IDEA Center workshop pushes entrepreneurs to be creative

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SALISBURY — Making entrepreneurs think outside the box and get out of their comfort zones was the focus of a workshop Tuesday night at the Rowan IDEA Center at West End Plaza.

Renee Just, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Experiential Development at Catawba College, started the workshop by challenging participants to think of all the unique business ideas they could in a couple of minutes. Participants struggled to write down ideas.

“People think and make an assumption when an entrepreneur comes up with a great idea, they’re making a killing, they’re making money hand over fist. It came so easy,” Just said.

Ideas don’t pop up. It takes a special person to continually generate ideas.

Just said most people don’t think about business ideas until they come across a problem with no solution, and then they don’t act on it.

“Well, why didn’t I think of that?” Just asked. “Oftentimes, we simply don’t give ourselves permission.”

Future business owners, educators and community leaders played a card game that challenged them to think creatively. The cards had categories of people, such as teen moms, engineers, military veterans and people who just lost their jobs. Just gave them a business prompt, like coming up with a food-truck pitch focused on a group or a home.

SaTonaya Smyre, a developmental specialist who wants to start a play therapy business, said the game really pushed her to think creatively.

“You have to have a creative mind, to think outside the box for what you want to do,” Smyre said.

Just said the activity is based on a group dumping ideas and using them to come up with a collaborative plan.

“We’re going to do something similar to that,” Just said. “Just to get you all out of your comfort zone, to get you thinking in a completely different direction than you walked in here thinking and show your crazy ideas. A little bit random and some some fun could actually come up with a product or a service.”

The workshop was the second in the series for the IDEA Center. Addison Davis, executive director, said he wants the center and the workshops to be resources for people who want to start a business.

“We are transitioning from an agricultural community into a suburb of Charlotte and Winston-Salem in many different ways,” Davis said. “We are working through a generational change that is part of that. This is an important piece being able to effect that generational change and show people how they can take their ideas and turn them into viable businesses.”

The next workshop will be a poster session, in which participants can pitch a business idea on a poster and get immediate feedback from business leaders and potential business owners. The free session will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Rowan IDEA Center. To register, visit