What is Social Entrepreneurship?

The main role of entrepreneurship is to stimulate economic progress through action and innovation. An entrepreneur is usually motivated by the idea of changing a situation and always initiates direct action rather than waiting for instructions.

Social Entrepreneurship is all about identifying the social problems people face every day and achieving a social change by implementing entrepreneurial processes, principles, and operations.

It involves finding a solution to a social problem before creating, organizing, and then managing a social venture in an effort to attain the desired change. The change can be a lifetime process that focuses primarily on the improvement of the existing circumstances.

Entrepreneurship involves taking a lead to diversify the existing business or open up a new business. Social entrepreneurship focuses mainly on generating social capital and it doesn’t measure the level of performance in returns or profits.

Although this type of entrepreneurship is centered on non-profit making, it still creates the need to make a source of income. In addition, social entrepreneurship also works to solve environmental problems besides social problems.

A few examples of social ventures include women empowerment foundations, plants for the treatment of waste products and child rights foundations.

The Concept of Social Entrepreneurship

The main idea of social entrepreneurship is not only centered on solving problems and unpleasant situations in society but also directs the focus of an organization towards social benefits.

The reasoning behind it is that nonprofit businesses can also benefit from the primary focus of profit-centered businesses. This will require a sound strategy, customer focus, efficient operations, effective planning, and financial discipline.

A social entrepreneur can be a person associated with non-government or non-profit organizations that raise their funds through community activities and events.

Although most entrepreneurs are usually motivated by the potential of earning a profit, it doesn’t prevent an ordinary entrepreneur from creating a positive impact on the lives of other people in society.

How Social Entrepreneurs Take Action

Social entrepreneurship in modern times may be integrated with technology assets to provide more access to knowledge resources and widespread information.

A good example is providing high-speed internet connectivity to the remote communities. Another way people express social entrepreneurship is through the development of mobile apps that address the needs of the community.

This can include giving people ways to alert the city administrations about patterns of repeated traffic accidents, downed power lines, and burst water mains. Social entrepreneurs give voice to the community through technology by creating apps to report infractions that have been committed by law enforcement or city officials.

Why Has Social Entrepreneurship Gained Popularity?

Social responsibility is a differentiating factor in the age of heightened competition as it allows many organizations to appeal to certain buyer demographics.

Employees now have to make a choice on who they want to work for and most of them go for companies with high earning potential and strong missions. Financial pressures are worsening the existing social problems in the current economic crisis such as unemployment and poverty.

Social entrepreneurship is necessary as it mitigates the financial repercussions experienced today on the most vulnerable in the society.

Bottom Line

The field of social entrepreneurship continues to grow rapidly and it attracts the attention of many volunteers who are willing to create a positive impact on society. It has now become a popular term in university campuses and various social media platforms.

The main reason why social entrepreneurship has grown in popularity is that people can get to execute an idea they have held on for so long. The social entrepreneurs combine their brilliant ideas and implement them to bring a significant change in society.

Advertisements

5 Tips for Startups for Achieving Global Reach

Sometimes, your product or service will be such that there’s no practical reason to restrict your operations to your local region. In this situation, it might be more lucrative to aim for global reach. Sure, you don’t have to appeal to the whole world at the same time, however, sometimes it’s enough just to make your product universally available. In order to get the most out of it from the very start, you need to learn how to achieve a global reach with your startup in the simplest, most cost-effective way. Here are five tips that might help you out.

Build a highly graphic brand

One of the first lessons that every startup should take is one made by one of the world’s largest brands Coca-Cola. During their Ramadan campaign, they removed all the labels from their cans, yet all the world was still able to clearly recognize their products. The color of the cans, as well as the iconic curved white line in the middle, is as clear of an indicator for the brand as its logo, however, unlike the logo, it is completely language-independent. Of course, the chance of a startup reaching the same level of brand recognition isn’t that high, however, what you can do is set your mindset in this direction. For instance, you can try to tell your story in images rather than verbalize it and in this way breach the language barrier.

Outsource

In the present-day business world, achieving a global reach is nearly impossible without outsourcing. This is due to the fact that you simply can’t reach that quality of service with your in-house team without some major investments. Subsequently, if you reach a certain level of expertise in your own field of specialty, you will start outsourcing certain features, and in this way more than justifies this deficit. As for the quality of services, outsourcing significantly expands your talent pool. For instance, you get to work with a renowned Hong Kong SEO company, collaborate with customer service experts from India and manufacture products in China. In other words, you get a much higher department cost- efficiency on every level possible.

pexels-photo-840996

Remote workers

Aside from working with remote agencies, you can resort to hiring individuals in the same manner, as well. With remote workers, you get to increase your talent pool, which can help you get the most efficient experts on your team, without going through too much trouble. However, aside from this transparent efficiency in productivity, you also get to diversify your operations. In other words, you get to further diversify your company, which may give you a greater insight into a greater number of regions. All in all, in a situation where you decide to include another market to the list, you get the privilege of knowing at least one local professional that you can rely on, even if it’s just an advice you need.

Competition

One of the greatest misconceptions about the competition is the idea that this is somehow an exclusively bad thing. In reality, this is only true if you have nothing fresh to offer. Competitors that come before you can prepare the market for your arrival and even make a contrast in favor of your superior offer. Upon your arrival, the local customer base will compare you to your competitors and, if you have a superior offer, you will be regarded more highly than if they had no point of reference whatsoever. Moreover, a healthy competition indicates a well-developed market, which often turns out to be much more lucrative.

Providing customer support in more languages

Finally, there’s no better way to show the local market just how highly you value them as customers than to address them in their local language. While creating a local version of your website (with a local extension) is a great idea it is even more important to include a customer support in their language. This is due to the fact that such a thing provides a direct value to your customers, which is something that they are bound to appreciate. In the era of chatbots, this can be pulled off even without having to hire local customer support representatives or outsourcing to a local customer support agency.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that each region has its own rules of the game and that sometimes startups have a hard time penetrating their local market, let alone becoming an international trend. Sure, starting a campaign for every single region is certainly more efficient but it isn’t necessarily worth your while. For the time being, establishing a global presence through the above-listed five methods might be your safest bet.

