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"No matter how well you plan, it will always take longer and cost more than you expect." - Cate Costa

Cate Costa is the Founder of Venture Catalyst Consulting, which helps business owners and entrepreneurs build successful, sustainable companies and assists organizations that support those business owners to build thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems and effective entrepreneurship support programs.

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  • What did you have to learn the hard way in your professional life?

Fighting what works for you will only lead to burn out. You need to adapt to customers' needs, but you also need to embrace your own. If you're most productive early in the morning then work in the morning and take customer meetings in the afternoon. If you're not a natural salesperson, then get some training, hire some help, and be sure to schedule your time in such a way that you are able to recharge after a long/tough sales push. You want to maximize productivity and forward progress for the week -- not the number of hours that you worked over the week.

  • What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started in business?

No matter how well you plan, it will always take longer and cost more than you expect.

  • What skills do you think are the most important for an entrepreneur to have?

An entrepreneur must be dedicated and adaptable. You have to be committed to sticking with it for the long haul, but you also can't be so attached to your solution that you can't see a better way of addressing the problem or refuse to adapt.

  • What is one piece of advice you would give to a rising entrepreneur?

Make sure that your goals, both personal and professional, are aligned with each other, with those of any of your co-founders, and with your businesses' strategy. That seems obvious, but many entrepreneurs that I've worked with thought they wanted one thing but once we dug in, realized they actually wanted something else. Figuring that out and making sure their goals and strategies were in alignment had a huge impact on the success of their business.

Now for the fun stuff... 

  • Which city do you hope you'll have a layover in? Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • What book would you recommend every entrepreneur read? How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff.
  • Where is your favorite spot in Chicago? Sort of an event and a spot -- I love Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
  • What do you like to do in your free time? I like to travel, spend time with friends, and try new restaurants, recipes, and cocktails.

Follow Cate on Twitter at @cate_costa or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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