Since 2009, Michael S. Novilla has been at the helm of the Entrepreneur Social Club, held every Thursday, most always at NOVA 535 Unique Event Space in Saint Petersburg, Florida. And since 2009, Michael has had only a few simple rules for membership into this club: No liars, no bullies, no thieves, no religion and no politics. Anything else is pretty much fair game as long as it’s on-topic. And if it’s not, Michael has a bell and he’s not afraid to ring it.
As a newbie to the Entrepreneur Social Club, aka ESC, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Michael mentioned that although each meeting has a generally similar structure, topics and attendance can range quite a bit. Sometimes meetings are more intimate with 10 people sharing ideas, sometimes 50+ people come to find out what ESC can offer them.
In either case, there’s booze via a fully stocked cash bar, with lots of delicious local brews too. Hooray booze.
Libations aside, there’s a lot to learn from fellow entrepreneurs in St. Pete and beyond. The Mission of ESC is to, “connect all of the world’s Entrepreneurs, into one happy, productive family that offers our world the solutions our species needs to survive and live in peace.” Lofty goals? Perhaps. But true entrepreneurial spirit knows no bounds.
If you’re a risk taker, producer, creator and doer, this club is for you. However, it’s always helpful to know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand. (Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising, right?) With that said, here are my 4 takeaways from my first Entrepreneur Social Club meeting:
1. Know how to describe your business offering in 15 seconds
Think elevator pitch in a 2-story building. You must be able to clearly communicate what you do and why people need your products or services. I noticed that there was a sort of formula that the regulars followed: “I’m [name] and I [benefit you by doing this]. I’m [name] from [business name].” Short and sweet with all pertinent information included.
2. Have an awesome business card
Part of the ESC experience is a business card review. If you’re not a fan of constructive criticism, then this isn’t the club for you. As Michael says, “If you’re not ready to have your card reviewed, you shouldn’t be in business.”
- Hire a professional designer to design logo and card layout
- Clearly describe what your business does and why you’re credible
- Include all relevant contact information
- Optimize information for “scanability”
- Utilize both sides of card if applicable
- Stuff as much info as possible onto card – less is usually more
- Use too small of a font – it has to pass what Michael refers to as the “40-year-old eye test”
- Insist on QR codes – only use if relevant to your brand or offering
3. Create a business plan
As Nick “I’m You When You Can’t Be” Mazeika mentioned, even established companies often skip this step. Creating a business plan allows entrepreneurs to focus their time and attention properly and identify potential or missed opportunities.
4. Read books
The best entrepreneurs have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. And the best entrepreneurial lessons can often come from unexpected places. Whether you’re reading traditional business books, self-improvement literature or nutritional non-fiction, you need to be reading. Here are some suggestions from the group:
- Future Crimes by Marc Goodman
- Become a Key Person of Influence and Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley
- Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson
- Brewing Up a Business by Sam Calagione
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
- Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD
All in all, my first ESC experience was informative, productive and fun. If you’re an entrepreneur in the Tampa Bay area (or are thinking of becoming one), I’d highly recommend becoming a part of the Entrepreneur Social Club. I hope you enjoyed 4 takeaways from my first Entrepreneur Social Club meeting and if you did, swing by any Thursday night and join Michael and his fellow entrepreneurs.
To learn more about what ESC can do for you and your business, check out the weekly agenda.