Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Tag ‘business’

Starting your own business is an amazing journey – Haris Ioannou

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Haris is a 21 year old student in the third year of an Electrical and Software Engineering course at the National Technical University of Athens in Greece. Aged only 17, he won a prize for the best engineering project in the European Union Competition for Young Scientists (EUCYS) and was also one of the five global finalists in his age category in the Google Science Fair 2013. Since starting college he has developed software for Bioassist, a company focusing on applications that help the elderly with health-related issues. In this blog entry, Haris tells us about his work and his plans for the future.

how_to_use_bioassist
What are you working on at the moment? How does this fit in with your wider business development plans?

My passion is inventing and combining technologies and approaches in order to solve problems of everyday life. If I see an exciting opportunity to challenge my knowledge, skills and learn something new, the challenge is accepted.

For the past three years, I have participated in the initial stages of development of a research project aiming at assisting the independent living of elderly people. We have founded a company called Bioassist, and developed an application that remotely monitors the vital signs of older people, such as glucose and oxygen levels, blood pressure etc. in their home environment. It can also remind users to take their medication, keep a personalised health record and also lets users communicate with their relatives via video conferencing.

At the same time, over the past couple of months I have co-founded another project aiming at efficient and secure management of online passwords. Our main goal is to resolve this problem by eliminating people’s need to keep track of their passwords for websites. Our solution is a mobile application called Code Pi! We have built a new way for users to access their web accounts using their mobile device as an authentication element. Essentially you connect your phone and computer under the same Wi-Fi and when you try to log in to a website, it automatically fills in your account details for you. It is important to note that maximum security is ensured for all users by securely encrypting and storing all their credentials locally on their phones, and not on our servers.

haris_ioannou_photoHow do you manage to balance work and life? What is a typical day like for you?

My course is considered to be one of the most challenging in my university. My modules include programming languages, control systems, high-power electronics and robotics. When I want to relax I prefer working out, by running or going to the gym, rarely reading a book and occasionally going out with friends. All of these things help me to take a break from my everyday work.

Most days, after class, I have to attend meetings at Bioassist and Code Pi or at some of my other ventures. Combining studies and work is very fascinating, because you are given the chance to apply your theoretical knowledge in practice. For example, I might have learned an algorithm during my morning class and then I have to apply it into one of my projects. However, most times it happens that I have to use an algorithm that I don’t know yet and so I need to research it. Usually I will come across this algorithm 1-2 years later in one of my classes.

What are the pros and cons of running your own business? What challenges do you have to overcome on a day-to-day basis?

So far I am not fully responsible for the day-to-day operations in any of my ventures. However, I am responsible for the majority of the technical details for each of my projects, such as selecting the new technologies that we will be implemented in new features. I like to see each project not only from a technological viewpoint, but also from a business and a research perspective.

The interesting part is when you have to combine already existing approaches and technologies or even invent some new ones to come-up with the desired solution. If the solution satisfies the problem constrains then, most of the time my team and I publish a paper or launch the feature straight into our product. I think there is definitely a distinction between open time-frame research projects and scheduled product launches, but it does not have to be discrete and watertight.

I am trying to follow this workflow for two important reasons. Firstly, as a student, I have seen multiple projects being started and then abandoned after making only a couple of publications in scientific journals. Therefore I don’t want the projects to which I commit my time to end up like this. Secondly, solving a problem following the scientific method and documenting the result has a great value for the academic community and anyone else interested in the specific topic.

How are you preparing for the next stage of your business? What advice would you give to others thinking of starting their own businesses?

Currently being an undergraduate student, I consider myself very lucky to have people who trust me and really take my thoughts and ideas into consideration. Usually, as a student, you’re not involved in the decision making process of a company, due to lack of experience and technical knowledge, especially in the tech sector.

My goal through this project is to learn as much as I can in a small and very innovative corporate environment. Since my colleagues are both older and more experienced than me, I try to be influenced by them day by day. They have already been in my position and they have probably faced many of the problems that I am encountering. I don’t know where are we going to be in the next five years, I don’t even know where are we going to be in the next three, the market is so competitive and is not as straightforward as a business plan. I am very optimistic that we will have the same focus on our products and our customers and, if this turns out to be true, then we are definitely going to be successful.

