Small Business Inspiration

At the end of October I attended the COSE Small Business Convention in Sandusky, Ohio. From the opening night Pitch Competition to the closing keynote speaker, the convention was filled with networking, ideas, and inspiration.

Four entrepreneurs pitched their unique business ideas to a panel of experts during the Pitch Competition, emceed by Jeff Hoffman of Priceline. These business ideas were fascinating and each was a winner in their own right. From gluten-free granola (which is delicious!) to an online dashboard for managing charitable giving, these folks showed their savvy and dedication to thinking outside the box. Due to issues in their own lives they created solutions – proving once again that necessity really is the mother of invention. The grand prize winner was founded by Daniel Mansoor.

On Thursday morning the convention kicked off with a keynote speech by Brian Scudamore, founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK. And what a start it was! Every keynote speaker brought energy and a great message to the small business attendees. In addition to Brian we were joined by Valorie Burton, Anat Baron, Josh Linkner, Chip Bell, and Marilyn Tam. Here are some of the nuggets I captured:

There are no bad decisions. Mistakes are things you learn from.
Always find the right people.

5 commitments:
1.    I will not feel sorry for myself
2.    I will not stare at the closed door
3.    I will dig deep to unearth all the courage I need
4.    I will direct my thoughts; my thoughts will not direct me
5.    I choose to see the good especially in the midst of the bad

Small business is more like a jazz ensemble than an orchestra
Never become intoxicated by your own success; constantly innovate in order to continuously win

7 steps to entrepreneurial success:
1.    Encourage courage – celebrate new ideas without judgment; drive curiosity
2.    Embrace mistakes
3.    Shed the past
4.    Craft emotional experiences
5.    Think small
6.    Shatter conventional wisdom
7.    Be distinctive

The Pike Syndrome – when imaginary barriers get in the way of success

On top of the incredible keynotes, the convention was filled with thought leaders sharing valuable information about all kinds of business topics. And then there was the networking. With attendees from across the Midwest and beyond, there were numerous opportunities to connect, start, and build relationships.

To add to the excitement, COSE announced the launch of two incredible initiatives:

Incfuse – an online resource for startups. If you are starting a business or know someone who is, send them over to for the advice, information, and assistance they need.

Linktunity – an expert network designed to provide business leaders with the resources and answers they need to continue to grow and build their businesses. The expert recruitment phase is on now and the site will officially launch in February. If you are a COSE member with an expertise in a B2B discipline, head over to and register as an expert.

All in all, the convention was a great opportunity to work on our businesses, connect, and learn. There’s real value in getting out of the office for a couple of days to re-energize, re-engage, and re-purpose. I’m already looking forward to next year!.

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