In the midst of the covid euphoria quite a number of entrepreneurs may have overlooked the legal ramifications that may be perched quietly in the business environment waiting for the right moment to erupt. Without a doubt nine out of ten consumer—facing businesses have been impacted by the safe-keeping of orders, challenges with supply chains or even reconfigured approaches to use products in a now socially-distant economic space.
Faced with these challenges, entrepreneurs now need to step back and exercise due diligence in spite of loud cries for a speedy resolve in these uncertain moments. Begin by continually documenting your efforts on how you responded to issues that arose during the pandemic; this is necessary to validate why certain decisions were taken.
For entrepreneurs with employees, it’s important to keep abreast of changes in employee benefits particularly in relation to renewed business hours; exercise caution before making changes to policies that directly affect customers such as refunds and exchange of products or service modifications – if in doubt consult with an attorney or the Consumer Affairs Division in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Implementing a viable and effective document retention policy can be challenging but necessary in the area of archival and/or deletion of emails for example after lengthy periods.
Like the generic environment, new considerations have been unearthed for recalibrating the ecosystem; however these vary from industry to industry and so entrepreneurs must seek professional advice if required to avoid unwelcomed legal entanglement.
Are you thinking of visiting the ecosystem to see what’s in store? Or you may wish to take a stab at starting your own tech company. If yes then you need to be on the tech bandwagon sooner rather than later because that’s the new in-thing as the world evolves into contactless mode. With many tech businesses on the horizon, starting your own may seem unnerving but with the good old cliché nothing ventured nothing gain it’s always worth a try!
Becoming a tech-preneur begins with a number of considerations from market demand to competition not forgetting the initial capital investment needed to start. To steer you in the right direction we’ve identified five of the most spicy industries to launch start-ups in 2020.
E-commerce is one the burgeoning industries around the world; in 2019 alone, global e-commerce sales soared to 3.53 trillion USD and this is predicted to double by 2022. All it takes is a click or a tap and you can get anything delivered in days or even minutes; the increasing acclaim of internet shopping is awesome news for entrepreneurs fostering product ideas as it’s not just this sharp growth that makes e-commerce a top industry for start-ups. A key advantage is that setting up an e-commerce store requires relatively little initial investment.
Another tech trend that’s surging is financial technology commonly known as FinTech; it took flight since the PSD2 which is an update to the EU’s Payment Services Directive that became effective in 2018; this new regulation aims to protect consumers during online transactions and also promotes innovation in the industry through practices such as open banking. In 2020, competition in the FinTech market would become amplified but guess what? If you have a unique idea to develop an app and/or service aimed at a specific group of customers, go right ahead!
What about Cybersecurity which is now deemed as a critical component within the digital space as the more time we spend online, the risk of exposure to data breaches and violations of our digital privacy widens. Begin this tech journey by offering consultancy services to companies, running tests, updating systems and just sharing knowledge on cybersecurity issues can be an excellent start.
We all love FOOD so why not FoodTech? Ripe for innovation from supply chain management, food safety, delivery processes, order management or even cooking…lots of areas for disruption in this new dispensation; start your research and get on board.
Then there’s EdTech – education technology the ideal solution to the in-person/school challenges impeding the world right now; yet another lucrative industry with global investments banked at 16.3 million USD in 2018 alone!
It’s something we can’t escape – the fear of crisis both in our personal and corporate space. Life was designed to challenge our fortitude as well as question our ability to stand the test of time, and therein lies the importance of preparedness.
Many would argue that the Covid-19 basket offered some extraordinary lessons that can be useful for renewed navigation, as being prepared has always been the best key to leading both a successful life and business. Global crises are inevitable and so, it’s useful to employ some strategic tips to help in managing adversity which also enhances personal strength and confidence.
It’s never too late to prepare so start creating a mindset aimed at reconfiguration, and capitalize on relevant support available from multiple resources within the public and private sectors; take notes of the measures you wish you had known and/or taken before the crisis and plan ahead for unforeseen events that may occur. Asking for help as a young entrepreneur may seem daunting but it’s amazing how additional support works wonders in strengthening the business psyche.
Brainstorming positive and strategic ideas may be exigent in the midst of hardships as negatives spiral faster; but business challenges that emerge during crises present tremendous possibilities to embark on a brainstorming session with your team; it’s also an ideal platform to transition bad situations into sustainable business opportunities.
Defiance reminds us to be appreciative, to slow down and reminisce on the reasons behind the start of our entrepreneurial journey!
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With stay-at-home orders, remote work arrangements compounded by an absence of child care, a number of female entrepreneurs have been pushed into burning their candles at both ends in an effort to save their businesses. So severe was the impact of the pandemic that women-led businesses around the globe shared the same story line – “Do I pivot”? or “Do I close up shop”?
For Kimberly and Amaya Smith, Founders of US-based “Brown Beauty Co-op” the coronavirus outbreak came at a time when they’d already began taking steps to adjust their business model in order to keep their business afloat – “We’ve seen a decline of about 75% – 85% in revenue” says Kimberly whilst explaining that most of their product sales happen in-store.