Starting your own business is an amazing journey, on which you can learn and do important things. Whether this involves managing people in a team, or making a business plan or even deploying a new feature, these are skills that drastically change the way you think and work. You have to be open to listening to ideas from your team, but you should also carve out a specific plan and lead the team to deliver your product. Many examples show that the age at which you start a company is completely irrelevant to how successful it is going to be. Success it is directly related to how determined you and your team are in delivering the promise that you have made to your customers.

Linked-In

Twitter

haris_ioannou-text_binnenhof-photo_2

Stop hesitating – the time to start your business is now!

Tags: , , , , ,

ListMinut is an internet platform that allows its 40,000 users to outsource small tasks and jobs to reliable service providers located nearby. In this interview, co-founder Jonathan Schockaert talks about his experience and the challenges he encounters on a daily basis, and gives advice for young entrepreneurs thinking of starting their own businesses.


Jonathan SchockaertName: 
Jonathan Schockaert
Age: 26
Country: Belgium
Business name: ListMinut
Website: https://www.listminut.be/
Year started: 2013


What should people know about you and what you do?

I was born and raised in a family of entrepreneurs. I’ve always wanted to start my own business and to build something that would have a real positive impact on people’s lives. I started really young – taking part in different entrepreneurial initiatives during my teenage years, ended up studying for a Master’s in Entrepreneurship at university and started developing ListMinut for my thesis.

ListMinut is a marketplace where we allow our users to outsource their small tasks (mowing the lawn, assembling IKEA furniture, taking care of the dogs during the holidays…) to reliable individuals in their neighbourhood.

What are the pros and cons of running your own business?

I wanted to become an entrepreneur to be my own boss and choose my schedule. But in reality, I rarely take important decisions alone. What’s more, I wake up much earlier than when I was at university and also return home later. But I truly love what I do. I’m working with awesome people every day, doing something different all the time and having a real impact on the outcome. I learn something new every single day.

Which challenges do you have to overcome on a day-to-day basis?

Being active in the sharing economy implies a lot of legal troubles. A few hours after our first TV broadcast, I received a call from a Belgian institution asking us to shut down the platform. We had to fight really hard for three years, but now a new law has just been passed in Belgium to support the sharing economy. Belgium is one of the pioneers in Europe and we’re proud to be part of it. We’ve also created an association (the Digital Platform Initiative) together with Take Eat Easy, Menu Next Door, Deliveroo, Uber and Flav’r to go further and reduce the barriers to entrepreneurship in Belgium.

What advice would you give to other young people thinking of starting their own businesses?

Stop thinking, start doing. Ideas are worthless. It’s all about execution. This means that you don’t have to be afraid of other people stealing your idea. To avoid building something that nobody wants, you should talk to people. Talk to people about your idea and make use of the feedback to grow.

What would you have done differently if you had the chance?

Nothing. I’m really happy to be where we are. We’ve made a lot of mistakes, but we’ve learned from all of them and that’s what makes us what we are today.

Perhaps a final message you feel should be broadcast, to encourage peers to take the plunge?

Fasten your seatbelts. Entrepreneurship is not a long quiet river. But it’s definitively worth it, so stop hesitating – the time to start your business is now!

Listminut (1)

To find out more about Listminut, visit www.listminut.be .

The importance of creativity in business

Tags: , , , , , ,

The blog post on 30 May, talked about creativity being at the heart of scaling up, but creativity is also at the heart of developing and building any business, as Dr Leonie Baldacchino, Director of the Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta, explains in this interview.

At the SME Assembly in Luxembourg last November you explained how everyone can be more creative. Could you give a brief overview of how this can be achieved?

leoniesmall

I view creativity as a skill.  Since a skill is an ability that is learned through practice, I believe that everyone can be more creative by engaging in regular creative thinking exercises.  

Let’s take swimming as an analogy.  Human beings are born with the potential to learn how to swim but, in order to become competent swimmers, they must first acquire basic swimming skills, followed by many hours of training in the pool to enhance their technique, strength and endurance. Similarly, human beings are born with the potential to be creative, but attaining this potential requires skill acquisition followed by regular practice to internalise creative thinking skills and develop expertise.  

