Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Tough times hit hard: 5 things that may help.

Brexit, economic downturn, lack of funding, new regulations and changing personal circumstances  are all events that can rock the foundation of your startup business. Making it through hard times requires a steel determination and some serious grit. However, these days I think we need more than just fighting spirit. Here are some thoughts on what else to do when tough times hit.

Cut Carefully

I really don’t like this cutting, because I think one should always be frugal with money. In addition, for small and growing business, cost-cutting needs to be implemented with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Cut too deep and your business will never recover. Cut too shallow and cash flow problems could force you to the back of the unemployment line. Exercise care and judgment in determining what and where to cut and by how much. And keep monitoring the impact.

Use Low-Budget Marketing

When recessions and other difficult times hit, the marketing function of a business is the first to get cut. With less advertising and marketing, the funnel of incoming prospects is reduced creating even more revenue decreases and setting up a vicious cycle.

The key to salvage any business in hard times is NOT to reduce your marketing activities but to REPLACE them with  Low-budget marketing ( include tactics such as PR, networking, public speaking, online marketing and more.) If you’re already doing that, then figure out how you can do more, through new channels.

Invest your way out?

Are there others feeling the pinch? Can you buy yourself some growth, with efficiencies to be made through scaling operations?

Customer. Customer. Customer.

In good times, business comes easy. Your sales pitch or marketing message may be less effective but will still get results. Surviving hard times requires going back full circle to the fundamentals: Keep it simple, and give your customers what they want and need. Make sure EVERY customer is happy, because you certainly can’t afford a single unhappy one.

Forwards!!

It’s easy to fall into the trap of replaying the situation that got you here today. If you had a failed partnership, replaying your mistakes is a mistake. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Lyubomirsky, Sousa, et al reveals analysis occurring during talking or writing is beneficial in difficult times while replaying negative events is detrimental.

There is a great book called “What got your here won’t get you there”, and that phrase is a great reminder of the need to pause, take stock, realign and move forward.
Go win. If it was EASY, ANYBODY could’ve done it already.

The kids won’t EVER be silenced

When parents are still searching for their missing children and the number of deaths is still counting higher by the hour, it is so hard to stay hopeful. My heart bleeds for Manchester.

But we have to.

We cannot change the plans for today out of fear, only out of compassion. And we can not change our plans for tomorrow, or the day after that.

A little while ago it was my home country that suffered at the attack of a crazy evil person, out to kill as many as possible. Last night it was my adopted home country. No matter where we are from or which language we speak, I know this: you can’t silence the generation that was attacked last night. Those who have learnt to keep singing when the music stops will never ever be silenced.

When the music stops, we have to remember what the lyrics were. And Ariana Grandes “Dangerous Woman Tour” is as much a political and gender equality statement as anything else. She has gone from Disney princess to a strong activist fighting for womens rights.

She has taught millions of young women that their voices can’t be silenced, and they are proving her right, without apologizing for it for a second. They demand their own voice is heard and recognised, demand it to belong to them and nobody else, because they know they can.

They can, and they will.

They have already learned to not be pretty and sit in the corner until spoken to. Trust me, as scared as they may be, they will NOT run and hide. And neither should we.

Gut Says YES, Brain Says NO….!??

If you’re like me, you often find yourself with two options, both appealing for your young startup: one risky, the other is safer.

The risky option promise big growth, great opportunities and fast revenue. Even though you know it’s more than you can take on, you leap. Your heart is shouting a clear Yes, telling you how great it will be and how proud it will make you. Shouting No (almost) as loudly is your sensible and cautious head, which instructs you to slow down and think about it some more.

People around you (especially as you start up) will likely tell you to “listen to your heart,” and “believe in yourself”.  Oprah Winfrey (link is external), too, suggests you follow your emotional inclinations rather than those logic would suggest. But is that really good advice? Think back on the times when you did follow your heart. How did it work out?

Don’t trust your own memory!

Unfortunately, we tend to be bad statisticians when it comes to reviewing our own prior experiences. Research on reminiscence shows that we tend to remember the distinctive events in our lives, particularly those that were pleasant. For most people, even traumatic memories tend to fade with time (hello childbirth!). As a result, we’re almost programmed to go with our heart because we favour and remember the occasions when it provided correct guidance.

Go rational or go home

Your rational decision-making processes probably have a pretty good track record. You just wont remember as much of it: when you followed logic, it just wasn’t as memorable. It’s also possible that when reason prevailed, it told you not to do something; therefore, you have less to remember.

But guess what? All that being said: following your instinct sounds so much more fun.