9 Actionable Tips for Hiring Employees for Your Home Office

Consider yourself lucky if you have the good fortune of being able to run and build your business from home. When the business is new, you might be the only person working for it. However, as it begins to grow and expand, you might need to hire employees. Hiring an employee for your home office is as challenging as finding the right roommate. The following tips can help you sidestep a lot of issues.

1. Discuss With Your Family

You never know how your family might react to the prospect of having a stranger share their private space. It is important to discuss with them from the get-go so that they know what to expect. Have them understand that the person is an employee and not a guest. Be sure to mention that they will not need to feed the person or have to make other inconveniencing arrangements.

2. Opt for Full Disclosure

You do not want to have prospective employees wondering whether they got the wrong address. Full disclosure presents you as a person who is straightforward and considerate. You do not want a potential employee weighing whether or not they want to work from someone else’s home as they walk down the hallway. Non-disclosure might have them thinking you have something to hide.

3. Interview Your Candidate

You will need to watch how candidates behave once they arrive at your home office. Do they look comfortable and at ease? Do not hesitate to ask them how they feel about it all. Attentively listen as they answer, understanding what they say and what they leave unsaid. If you had told them about it right off the bat and they seem uneasy during the interview, hire someone else.

4. Perform a Background Check

Experience and skills matter a lot, but character and integrity carry much more weight than these two qualities. It is better to hire someone worthy of trust even though they are inexperienced than hire an experienced person about whom you have trust issues. Be sure to conduct a thorough background check on all candidates. Ask people you trust for recommendations. You can always train a person, but you cannot induce character.

5. Set Up a Suitable Workspace

Your employee needs privacy; you must spend some money to create a bit of privacy around their work area. Offer them an atmosphere like the one they would expect in a traditional office. Provide them with a desk, a chair, as well as the tools and technological devices they need to work efficiently — a computer, wireless connection, a phone, and so on. The office needs to be well-lit, too; consider hiring a professional to help you design the office. Finally, have your family understand that the office is off-limits.

6. Add a Separate Entrance

Invest some money in designing an office having its own entrance. The less likely it is that employees will meet someone from your family as they enter the office the better. Also, it creates a sense of professionalism, making everyone feel comfortable. While you might need to spend some money to achieve this, it is worth it in the end.

7. Invest in Housekeeping Services

You are the boss, and you do not want your employees to come across dirty dishes in the kitchen. It makes perfect sense to hire a housekeeper. Having someone who does your dishes, vacuums the carpet, and cleans the bathrooms makes the home office a nicer place for your employees. Also, such an arrangement makes you feel confident.

8. Define Your Terms

This is a job, and you have expectations just like they have. Make it known right from the outset that you expect them to respect and follow all the rules and deliver results. Giving them an employee handbook demonstrates that you take your duties as a manager seriously. The manual should carry policies on office rules, working hours, use of office phone, sick days and any other relevant matter.

9. Set Your Boundaries

Being clear about the boundaries relating to their presence at your home is critical. They need to know from the beginning the rooms they can enter and those they cannot. Can your employee use your kitchen to prepare their lunch? Do you want them to leave during their lunch break? What about bathroom arrangements? Ensure you have a bathroom for office use, too.

In Conclusion

Being able to work from home is an exciting opportunity. However, it can be daunting if you have no idea how to handle hiring employees to work in your home office. Do background checks, tell candidates and family what to expect, set rules and boundaries, and build an office with own entrance. These simple tips should help you to hire the right person and keep them.

Turn Your Garden into a Profitable Business

For those who enjoy gardening, it can easily be turned into a source of profit, with some luck and dedication, sufficient to support the entire family. Here are some ideas which can help you start and get you going on your gardening adventure.

Grow an organic garden

The only reason why people buy from small-scale producers is that they believe that the food they buy is healthier than what they can usually find in their local supermarkets. This is your window of opportunity and the share of the market you need to fight for. Win the confidence of those who care about their health by producing and advertising healthy food. Mind you, if you enjoy gardening, the chances are that you yourself appreciate nature and you won’t consider growing any other kind of garden but an organic one.

Offer a variety

Think like a customer. They usually go shopping to a place that has everything they need. Try to be that place and offer a variety of fresh food. Grow the vegetables which are the most popular in your area, but not only that, grow herbs and flowers used for tea and spices as well as several kinds of fruit. You can focus on one thing and throw in some of the other ones but a variety of produce will bring a variety of customers.

Have a flower garden

Well, I jumped straight into it without even offering an alternative. Depending on the type of gardening you enjoy, you may opt for growing flowers solely instead of food. You can sell to florists or landscaping companies. You can even have your own stand or a flower shop. Traditionally, flowers go well with bees, so if you are growing an organic flower garden, perhaps you should have a couple of beehives and see how that works for you. Who knows, if your flowers are good for honey you can steer your business in that direction or simply expand. Beekeeping can be very profitable.

Make products of your yield

Apart from the garden produce, you can also make products for sale. Your Home-made tomato juice or jam will probably find their place in many homes. If you are growing herbs, you can dry them and pack them. You can learn a little bit about traditional medicine and make herbal-tea mixtures used to cure different health issues. You can make tiny booklets on what they are good for and why. Make scented candles and potpourri. These are something that people get attracted to and buy even if they do not need them.

Sell seeds and starter plants

Help other start their organic gardens by selling seeds of your plants as well as growing starter plants. You can do this while expending your offer without a lot of additional effort. You will most likely need a glass house for this if you do not already have one. Hoselink suggests making a separate irrigation system for what you are growing in the glass house as plants growing in different conditions require different amounts of water.

Sell compost

Do not throw anything organic away. While you are creating compost for your garden, create some extra to sell. You can offer it straight away to the customers interested in your organic seeds as you know that they will also do whatever they can to keep their garden healthy. Due to the period required for creating compost, the very beginning is the hardest, later on, they will have enough material and enough time to make their own, but in the meantime, you can be there to help them start and prepare the ground.

