Why you’ll never do it later and how to get it done it now

Procrastination is defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something”.

This could be a deadline at work, doing the big food shop or just going to bed on time. We all have something in our lives we regularly put off.

People often blame procrastination and our struggle to stay on task in the digital age. But did you know people have procrastinated since the dawn of time? Cicero the philosopher said, “Slowness and procrastination are detestable in the conduct of most affairs”.

So procrastination is as old as the hills. It’s also not good for our mental health. In 1997, Dianne Tice and Roy Baumeister studied the correlation between students academic performance and their general health. Students who procrastinated had lower grades and higher stress levels than other students. In 2007 psychologist Piers Steele’s review showed procrastinators performed worse in academia. They were also unhappy and put off important economic decisions.

So if procrastinating is bad for us and an ancient phenomenon, why haven’t we cracked it?

One answer lies in how procrastination effects us. Procrastinators struggle with self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is “a person’s belief that they can be successful when carrying out a particular task”. When we doubt our ability to do things successfully, our self-esteem suffers. When you doubt your ability to deliver your product successfully, you put off making your website. If you’re uncertain about how to approach a new client, you delay sending that cold e-mail.

When we doubt our self-efficacy we become afraid to step outside of our comfort zone and we stop taking action. We procrastinate.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you will need to step outside your comfort zone. From the moment you start your entrepreneurial journey you will face challenging tasks every day that you won’t be able to procrastinate about. For the good of your business, you’ll need to get it done.

The good news is when we recognise why we procrastinate we can treat it differently. We can recognise that procrastinating is a signal that we are afraid to leave our comfort zone.

If we can manage our fear of leaving our comfort zone, we can stop procrastinating and start getting stuff done.

With this in mind, I’ll leave you with a practical tool to manage your fear of stepping out of your comfort zone.

Exercise: Throw The Ball Out

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be like getting into a swimming pool on a hot day. You know it will be great when you do it but you don’t want to experience the shock of the cold water. This exercise is about becoming the person in the pool who have braved the water and is enjoying the benefits.

You will need:

• A piece of paper to make into a ball
• A Pen
• Something to journal in or write on.

How it works

• Screw up a piece of paper into a ball.

• Stand on one side of the room and think about something you would like to get done. This could be a project, an idea for a business or a lingering decision.

• Throw the ball across the room.

• Now walk across to the ball.

• Standing where the paper ball has landed transports you. You become “Future You”. “Future You” has successfully moved through the challenge “Present You” is facing.

• Take a moment to stand in this space. What would “Future You,” say to “Present You” about their current situation? What could one thing do or change to gain momentum? Take time to journal any inspiration that comes to you.

• Do not censor what comes to you, write down anything: single words or colours or memories.

Why it works

Physically moving to find new ideas and inspiration engages our embodied cognition. Embodied cognition is the phenomenon of our body “learning” from movement. This goes beyond our normal conscious processing. Research shows movement helps us tap into more ideas and inspiration. A study at Singapore Management University asked participants to debate a topic using the phrase “on the one hand… on the other”. The students who moved their hands to emphasise their points came up with more ideas than the students who had to remain still.

In Throw The Ball Out, physically moving forward helps us to mentally step out of our comfort zone. This helps us to contextualise the fear that’s holding us back. Once we’ve identified that fear it’s much easier to move past it and to stop procrastinating.

How to Market Yourself on Social Media without Overwhelm & Headaches

With over 2.1 billion accounts on Facebook today and over 0.8 million users on Instagram, it seems like the world has never been more connected. We use social media to exchange messages, have our voice be heard, find and join events, and even donate to charities. But when it comes to using social media as promotional tools for our business, it seems to get difficult. How do we motivate people to do the same thing that we do without favourite brands, but for our business? And how do we know we’re taking the right action and not just wasting our time?

I often say that social media marketing is like going to the gym. You must commit 100%, you need to do it at least 4 times a week to see results, and take measurements along the way to see if you’re improving (i.e. if what you’re doing is working or not working). It requires consistency, practice, and patience. And many people won’t like to hear this, but it requires long-term effort rather than a flood of action taken in one day, and then none for two months.