One of the simplest exercises that one can carry out to enhance creativity is the application of divergent thinking to everyday objects. Divergent thinking refers to the generation of multiple responses or solutions to a particular stimulus or problem. This is regarded as a key skill in creativity as it enables individuals to generate many different ideas. Getting into the habit of generating alternatives by, for example, thinking of many different (and unusual) uses for common items like a sock, a wheel or a piece of paper, enhances one of the most basic skills in creativity.

Many tools and techniques are available to help us be more creative. Some may seem awkward or difficult to the uninitiated but, just like swimming becomes effortless to the swimmer who glides through the water after mastering the relevant techniques, creativity becomes second nature to individuals who make use of creative thinking tools on a regular basis.

A great deal has been written about innovation and its importance for entrepreneurs. How does this differ from creativity and how do you see the role of creativity in business?

I view creativity and innovation as overlapping constructs at two ends of the creative process.  Creativity is the first stage in the creative process and occurs when an individual has an idea that is both new and useful. Innovation is the last stage of the process and refers to the implementation of a creative idea in order to derive value. Innovations can take various forms, including products, services, processes and technologies. The defining feature is that they must be different from and better than what is already available in a particular context. Therefore, before ideas are implemented, they are generally screened to determine their novelty, added-value, feasibility and compatibility with business objectives to ensure their appropriateness for particular settings.    

It has become widely accepted that creativity and innovation are crucial for business success, especially in the ever-changing and uncertain world which we live in today.  Creative thinking is required to regularly come up with new ideas to solve problems that may arise, and to address the challenges brought about by changing customer requirements, market structures, or competitive fields.  However, the reactive function of creativity in the face of change is only one half of the picture.  Creativity is also concerned with instigating change on the basis of a new idea or concept, not because there is a problem to solve, but because an opportunity for improvement has been recognised.  Entrepreneurs who run high-growth businesses do not simply adapt to changes in their environment, but are actively involved in disrupting and creating new markets, i.e., they are trendsetters, not followers.  This proactive side of creativity is especially important in today’s highly competitive business world in which players are constantly striving for that added advantage, thus rendering the mere maintenance of one’s current position insufficient.  

Some businesses outsource their R & D and their product development but it seems likely you would not suggest this solution, but would, rather, encourage the business to build their capacity for creativity. Can you offer some guidance on increasing creative capacity across a business as a whole?

There are many ways in which entrepreneurs and managers can increase the creative capacity of their businesses.  First, they must realise that they have a very important role to play in providing top-down support for creativity and innovation as their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours invariably lay the foundations on which their organisation’s practices and policies are built.  Second, they should appreciate that, if given the opportunity, each and every member of an organisation has the potential to contribute to the creative capacity of a business, as they often have ideas that could lead to an improvement in some aspect of the organisation.

Business leaders must therefore walk the walk by creating a climate that is characterised by a high level of trust and open communication across all levels to foster creativity and innovation.  Furthermore they should actively encourage idea generation, risk-taking and experimentation, and they should treat failures that are made in the pursuit of innovation as learning opportunities.  Furthermore, a system must be in place to facilitate the generation, communication, evaluation and implementation of employee ideas. Such systems, which are generally referred to as idea management or innovation management systems, are a set of procedures that dictate what should happen when employees have ideas that they would like to propose to their organisation.  Many people believe that structures and procedures are detrimental to creativity and innovation, but without such a system, ideas are likely to fizzle out and die before they can ever be implemented.

education_01_temp-1333872318-4f8146be-620x348

You’ve already described the creativity process and how to build and develop creativity as a skill set, could you now give a brief outline of the academic programmes in this field that you run at the University of Malta.

The Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta offers a Master in Creativity and Innovation, a part-time evening Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as a PhD programme in these subject areas.

The Master in Creativity and Innovation is an interdisciplinary programme designed to assist participants to expand their perception, employ creative skills, develop ideas individually and within teams, sustain a creative climate and manage innovation.  This programme attracts professionals from a broad base of disciplines from the local and international scene.  

The Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is aimed at individuals who would like to further their education and improve their career prospects but are not in a position to attend full-time day courses due to other commitments. Students shall develop knowledge, transferable skills and attitudes concerning creativity and idea generation, innovation (including innovation management), and entrepreneurship.  

The PhD programme is aimed at individuals who would like to undertake research at a Doctoral level in one of the Institute’s subject areas, namely creativity, innovation (including innovation management), entrepreneurship, or foresight (futures studies).