Once you decide what to grow and how you need to find the way to sell it and advertise it. In order to keep the process enjoyable, I suggest inquiring about the government regulations and taxes. You should take care of that first before you start selling. Once you have that taken care of, you should advertise locally and show off your offer at a local green market, have a roadside stand, sell to health food stores and restaurants. Perhaps you can even organize promotional events such as gardening lessons for children or making jam with elderly and choosing the best recipe.

Burn! An image from stockio.com

10 Reasons Entrepreneurs Burn Out

Plant on Field. An image from stockio.com

It’s hard to deny that starting your own business requires a significant amount of time, energy and intense dedication to hitting your goals.

As an entrepreneur, you are going to be more susceptible to burnout than most other professionals, which is due largely in part to how many hours entrepreneurs find themselves actually wanting to work, and how hard they push themselves to succeed.

It happens far too often.  Business owners will neglect their own personal needs, moving them even closer to the point of burnout, until they hit rock bottom and wonder how their situation got to be so bad.

As they begin facing burnout, their business begins to suffer, their personal relationships start taking a hit, and they’re left trying to figure out how to recover.

Before you find yourself in this situation, learn some of the more common reasons that entrepreneurs get burned out, and then figure out how you can avoid making those same mistakes yourself.

Below are 10 of the most common reasons entrepreneurs burn out.

1 – Not Delegating

Your business got to where it’s at because you were behind the wheel, and it’s hard to find someone that will treat it the way you do.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to actually do everything, though.  Delegating some of the responsibilities to people who know what they’re doing in those roles can save your sanity.

At the end of the day, you have the same number of hours as everyone else around you.  By surrounding yourself with knowledgeable people, you can increase how many hours are being put into your business from day to day.

You can quit stressing yourself out with the more mundane tasks and put people in place to handle them while you focus on the higher level, executive tasks.

2 – Staying Too Focused

Being in the zone is a great place to be when you’re building your business.  However, staying in the zone too long can cause you to lose focus on other areas of your life.  Tunnel vision is a real problem for many entrepreneurs, and is one of the biggest reasons for them to get burned out.

You can only stay in the zone for so long before you start feeling the effects, and exhaustion begins to take over your mind and your body.  It’s critical that you figure out a balance between your work life and your personal life, to avoid getting caught up in the zone.

3 – Not Eating Properly

Too many entrepreneurs skip meals to make sure they’re able to get more done during the day.  Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, skipping meals and then binge eating unhealthy foods can wreak havoc on your mind.

Not eating properly makes you function at a lower level, destroys your productivity, and affect your sleeping patterns, making it difficult for you to focus when you really need to.

Taking an hour in the morning, and an hour in the afternoon to make sure you’re getting healthy meals into your body can do more for you than you might think.  Avoiding these healthy foods can spell disaster for your productivity, and your business.

Avoid running yourself ragged, causing more problems in an effort to help save yourself some time or thinking that you’re going to get more done.

4 – Setting Unrealistic Goals

Goals are a requirement if you’re going to build a successful and profitable business.  However, unrealistic goals can do more harm than good.

Having unrealistic expectations for yourself or your employees can be a major problem for many entrepreneurs, and will only set you up to constantly feel like either you’re failing, or they’re failing you, leading to even bigger issues down the road.

No business that has become successful ever became successful overnight.  However, business owners that did try to become an overnight success have gone through fatigue, stayed discouraged, and exhausted themselves out.

To avoid this, make sure that you have set realistic expectations for you and the people around you, and that you’re focusing on both short-term goals and long-term goals.

5 – Failing To Maintain Boundaries

Boundaries don’t just exist in your personal life.  The same way that you have certain things that you won’t accept from the people in your personal life, you need to set realistic boundaries for what you will and won’t accept in your business.

When you decide that you are no longer working, you need to completely shut off and avoid work.  This means not letting your clients get in touch with you, and not giving your employees any of your time.

Likewise, when you’re turned on, you need to be completely available to your employees and your clients and customers.  This will help them figure out that when you’re not at work you’re unavailable, but when you are at work they have your full attention.

Taking the time to recharge when you’re not at work is critical to your performance while you are at work, so make sure you have boundaries set for everyone you’re involved with.

6 – Living In Denial

Even though you may understand what causes burnout, you may not necessarily be aware that you are currently feeling the effects.  And if you are aware, you may be completely denying it, pushing yourself even harder to “bust through” the burn out.

Burying your head in the sand and forcing yourself through isn’t going to make the situation any better than it is right now.

If you’re denying that you may be currently dealing with the effects of burn out, or could be on your way to getting completely burned out, you’re going to need to step back now.

Dealing with it “later” will never actually happen and, by then, it could actually be too late.  The damage could already be done.  Step back, take a break, regain your composure, figure out what’s working and what isn’t, then come back with a renewed energy.

7 – Losing Sight Of The Prize

Whenever you’ve buried yourself in the trenches, finding solutions to problems that have been hanging over your head can be difficult to do.

Getting away from the business, even for an hour at a time, can help you recharge your batteries and gain new insights on the problems that you’re facing.  It’s easier to look outside in than it is to try and find solutions to problems when you’re caught up in the day to day.

Losing sight of the prize because you’re focusing too hard can be as dangerous as depriving yourself of sleep or eating unhealthy foods all of the time.

When you feel your energy starting to wane, or are finding it harder to figure out solutions to problems you once had instant solutions for, you need to take a step back and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.

8 – Avoiding The Hard Work

As an entrepreneur, it can be hard to slow down.  Your employees, on the other hand, probably have zero problems taking a few minutes here and there to regain their composure.

While you may want your employees to grind as hard as you do, you could actually take a lesson out of their book and step yourself for a few minutes every hour.

Like everything else on this list, though, the real magic happens when you find a balance.  If you are constantly taking a break to avoid doing the hard work that you know needs to be done, you need to step back into your role and get it done.

