose here is to show that you consider all aspects, even those you are not directly involved with, everything has purpose and you want to be part of everyone’s success.


  • Be Overly Prepared:


Going to an interview and you know that they will have a copy of your resume? Bring a copy in a sleek cover folder, the text printed on quality parchment. Dress above the positon you are interviewing for. Arrive 30 minutes early but disturb no one until 5 – 10 minutes before your selected time. Take this time to relax, reflect, and prepare. Bring multiple copies, more than you should need. Consider every aspect and be at the forefront of success.


  • Repeat this Process:


This process can be facilitated for numerous occasions and events under many circumstances. Interviews, competitions, presentations, and day-to-day office presence amongst other scenarios are applicable times to employ this 7 step process. With this process, hoping no one uses it against you, you can constantly be the top-dog. The more time you dedicate to these, the more successful you will be and the more likely you will be to stake claim as the overall victor.

Cupcake craze sweeping the Midwest: Cassie Marks has a Sweet Idea

Cassie Marks (14) - MADE Competition Competitor and UCM Business Camp graduate.

Cassie Marks (14) – MADE Competition Competitor and UCM Business Camp graduate.

Not all cupcake recipes are public. Cassie Marks’ sure aren’t. This 14 year old Warrensburg, Missouri student has developed a secret concoction for the sweetest form of entrepreneurship you can find: home-made, customized cupcakes. During the “Entrepreneurship or Bust Business Camp” hosted by the Small Business Technology and Development Center on the campus of the University of Central Missouri, Marks had the opportunity to explore what entrepreneurship looks, sounds, and smells like. To her, it was the sight of frosting, the sound of the oven timer, and the smell of warm batter baking in an oven to make fresh cupcakes. How did she find this spirit? “My entrepreneurial idea,” explains Marks, “became possible with support from my friends, family, and mentors.”

Better with Icing, Marks’ start-up idea will be competing against 14+ other students in a state-wide entrepreneurship competition held at the Missouri State Fair on August 12th. The MADE in Missouri Entrepreneurship Competition coordinated by the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency is set to cultivate entrepreneurship across Missouri by hosting this competition that provides Seed Funding for the top three winners in both the Youth and Open (adult) categories.

Marks seeks to add more critical acclaim to her idea by winning the competition. If she succeeds it will add to her collection. Marks was the “Best Public Pitch” winner at the Entrepreneurship or Bust Business Camp.

“I wanted to be an entrepreneur because I noticed that some companies have moral standings that I do not agree with.” says Marks who goes on to explain that, “The biggest problem for Always Better with Icing will probably be finding a way to find a stake in the market, especially when competing with big brands.”

If you intend to be at the State Fair this year in Sedalia, Missouri make sure you stop by the Lowell Mohler Assembly Hall and visit Marks at her exhibit booth to learn more about her idea. “I know that I worked and gave it my all, and to me, that is enough. For me,” states Marks, “I know that my business will be a success because I have what it takes. And so does my business. That is why Always Better with Icing will be a success, not only to me, but to everyone else as well.”