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Young entrepreneurs share support, advice, friendship

John Seelmeyer

It’s lonely at the top especially when most everyone you knew in school is a long way behind you on the corporate ladder.

About two dozen young business owners in northern Nevada find support and sometimes even close friendship through their membership in the

aptly named Young Entrepreneurs’Organization.

The group is open to anyone under 40 years old who either founded or heads a business that does $1 million or more in annual sales.

An affiliated group the World Entrepreneurs’Organization is open to entrepreneurs over 40, although they need to enlist before they’re 47.

The northern Nevada YEO group, one of about 120 chapters worldwide, has been growing by two to five members a year since it was created four years ago, says Darren McBride, the communications chair for the YEO chapter and president of Reno-based Sierra Computers and Training.

Members become involved in forums groups of 10 to 12 entrepreneurs who meet regularly to talk over problems in their businesses, and sometimes business-related challenges in their personal lives as well.

In addition,YEO meets monthly for a dinner meeting that includes speakers ranging from experts on self-defense to business strategists.

“This isn’t about networking or trying to generate sales,”McBride says.

Members instead find a variety of benefits.

“The best value I get out of it is the peer-topeer interaction,working with people the same age,” says 37-year-old Patrick O’Flaherty, a principal in Reno-based Nevada Lighting.”YEO really helps me gain clarity.”

Straight-talking advice,meanwhile, is valued by Carla Williams,whose bedding distribution company, Sleep 2000, doesn’t have a board of directors.

“You get some frank responses,” she says after presenting business issues to fellow entrepreneurs.

Williams gained insight, too, from participation in an international YEO conference in Los Angeles that year that saw presentations from speakers such as Bill O’Neill, publisher of Investor’s Business Daily.

Venture capitalist Robb Smith, a co-founder of the northern Nevada YEO chapter, says he’s found something even more important friendships.

“I don’t like business groups,”he says.

“Networking is inane.

But YEO is different.

It’s about growing solid businesses in the middle market.”

And, Smith says,”Some of my best friends have come from YEO.”


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