Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

NETWORKING IN THE NEW REALITY

Curiosity and reciprocity, plus some ingenuity, will help you build relationships in the age of Zoom.  To many people, networking feels a bit like squeezing into trousers one size too small. But networking is essential if you wish to amass the social capital indispensable to a successful career. Its importance has not diminished with the overnight explosion of remote working. If anything, networking has become more critical, as jobs and advancement opportunities are swept away by the coronavirus.  Building connections in times like these will require out-of-the-box thinking as well as the same deliberateness and perspectives that characterised effective networking before the world changed.  If you think you don’t have anything to offer, change your thinking.  In the era of Zoom and reduced face-to-face contact, what could you do to maintain and even expand your network?  Here’s how: First, set aside one to two hours of 15-minute slots every week. Then, announce on LinkedIn or other social media, or your company intranet that you’re hosting 15-minute conversations to exchange ideas and give advice. Be sure to indicate your areas of interest or expertise to invite relevant conversations. Ask interested participants to give you two sentences on why they’re reaching out to you, “so that you’re not just getting random people”.  With the right attitude and framing, networking need not be a pain.  Approach the world as if you always have something to learn. Consider reaching out as a way of learning or giving. It might even feel good.  Read More >>

HOW DIXIE CUPS BECAME THE BREAKOUT START-UP OF THE 1918 PANDEMIC

In 1907, Boston attorney Lawrence Luellen created a cup. It wasn’t made of glass or metal—the norm at the time. Instead, it was made of paper so it could be thrown away after use. While not earth-shattering in our current context, in the early 1900s there were no disposable paper tissues or paper towels. A cup made of paper was a novel idea, one with a noble goal: Luellen hoped his paper cups could help stop the spread of disease. What makes this century-old startup story especially poignant today is that Dixie cups, as they came to be known, achieved only moderate growth for 10 years until the Spanish flu of 1918 made disposable cups a necessity and helped the Dixie cup become a household name. In 2012, Smithsonian Magazine even called the Dixie cup a “life-saving technology” that helped stop the spread of disease. With the success of Dixie cups came other disposable products, such as Kleenex in 1924 and paper towels in 1931. This also led to new and environmentally harmful materials such as polystyrene finding their way into consumer products. As the history of Dixie cups shows, a product that solves one problem can create new ones. Some people are already complaining of “Zoom fatigue,” for example. Products that become popular during the current pandemic will have their own first- and second-order effects. Some of the problematic ones will present opportunities for intrepid new startups.  Read More >>

AMID THE PANDEMIC, ENTREPRENEURS CAN STILL FIND OPPORTUNITY

The crisis provides fertile ground for startups in spaces like tele-health and touch-less payment. Other startups will need to get creative.  Entrepreneurs must harness the innovative spirit that drives them and adjust to the moment.  Recession-born businesses tend to be more productive, as measured by revenue per employee. And startups during a recession tend to be grouped into industries that rely heavily on innovation.  There will likely be new types of automation in manufacturing to allow for social distancing between employees. And, for supply chains, more real-time monitoring, so companies can manage customer expectations in the event of disruptions.  Investors are already searching for those startups that are positioned to flourish in a post-COVID world. Companies with COVID tailwinds are having “preemptive rounds” of fundraising.  Read More >>

GROWING RESILIENCE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES


Managing the current crisis is an inside job.  When confronted with a situation weighed with anxiety and ambiguity, like a pandemic, a lock-down and frightening news from the economy, it’s impossible for most of us to imagine any upside. We become paralyzed; overwhelmed by events, we descend into a state of mind I call unproductive uncertainty. But there are some people who manage to see their way through that paralysis and find a positive path forward.  Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. We are all free to choose, and finding that freedom is key to finding a way forward in uncertain times.  With unprecedented levels of uncertainty about our health, our work and the world, it’s possible to nurture an uncertainty capability and find resilience.  Read More >>

SURVIVAL IS TOO SMALL A GOAL: PANDEMIC LESSONS FOR START-UPS

The instinct for survival may be baked into all life on our planet. But it doesn’t inspire people to do their best work or to leave their broadest mark.  Start-up companies are in some of the most precarious positions in today’s foundering global economy. Some of them, though, at least have the luxury of using other people’s money as life preservers.  Plan to thrive, not merely to survive.  That sort of personal investment becomes even riskier during the coronavirus pandemic, of course: Most startups don’t have the luxury of coasting or treading water in the best of times, let alone in a down market.  Start-ups don’t have the capital, market presence or the runway to simply survive. Start-ups are built for massive growth in a short period of time. If they aren’t growing massively, they’re dying.  Read More >>

YOU GOT REJECTED BY A VC, NOW WHAT?