Decision made. (As I was typing this I was debating with myself if I should follow the logical approach, or follow my heart about who to hire for our next team member. I’ve just clarified for myself that I should trust my gut. )

 

6 things that don’t work well for pre-entrepreneurs in corporates…

I know there are a couple of people who might be frowning as they read this post, and for that I am truly sorry. It isn’t personal.

I am often asked if it was scary to take the leap to become a business owner, and I am always slightly surprised by that questions. It wasn’t scary at all. To me it is a very natural state, as I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, where problem solving was paramount to everyday life. When I think back now, corporate life was the scariest out of the two!

Corporate Misfit?

Perhaps that is why I never really felt like I fit in into corporate life — when your fundamental aim is to solve the bigger problem, the following 6 thing don’t work well at all:

  1. silos
  2. red tape
  3. multi lateral politics
  4. Staying in your lane
  5. “It’s just a job” attitude
  6. Personal positioning

Several of the above points is of course things that a lot of great leaders in the corporate world is trying to counteract. They understand fully how it holds people back, stifles innovation and slow down growth. (So those of you who are now frowning: remember, it isn’t personal!)

Is “just do it” the only solution?

Is there a scenario where we can continue to encourage more entrepreneurship in the corporate world? Or is it simply not possible, and the budding entrepreneurs out there should just take the leap and get going, because their profile will never be truly appreciated in the corporate environment anyway?

 

Your Loss is My Gain, dear corporates

The observant follower may have noticed that:

a) My amazing PA has gone on maternity leave

b) I have been announcing my search for her replacement

Holy macaroons, there are some talented people out there, who are DYING for the chance to work flexible hours, from home. I have been flooded with brilliant emails from clever people, who are keen, eager, skilled, experienced and bright. Impressive, to say the least.

And that tells me this:

  • There is a LOT of available talent who are more interested in work quality than a high salary
  • The requirements for working parents are difficult to live up to for parents
  • The world still hasn’t fully adapted to using meeting and communications technology to enhance collaboration across geographical distances
  • If companies could be more flexible, they could increase commitment and engagement for staff, and they would be repaid loyalty and productivity in return

We use whatsapp, zoom, FaceTime and perch. Have a look, and see if you can rethink some of your headcount. It is absolutely worth it!

 

 

 

4 things that are cool about being in STEM

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics

STEM is a term that refers to the academic disciplines of science,[note 1] technology, engineering and mathematics.[1] The term is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development.

The acronym arose in common use shortly after an interagency meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation chaired by the then NSF director Rita Colwell.[2] A director from the Office of Science division of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, Peter Faletra, suggested the change from the older acronym METS to STEM. Colwell, expressing some dislike for the older acronym, responded by suggesting NSF to institute the change.

Increase gender balance in STEM

Current campaigns to increase the gender balance within STEM fields include the UK’s WISE[46] as well as mentoring programs, such as the Million Women Mentors initiative connecting girls and young women with STEM mentors[47] and Verizon’s #InspireHerMind project

Other variations

  • STM (scientific, technical, and mathematics;[4] or science, technology, and medicine; or scientific, technical, and medical)
  • eSTEM (environmental STEM) [5][6]
  • GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science); used for programs to encourage females into these science fields.[9][10]
  • BEMS (Boys in Engineering, Math, and Science); used for programs to encourage males into these science fields.[citation needed]
  • STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine)
  • AMSEE (Applied math, science, engineering, and entrepreneurship)

Top 4 things that are cool about STEM for me:

  1. I like making things (Engineering)
  2.  I like clever gadgets (Technology)
  3.  Mathematics is great when you want to run a P&L in black
  4. I work in medical devices (Science)

Here is my podcast with Gary Bridgeman on the topic of STEM from 9th May 2017.

Is there such a thing as growing too fast? And are we? Here is how you know.

Apparently the percentage of startups failing within the first 3 years is really high. I don’t want to talk about how many — I think I’d rather not know. (Sort of like  the bumblebee legend:  it shouldn’t be able to fly, but no one told the bumblebee, so it does just fine.)

Growing is great fun, and everyone strives for it. But nobody really talks about how expensive it is.

A couple of weeks back I sat down and looked through the cost of winning a new account for my medical device company. Once we have done

  • scouting
  • training
  • Samples
  • case support
  • Follow up
  • procurement

….we have spent around 13.000GBP.  Now, if you multiply that with 20 (the number of new accounts we started up last year for Galaxy), it becomes a big chunk of cash! No matter what the profit on each sell is, that is still an investment of a lot of time and money up front.

Sales growth + Profit decline

Overall we grew sales with 48% last year….an absolutely oustanding number in medical device. But profit declined dramatically, as we invested in growing the number of accounts.

Do your calculation of how much it costs you to win a new account. Now you have a great insight to how much cash you will need to grow your business.