Entrepreneurship across the world

I gave a talk recently on “what entrepreneurship is really like” – its a tag line we hear all the time actually now.

Those who have “been there and done it” or those who want to “humblebrag” about there so called failures in business. But the reality of it all comes down to the fact that as everybody knows failure is almost a pre-requisite for success in some way. Everyone hits road bumps along the way.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some great successes and along the way some bumps in the road too. But no, my talk was more to do with the cultural differences in entrepreneurship and how these impact the way we think/see/do things in the real world.

I recall at one stage being labelled one of the “top 10 entrepreneurs” in a publication and only two years later the same publication out of fear of not satisfying everyone expanded that list from 10 to 250 “top entrepreneurs”.

In Britain at least our definition of ‘entrepreneur’ changes often, from the brash and brave person who sets out to change their life, their industry or the world! To being more ‘fair to everyone’ to the point where every ‘business owner’ is labelled an entrepreneur which simply isn’t true.

That said – travel a few hours abroad, to countries where even to start a business is filled with more fear, doubt, regulation and red tape than we could possibly imagine in our current ‘Brexit fearing state’ and its easy to see why many people are starting out for themselves, to give their families an opportunity to escape the status quo.

Seeing some of the incredible opportunities people are discovering for themselves, branching out and leaving behind what little comforts they currently have to go on a path of discovery and “REAL” entrepreneurship is inspiring.

So take a risk, be entrepreneurial, if its in your heart and soul – go forward. Culturally it maybe difficult, it maybe frowned upon, failure today is not failure for life.

Good luck.

Finding another way home

I love this brief piece on AVC.com by Fred Wilson and it got me thinking.

I’m fortunate enough to do a lot of travelling, both professional and for personal enjoyment and this takes me all over the world on a regular basis.

Whether or not I’m visiting for work or pleasure – there is always a sense of urgency to get back home. How many times had I travelled somewhere only to immedidately start counting down the clock to head back home.

Probably half a dozen or so flights in this year already and the urgency to make sure that no matter what – if the train or flight is delayed, I’ll always find another way home no matter the cost.

Travelling is great and I get a lot done during these trips especially writing and catching up on email but without a doubt theres no place like home.

Swapping flights and changing different train routes to get home quicker is far better for me than spending an extra 2-4 hours in a station/airport lounge ‘doing work’.

Employee engagement

“I love working with the team here, even management but the leadership team is really bad”

A message I got recently from a friend and got me thinking about how Maslows hierarchy of needs also applies to employee engagement and cmo.com had a great example of just this.

In poor performing companies, those who lack vision & ambition we see employees stuck in the ‘survival’ stages and who are desperately keen to get out, move on and find a new role at almost any cost. 

Next the ‘security’ stage where employees are spending the entire working hours searching for jobs on linkedin and sneaking outside for calls with recruiters. We all know people who are doing this right now. Its not healthy for the employee nor the employer. And the truth is most at this stage could be saved/resolved!

Feeling as if you ‘belong’ doesn’t happen because a sign on the wall says that every one is family, it doesn’t occur because you have social events together. If you are not growing personally and professionally in a role the feels right for you. You will leave at the first sign of interest elsewhere. This is where a large number of small business employees tend to find themselves I believe. 

But if you are ‘engaged’ and feel important at work, happy in your role. Then success, incredible – you love coming to work and the people you work with. What else could you want! This is the place we all want to be, we want the work/life balance, the great co-workers and to come in to the office feeling inspired, challenged, most importantly feeling like we are looked after and appreciated in the work place.

Can we be so fortunate in our life time as to get to the point in our jobs where we feel highly engaged – the mythical beings do exist in fact. I’ve been lucky over the years to hire and work with some incredible people, have seen those at all stages of employee engagement.

But without a doubt those who are highly engaged, motivated, dedicated and working towards the companies goals with passion and who feel appreciated by the company can be truly happy in work and that reflects back on home life too.

So whether you are LinkedIn job hunting today or whether you are motivated and excited for another day at the office – you know what needs to be done either way.

Go out there and get it done. Whatever it takes.

Culture doesn’t save a company

Original link: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6504248146451800064

Inspired by some truly great conversations around HR and general people management over the last few days, I came across this piece of research by #Linkedin from 2015.

Who or what really lies at fault for businesses that are unable to provide employees with a satisfying role that can provide opportunities for advancement whilst being in a productive environment that fosters great #culture throughout the organisation is unknown and varies so much.

But to have a place where compensation and benefits are attractive, people recognised and rewarded with work that is challenging, stimulating and encourages growth throughout, all whilst having strong #leadership and #management to aid in the mission of the company is something so many clearly desire.

I won’t blame poor leadership or jump on the millennial blame game. But over the last few weeks these conversations with friends, colleagues, HR and #legal professionals have really been inspiring as to how many are doing things so poorly, but most importantly – those who are doing things the right way!

Hats off to the organisations who genuinely have happy, productive and empowered members of staff.

Don’t hide behind the word ‘culture’, Friday pizzas & Fifa games. Go be awesome!

#peoplemanagement #compensation#sales

“We need more and more people to create their own jobs…and to be entrepreneurial”

John Forkin in 2016 talking about entrepreneurship, Derby as the city that famously homes Rolls-Royce & BOMBARDIER but also as a city that thanks largely to the University of Derby have driven enormous growth for SMEs and entrepreneurial endeavours.

With MIPIM (http://mipim.com) just around the corner, its that time of year when Marketing Derby and other local businesses get to shine and promote what a great city Derby is and how much we have grown over the years.

It’s not just big business, not just the millions invested in new retail and entertainment in the city, but also the growth of SMEs that continues to surface, promote and enhance the city.

