The Founders Inn on Regent University’s campus was abuzz with entrepreneurs Monday, June 13, sharing stories, networking and recognizing accomplishment. Regent’s School of Business & Leadership (SBL) partnered with Inside Business, the Hampton Roads Business Journal, to host the ninth annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards.
“As someone mentioned here, being an entrepreneur is a very lonely place, said Kimberly Pomares, president and CEO of Courthouse Academy. “You can be friendly with your employees, but you can’t be friends with them. It’s nice to know there are other people who are in the same position. I think there’s a lot to be gleaned from people who are successful in business.”
Pomares started and owns Courthouse Academy, a Spanish immersion school teaching preschool through third grade in Virginia Beach. She shared advice during a panel discussion before the lunch and awards presentation. In addition to finding other like-minded people who are pursuing their passion through business, Pomares says networking provides an even more important component for success.
“I would suggest they would find a mentor, someone who knows about their field, or who is a successful business person in another field, because as an entrepreneur making your own way, you make a lot of mistakes,” said Pomares. “Everyone does, but someone who is successful could be able to help you not to make those mistakes.”
“They’re all encouraging, because you come in to hear these entrepreneurs, and you view them as success stories, but our panelists today shared their failures too,” said Dr. Greg Stone, director of Regent’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.
He says Regent is the perfect place to learn from and recognize entrepreneurs who have achieved business success with their own companies for multiple years.
“Regent is entrepreneurial,” said Stone. “Its founder is entrepreneurial. Our MBA program has a strong entrepreneurial emphasis, and it’s interesting because the first five words in the Bible are ‘In the beginning, God created,’ so God was entrepreneurial. These are people who are giving creation and innovating, inventing and doing things to create something from nothing. That’s a unique gifting and talent, and to be able to provide the resources and information and data to help them be able to do that, that’s what’s exciting.”
“When you have a job, it’s security, maybe,” said Danijel Velicki, 2016 Entrepreneurial Excellence Award recipient and panelist. “Tomorrow, something could happen. You could lose that job compared to me being an entrepreneur, it’s all on my shoulders, which is the hard part, but it’s also the easy part. It’s all up to me. Once I started learning that and learning about myself, what I can and cannot deal with and what is real risk, and what kind of risk I am willing to deal with, then everything else was easy after that.”
Velicki started a financial advising business that has grown by double-digits each year, and a fitness event hosted at Virginia Beach’s oceanfront. He and his wife also own and run Chesapeake Crossfit. Support from mentors, and especially his family, keeps him motivated and encouraged while tackling business challenges. He follows the advice of one of his mentors and tries to work each day in a way that would inspire his children to learn and appreciate and take pride in what he does. He says he appreciates the recognition from Inside Business and Regent, and enjoyed learning how other entrepreneurs are improving the Hampton Roads communities with their growing businesses.
“There were a lot of applicants, a lot of great stories, and a lot of great honorees,” said Velicki. “To be able to be part of that group is cool. It’s almost a confirmation of sorts, not that most of us need confirmation. We are self-motivating, we don’t really look for much, but you learn, as you get older, to look at the ways things impact you. Hopefully money is not a motivator, it’s recognition, it’s good work, it’s giving back to the community, charities and boards.”
The event recognized 12 other Hampton Roads area entrepreneurs with similar stories of struggles and successes. Regent’s MBA program seeks to equip its students to achieve similar success by providing them with knowledge, resources and mentoring relationships.