I have some good news, though. If you ever accomplished anything in your life, then you probably know that once you get better at it, you will start to like it. And social media marketing isn’t any different.

Why You Need a Social Media Strategy

You need a strategy. Drawing back to our fitness example, imagine that one day you get an idea to “gain muscle”, but you have no idea how. However, you start going to the gym, and you do some work. There are some results — you look a little bit more toned, after all, but because you don’t measure anything, you have no clue what worked and what didn’t, and how much you gained in what time.

Social media marketing is no different and that’s why you need a strategy. I hear so many people saying that they want more followers. They start taking certain actions but they have no idea how much action they took over what period of time. Quoting Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” So you’d better start measuring.

Before You Start

There are a few things you need to think about prior to creating a social media strategy. First, consider your audience a.k.a. your potential clients or customers. Who are the people you’re speaking to? What is their current situation, what’s their feared situation and is their desired situation? You will need to know these to communicate your message to them accurately through different types of media (copy, image/photo, video). What are the platforms they like to hang around?

When it comes to platforms, it’s better to be realistic and stick to fewer than more. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat, it seems like a never-ending battle to feed these “content machines”. Quite often, this is what becomes very overwhelming – if you want to publish just one image per day on one platform, that will be 365 per year. Can you, realistically, create that many, and for multiple platforms? Usually, if you’re new to social media marketing and/or just starting out, the good rule of thumb is sticking to no more than 2. For most companies and brands those will be; Facebook and Instagram but obviously, the choice depends on your audience and goals.

Setting the Right Goals

It’s important to set a goal because, without a goal, you don’t know where you’re going. But even more important to goals is to set the right goals. Your goals should always be attainable, relevant and time-bound. So when people tell me that they want to create conversions through social media within the first month and earn £2,000 yet they have 5 Instagram followers, I frown a little bit, at least in most cases (see why below in Resources). I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but speaking from my experience as I’ve worked with over a hundred clients, there is a certain order to acquiring goals.

The order of how you should focus your goals are:

1. Building a follower base – only with at least 1,000-1,500 followers you will begin to see some interest in your business that will translate to some engagement and a few sales

2. Improving engagement – your engagement could be translated as retention and brand advocacy a.k.a. how “warmed up” your followers are

3. Create conversions – once you have enough followers who are “warmed up” already (the two prerequisites for conversions), you will begin to see people converting with a bigger predictability

Now, the question is how fast can I acquire these goals?

Resources a.k.a. How Fast You Get Your Goals

Your resources are people (how skilled they are, how much experience they have), time, and budget/money (for ads, training, collaborations, giveaways). Usually, the more you have of each, the faster you can get to your goal. Let’s say your goal is to acquire your first 1,000 followers. If you have a team of three people who work full time and have a budget of £1,000 for ads, it’s easy to see that they will likely get those followers faster than if you do it alone for two days a week with no budget at all, isn’t it?

That’s why your resources are one of the stepping stones to how fast you acquire your goals. Unfortunately, today it’s much more difficult to reach goals with any budget at all due to Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms, but it shouldn’t be something that should stop you. The nutrition brand Free Soul Sistas went from 700 followers to 10,000 in the course of 6 months, only promoting their products. And of course, in the meantime, their startup, which is targeting millennial women, started to make a return on investment.

Measuring Success (and Fails)

When you think of traditional marketing – newspapers, radio, TV – it’s quite obvious for many people how and what they can measure. When it comes to social media marketing, everyone thinks it’s difficult.

If you had an ad in a magazine, what you could measure was how many times that ad was seen (depending on the number of copies of the magazine that went to print), how much was the graphics, copy, and placement of the ad, and how many people bought the product after seeing it. This isn’t any different in social media marketing. First, you need to correlate business key performance indicators (KPIs) to social KPIs. For example:

Business KPIs – Social KPIs

* Brand awareness – Impressions, reach

* Retention, brand advocacy – Engagement (likes, comments, shares, clicks)

* Conversions – Website clicks, Profile views, conversions

Usually, the most difficult part is to quantify how many people bought from you when they clicked the ad because in most cases you can’t correlate them to an existing customer in your CRM. But if social media marketing is the only thing you’re doing or at least the biggest chunk of your marketing efforts, then you can easily say what your return on investment is (ROI).