For further information:

 

The future is an opportunity

Tags: , , , , , ,

In a recent interview, Jan Vanherck, a well-known Belgian entrepreneur and Dean of the United International Business Schools in Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland, took the opportunity to look into the future.

binoculars-1209011_1280

In 1975, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation and Fairchild Semiconductor, forecast the doubling of computer power every two years. Will this continue and how will it affect the world of the future?

His prediction has proven to be accurate over the past 40 years. It has led to an ever-accelerating progression and miniaturisation in all chip-based technologies, and this evolution has huge consequences for the world of tomorrow. Experts have forecast that computer hardware will match the human brain, in terms of creative design and analytical capabilities, in 15 to 20 years. The interaction between brain science and information technology will create artificial intelligence, a research field crucial to future generations.

Already, this increased computing power is delivering better understanding of the human body, and DNA sequencing is a good example.  In 1970, Nobel laureate, Jacques Monod, said: “The molecular size of DNA prohibits, without any doubt, modification of the genome. The sequencing of the human genome is impossible, or, anyway, unreachable in three to five centuries”. How wrong he was! Only six years later, the first genetic manipulation took place and in the first years of this century, the first full sequencing of human DNA was achieved. Just ten years later, the consumer genomics company 23andMe began offering genome sequencing for $999 and soon it will be available for as little as $100. This is the gateway to personalised medicine, particularly for the treatment of all hereditary diseases, and cancer.

Do you see other technologies having a similar effect?

Absolutely! For example, nanotechnology.  Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. To give you an idea of what a nano size is, the thickness of printer paper is about 100 thousand nanometres. On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometre, then one metre would be the size of the earth.

Nanotechnology will allow us not only to develop medicines that act on the level of our cells and tissues, repairing defects on an inconceivably small scale, but also to build micro engines and micro sensors.

The technology will be widely available in a few years time and will extend our life expectancy dramatically. Neuro-genetic scientist, Laurent Alexandre, in a now famous TED-talk entitled,  “Le recul de la mort” (“The retreat of death”), summarised this evolution by saying that he believes that the first person who will live to be 1000 years old has already been born.

What about globalisation and entrepreneurs?

Globalisation is a term that has been politicised so let’s talk about global networks instead. They already exist, facilitated via the Internet and, from the point of view of society, it will make us interact with a lot of people, spread over the world, exchanging ideas, thoughts, and concerns. Political power will shift and emerging countries, such as China and India, will take a dominant role. New players and new markets will emerge. We’ll need to cope with different cultures, each with their own set of values.

Internet technologies, another area for innovators and entrepreneurs, are causing rapid changes in the world with the rise of Big Data. The world is becoming dominated by an all-knowing network. The fact that it gathers an enormous amount of data and, more importantly, has the computing power to actively process it and get information out of it, will force us to rethink a lot of things, privacy, for example, and freedom, family, friendship, love, and honesty.

Intellectual property is another issue. Billions of people thinking, generating ideas, writing papers, books, songs… Inventing new applications, offering new commercial services and products. Can individuals or companies claim the knowledge and decide whether they will use it, or simply put it in the fridge? Should we allow organisations to gather and process our individual data? How will we define ownership and plagiarism? These concepts were developed in the last century by a world where communication was done using handwritten letters, then wired phones and facsimile machines. Are these concepts strong enough to overcome the tsunami of the Internet and Big Data?

space-telescope-532989_1280

What is the role of business education in all this?

We need to make sure that future entrepreneurs can handle the big, unknown challenges. Let me quote Gordon Moore again: “The technology at the leading edge changes so rapidly that you have to keep current after you get out of school. I think probably the most important thing is having good fundamentals.”

Learning does not stop. Only a few decades ago, the teaching of students was considered complete when they graduated. In the best case, people took a few refresher courses during their professional life and that was it. Today, with the vast amount of new knowledge in front of us, learning is a continuous activity. It doesn’t stop today, it simply goes on. It is important to realise that every theory and model we teach is only a statement of current knowledge and is only true in certain circumstances and those circumstances are subject to radical change at ever increasing speed. We need to teach our students – the entrepreneurs of the future – how to think because they are going to have to answer questions we’ve not yet even thought of. We need too re-think ourselves and our environment, and challenge everything.