On the other side of that same coin, if you’re not taking breaks so you can avoid the hard work, filling your schedule up with the easy tasks, get the hard work done first.  Allowing it to stack up on you can create a situation where you’re burned out and don’t have the energy to get all of the “hard” work done.

9 – Getting Irritated

As you start getting to work, you realize that everything is bothering you, big or small.  Your assistant can’t seem to do anything right.  Your employees are dropping the ball.  Your clients are frustrating you.

When this happens, you have to look at the situation from an outside perspective.  Chances are high that if all of these situations are happening at the same time, those people aren’t the problem, you are.  And you could be burnt out.

You’ve put those people in place around you because they can help you and your clients are the perfect people to work with.  That means they haven’t suddenly changed, something in you has.

If you find yourself dealing with frustrations all of the time, you probably aren’t eating right, sleeping right, or taking good care of yourself.  It’s time to take better care of yourself, relax, take a break, and come back reinvigorated.

10 – Trying To Understand Burnout

If you are trying to figure out why entrepreneurs face burn out, or whether or not you may be facing it, you’re probably knee deep in it, or well on your way to becoming burned out.

Taking the time away from your business, unplugging from your employees and your clients, spending some time on yourself and with your family, and remembering why you are doing what you’re doing can help you save your sanity.

Start setting new priorities in your life, and then remember that building a successful business is like running a marathon.  It isn’t a sprint, and thinking you can be an overnight success will only wear you out even more than you are now.

Focus on sticking around for the long haul, and build long-term plans that help you hit those goals.

4 Things You Need to Know If You Want to Do Business in Asia

Ever since we entered the 21st century a lot of things have changed rapidly in business. The advancement of technology and the global use of the internet has created many opportunities around the globe. Today there are fewer business barriers than ever before as the whole world is completely connected.

Entrepreneurs and companies can easily get in touch with someone across the globe or acquire information that they need to start their business incentives abroad. Asia is becoming one of the hot markets for business investments, as this region is opening up to the West and offering many opportunities, given the fact that the market is still not saturated.

This is why a lot of people are looking to do some business in the East, no matter if we are talking about finding outsourcing partners or starting up new offices in Asian countries. However, there are certain specifics you need to know about Asia from a business perspective to make sure that everything goes as planned.

1. You will have to connect with locals to help you

A lot of people make a terrible mistake by thinking that they can do everything on their own, without anyone’s help. Even if you travel to the country that you want to do business in, you will never be able to make all the arrangements on your own.

There are many reasons for this. First of all, Asians are unlikely to get into business with a foreigner instantly and give their trust right away. You will need a person that knows the laws, the business environment and has the connections needed to “break into” the market

2.  Understand “the concept of face.”

This is a very important thing when it comes to business in Asia. Simply put, this concept means that you need to avoid shaming anyone with whom you do business and blaming them directly, even if they are the ones responsible for the mistakes that have been made.

When someone “loses face,” it basically means that they lost their reputation as a business person and this might mean the end of your cooperation for good. Be mild when telling someone that they are wrong and always take a part of the blame on yourself as well.

For example, if someone doesn’t understand what you are proposing, excuse yourself and say that you are not clear enough and this is how the whole situation can be resolved without the person losing face.

3. Culture is very important

Bear in mind that Asia is culturally very different than the West and that they pay a lot of attention to things that might not even be considered when doing business in Western countries. In Asia, respect and courtesy matter, so you need to have an open relationship with people.

When someone is aggressive and overly ambitious here, they are considered to be inexperienced. Learn some local expressions if you cannot comprehend the language, as this shows that you respect the country you are in. Also, make sure that your business incentives don’t clash with the religious beliefs in the country you are in.

4. Luxurious brands are well-received in Asia

Luxurious western brands which sell “cool” stuff are usually accepted quite readily by the Asian people. Asia is becoming more and more connected to the West, and people there love adopting Western culture and gadgets, as they find them incredibly cool. Still, it’s important that your products deliver the user experience that is promised or your audience will quickly turn on you.

Remember that Asia is a growing market and that there are many business opportunities lurking in this part of the world. In the end, make sure that you respect the country that you want to do business in, and that you never think of Asia as one big country, as there are many differences between all the different countries.

Mum’s with careers, is that a joke? Bet you would agree

Mum’s with careers, is that a joke? Bet you would agree

maternity_and_mums_blog

So, you have had a good career before leaving for maternity, in many cases great career with lots of options on going back to work, or you are self-employed, an entrepreneur or an established business woman. Especially with the number of initiatives for flexible working, part-time hours, job share, freelancing etc. similar opportunities – how hard could it really be as a returning mum after a substantial break? The answer, unfortunately, is VERY!

From what I have read and heard, including opinions of women I have consulted with these circumstances are extremely personal, full of emotions and overwhelming with the feeling of doing the right thing. Like many have expressed, they would like to have it all – a family, a child and a career but the reality is still on the contrary. Here is what some women had to tell us:

Gemma Guise, Managing Director, online media and publishing platform JurnoLink:

I am a new mum! My little boy is one and I have seen how difficult it is to run a business and have a child. I think returning to work as a new mum is really hard because child care is so expensive. As a small business owner, I can’t afford to put my child in full-time child care but at the same time, I need to be working full time to ensure the business succeeds…

Working from home is not feasible with a little one as you feel guilty splitting your time 50% with your child 50% of the business. You either need to be at work or at home with a child. I am very lucky that I have a great team that supports the fact that I cannot be available 24-7 and puts up with a baby in the office the odd day. I honestly don’t know what the answer is for small businesses owners that want a family. 

I have been told “you can’t have everything” but I cannot accept this. It would be an easy option to forget about working but there is still the financial aspect of living to consider! Currently, I have been in a fortunate position where I could sacrifice my salary, this meant that I could put the money towards someone who could fill my shoes full time. I still work on the company but only one day a week as that’s all I can justify for child care!