The key to social media marketing is implementing all these steps. Only once practised together, you will begin to see results. But don’t fret if you don’t have it all figured out already. Take things, step by step, and measure once a month and you’ll see quickly if you’re going in the right direction.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

How Twitter Lists can help you save time and grow your business

Whether you are starting your own business or are just thinking about it, chances are you already have a Twitter account. But how about Twitter Lists?

And How much do you actually know about them, if anything at all?

Often overlooked, Twitter Lists can be a great asset for businesses.  They help you manage Twitter more effectively and certainly have an important role to play when it comes to developing your social media strategy.

At first glance, they are simply a way to organise different accounts – you can add a descriptor for each list you create, making it either private (only visible to you) or public (visible to all, notifying accounts as they are added).   

But don’t be fooled.

Twitter Lists are much more than that.  And here is why;

 

They keep you on top of trends

By creating a list of users who regularly share breaking news within your industry, you can keep on top of relevant changes and updates relatively easily – it also means you can react to them efficiently.  

 

They save you time

It’s virtually impossible to keep pace with Twitter, especially if you are scrolling through an unfiltered feed.  By checking on the feed of each list separately you can absorb the information faster and in digestible chunks – without any clutter.

 

They help you keep an eye on the competition

Competitor activity is important for many reasons, and Twitter Lists allows you to do this easily and anonymously. Make sure you check what (public) Lists your competitors have as well as which ones they subscribe to!

 

They facilitate engagement

Consider creating a list made up of loyal customers, participants of Twitter chats, and bloggers who share your content and generally support you. Engaging with them will become much easier once they are grouped together, allowing you to nurture your relationships more effectively. You are also less likely to miss their activity if they are on a List.

They highlight brand awareness and increase followers

Well curated Twitter Lists can attract new followers as well as subscribers to your Lists. You might also find that accounts that you save under your Lists start to follow you too.

 

They give you a cleaner feed

By keeping track of accounts that are of interest to your business without having to follow them, you can keep your feed much more targeted and relevant to your brand.  

 

They help you add value to your own customer base

Think about what your business offers its customers.  Now consider the types of information that are of value to them and relevant to your offering. Could you add it to a Twitter List?  For example, if you own a vegetarian cafe you could have a number of public curated Lists covering topics such as seasonal produce, health benefits, recipes, favourite food bloggers, and your own local distributors. By creating lists that carry relevant content to your customers you can increase your followers and engagement.

 

They can balance your follower ratio

Everyone knows it takes time and effort to grow your Twitter following, but young businesses can initially suffer from showing low follower numbers against very high following ones. You can use Twitter Lists to avoid this.

 

They can increase your SEO

It is a fact that Google judges your importance according to the type of content you display.  The more high value, high-quality content you have, the more likely they are to link to it and share it themselves. Blog posts, competitions, articles, events, news, interviews, podcasts and images are all part of the content mix. Well defined Twitter Lists can help you identify and curate the best quality content available to add to your own and share it within your feed.

 

And finally, Twitter lists make you more focused

By consistently creating well-defined Lists, you will find that your engagement will become sharper and you will be less likely to add profiles that don’t fit into your List(s) or business objectives.

 

So, have I managed to convince you yet?  If you are still unsure how to get started here are a few Twitter Lists that you should consider;

 

  • Prospect clients –these are people you want to work with, so best to make it private.
  • Competitors – another list you might want to keep private.
  • Influencers – these can be businesses, bloggers, industry leaders, or profiles with a strong voice within your sector/area/industry.
  • News and Trends – include journalists/bloggers/writers/ Industry bodies who are active in covering relevant themes, events, etc.
  • Aspirational brands – personally, I am a big believer in monitoring businesses that inspire you.  They don’t even need to be in the same industry as you, but often following brands you admire can open your own path to try different things.