SME Week Newsletter: Issue #2

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Entrepreneurs, national EEPA winners, competitions, and more about business in the EU

eepa_picture_1

This month is a busy one as we continue to gear up for SME Week this November. June sees the closure of all national European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) competitions in time for the European closing date of 1 July. Find out if you still have a chance to enter and win one of the prestigious European awards by searching the deadlines in the article below. Also, meet Kenny, our new Entrepreneur in Residence, and enter or promote our youth essay competition. Read more >>

<< Previous Issue #1

Next issue #3>>

SUBSCRIBE AND DON´T MISS ANY STARTUP/SME UPDATE

A social entrepreneur’s guide to raising investment

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Each month on the Promoting Enterprise blog, an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), give us an insight into his/her entrepreneurial journey. June’s entrepreneur is Kenny Ewan (UK). Watch his TEDx talk here and discover how his social enterprise helps others:

kenny ewan

Do you want to make the world a better place? I do – and that’s why I helped set up a social enterprise called WeFarm. At WeFarm we empower farmers in the developing world (of which there are more than 500 million!) to both access and share vital agricultural information without needing any access to the Internet. We use SMS in a unique way that allows isolated communities to learn from each other peer-to-peer.

WeFarm farmer

After an incredible first year of growth and success, with more than 58,000 farmers using our service already, my first few months of the this year have been spent trying to secure the investment needed to take us to the next stage.

During any funding round you have the opportunity to meet a wide range of investors – from angels to large VC firms, with investors from lots of different countries. This is particularly true for social enterprises like WeFarm, and I set out to pitch our business to both social impact investors and more traditional VCs.

Creating a compelling story that appeals to both social investors and more traditional VCs can be challenging for social businesses, but we were determined to convince people that our social impact is truly embedded within a great business model, and we were confident we can convince both sides of the investment world.

It’s been fascinating to see the differences in styles and interests between them. When I started, I assumed that we would have more opportunities with the social impact investors (for fairly obvious reasons). However, it’s been great to find that the opposite has been true and we’ve had a lot more advanced conversations with the more traditional VCs.

I think this shows something really exciting is happening: businesses with a strong social mission can interest traditional investors if the business case is right. More and more people are looking for business with a social purpose to invest in, and recognise that the returns can be even higher than average businesses.

However, being honest, the process has also highlighted for me some challenges with social impact investment, especially for more innovative businesses looking at very large scale projects. A lot of the conversations I’ve had with social impact investors have been guided by their need to put things in social impact boxes – to look at measurement and impact chains rather than big ideas.

Having spent my entire career (until now) in the international development field, I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of impact measurement and evaluation. But should this be the starting point ahead of new ideas and innovation that can’t easily be measured and put in boxes at an early stage? Ideally, of course, you need both, and I hope that slowly these two investment universes are starting to come closer together.

My advice to social entrepreneurs would be to urge you to not limit yourself in your view of what your social business is. Reach out to all the investors you can, make sure you have a compelling business model, and think big. Even as a social business, traditional investors might be best for you.

About Kenny

Kenny-Ewan 2Kenny is CEO of WeFarm, a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 450 million small-scale farmers around the world with no access to the internet. After graduating from the University of Dundee, Kenny went to Peru in 2002 to work on sustainable development projects with indigenous communities. He loved the country so much that he decided to stay. In 2007, he became Peru’s Country Director for ProWorld Service Corps. This international development NGO specialises in projects for isolated, indigenous communities. He returned to the UK in 2009 to join the Cafedirect Producers Foundation (CPF) start-up team. He designed and managed all of CPF’s international projects across East Africa and Latin America.

“I want to wake up with energy, drive and curiosity for what life will bring next.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

In his final column as May’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance offers his advice for those considering following in his footsteps and stepping out on their own in business.

untitled

Five frogs on a log. One decides to jump in. How many frogs left on the log…..? Five, because there’s a big difference between ‘deciding’ and ‘doing’.

