Britt Hogue explains how she transformed her business by applying to herself the same advice that she gives to her clients.
Eat Your Own Cooking
As some of you may know, I am approaching my one year anniversary as a business owner. I am a strategy and operations consultant to nonprofit organizations, and I haven't been shy about admitting to friends and family (and pretty much anyone who will listen) that I've been struggling to stay organized. Most people respond saying that I appear to have things fairly under control, or that it takes time to get settled into a new career – especially when that new career is entrepreneurship.
And yet, having spent the first 10 years of my career in traditional jobs, I have found the crazy and hectic life of self-employment to be rather challenging.
The NextWomen Generations & Family Business Theme.
Kate Jackson, winner of our last London pitch event, tells us how she came to work with her brother and outlines five factors to consider before deciding to work with a sibling.
My brother and I have co-founded two tech startups. Firstly, ClickTonight, which is a meeting and parties website and secondly, TableCrowd, which is a real life social network to meet people over food.
When most people find out that my co-founder is my brother, they take a momentary pause to ponder what it would be like to work with their own sibling - how their respective personalities would gel, and then they report back “there’s no way I could work with my brother!” - often with a slightly horrified look on their face.
Kristie Kennedy looks at why the first step into entrepreneurialism is the hardest, and examines the traits you’ll need to make it a successful one.
The Power to Start
After thirteen years of self-discovery, daunting disappointments, delightful adventures and personal dream fulfillment, I have accumulated a wealth of wisdom to share as an entrepreneur.
According to Chinese philosophy, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In other words, even the longest journey must begin from where you stand. For many dreamers, this first step seems to be the most painstaking yet it is the most vital of all. This bold step into the unknown appears to be the main barrier of one’s progress towards success and achievement.
The underlying apprehension rests in the thought that a vision so massive could not possibly be accomplished by our own hands.
Jackie Hutchings shares the lessons she’s learned from working long hours and why a ‘stop doing’ list is the key to working sustainably.
I hit a wall last week. Not a real wall, a metaphorical wall. The crazy thing is that I could see it coming but did nothing to avoid it. I've hit it before.... not often, but I have hit it before so the signs were very clear. I chose that road and I could have so easily avoided it. Let me tell you more.
The birth of a start up is heralded as any new life - with excitement and anticipation. And then the hard work starts, deadlines loom, plans get revised, money gets spent and the race is on to get to market. Oh, and there's the lingering fear of failure.
And my reaction to this is to work harder, work longer, work more.
It's easy to translate 'working long hours' into 'being more effective'. Do you recognise that in yourself?
As much as I'd love to achieve it, I don't really buy the notion of Tim Ferriss's 4 Hour Week. My old habits kick in and overide any thoughts of slowing up. That is until my body says “no more” and my head feels like a washing machine on the spin cycle.
Alexandra Anghel looks at why it’s best to look outside your circle of friends and family for your ideal co-founders.
A startup is a mix of team, product and market. Obviously, it first starts with the team – the base on what everything else is built.
In the last years, I read many articles on how to choose your co-founders, what pitfalls to avoid and how to build a successful team. The most recent piece of reading I have stumbled upon was one article that opinioned you don’t need a co-founder, that you can go out there and start something on your own. I do agree that building an MVP is doable without anyone’s help, but the reality is that teams of one have a very high failure rate - a good enough reason for all accelerators to require a team of two or more.
A “lone wolf” will always have a question mark above his head; if you’re so great, why doesn’t anybody work with you?
Laura-May Zvolinska explains how the team at Plagspotter, who provide a tool for checking duplicate content on the internet, have distinguished their business from the competition and increased their profit margins, enabling them to keep innovating.
Our startup company. PlagSpotter. has become a growing and increasingly popular site where users can check for website plagiarism. The issue of duplicate content and plagiarism has steadily increased in importance since the latest Google Panda updates were implemented.
Duplicate content is roughly defined as any online content that has already been somewhere else at an earlier time.
Alex Depledge explains how the skills she and her team learned as consultants have benefited them as entrepreneurs.
I've been working on my new business, a tech startup called Teddle, for a little over a year. The biggest surprise that I wasn't expecting - people's reaction to my corporate consulting background.
It's like a dirty word to some. I've heard whispers of 'she is a wantrapreneur' or 'they will never last'. I don't think it has anything to do with the fact I have 2 X chromosomes. When we took part in Springboard a 12 week tech accelerator, one reaction from a mentor was comical. He became angry with the team when we wouldn't accept his view that all consultants were useless puppets.
So I get a bit peed off when I read lines like this: "[Big corporations] indoctrinate you into the company culture and into a lifestyle for which they are primarily responsible, making it hard to leave."
Fran Rodriguez, founder of online personalised gift service Bags of Love, takes us through the early days of her business, including her decision to manufacture her products locally, and the launch of her sites in the US, France, Germany and Japan.
I was admiring a customised handbag from a high end boutique store, but the price was so expensive and the waiting list even more ridiculous. I couldn’t seem to justify the price. Was it expensive just because the bag was handmade? Or would one just be paying for the exclusivity? I thought it couldn’t be that difficult to get exactly the bag that I wanted made myself. So, from the kitchen table the first Bag of Love was developed and produced.
Having always been creative, it was great to express this through designing bags. My husband Chris and I were at a loose end and thought that this could be a successful business. In 2002 we decided to start Contrado Imaging Ltd and in 2003 we established Bags of Love.
There was a gap in the market for products personalised with photos and at that time there was a large shift towards digital. Images could be sent online easily without the need for scanning.
The NextWomen Generations & Family Business Theme
Maria Lucas, whose company Radiant Wrap creates alternative designer gowns for women to wear during radiation treatments for Breast Cancer, tells us about the joys of working with her son, Koray.
I didn’t grow up a stranger to Breast Cancer. I was eight years old when my mother was first diagnosed. She had a mastectomy, and in the years that followed, she went on to have five reoccurrences, treated by many rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. I also had three aunts and four cousins who were diagnosed, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when at age fifty, I myself was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
Krissy Charles-Jones explains how her unwavering belief in her business idea paid off: her rapidly growing assessor training business hired four new staff and moved into a new office last year.
I was a bit of rebel and left school with two GCSE’s. Luckily these were in the core subjects English and Maths! I then went on to get a job as a care assistant and went to college. I worked my way up in this role and trained as a social worker.
Eventually, at age 21, I became a home manager for people with learning disabilities. In this job, even though managers worked over 60 hours a week, I was made to become an NVQ assessor by my manager, as all managers had to do it.
Reluctantly I did it, but didn’t have much time to complete the course. The day before all my assignments were due in I was talking to my manager about throwing in the towel and he said “Just get it done tonight because if you don’t you will regret it, NVQ’s are getting big business and this could open new doors for you”. I really respected his advice and he turned out to be right!