 

Now is your turn to give it a go!  

 

Start small, but keep adding, tweaking and streamlining your Lists – just don’t forget to check them regularly, and engage of course!

 

Good luck.

 

If you are a small business owner and you need business advice and training we offer classes in South-London.

Check our programmes.

 

 

credits:
Pic 1 – Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
Pic 2 – Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

[GUEST BLOG] WHAT IS YOUR VISION?

What is your Vision?

Buddha: “The mind is everything.  What you think, you become”

Virgil: “They succeed because they think they can”

Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all!”

 

Where are you going in life? What do you want? What do you really really want? You only have one life, you have the power to choose.  What do you really want?

Human beings are amazing, in that they create life, their words, and their future moment by moment.  So as a creator of your future, you may as well decide what you want to create.

When you know what you want, and you come at it focused, positive & motivated – YOU HAVE ALL THE RESOURCES YOU NEED.

 

Our vision for our business is what we define as a desirable future state.  It is where we choose we want to be in the next 12 months…or 10 years.  It’s your choice.  It is personal, it is what feels right for you, for your life, for your business.  By having a clear vision that is compelling, something you can articulate with passion and in high definition, it is something that reignites your zeal and drive for your business, on a daily basis.  It acts as a North Star, to help guide you and to make the right choices, to prioritise your day and to motivate you through those difficult moments, and helps others support you by being drawn to your focus, which can be shared with clarity.

 

As you build your business spend time with your vision.  Ensure that you can add depth and colour by being able to answer simple questions, such as – Why are we here? Who do we serve? What’s the value we offer? Why should customers engage with us? Why should all ‘partners” travel on this road with us?  What “purpose” is so compelling that “all partners who travel on this road with us” jump out of bed in the morning to help us, eliminate obstacles, and help us succeed?

 

Don’t let your vision of your success become blurry.  Keep it live, keep it present, keep it current.  Your vision is more important than any other aspect of your strategy, it is the beacon, yours and others’ guiding star.

 

Entrepreneurs typically start with a core idea and then if they are lucky, they have some initial success that requires them to actually build a business delivery model.  Many of them then become bogged down in the day to day operation and tasks required to fulfil their product or service commitments to their customers. Remember, successful businesses do not get that way by accident.  They live in three horizons: today, tomorrow, and the future. In the day to day, it is easy to get lost and lose your bearings.  It can be important to be responsive, agile and flexible but only as it serves your vision of your future.

 

Let your compelling, exciting, personal & clear vision be your destination.  Make sure you keep your eye on the road and what lies ahead not just on what you’re driving and whether or not you have enough gas to get there.   Every day stay focused on your destination, head up, eyes forward, and have fun.

 

Fiona will be running a workshop Thursday March 22nd at our Hatch Social Club–  Be sure to register today to secure your free space!

[Guest Blog] How to feel your best in business

 

 

Why is it crucial to look after your wellbeing as an entrepreneur?

I believe this area of entrepreneurship could do with a bit more exposure. If you, as a business leader, are not functioning at your best and nurturing your health and wellbeing, then this can have an adverse affect on the output of your work. You’re the heartbeat and visionary behind your business and it needs you to steer it.

Forbes shared a survey of 2,000 small business owners in the UK, which revealed that 66% of male entrepreneurs had suffered from stress over the previous 12 months, while 60% of female entrepreneurs said they had succumbed. While a little bit of stress can be helpful – it can motivate you, help you focus and signal to you when something needs to be done – too much of it can result in poor mental health. So how can this issue be managed?

Over the years, these are a few choices I’ve made as part of my working practice that have been pivotal, not only for the growth of my business but for maintaining good mental health and wellbeing. Sometimes the simplest things make the greatest impact.

