Magazine publisher tells of going from business journalist to businesswoman
By Suzanne Dean
Oct. 6, 2017
EPHRAIM—A journalist and a “mom” who started a publishing company 17 years ago that now publishes 30 magazine editions per year and has 15 employees shared tips for success in business and in life last week at Snow College.
Jeanette Bennett, founder of Bennett Communications, which publishes Utah Valley Magazine and Business Q Magazine (a business magazine for Utah Valley), (among others) and also creates magazines on contract for organizations ranging from the Utah Valley Parade of Homes to BYU-Idaho, spoke to a full house on Thursday, Oct. 26 at the Huntsman Library Auditorium.
Bennett earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism at BYU and was editor of the Daily Universe, the BYU student newspaper.
“I wanted to be a journalist,” she said. “That’s what I pictured.” But she also wanted to be a mom, and in fact became one shortly after leaving BYU.
“It didn’t dawn on me until those two paths collided that it might be a little bit tricky to figure out how to do both,” she told an audience of students and community members. “…That’s when I started thinking my minor in business, which I actually did because I thought I was going to write about business, might help me be an entrepreneur.”
While Bennett was invited because of her success as entrepreneur, the Snow College Entrepreneurship Seminars, the forum where she spoke, itself qualifies as an entrepreneurial success.
The program started in 2009 when the college got a $7,500 grant to bring lecturers to campus who would inspire students and people in the community to pursue their business dreams.
Over the past nine years, the seminar series, which is sponsored by the Business Department and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), has brought more than 90 entrepreneurs to Snow. Some speakers, including Bennett, have appeared more than once.
At first, the seminars were held in Founder’s Hall, a small auditorium in the Noyes Building, and attracted an average of 50. Within a couple of years, enrollment in a course that involves attending the seminars doubled to 100 and the site was shifted to the library auditorium. For the past several years, attendance has been in the 120-140 range.
But this year, 180 students are attending the seminars. “The auditorium is nearly at capacity,” says Alan Christensen, SBDC director. “While I am not certain what has caused the increase, I hope it reflects a growing interest in entrepreneurship across all disciplines on our campus.”
At last week’s seminar, Bennett gave her audience 10 tips for success drawn from people she has interviewed for her magazines and from her own experience.
The first was to “be educated.” That means not just starting a degree, but finishing it, she said. She told students 20 years from now, people would be asking them about their degrees.
“Education is valuable,” she said, “because it teaches you to be curious, it teaches you how to learn…and it teaches you how to do hard things throughout your life.”
She said sometimes she hears people say women should get an education “just in case.”
“Let’s not say that anymore,” she said. “You should get an education because you’re awesome, and because you’re smart, and because it will make you a happier person, a better person, no matter what path” you follow.
She advised the students and other guests not just to set goals, but to set deadlines for achieving the goals, and to tell others about the goals and deadlines so the friends can hold them accountable.
She talked about hosting an event for leaders of 50 businesses Utah Valley Magazine had designated as the best businesses in Utah Valley. She admitted that putting on social events was not her favorite activity. “If I hadn’t set a date and told people I was going to do it, I might have weaseled out of it,” she said.
But she went ahead the first year. Now the event has been held annually for several years. In fact, she wrote a rap lyric that she read at last year’s event, part of which read, “Set a date, seal your fate, don’t you wait, you’re first rate.”
One of her final admonitions was: “Adjust your plan if it feels right.” She described an article she wrote about Studio C., the comedy team from BYU that has attracted 100 million Internet views.
The 10 cast members were on divergent paths ranging from packing a car to leaving for dental school to working for low wages at a life science museum at BYU.
“All of their paths were leading in different directions,” she said, “and yet because the timing was right and because their chemistry was so great, they started Studio C, and it has been an awesome thing for the university and for the state of Utah and for (their) families.”
She urged her audience, “Be listening to those cues around you, those opportunities around you that might change your life’s path.
“I didn’t actually see this path coming. Because I listened to those cues and walked through the doors that opened before me, I was able to create a business that’s been fulfilling for me and my family;”
Speakers at entrepreneurship seminars have included Patrick Byre, founder of Overstock.com; Dave Checketts, founder of Real Salt Lake; and Mark Burton, founder of International Armoring, which creates bullet-proof vehicles for heads of state and celebrities.
“Each presenter has a story with ups and downs and adventure of some sort,” Alan Christensen, of the SBDC, says. “…Each presenter imparts something that changes how our students and business community view themselves and their potential.”
Some of the written feedback Christensen has received from students includes: “I think if she can do (it), I can do it” and “I…left with a feeling of hope that I could do something great.”
The Entrepreneurship Seminars is one component of a campuswide commitment to entrepreneurialism, Christensen says.
In November, 2016, President Gary Carlston signed the “President’s Pledge for Entrepreneurship” promulgated by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship.
Community college presidents signing the pledge agree to use their institution’s resources to promote job creation and to increase the interaction between entrepreneurs and the college.
Other programs at Snow for promoting entrepreneurship include Entrepreneurship Week in November; the Opportunity Quest competition, where students submit business plans for prizes ranging from $500 to $1,000; and the Launch Lunch, lunch meetings where students who are interested in starting their own businesses get together to talk. Typically, the gatherings include a presentation by a faculty member on some principle of entrepreneurialism.
“In recent years, we have tried to promote entrepreneurship across campus to all disciplines,” says Stacee McIff, chair of the Business Department. “…Students have more opportunities than ever to learn about starting a business and find a supportive entrepreneurial community at Snow College.”