Brittanie Chludzinski · Uncategorized

Never stop asking “Why?”

7318389106_0ffd2210a9_oIf you asked me whether or not I have the skills to become a successful entrepreneur, my answer at the beginning of the semester would have been simple: “Absolutely not!”

If you asked me that same question now after spending 16 weeks in JRN 450, my answer would be…. “Maybe.”

My answer didn’t miraculously change because I became an expert by any means. It changed because I learned that being an entrepreneur requires many characteristics that I already have (or practice) as a journalism student: curiosity, persistence, storytelling, connecting with a target audience and answering the “why” question.

In this case, our entire class had the potential to launch a successful startup, while adding other factors like market potential and revenue into the equation, of course.

In last week’s blog, I talked about how I have come to recognize the connection and the similarities between journalism and entrepreneurship. As I reflect on my time in this course, this still holds to be true!

The unrelenting curiosity that is emphasized in every journalism course I’ve taken is both the catalyst and the fuel to any successful entrepreneur. Not only does asking the “why” help you develop your idea or your product, but it also keeps you on your toes.

Just like curiosity is at the center of a successful journalist and entrepreneur, asking the question “why” is central to my three key takeaways from this course:

1. Be flexible in your approach

As Amy once said in class, sometimes it’s easier to tell someone what your startup is not than what your startup actually is. In these cases, it’s easy to get stuck. But being flexible and open to adjustments along the way can ease the challenges.

Whether you’re launching a startup or you’re working on a newspaper article as a journalist, this class taught me that you must consistently check in with yourself and your competitors by asking “why?” For example, if you identify your target audience for a new app, can you just as easily identify the why? Once you’ve backed up your decision with data, is there more research that could help you make small yet beneficial adjustments? If this target audience still makes sense, how does it look when compared to your competitors? Why are they doing it that way?

If you’re asking this many questions, modifications are going to be inevitable – and that’s a good thing! Technology and the media move so quickly, so there’s no time to remain stagnant and isolated from what’s going on around you! I learned that it’s challenging to take a step back when you’re so focused on your own individual project, but it’s necessary in order to make sure you’re staying relevant.

2. Don’t forget to rely on your transferable skills in new situations or projects

In one of our early assignments, Amy posed questions about PlanX’s original target audience (similar to the ones I listed above). Her feedback quickly reminded me to get back to my journalism roots and look at our group’s decisions critically (from the perspective of a reporter or venture capitalist).

My team was so fixed on our original idea, that when we adjusted our audience based on our research, we didn’t realize that we were forgetting our new “why.” In this respect, I learned that it’s important to use your transferrable skills (whether it be journalism or another discipline) in new and unfamiliar situations. While I was isolating my mindset to that of an entrepreneur, I should have been focused on using my journalism skills and background to move our idea forward.

3. In today’s media landscape, journalists and communicators must have an entrepreneurial mindset to thrive

In the ongoing transition to digital, print journalism is struggling to stay afloat and even online publications are finding it a challenge to compete with the small fraction of companies like Google and Facebook who account for a majority of the digital ad market. Facing these obstacles, journalists are no longer responsible for solely writing content. They must contribute to new, creative approaches that bring in loyal viewers and revenue. Whether that is building a new app or something completely revolutionary, many publications are forced to lead with an entrepreneurial spirit by launching new platforms for their content.

Overall, JRN 450 has allowed me to become a more critical thinker and recognize that my skills as a journalism student are transferrable in a number of ways across many disciplines. Moving forward after this class, I’m excited and confident in taking on new positions, challenges and projects that I may be unfamiliar with.

Because in the end, I know my sense of curiosity and asking the “why” will always be my guide.

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