Discover what ‘balance’ means to you

Be honest with yourself about taking breaks when you need them. Our body has a phenomenally smart way of sending us signals when stress begins to build – listen to those signals. Small snippets of time away from work, planned breaks in the day and scheduled time to switch off completely from your to-do list can help you work smarter, rather than harder. Not to mention nurturing your levels of creativity and productivity.

Get outside

 If you predominantly work from home, ensure you get out of the house at least once a day. A walk, fresh air and engaging with other people can do wonders for your wellbeing. Where possible, try to aim for at least 2-3 meetings a week, which will help you to build relevant contacts, network and enhance collaboration opportunities. This also helps you to ensure you have some kind of separation from work and home life. 

Allow others to help you

Find events and workshops to attend where you can build your skills yet also meet like-minded people. This is not necessarily for the sole purpose to network or pitch. While this is beneficial, for some it can feel daunting so it’s important to look at it as an opportunity to meet others with similar interests. You never know who you will come across who can help you on your journey, and vice versa. I’ve personally made some really valuable friendships in the entrepreneur world, which can also give you a consistent source of encouragement and motivation.

Seek emotional support when you need it

Sometimes we don’t need advice – we simply need an ear to listen, to air our thoughts and make sense of what we’re going through. Make sure you have people who can offer you emotional support when you encounter any challenges. This can be found in family members, friends, mentors or entrepreneurial friends – it can be nice to have a balance between those who truly know and love you, and those who you connect with in the business world, who understand what it’s like and the kinds of challenges you come up against. There’s no shame in admitting when you need support. We all need that from time to time and it shows strength to ask for help.

Feeling troubled? Get a fresh perspective

Running a business presents you with opportunities to learn what works, what doesn’t and to grow from each experience. Having this outlook can significantly help to reduce feelings of stress and keep a perspective on the big picture.

When faced with a stressful situation, ask yourself “Will this feel like a big deal in two weeks, one month or six months time? What can I change, what can’t I change and what do I need to accept?” Often it’s our own perspective that can get in the way of our own success and taking time to look objectively and shift your perspective can enable a pathway of opportunities to open up and help you see your situation clearly.

Remember, you’re worth investing the time to nurture your health and wellbeing. There’s only one of you, after all.

 

Tania will be running a workshop Thursday February 22nd at our Hatch Social Club–  Be sure to register today to secure your free space!

[GUEST BLOG] BANG! SOCIAL IMPACT WITH OOMPH

Social impact is en vogue right now

and, as is the way with all things fashionable, there’s a right way and a wrong way to present things.

What’s becoming apparent as the world of social impact communications and media moves forward, is that the era of plight and lengthy whitepapers is coming to a swift end.

With that in mind, let the social impact communications style guru give you some tips:

Good strategy is the cornerstone of any communications piece: Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle is an amazing communications framework to keep in mind when you’re considering your strategy.

Drake said it best: “A good strategy is a success story told backwards.”

So if you start from your big, hairy, audacious goal and then break it up into chunks, figure out who you are talking to, and how to talk to them – then you’re on a good wicket.

Measurement, transparency, accountability and personalization

These are power: aren’t we lucky that we live in an era where technology allows us to measure our impact?

Gone are the days of donor’s money going into the charity abyss; now we can tell our donors exactly where their money went and we can tell personal stories to create a more authentic between the impactor and the impacted.

Check out how Charity:Water measures their impact (using sensors placed on each well) and tells very personal stories to their donors.

Responsive design

means you can transcend any device on the web: look, I know you don’t have a lot of money – or the money you do have should best be used doing the actual work you set out to do.

That’s why, if you invest in responsive design, you have an effective design framework that adapts to any digital device it is viewed on.

So you design something beautifully and functionally once and then it lives in all its glory across the vast information superhighway.

Video

is the opiate of the TL;DR generation: too-long;didn’t read – millennials just don’t have the attention spans that older generations had which means we need to move away from long-form text and whitepapers when we’re talking impact.

Video doesn’t have to be an expensive thing either – smartphones from the past few years are starting to produce the kind of quality that is easily edited (in-house) and placed on free platforms like YouTube for everyone to access.