When we filmed this interview with John it was originally talking all about Global Entrepreneurship Week – something many of us are very passionate about. But the little gems and quotes John speaks in this interview shows the passion he, his team and the entire city really has for the place we work from and the place we call home.

Original link: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6500644802353209344

When you struggle

I remember saying this line “When you struggle with it, and you do struggle” on the topic of entrepreneurship – it was running up to a turning point in life for me personally with mental health problems.

It was then and is now ‘time to talk’ and so many don’t – I’ve been blessed to work with some fantastic people in my life, professionally and personally both in business and in the mental health space.

Today it’s #timetotalk – conversations really do have the power to change lives and talking about mental health should not be frowned upon.

Excuse the rude word in the video from me – but as Julian commented in response “it’s not just about business, it’s about life generally” and entrepreneurship is one of the common causes of mental health problems.

So if nothing else, get a coach, mentor, friend, family, someone you can talk to – it doesn’t have to be about business, but don’t neglect your mental health – ever. Follow Time to Change for more information.

Original source: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6499217578093744128

Hanging up the Code Club hat

As many people know one of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning for the last (almost) 3 years was to head into town of an early morning and put in a couple hours worth of work in the office before heading over to Derby Central Library where I would teach a class of children all about coding through the nationwide CodeClub organisation.

It is something that many who know me will recognise as being something I am incredibly passionate about – teaching children and helping shape the next generation of programmers and developers.

In recent months not only did our Code Club receive “Star Club” status, but I was also named as the “East Midlands Code Club Champion” – most likely because I never stopped talking about how valuable activities like Code Club is to young children.

It is with a heavy heart that I must (for now at least) hang up the Code Club hat and walk away from running the weekend classes in Derby – for now the arrival of my son and other personal matters mean that I need to take stock and re-evaluate where my time is being spent.

I’ve enjoyed every moment of running the club and all the children that have come through the various cohorts. I look forward to one day being involved once again but for now – I’m logging off.

Twentisphere Podcast

Article reproduced from source.

You’re a successful entrepreneur. You work 90 hours a week. 7 days a week. You suffer with depression. You find out that you’re going to be a Dad.

This week, Carl talks to self-confessed ‘recovering entrepreneur’ Sean Price, about his recent life-work choices, made at a time of suddenly shifting personal and professional priorities.

Having made a courageous decision to step away from the digital agency he founded as an 18 year old, Sean has successfully pivoted his career – and is now a Director of a multi-million pound IT company.

Recommended Books:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz

The 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris

Only the Paranoid Survive – Andrew Grove

Getting Things Done – David Allen

Recommended Apps:

Basecamp – Project Management

Omnifocus – Location Sensitive Task Management

Startup Weekend Derby

So you’ve come across this event called Startup Weekend but aren’t entirely sure what it is. This is the post for you!

What is a Startup Weekend ?

A Startup Weekend is a get together of people who want to work together and build something. They may have an idea, a dream or just a desire to help build something new. Over the weekend ideas are pitched, selected, validated, prototyped and presented. All with the help of each other and some battle hardened industry experts acting as mentors for the weekend. Finally on Sunday evening people present their business to a panel of Judges, a winner is selected and everyone celebrates to a great weekend.

Does it have to be an online business ?

NO! Lots of people do online sites etc but teams work on physical products such as food and drinks or even services. I’ve even seen a cheap water filtration system for the 3rd world being built as a social enterprise business.

Sounds interesting right! So how does the weekend actually work?

Friday: Everyone gets together for some food and networking. A wise entrepreneur will tell a tales of toil and plight that ends in ultimate triumph. This leads onto a fun idea pitching warm up that prepares people for the main event the “Pitchfire”. If you have an idea this is your chance to pitch the room and hopefully get selected to form a team. You only 60 seconds per pitch so keep it concise and let people know what you need help with.

Once everyone who wants to pitch has had their 60 seconds worth its time to network, talk and cast votes on your favourite ideas. Then the topmost ideas get to form teams where ideally you want a selection of skills such as a designer, developer, marketer to help bring the idea to life. Even if you idea did not get through you can still form a team if you can get at least three people to agree to join forces.

With a team formed its time to go home and try and calm your over excited brain down and to try and coax it to sleep ready for Saturday.

Team forming, can I go with a pre existing team? Yes, you can but the rule is you must not have worked on the idea before. Most people go as an individual though or with friends but without a set idea.

Saturday : You have and idea and a team now what. The mantra for the weekend is ”No talk, all action” so its time to get out and validate your idea. Although you do need to talk we want to make sure your idea solves a problem that people have, so you need to know what problem is that your idea solves. Who is it that experiences this problem and where would you come across them on the weekend? Its time to get out and speak to the public about the problem NOT the solution. Note down the stories and then get back together as a team to share your research.

Do people have this problem your idea solves? If not maybe the research highlights something similar that you can “PIVOT” too? If they do its time to start doing some prototyping, research on possible rivals, research, etc.

Sunday : Time to carry on where you left off, if you have some product prototypes show them off. If you have no prototypes now is the time to build them. Try and find some people from your target market again and get some feedback. Would people actually hand over some hard earned cash for this? You get some google Adwords credits and a free domain in your pack for the weekend, use them to create a marketing site and see what kind of engagement you get.

Remember you have a presentation looming at the end of the day so you also need to start laying down some slides about the problem, your solution, the market research and how the business would work.

Try and rehearse your presentation and get some feedback before you do it for real.

Sunday evening : time for everyone to get together and marvel at what each other has achieved. Each team puts on a short presentation followed by a Q&A session with the judges. After every teams presented, the judges go off to confer and you get to eat and wait. The winners are announced and its time to relax, chat and celebrate an amazing weekend with your new friends.

Did I mention that Derby is having its first ever startup weekend this March ? We have an awesome team of mentors and judges lined up, you can buy a ticket here