So thinking leads to deciding, but you can’t stop there. You need to act with confidence and determination. How? Firstly, surround yourself with the right people at different times of the business cycle. Our mind plays tricks on us and the little voices of doubt and self criticism can kill our confidence, so we need to have both strategists and cheerleaders around us all the time. Taking calculated risks is important to get us into flow. The easy option won’t help us grow, or prepare us for the inevitable storm. Practice breaking small things before you play with the valuable things. Get experience in a contained space, but do get out of your comfort zone often and consistently. Don’t get amygdala hijack from being too stretched and afraid to act, or you’ll die from paralysis. Don’t overanalyse, yet do your homework well. Remain focussed on your journey, and don’t get sidetracked by your short term goals. Goals are good to take stock of progress. Slalom gracefully around them if they seem to take you off course.

The most important thing, and the biggest source of failure of businesses that solve global problems is this: they remained a dream. Once you have a vision, have designed a plan, and raised the resources to implement it, GO FOR IT! Even if it fails, the worst case scenario is that you’ve gained the opportunity to learn something new.

Pros and cons

Of course, there are pros and cons to starting your own business. The pros of being in control of your destiny are the main reasons to set up your own business. Even as a CEO of a large organisation that I helped create, there was always a sense that I was a cog in a big wheel.

I still felt 100% responsible and I was more than just an employee, but creating something you know will be entirely yours sparks something special in your spirit. It’s also great to not have to ask for permission to put an idea into practice, or feel that you can’t change direction if you so decide one day. Yes, you have responsibilities if you have employees, but it’s different than being a manager.

Running your own business also has its perils. You lose objectivity because it is personal. You may find yourself heading for trouble and keep going because you’re emotionally attached to the goal, or to avoid embarrassment. You don’t want to be proven wrong and, therefore, don’t accept criticism easily. It takes a particular character to be entrepreneurial, but these character traits can also be your downfall. Hard-headed, passionate, ambitious and a risk taker come to mind.

nathan5Starting a business after having led an organisation has helped me stay focussed and not put emotions before logic. I’m more mature and have had a fair amount of mishaps that I’ve learnt great lessons from. Not only is it not too late to start your business at 40, but it’s actually helpful to have experience under your belt. I’ve had a few sideline businesses over the years so I had some startup practice. It’s also important to have good people around you to keep you grounded. It’s easy to become engrossed in the project and lose your relationships with loved ones, and distance yourself from friends and family. Taking stock, or being coached is very important to get a reality check every so often.

To me it’s the mindset that’s the major difference between running a business and working for someone else. You can be equally passionate and driven working for someone else’s business with less personal risk and stress. Running your own business is not for everyone. It shouldn’t be everyone’s ambition. I too need to employ great managers, accountants, experts and associates to make up for all my weaknesses! Thankfully enough people choose to be professionals too.

My hope for Ultimate Performance is to continue to grow my impact by reaching more businesses and business leaders. I want to keep having fun and do exciting things, whilst sharpening my skills. I want to spend time with the people I care about and share experiences with them whenever possible. I want to wake up in the morning with energy, drive and, most of all, curiosity for what life will bring next.

About Nathan

NF-Bust-BWNathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

“The battle between work and life is nonsense”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

In this week’s column from May’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance explains how he achieves work-life balance, and tells us what it’s like to work with his wife.

Nathan team heros

It’s always an interesting dynamic to mix family and business. With your partner being one of your associates, it’s even more complex from an emotional perspective. We’re very different characters, with Deirdre being direct and extroverted while I’m an introvert and very pragmatic in my approach to problems. Mostly we do our own thing in our own way, and sometimes argue if our paths collide but, at the end of the day, we have the advantage of being able to settle it over a bottle of wine and a cuddle. Not many colleagues have that advantage, I guess…

The main stress on us both is managing our time with our kids. They’re so busy and their extracurricular activities are very energy consuming. They dance, do sport, and are always on sleep-overs or at parties, while we taxi them around to make sure they don’t miss out. Sometimes our quiet weekends suffer because we are so busy. By the end of Sunday, we’re all tired, and the next day it’s back to work.

But our kids are great. Watching them grow and develop has been an enlightening experience. I’ve learnt a great deal about leadership from being a father. I’ve also learnt a lot about managing emotions with three ladies in the house!

I wake up early and go for a run, swim or cycle if I’m racing triathlon. This is my time to think, to mentally plan my day and perhaps listen to a podcast or chapter in an interesting textbook. Doubling up the time to take care of my body and my mind is a great life-hack.