As this industry, which is getting some well-deserved limelight, continues to evolve, we need to ensure we do our best to highlight the impact that is being created.

It’s up to us to make it as easy as possible for people’s hearts to connect with a message and for their efforts to continue to create that life-changing work.

To get the know-how on each of these points and discuss, hear from me and meet at Hatch’s next Social Club on January 25th.

[Guest Blog] Focus on your strengths & worry less about your weaknesses

 

At our Hatch Social Club last week performance coach Sandra Berko ran a workshop about improving output by utilising your unique strengths. In this piece she provides the main takeaways from her presentation:

 

How often do find yourself trying to improve your weaknesses?

We’re taught from an early age that we should work on getting better at the things that we’re not so good at. I personally hated maths when I was at secondary school and my grades reflected this. I received extra tuition only to move my grade up by a notch so I could scrape a pass. Throughout my schooling and my career, still to this date, maths is definitely not my forte! Sound familiar?

Being challenged by either a subject at school or a task at work, no matter how hard you work at it or how much effort you put into it, very little improves.  So why is this?

According to Gallups’ strengths finder (a strengths’ based assessment tool based on positive-psychology), we’re only able to be great at some things. Once you discover your natural talents and play to your strengths, you can start being who you are without trying to be who you are not.

 

Talking about strengths is not a topic often discussed as we’ve been conditioned to focus primarily on what’s not going well and how to make it better. To be able to identify your strengths is not a solo job. It’s necessary to be provided with a 360-view of how others see you.   

To help you do this, choose 10 or more people who know you well from different chapters of your life. Ask them to write a story about a time they saw you at your best, sharing specific details of what you did and why you made an impact on them.

Look for common themes that appear in these stories and list them.

Create a profile of who you are when you’re at your best.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I apply my strengths to the goals I want to achieve?
  • How can I use my strengths to live my values?
  • How can I adjust my job to incorporate more of my strengths?
  • How are my strengths visible in ways they are not in others?

The next time you catch yourself worrying about your weaknesses, just remember this:

Anyone can do what you do, but no one can be who you are.

 

If you are interested in exploring your unique strengths, you can take a quick but comprehensive personality profiling test here.

Our next Hatch Social Club takes place on November 23rd and will cover goal setting.

Join our Meetup Group for more details.

[Guest Blog] Is Your Business Investment Ready?

 

 

Last month co-founders of Five Years Time Jessica Dick and Nathalie Tulip ran a workshop on investment readiness at our Hatch Social Club. In this piece they provide the main takeaways from their presentation:

 

Are you thinking of raising angel investment for your business?

Below are a some do’s and don’ts to get you started, before you decide whether this type of funding is right for you.

 

1) Don’t think that funding will save your business

Bill Gross CEO of Idealab, the longest running technology incubator with over 150 companies and 45 IPOs and acquisitions under their belt, presents in his well known TED talk  the five key elements to the success of a startup. Here they are, in order of importance:

  1. Timing 
  2. Team (execution)
  3. Idea
  4. Business model 
  5. Funding

So there you have it. Funding is only one of the enablers. Funding is not what will make your business a success. Despite what you might think, a business rarely fails because it hasn’t received funding. Often, the reason it fails to get funding is because investors saw that the business was lacking in one or more of the other 4 areas.

Your goal should be to build a successful business, that solves the problems you and your potential customers feel passionate about, in the best possible way you can imagine. Not to be successful at raising round after round after round.

 

2) Do validate your core business assumptions 

Before asking someone else to invest their money in your business, you need to know: what are the assumptions you have made that need to be true for your business to succeed? And how many of these can you prove are true?

In other words, validate your idea and your business model as much as you can before going out to raise. That way you will be confident that you are on the right path, and you will be able to inspire that confidence in others. If you haven’t done this before going out to raise investment, investors will see straight through you. The opportunity will feel too hypothetical and risky and they are likely to pass.

Even if the assumptions you rely on for your product to work – for example, that a majority of people use an app to order take-away in London – seem obvious or intuitively true, believe me they might not be! So get the data to back this up. Prove to yourself and to others that your assumptions are objectively correct.