Entrepreneurs must understand that venture capitalists sometimes filter more than a thousand startups annually and can only invest in a handful. Therefore, by definition, their job is to say “No.”  After every meeting, and certainly if you are rejected, which could happen in person and more often via email, you should reply and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.   Maintain a long-term relationship with all your VC contacts.  Don’t fall in love with your idea.  Do not take VC rejection personally.  VCs require very high returns in a specific time frame that may not be relevant to your specific startup.  Perhaps VCs are pickier, timelines may increase and round sizes may get smaller, but most of the investors and buyers will not back down from a good deal.  Read More >>

TAMPA BAY COLLEGES SEE ENTREPRENEURSHIP SPIKE DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

As Florida’s economy begins to rebound, local education leaders are tracking new opportunities for people looking to launch a new product or service. The innovative nature and creative nature of entrepreneurs is a lot of times what gets us out of a crisis. The United States also experienced notable spikes in entrepreneurship after two other significant events in our nation’s history: The September 11th terrorist attacks and the Great Recession. 9/11 brought security startups. The recession brought real estate and finance companies. COVID-19 could bring innovation to the ways we work from home, get deliveries, prevent the spread of germs and innovate online education. Experts say this could be the perfect time to start a new business.  Read More >>

SEVEN LESSONS FROM REFUGEES WHO BECAME ENTREPRENEURS

According to the UN Refugee Agency, every minute in 2018, some 25 people had to flee their homes. Across the world, there were 71 million people forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. These refugees left jobs and professions, studies and dreams, to find themselves in environments often hard to navigate, where they must reconstruct their careers as well as their lives.  The seven lessons we can learn from refugees who restarted their careers are that adversity is the mother of invention, when stuck, be smart and look for alternatives to keep moving forward, education and self-study are key; be curious and seek learning in all possible ways, to develop skills that are transferable and master English, use whatever ideas and passions you have to build your future as best you can, optimism and self-belief are critical to success, and do not assume you need perfect conditions to start a great company.  Read More >>

PIVOTING IN A PANDEMIC: INSIGHTS FROM TWO VETERAN CEOS ON TRANSFORMING A BUSINESS IN CRISIS

How you live in the moment right now while having an uncertain future is something that I’ve been grappling with on a lot of different levels.  It’s not just about trying to make money. It’s not at all about trying to make money, actually.  A lot of companies have gone one way or another in terms of masks and how they think about donations.  We feel like we’re working for more than just a higher stock price. When this passes two years from now, we still remember to say those things and to express just how much we appreciate the team.  We’re working to bring our friends back.  Read More >>

5 WAYS TO PIVOT YOUR BUSINESS DURING A CRISIS

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” —Charles Darwin.  There are likely changes you wanted to make in your business but haven’t and now is a time to act. Evaluate your talent, review your contracts, decide what is truly necessary to run your business.  It’s time to streamline so you can move forward without the weight of unnecessary cost burden.  If you’re primarily run out of a brick-and-mortar store, it’s time to find the digital version of whatever work you were doing.  Leverage your current assets and resources and align them with your customers’ current needs.  Continue to maintain a strong relationship with your clients whether directly, individually, in newsletters, and or/via social media. Show them you care.  The objective of collaboration can be new ideas, exploring synergies, and creating new business partnerships, where 1+1 = 5.  There has never been a better time to try (and fail!). Now is the time to experiment. Quickly launch new ideas with minimal investment. Focus on results. Learn and improve with each iteration.  Persistence pays off in the end.  If your business has been greatly impacted by the current crisis, you’re not alone.  Don’t focus on what you can’t control…think about what you CAN.  Read More >>