I usually have a quick breakfast and coffee then get to my desk at home to catch up on admin or emails. I do most of my social media marketing on the fly so, as soon as I can, I get out of the house and spend my day with clients, or at the foundations. I rarely get the time to stop during the day. I love the fact I have no set office, and change scenery many times a day. I love the diversity my work brings, from coaching and teaching to keynote speaking, politicking and strategising. My mind stays sharp with constant change. I also get to ride my Triumph Bonneville all day across town, which is great fun!

I usually work 10 hour days, with evening events happening a few times a week. Sometimes these are charity fundraisers, VIP events, a date with my wife or simply catching up with friends. In between, it’s at home with a good movie, a glass of wine and healthy home cooked food. I try and spend as much time with my kids over the weekend, and I help with homework and activity trips during weekday evenings. I make it a point to put them to bed and kiss them goodnight every night.

Achieving work-life balance

I developed a thought process that I call The FIRE Model, which I use in my coaching as well as to keep stock of my own life. The model helps me cope with the multitude of pressures on our lives, and shows us that the battle between ‘Work’ and ‘Life’ is nonsense. We have one life and we need to maximise it in every area.

nathan scheme

Using the model, I’m careful to create opportunities to fill each area of my life in a balanced way. Like a Balance Scorecard, I want to make sure that every aspect of my life is given due attention. I seek out things that scare me and excite me at the same time. I like to be out of my comfort zone. This leads to more flow, which helps me focus at work and get things done with less pressure.

Because of time constraints, our need to continuously learn and develop often falls by the wayside. I practice mindfulness, learn new things all the time and always accept an opportunity to try and hone my skills, whether it’s public speaking or my coaching skills. We must continue to sharpen the knife of excellence if we want to be fulfilled, and be useful to others.

Ultimately, we need to find meaning in what we do and this is best described by the various layers of F.I.R.E. we can create. The more we can find Flow, make an Impact, act Responsibly and continuously seek to be better tomorrow than we are today, i.e. Excel, the more meaningful our lives will be.

About Nathan

NF-Bust-BWNathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

Cash flow is king

Tags: ,

Without a positive cashflow, the business is dead

cashflow_cartoon

What is the singular most important thing a business needs if it is to survive and then go on to scale up its activities? This question has challenged business thinkers and entrepreneurs for a very long time. Some say marketing, some say a great product. Others still say the right timing, but the reality is that, even more important than all those, is positive cashflow.

Cash flow is a simple concept: money in and money out, and it can be tracked from your bank account. Positive cash flow means that more money has already arrived than is needed to pay the bills that are immediately due. The key thing here is that the ‘money has already arrived’ – not promised, not owing, but is already in the bank account. In general, when a business starts, there is period of negative cash flow during which it has to pay its bills before generating income, and it has to do this from the initial start-up funds. The scale of the funding required is determined by the maximum outflow of funds before the inflow of income exceeds the outflow of expenses. This means that an ultra-realistic view has to be taken on the generation of income in terms of amount and timing.

Vanherck_CashflowAnd here’s the most important point: scaling up a business means that more money is required to fund the cash flow and so, if the decision is made to scale up, then the entrepreneur needs to ensure that a new tranche of funding is available. And that means calculating a new cash flow.

“A business does not have to make profit,” says Jan Vanherck, a well-known Belgian businessman and Dean of United International Business Schools, a private business school network with campuses in Belgium, Spain and Switzerland. “But it has to have a positive cash flow if it is to survive. If you can’t pay your bills, then you’re bankrupt.” Vanherck is of the opinion that entrepreneurs need to firmly differentiate between profit and loss, an accountancy concept, and cash flow, which is the lifeblood of the business.

Vanherck, who acts as a consultant and mentor to a wide range of entrepreneurs, observes that those startups that are not going to survive share a common fault: they focus solely on the product and the excitement of the business, and ignore the cash flow until it is too late. “Entrepreneurs often do not understand the concept of cashflow and they have nobody around to tell them about it. Cash flow is so simple to monitor and is not difficult to calculate, providing a realistic income model is used. And cash flow needs to be calculated on a rolling three-to-five-year basis.”

Although calculating and monitoring cash flow is one of the least exciting things about running a business, it is critical for success.

For more information on cash flow, see:

Entrepreneur Encyclopaedia

Understanding Cash Flow Analysis

Additionally, a discussion with your accountancy or financial advisor would be a good idea.