This is often done by building what’s called a MVP – a Minimum Viable Product. Build a super basic version of your product, trial it on a small scale, and ask questions to the people using it. Ask A LOT of questions, ALL the time. But most importantly, ask the RIGHT questions. You need to establish whether people like your product, and whether they like it enough to pay for it.

To make sure you are asking the right questions, check out The Mom Test .

This is always going to be a process, but the more validation you have done, the more confident you will be, and the more you will come across that way to an investor. It will also help you measure the task ahead – and whether you are up to it.

 

3) Don’t raise if you don’t have to

Before you go down the long and scary road of getting “investment-ready”, think about alternatives. Could you fund your business in any other way? For example, could you fund your business to profitability yourself, by reinvesting your profits and slowly building up your product and your sales? Granted, this is a slower route, but a very viable one. You can build a sustainable business from the start and you stay in full control. Or could friends and family help with a cash injection, for example? Could you get a grant or a loan? Have you considered the new and wonderful world of crowdfunding?

Of course, other routes have their pitfalls too. But explore all options. Not all businesses are right for investment. And not all successful businesses are funded through private equity. This only suits risky but with high growth potential and often technology businesses (because they are scalable, quickly). You also need to be able to demonstrate how an investor would get his money back (and then some!) within an acceptable timeframe (currently anything between 3 to 7 years). You need to be very ambitious with your business, it cannot be a lifestyle business or a side project.

So have a long and hard think about whether there is another way, and whether it might be better suited to you and your venture.

 

4) Do look for an investor that’s right for you

Every investor is different. Look for and bring on board investors who really get you and your business. Make sure they understand your obsession with solving the problem, and want to help you solve it. Do they know or understand your market? Are they aware and on board with the assumptions you are making and the risks you are taking? If nothing else, this avoids them being shocked and confused when things don’t quite go to plan six months down the line and you need to pivot or raise some emergency cash.

At a very early stage, you can take this a step further, and try and find investors that have something valuable to bring to the table. Early stage investors like to get involved and get their hands dirty, so let them. But make sure they have skills and expertise you can tap into. This also helps you make peace with the fact that you are giving away little bits of your business to strangers. It’s not all about the money, they can add huge value to your business and take some work off your plate.Finally, make sure they have a great network and that they are willing to open it up to you. And find out at an early stage if, provided you deliver, they are willing and able to follow on their investment in future rounds.

Raising investment from angels or small institutions, even if it’s not much, is going to be hard. So make sure it’s right for you and that you understand what you’re getting into before you get started.

 

Our next Hatch Social Club takes place on October 26th.

Join our Meetup Group for more details.

[Guest Blog] 5 Key Tips for Personal Branding

 

Last month Samuel ran a workshop on personal branding at our Hatch Social Club. In this piece he provides the main takeaways from his presentation:

 

1- Be known for what you do.

Be the go to person for your services or products in your network, make your brand synonymous with your name and be known for what you offer. When we think of KFC, Virgin or Apple we think of Colonel Sanders, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. What is it that people think of when they hear your name? Clearly define what you have to offer the world and get to work on making everyone in your network know you for it.

 

2- Be an asset not a liability.  

Everything we acquire in our lives is determined by the exchange of time, money or assets. Those who succeed in life are value driven and seek opportunities to be an asset to others when connecting with someone new or being in a new environment. Think of how you can add value and make a lasting impression. It’s in adding value that we acquire value.

 

3- Develop a strong network of Brand leaders.

According to motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with” therefore by the law of averages if you intend to be a strong brand then you need to associate with other strong brands. The brands we associate with will either strengthen or weaken our overall image. Connecting with key players in your field boosts your credibility and reinforces your value. Your college or university alumni, suggested friends list on LinkedIn or Business cards you have received at previous networking events can be a great place to start.  

 

4- Invest time in building your online presence.