Alison Bullman, Principal (and business owner) at Stagecoach Fulham, a performing arts school for children:

working_mum_blog

I’m not sure I’m fully “qualified” to answer those questions as I didn’t return to a “normal” job following the birth of Phoebe, my first child. I chose to start my own business to give myself the flexibility I needed to support my family. What I would say, however, is the reason I didn’t want a 9-5 office job was because of the pressure that is put on you to work hours that simply don’t fit with children – such as early or late meetings, last-minute demands such as business trips, the need to work late when projects aren’t finished or overrun and sometimes multiple social/networking events.

The pressure this puts on mums and working parents is a significant strain on family life, which can ultimately damage the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and parents. Having said all that, owning your own business does mean no maternity leave or the associated employment benefits, so business had to continue as normal regardless of sleepless nights and tiny babies when I had my second child, Teddy. You also don’t get access to certain benefits such as Child Care Voucher schemes, so childcare costs and taking time off when self-employed is hard to manage. 

I think women are much better placed now than ever before in terms of most companies acknowledging the demands of juggling work and motherhood, and there is support and advice within big companies. I believe what would make caring for children whilst working better would be following the footsteps of those countries where men and women share working hours and caring for their children. There needs to be a better balance and options between both parents.

Anonymous:

I am a qualified accountant by profession however when I was looking to return to work in London following the birth of my second child the flexibility I was afforded in my in between period (I returned to work after my first 3 months pregnant with my second and they needed me for an office move, team recruitment and training so allowed me to work 7.30-4pm) was removed, citing business needs (even though I also worked 7-11pm at night for them). 

With no family nearby for the support, I couldn’t see how we could manage to have two children and both working in London. I began my own keepsake business, however, it became very popular and I couldn’t balance customer demand with the needs of my children. I decided to specialise but again the products I was making were so labour intensive that even specialising didn’t really help. 

I was struck by an idea at Christmas for a fully automated product that would need only website development, promotion and marketing and so the personalised handwriting practice workbook for 3-7-year-olds was created. I got the copyright and the domain name secured. I am launching Write My Name at the start of April and hoping that this will be the answer to my working needs while forever striving to achieve that work/kids balance. I hope it works otherwise I’ll have to go back to my profession and pay for another woman to take care of my children. Something I’ve been very against from the start.

Gerry So, the Co-Founder of Okappy Ltd.:

I gave birth to my first son last year in July. Being a first-time mum, running a start-up (incorporated July 2015) and working in a male-dominated industry is one by far the toughest thing I have ever done. It’s like doing the impossible especially I previously worked in a Tier 1 Investment banking for 10 years where I used to see people going on maternity leave, working part time etc. where the workplace would provide excellent support for mum’s returning from maternity.

Working for yourself is completely different. On one hand, you’d be so exhausted from looking after your baby yet you’d have to keep the business going as it’s your own business, let alone it’s a startup with limited resource and funds. My comment to all the mums and entrepreneurs out there is never giving up and everything is just a phase, it will get better. Communication is the key, be open about what you can do and can’t do so that you can manage your team’s expectations. Even to your clients as well, be bold to suggest your deliverables. You’d rather be honest about what’s doable within the timeframe rather than under deliver. 

What I found the hardest is our office is based in Bethnal Green, one of the buildings owned by Work Space. They don’t have any rooms or facilities available for mums if you want to express while at work or to sterilise your breast pumps etc. I had to buy a microwave for our office. Unfortunately, I have to sit on the toilet to express every 4 hours. It’s not the place you’d want to be, as one of the friends said, ‘it’s like you’re cooking in the toilet’. That’s probably the most off-putting thing. Hence, I spend a few days in the office and a few days at home. I think definitely all offices should have facilities for mums, similar to having disabled access. 

Anonymous, Marketing Manager, a premium virtual assistant company:
startups_hiring_blogs

As the ability for companies to offer flexible working conditions increases, the demand will also continue to increase. There’s a shift that has come with advances in technology that is making it easier and easier for employees to work more flexible schedules, whether that means working from home or flexing hours. For new mothers returning from maternity leave, this shift is especially important as they begin to sort out the best way to handle conflicting priorities and a new way of life. If companies want to retain new mothers, they need to fully understand and embrace the need for flexibility during the transition from worker to working mum.

While I planned to return to work after having my first child, it was difficult to completely define what that return would look like 6 or 9 months out. I think if companies want to improve the working culture for new mothers, there has to be complete acceptance around that. Plans can change and flexibility desperately needs to be at the forefront. Luckily, I work for a company that really values working mothers and work/life balance, and they worked with me to figure out a plan that worked for everyone involved. I was able to start part-time and work back into full-time as I felt ready. I wish every working mother could have the same type of experience, and I hope to see it more the focus on work flexibility increases globally. 

Steph, Managing Director, Don’t Buy Her Flowers:

The biggest issue I faced after returning from maternity leave is the juggle of childcare and work. I found the job itself wasn’t a problem – if anything I was far more efficient with my time and focused when at work. Though my kids were at nursery age when I started the business, I was looking ahead and couldn’t see how we were going to manage any of the school runs along with my commute. Most offices work with 9-5 expectations, which are limiting especially when you add on commuting times either side. 

I think something fundamental to the debate is flexibility for men as well as women. If it’s always a woman’s role to pick up the childcare side of things, they will always be ‘lesser’ in the workplace because they are limited to certain hours. In certain traditionally male industries, such as banking and sales roles, there’s often an assumption that there is no flexibility – it’s not even a discussion – and the mother will be picking up the childcare. In addition, more businesses should employ a person to do a job as opposed to being at a desk within certain hours. As an online business, we are able to provide flexible working across a number of roles because we don’t have opening hours as such. I think more and more businesses will move that way.

Lisa Fisher, 4D Business Coaching:

I think it is important for workplaces to support and value working women for a variety of reasons and that this supportive culture attracts, retains and engages working mum’s valuable contribution. Having a flexible working environment will ensure women such as myself are able to return to work and still have an effective work-life balance. I am not sure if companies are legally required to ensure flexibility but have heard horror stories from some friends who have not experienced a welcome return to work! 

