Since entrepreneurs are pioneers who forge their own path, that path is naturally full of moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. There’s no question that starting a business can be daunting, but according to Sunny White, a valued member of the Charles D. Close School Advisory Board and CEO of Xavier Creative House (XCH), what sets the successful entrepreneurs apart is a willingness to “let go of coming up with excuses and take a leap of faith.”
Sunny is one of the many seasoned professionals and resources at the Close School who are dedicated to encouraging budding entrepreneurs to take that next step. Her numerous accolades include being named “Most Admired CEO and one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” honorees.
She is the daughter of a prolific entrepreneur, so starting businesses from scratch has long been a familiar concept to her. Her family’s support was a key component to her success, but most importantly, she credits her ability to abandon self-doubt and make that leap toward her ultimate goals.
“The key is being open to the unknown and decisive when tough decisions are needed.”Sunny White
This sentiment may sound a bit reckless at first, but in fact, not shying away from challenges is an essential part of the entrepreneur’s journey, and it can be deeply rewarding. “I trust my gut in situations of uncertainty or when presented with multiple paths to a solution. Over the years, I’ve found that my first instinct is right 99% of the time.”
It’s also crucial for budding business owners to reframe their very idea of failure, which is another innate piece of the entrepreneurial path. “We grow as the business evolves, prefer to fail fast, and immediately learn from missteps,” Sunny says. In line with Close School’s teaching, this approach is one of the many lessons Close School entrepreneurs learn through classes like “Ready, Set, Fail!.” Through this course, we give students the tools to understand their failures and what led to them, and above all, how to reap the precious lessons of those failures so that once they get through those failures, they actually feel more like successes.
“Entrepreneurs – jump off the diving board and appreciate the growth from each challenge.”Sunny White
While “failure” should be seen as a potential opportunity for growth, Sunny shares some invaluable insights that can help prepare entrepreneurs to tackle those challenges they will inevitably encounter with greater confidence and knowledge.
“It’s impossible to be an expert in everything, so I suggest surrounding yourself with professionals who excel in areas where you may not, such as accounting, legal, marketing, and technology. It’s also important to broaden your perspective and stay informed about strategies within and outside your industry. As a healthcare marketing agency, we draw inspiration from various industries, even those seemingly far removed as automotive and insurance.”Sunny White
This can be as simple as connecting with these individuals in a less-formal, mentorship-based format, but it can also be implemented in a more structured way, as Sunny explains: “Consider developing an advisory board of experts in your target markets and those you want to be in. I work with experts that are non-competitors and retired professionals that have experience as clients in my target market or as peers in my industry.”
Ex-Patagonia CEO Kristine McDivitt Tomkins recently dished out similar advice in her feature in Entrepreneur magazine.
“You have to just freaking decide to do something, okay? Decide that you want to be doing something meaningful. It doesn’t matter what it is. You get in, you get on it, and you meet people you would never have met before, and it grows…”Kristine McDivitt
An on-point perspective—one that’s closely echoed through Close School programming. One of the hallmarks of the Close School’s curriculum, the “Launch It!” course has helped students across academic disciplines to start their own ventures. The course is a rigorous 10-week course in which students transform their idea into a full-fledged company. Taught by experienced entrepreneurs and open to all Drexel students, this course epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit of being a starter and taking the leap.