Have an up-to-date social media, blog or web presence and be consistent with it. It is amazing how many entrepreneurs I meet who don’t have an accessible online presence for themselves or their business. In building a personal brand you must think about how our online presence plays a part in the narrative of our overall image. What results will appear if someone were to type your name in Google? This can impact your personal brand either in a positive or negative way. Even something as simple as having an email such as yourname@company… or hi@yourname…  rather than using a Google or existing mail provider can give you more credibility when connecting with someone.

 

5- Become a connector.

A connector thinks of ways to leverage their network by forging relationships that not only benefit themselves but those around them and seeks out opportunities to connect people. This will leave a lasting impact on both parties and people will appreciate you for it. A simple gesture like connecting an author you have met with a friend who is a publisher can lead to countless lives being impacted.  This will help your personal brand because the people you’ve helped along the way will be the ones to recommend you to others as a go-to person, building your profile and credibility.

 

[Guest Blog] Your business and your wellbeing – success starts with You

How do you achieve longevity in your business?

There are many compelling answers to this question.

From my personal perspective, I believe it starts with you – the entrepreneur, the visionary, the leader of your business. Being in it for the long haul requires you to check in with yourself and truly look at your mindset on a daily basis. To understand yourself, your strengths and your purpose on a deep level, so that you embody this each day when making decisions about the progress of your business.

No one can replicate the passion and energy you bring to your business, and taking time to nurture your mindset and embrace the entrepreneur lifestyle with a balanced approach can be the best investment you make.

In the early days of running my company, I assessed the logistics of an international project I was developing down to the very fine detail. Yet, I was not assessing or looking after my wellbeing consistently. This ended up having an impact on my health and I needed to take time out of work to recover – that wasn’t good for my business and it certainly wasn’t good for me!

Over time, I leant how to manage my wellbeing effectively as an entrepreneur and I created Calmer to support entrepreneurs with their mental health and wellbeing, so they can thrive in their business and in life.

Here are some of my key tips for managing your wellbeing as an entrepreneur, on a daily basis.

 

# CALMER TIP 1: Your weekly wellbeing checklist

Ensure that each day you take time to check in with how you’re feeling and acknowledge each of your achievements. It’s easy to get carried away with the daily demands of running a business and it’s important for your wellbeing to reflect on how far you’ve come.

Try writing a list at the end of each week outlining your top accomplishments, however big or small, what you’ve learnt and how you feel as a result. See what steps you’ve taken on your entrepreneurial journey and then what you plan to do the following week. For example:

This week…

  1. I emailed… I learnt… I feel…
  2. I attended… I learnt… I feel…
  3. I sold… I learnt… I feel…
  4. I marketed… I learnt… I feel…

You can adapt these ideas to best suit the nature of your business, and add as many points as you can.

 

# CALMER TIP 2: Your environment

The environment you create for yourself every day is a key contribution to your success. As the saying goes “organised space, organised mind.”

Work towards creating an environment that encourages your personal and professional growth. How can you create an inspiring working space – what colours, objects and quotes do you feel boost your wellbeing while you work?

Who in your trusted network can you reach out to for support when you need it, whether it’s to bounce ideas around, get things off your chest or ask for help with an area of your business? We all need people to champion us, remind us of our achievements and how far we’ve come.

 

# CALMER TIP 3: Your self-belief

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you are capable of handling whatever comes your way –possibly more than you give yourself credit for. Fear can often stem from convincing yourself that your business idea isn’t going to work out, without evidence to back it up or giving the idea a proper risk assessment.

Once you evaluate the potential outcomes of implementing your idea, consider these questions:

  • What is the worst that could happen and how would I handle that?
  • How might I feel if it’s successful and what impact would that have on my life?
  • If it doesn’t take off, how can I pick myself up and try again with a different approach?

I believe we often aren’t aware of how strong we can really be. It’s when we allow ourselves to be open to change that we learn more about who we are – and how resilient we can really be.

When you need a wellbeing boost repeat this mantra to yourself over and over again – in the words of the wonderful author Susan Jeffers, say “I can handle it” and then give it all you’ve got.