It would be helpful if a woman’s overall productivity could be looked at and that might not mean working the standard 9 to 5. For example, some talented working mum’s might prefer to work shorter days, in the evenings or even a weekend which will enable them to have some form of flexibility. However, homeworking comes with both advantages and disadvantages so working women need to have an awareness of the blurring boundaries that may come from working in their home and some employer’s expectations of the permanent “on call” culture which fortunately I do not experience.

Working from home has enabled me to have more of a work-life balance as I am not commuting, feel that I am more productive as am not tired from the travel to and from work and can balance my client’s needs with working the hours that are more suited to family life. My employer has supported me in this role and I am very fortunate to be able to work 4 days a week Monday to Thursday in term time and this reduces to 3 days a week in the school holidays so we only require childcare for our 6-year-old daughter 2 days a week.

Once when speaking with a mum of two young boys she advised how she had to give up a 15-year successful career within property sales and business development as she could not do justice to her kids and felt guilty of neglecting family due to long working hours of estate agencies. Not surprisingly her employers were least interested in providing any form of a job share, flexibility or support. In a nutshell, it is still very hard and an almost discriminatory for returning mums into the world of work in many ways.

I am sure a lot is being done and it may be better than what it was 20 years ago, but times are changing fast and women’s involvement in businesses at every level is far greater than ever so I believe we need to push employers and businesses on how fast they can accommodate the personal lives of talented, versatile professionals and let them feel “not left behind” because they are actually capable of bringing life into this world, surely that should be rewarded not punished.

At InteriMarket we are pioneering in becoming the hub for all mid-senior interim, consulting and longer term contracting roles. If you wish for a solid pipeline of work, eliminate wasted time and efforts – you need to stop hunting on several job boards and join us. We bring opportunities.


If you want to share this article the reference to Bhumika Zhaveri and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

Make Difference with Startup Transformation

Startup Transformation: If Not Now, When?

Well, understanding a difference between a startup and other business entity is important these days as most of the startups are getting lot of external supports from the regional government, startups hubs, accelerators, business incubators and other investors & mentors. Why there is so much engagement and focus on Startups?

Startups – Growth and Success

“An entrepreneurial venture which is considered as new, fast-growing business, with scalable business model and that target specific markets by offering an innovative product, process or service”  – a typical definition of a startup.

But we should be aware that a newly founded one does not in itself make a company a startup unless it is capable to grow fast and that is the most important aspect for a startup. There are some typical terms like Unicorn is a startup company valued at over $1 billion. A Decacorn is used for those companies over $10 billion, while Hectocorn for companies valued over $100 billion (An Unicorn Map of US from CBInsights).

The growth is not at all easy without a proper startup ecosystem, which consists of individual entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, mentors, institutions and organizations, business incubators and business accelerators. Startups usually need to form partnerships with other firms to enable their business model to operate for sure.

Startup Ecosystem

A startup hub usually provides such platform for connections and collaboration and usually operates on regional basis. Recent startup hubs Europe‘s overview for startup ecosystem across Europe is shown below.

Recent startup hubs Europe‘s overview for startup ecosystem across Europe

Take a look around some world’s best startup hubs to know more.

There are a lot of efforts and contributions from business incubators and business accelerators for the startups. Many entrepreneurs or startup founders often turn to a startup accelerator or startup incubator for helping other startups.

Accelerators programs usually start with an application process, but most of them are typically very selective and usually have a set of timeframe in which individual startup spend, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months working with a group of mentors and experts to build out their business. Startups are also given a small seed investment, and access to a large mentoring network in exchange for a small amount of equity.

Startup incubators begin with startups that may be earlier in the process and they do not operate on a set schedule. Some independent incubators also can be sponsored by VC firms, government entities, and major organizations.

business-accelerators-and-incubators

Difference on Business Accelerators and Incubators shown above is taken from Help for ACCA and CIMA Studies.

Startups – Slowdown and Failure

We cannot ignore the facts and statistics on the startups, which is an important part of the economy and startup scale-ups definitely effect on the economy, society and innovation in the world. But, while 40-50 percent of startups are dying within first five years of their inception, it could be a wrong conclusion to make about the economy on the basis of the number of these startups. And yes, because of this there has been already a slowdown in economic growth as well, once such clear indication is from US where is the highest number of startup ecosystems.

Statistics also says that 80-90 % fails are ‘in genera’. In other word nine out of ten startups are failing on consistently.

There are numerous articles publishing regularly on the failure of startups, lessons learn from failures. Even one can get through many of the startup failure stories, after all failure is the path to success. Learn from your own the failure is definitely sounds rigid but learn from other’s failure is not so easy for sure. If we try to collate all the failures reasons, stories and analysis from post mortem, we can definitely capture some major and common concrete challenges, as shown below.

Success vs. Failure

There are lots of post mortem done on startup failures, one can see from Quartz and CB Insights to analyse more.

If one start considering the failure percentage, they could realize that, it’s overflowing and it is indeed necessary to find some real valuable solutions or barrier to bring down this failure in the future. But the story is still going on the different path

In spite of so many potential entrepreneurs involved in startups, so much outside encouragement, efforts and helps, startups keep on failing. Business accelerators, incubators, grinds, the whole startup ecosystem is behind the supports, doing incredible efforts for their success; trying to help the startups, building them, nourishing them, mentoring team, teaching them but the results remain the same for last few years.

Why? We keep asking this for long time now. If we need to consider startups as a significant part of economy, this is the time we need to rethink.

Startups – Transformation

If we take a close look into the post mortems, reasons does not looks too complex; so what is stopping us currently? There are a lot of efforts from the startup ecosystem on education & learning, mentoring, networking, funding (one of the major constraints), investing, supporting in all major respects.