Secret of Success- Petra van Schayik (Compumatica Secure Networks BV)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Petra van Schayik - Compumatica Secure Networks BV

I joined Compumatica because I want the IT world to be secure; a world where government, businesses and citizens can operate with confidence and safety. Compumatica stands out in cybersecurity because of our personal touch: our high level IT security solutions ensure that nobody but the customer has access to the key material. My immediate goal is to find new investment (we have already received funding from Dutch R&D programmes) to develop new products and ultimately to create more user awareness of IT applications and IT security.

If I were Minister for SMEs, I would make sure they got a bigger share of the public procurement markets; and I would make it cheaper for them to employ people.

“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we power the economy, create interesting jobs, develop new products and take risks.”

Start up capital: Family

Growth rate p.a: 10%

Mentor(s): Yes

Can you code?: No

Employees: 45

Education/ Training: Technical business administration

Product/ Service: Digital security

  • Useful links

  • Tags

  • RSS Promoting Enterprise

    • EEPA 2019 – Meet the European shortlist September 13, 2019
      The 2019 EEPA shortlist has been finalised. After a successful EEPA 2019 jury meeting on 10 September, the jury made their selection from all of the national candidates to choose the top projects in each category. Congratulations to all of the selected projects and see you at the EEPA finals this November in Helsinki, Finland!
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2019 – Meet the National Winners: Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship September 10, 2019
      The sixth category in which projects compete is Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship. The projects listed below are national winners in this category and will be considered by the EEPA 2019 Jury for a place on the 2019 European shortlist.
      promotingenterprise
    • Youth Essay Competition 2019 – Top 10 September 9, 2019
      Ready to find out who has made it into the top 10 for this year’s Youth Essay Competition? Firstly we would like to thank everyone again for their incredible entries, which were of a very high standard and made it difficult to narrow it down to only the top 10. The top 10 applicants will […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2019 – Meet the National Winners: Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency September 3, 2019
      The European Enterprise promotion Awards (EEPA) are an opportunity for outstanding projects from across the European Union and COSME countries to be recognised for their work in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. The fifth category in which projects compete is Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency. The projects listed below are national […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2019 – Meet the National Winners: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business August 29, 2019
      The European Enterprise promotion Awards (EEPA) are an opportunity for outstanding projects from across the European Union and COSME countries to be recognised for their work in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. The fourth category in which projects compete is Supporting the Internationalisation of Business. The projects listed below are national winners in this category […]
      promotingenterprise
    • Youth Essay Competition 2019 – Round 1 submissions closed August 27, 2019
      The SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 has closed for submissions. This year the competition has two rounds, with the first round open to public submission for young people aged from 18-25 from COSME and EU Member States. This year we received submissions from 20 different countries, with the top two being Albania and Romania, […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2019 – Meet the National Winners: Improving the Business Environment August 22, 2019
      The European Enterprise promotion Awards (EEPA) are an opportunity for outstanding projects from across the European Union and COSME countries to be recognised for their work in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. The third category in which projects compete is Improving the Business Environment. The projects listed below are national winners in this category and […]
      promotingenterprise
    • Get involved in the European SME Week 2019 August 20, 2019
      The European SME week is a pan-European campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe. It helps existing entrepreneurs find information on available support and tries to encourage more people to set up their own businesses. Coordinated by the European Commission, this campaign consists of events throughout the whole year. The main event of the […]
      promotingenterprise
    • SME Week Newsletter 2019: Issue #5 August 15, 2019
      A Summer of Promoting Enterprise The summer is beginning, but that doesn’t mean that Promoting Enterprise is slowing down or not bringing you any news! In this edition of the newsletter you can have a look through what has been going on, upcoming activities, the ongoing events calendar and how you can get involved with […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2019 – Meet the National Winners: Investing in entrepreneurial skills August 13, 2019
      The European Enterprise promotion Awards (EEPA) are an opportunity for outstanding projects from across the European Union and COSME countries to be recognised for their work in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. Austria: Corporate development programme (UEP) Bulgaria: Innovation Academy Croatia: Education for Success Cyprus: IDEA Innovation Centre & Incubator – Accelerator for Start-up Finland: […]
      promotingenterprise