But there are limited or no such efforts in place to work together with those 90% startups, who are making magnificent effort in their journey but because of some trivial mistakes, (major reasons mentioned before) they get failed. Why not transforming those startups completely so that they keep on succeeding in their remaining journey?

For sure there is a necessity to have something or somebody who can helps transforming these startups not only through education, mentoring, networking and funding but also follow up with their experiences, working closely together with these startups in their businesses to face the challenges and crack them.

In this era of transformation where all the organizations are in the process of transforming their processes, business, people; there is also a need for a transformation for the startups, working together for getting the right strategic vision, focusing on customers, products, markets and other challenges. Also being able to anticipate what are the customer expectations and what is the best way to achieve it. For a complete successful journey, these startups need advisory in every aspect, in every part of their experiences.

Idea of introducing Startup Transformers during this stage could be a solution to some extend; for avoiding such circumstances which can lead to a failure. A startup transformer helps a startup to transform completely into a successful business unit; work closely with them, collaborate for them with partners, customers and other peers, helping them by resolving challenges and gradually reform them in achieving the success.

Typical activities of a startup transformer could be varied, but majorly need to be centralized on overcoming the challenges and there should be also a strong focus to provide a platform for networking, community, events and collaboration. Below shown such activities of a startup transformer.

Startup Transformer

Instead of only analyzing the failures; instead of only learning from the other successful startups; instead of only following successful business guidance and mentorship; it is also necessary to start working together with these startups in their journey to make them completely successful. And this can only be achieved when one can start engaging with them not only in their initial stages but in their entire journey, preparing them to avoid the mistakes, work together to overcome challenges, choose a right path for these startups and transform them to be a successful business unit.

A lot of collaboration is needed with different relevant partners, advisors, customers; a lot of efforts need to be put in understanding market & strategy, right business model with scalability, knowing competitors, to develop ideal product and services; making better relationship with customers, better managing team and funds.

Another important factor where some strong efforts need to be in place, is the lack of innovations; the benefits of being innovative in the journey of a startup, it’s growth and scalability of its business is solely depend on the original business model not on a cloned one. It is also crucial for us to keep innovation alive as it is essential for fostering economic growth.

Idea does not work by itself; the reality is only possible whenever one take some initiative from that.

Startup Transformation is no more an idea yet, HRTech Conscience, a venture project on Disrupt HR (majorly engage and focus with HR Technologies) has taken a step forward by applying these concepts and idea for meaningful and valuable results. Currently collaborating with several startups, partners and customers from a diversified portfolio and already become the first Startup Transformer. There could be a success or a failure, but gaining a great experience from this journey of unknown disrupt transformation is definitely valuable for the future. Let’s help changing the world into a new direction with contribution from all of us!

About the Author:

Soumyasanto Sen

Soumyasanto Sen — Blogger, Speaker and Evangelist in HR Technology who try to think Out of the Box!

Professional Consultant, Manager, Advisor, Investor in HR Tech. Focusing on Strategies, Mobility, Cloud, Analytics, UX, Security, Data Protection, Developments and Integration in HR Technology & Digital HR.


Source: Make difference with Startup Transformation – HRTechCon

Great Companies Are Built Around Great People

Written by Annie Jordan, VP, Global Head of HR at Finstar Financial Group. Specially for The HR Tech Weekly®.

Annie Jordan, VP, Global Head of HR at Finstar Financial Group

There is a lot of truth in the saying that great companies are built upon great people. However, the reality is, of course, more complicated than that. The world’s leading companies are a powerful blend of people, vision, capability and culture. These things work together like the mechanics of a rocket, generating and maintaining irresistible momentum.

But how do you ignite the rocket?

It starts with the fuel, exceptional people. Without exceptional people, you will struggle to build departments that smash through goals or spark entrepreneurial commitment.

Yet how is it possible to attract top people to an environment that has not already been built into the kind of engaging, highly professional workplace that world class candidates come from and demand?

This chicken and egg scenario ranks as one of the most difficult strategic challenges in HR, and it is especially pertinent to the fast-moving world of HR in the tech industry, where workplace expectations are always growing.

The first thing to understand is that top performers do not avoid challenges. In fact, they seek them, and being open about the challenges that await them is something that will help attract the very best.

Finstar Financial Group is a private equity firm focused on the future of financial services, founded by Oleg Boyko. We believe in our businesses and that we are building the foundational elements of a modern, digitally adept, high-speed world. We have lofty ambitions, and we make these ambitions clear to the people we hope to attract. In fact, our ambitions do not end with revenue and profit targets: they are driven by a vision for the future of financial services.

We aim high when targeting the people we want to join our team, casting our net worldwide in our search for the best possible candidates. This sense of purpose and ambition has allowed us to attract first-rate minds from top tier companies.

We have now built a virtuous circle: by attracting top managerial talent, then constantly challenging them – insisting on the highest standards when doing so – and freeing them to achieve their goals in their own way, we have stoked their entrepreneurial spirit, and they tend to energetically and rigorously attack their targets. This has created a positive, exciting and goal–focused environment for all employees. It also, of course, makes Finstar Financial Group and its portfolio companies evermore attractive places to work, helping us draw in more great talent from around the world. 

“The greatest adrenaline hit for any Marketeer is to make a difference through their contribution. Bringing together knowledge from a past life’s conquest to unifying and motivating the wonderful and enthusiastic minds of a new organization is all part and parcel of that contribution. However, the contribution itself has to have a focus from which it draws its energy. In this case, we look to the Brand in question Finstar. A global titan within its own right, but with the prowess and agility of any new start up. With the help, assistance and guidance from the HR team you begin to understand the organization better, its ambitions and the almost blank canvass with which to mark out your approach. Most well-seasoned individuals and newcomers alike begin scanning the paperwork to find out where they sign! Though only at the initial stage of my journey with the organisation, I foresee it being a long and fruitful one, as well as becoming a key contributor to the well-oiled machine that is Finstar.” – Arun Varma, Chief Marketing Officer.

“I found a unique multi-cultural combination of talents in Finstar Financial Group. The company offers you a challenge of combining the skills and disciplines learned in large international corporations with the high flexibility and agility needed to adapt to rapidly changing technologies and customer expectations, so as to keep our competitive edge.” – Gauthier Van Weddingen, VP, Deputy CEO Operations.

“Creativity and ingenuity in all the aspects aligned with robust and conservative corporate standards and best practices, the possibility to combine the non-combinable while exploring the most elegant and very often, unique recipes in this “fusion cuisine” of innovative IT developments, financial retail services and business effectiveness, all these multiplied by the global scale and multicultural nature of our company – this impresses indeed. The kaleidoscope of different jurisdictions, approaches and mentalities, the possibility to work with extremely qualified professionals from all over the world create the unique experience and knowledge base, together with a desire to use it for the company’s growth and to confirm again and again that we all are real FinSTARs!” – Dmitry Kobzar, Head of Legal Department DFI.

Ultimately, this process of embracing lofty goals, setting our talented hires exacting challenges and stoking their entrepreneurial instincts has allowed Finstar to solve the HR conundrum of attracting the type of executives who create the attractive working environment which such exceptional people are attracted to. We now have a virtuous circle in place that has sparked the stellar growth that sets Finstar Financial Group apart as a high-flyer in the FinTech world, delivers value to our stakeholders, and makes each of our offices a cutting edge, innovative and challenging place to work.


If you want to share this article the reference to Annie Jordan and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

Higher Ed To Career Tech Startup Funded With Competitions, Incubators And Angels

Forbes_Logo

Written by  Moira Vetter | As appeared in Forbes.

Moira Vetter, Founder & CEO Modo Modo Agency, Forbes Contributor

Patrick Jones, the Founder and CEO of Vocatio, has been on a tear. A graduate of Leadership Atlanta, Jones was exposed to the challenges of developing leaders by bringing college graduates into the workplace. Jones saw an opportunity to develop a technology solution that could bridge the gap between higher education and higher pursuits in employment. Thus Vocatio—which Jones call the GPS for your career journey—was born…but growing it would take a lot more financial creativity and a varied approach to fundraising.

The PeopleOps Innovation Challenge

Jones, a successful executive who had participated in growing a large firm to exit, got to work on his startup. He first connected with a consortium lead by a Nebraska firm called VentureTech. He found them the old-fashioned way… on Twitter. Vocatio and 160 other companies applied for the PeopleOps Innovation Challenge, a competition intended to help non-technical founders rapidly prototype ideas and get them market-test ready.’ Jones landed in the final four, went through an interview process and two week later was informed he’d won complete with $50k and technology services support.

What Can A Competition Do For You?

For those interested in competing for capital and support, it’s important tot remember that not all competitions are created equally. As Jones pointed out, VentureTech brought something even more valuable than capital to the table—they brought 5 beta customers. With those beta customers, Jones was able to get his idea closer to market.

Are incubators the next best step to find capital and your market entry?

Jones at this point applied to several accelerators in Palo Alto and Florida. But Jones cautions that as much as you want to get capital and find believers you have to guard against the hype. In his case he was able to find some amazing mentors when he was accepted to the Global Silicon Valley Labs incubator that helped broaden his network of advisors and potential investors.

Watch out for two kinds of people drawn to incubators and accelerators.

With the amount of popularity and attention that exists with accelerators there are two kinds of people to guard against. The first are the blind believers that love every idea they see. These people don’t have the critical eye or likely the connections to help you develop your idea.

But, according to Jones, and his advisor Ellen Leanse from Stanford, the more dangerous group are those that are there to deconstruct your idea, your ambition and water your concept down in to something they like. It can feel like a process of downloading critical intellectual property repeatedly that is not heading toward capital. This is where great advisors come in handy because entrepreneurs need people to check their enthusiasm and run critical assessments… but killing the concept or the entrepreneur serves no one.

So maybe Angel capital is the path to launch.

After several rounds trying to pitch, convince and advance his idea with accelerators, Jones decided to approach select Angel investors. Jones, connected with Mark Rampolla, founder of ZICO Coconut water, out of Los Angeles. With Angel capital, Jones was able to test not only his technical concept, but build the brand concept. User experience design testing and real-world research with potential users are critical to helping build the business case for a launch. Also, when considering who your lead investor is, consider how active they are. Mark Rampolla makes 10 to 15 investments a year and brings much more to the table for Vocatio than simply capital. He is a great barometer of the investment marketplace and the deals that are likely to grow in the near-term.

The next steps for a startup entrepreneur

Jones is about to close a $250k round of investment and is closer to entering the public market. He is preparing for a major milestone at the ASU GSV Summit. This is a huge summit for the investor community and Jones has already been selected as a presenter at the April conference in San Diego.

He has gotten an impressive management team pulled together, something critical at this phase to future growth and future capital. That team needs to complement Jones. According to Jones, he has a tendency is to approach opportunities cognitively—with the brain. Logic won’t always rule the success of the business and the success of their capital strategies. At the end of the day, the best high-raise returns come from entrepreneurs that demonstrate a strong emotional quotient (EQ) and where investors feel you’re up to something big.

While you are spending a lot of time on the ‘what you do’ and ‘how you do it,’ this won’t likely be what draws in employees, investors and customers. Be sure you’re expressing the ‘why’ you do what you do in the spirit of Simon Sinek.

This is particularly important for someone like Jones to keep in mind as Vocatio grows. For his company to be a success, he needs to help individuals move from what they will do in their careers and how. The most powerful hook in navigating the GPS of career will likely start with ‘why’ people follow a particular vocation. Whether it’s the team, the investors or the customers, be sure your branding and messaging answer the ‘why’ question.

How are you performing as an entrepreneur answering the ‘why question’ while you’re sorting out the ‘what’ and ‘how’?

If you like what you read, please follow Moira Vetter at Forbes and share the piece.
What do you think entrepreneurs want to know about managing money or securing capital?

Source: Higher Ed To Career Tech Startup Funded With Competitions, Incubators And Angels – Forbes