Another nightmare is being an entrepreneur without child care as espoused by Allegra La Viola, Owner of “Sargent’s Daughters” art gallery in Manhattan – “Like many parents, my husband and I paid tuition ahead of time for our two-year old daughter to remain in daycare for the summer whilst we worked; but with daycare and schools being shut down, we’re paying for a service that we’re not receiving and may not be refunded.”
Also sharing their experience were YBTT-supported entrepreneurs – Lyndi Jordan and Shenelle Hills-Fife. “Because of the health restrictions imposed during the pandemic my business was negatively impacted which resulted in reverting to manual processing” said Lyndi whose business operations have now been regularized. For Shenelle packaging was her greatest challenge – “Suppliers had ceased operations due to Covid and that affected my packaging; even with the re-opening of the economy placing orders are still difficult.”
Leading Queen’s Counsel and wife of former British Prime Minister, Cherie Blair believes that in looking towards the future to rebuild the global economy, it’s absolutely vital that we recognize that investing in women and in creating a global business ecosystem that is truly gender-equal, is the greatest opportunity of our time. If putting women at the heart of our response to this pandemic means we see a leap in progress, wouldn’t that be a great thing?
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Digital Marketing, digital production, mobile apps, videos, e-books and website development are just some of the main ingredients in Mikkell Khan’s entrepreneurial pot that has been in existence for the past three (3) years. “I’ve always had a passion to create both traditional and comic stories; I also saw film as a vehicle to tell stories” said Mikkel.
He believes that the creative industries need to go back to the drawing board to identify strategies that can maintain captive and sustainable audiences.
Mikkell argues “I’ve always wanted to find, develop and nurture an audience for my products as there is where digital marketing comes into being; it’s because of my love to tell and sustain my stories that I’ve been able to continuously attract new customers.” Mikkell admits that fixing the gap starts with teaching creatives, and being able to identify your audience, research their needs and create a brand around those needs.
But Mikkell became thirsty for more knowledge to enhance his business, knocked on YBTT’s door and got a positive response. “I knew that YBTT gave loans for different projects and though I was seeking a loan, I was advised to seek mentorship first.” He had high praises for his mentor Rachel Collymore who shared a wealth of much needed information which influenced him to forego the loan.
“Rachel understood what I was trying to do because her background is also in the creatives; she brought a level of practicality to the advice and helped me to identify two to three projects which supported my initial project.” Mikkell describes Rachel as extremely invaluable as she still checks with him periodically on his progress.
Mikkell asserts that the most expensive mistake entrepreneurs make is to learn and do it all by themselves. “Mentorship is critical to attaining success faster with less stress; it’s best to learn from someone who’ve walked your path before.”
Time and money never seem to be adequate for anyone but in this new dispensation, time may have surpassed money! Because their brain is always spewing new ideas, entrepreneurs often complain of not having enough time to fulfill their entrepreneurial passion; some even hope and pray that one day they’d wake up to a 48-hour day rather than 24.
Be that as it may, the challenge remains developing an uncanny ability to manage time using smart strategies; with the old adage “time waits on no man”, it’s advisable for young entrepreneurs to begin opening up their arms and welcome some important time management tips. Begin by using every resource available to support your business – though this is seemingly obvious, many entrepreneurs miss golden opportunities; seizing the moment to understand the resources at your disposal would save a lot of time and mistakes in the long run.
Create a priority list of tasks whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly; a priority list is deemed the greatest master of time accomplishment! Don’t be afraid to ask questions as this is perhaps the most critical aspect of managing time effectively as an entrepreneur. Seeking information from individuals who’re more knowledgeable on a subject matter saves a considerable amount of time.
Maintaining a schedule goes without saying; learn to stay focused even when multi-tasking; most importantly, start auditing your time on a daily basis which would help in monitoring and measuring goals set for a particular day and/or time. Last but by no means least – always set aside some unstructured time to take care of any unforeseen situations.
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Boasting about his relationship with YBTT which began about three to four years ago as a Mentor, Marlon Espinoza reminisces on his long, yet historic and fulfilling experience in nurturing and motivating young entrepreneurs. “YBTT developed an ideal model of promoting mentorship which is customer-friendly and timely” said Marlon; he firmly believes that mentorship is about giving back and not a job.
“YBTT developed an ideal model of promoting mentorship which is customer-friendly and timely” said Marlon; he firmly believes that mentorship is about giving back and not a job.
According to Marlon “YBTT knows exactly what it’s doing as putting humans with humans creates an opportunity to spark unique synergies which are the underlying pillar of successful mentorship relationships.” He lauds YBTT as a small organization creating a huge national impact especially in the area of mentorship. Marlon is particularly heartened by the organization’s response to the young entrepreneurial community in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, that was offered through a group mentorship initiative which he affirms resonates strongly with the people component of entrepreneurship.
Describing the Covid-19 crisis as hard-hitting for young entrepreneurs …”entrepreneurship may have been their only choice at the time; however, youths do not have the level of maturity and resilience like older individuals and therein lies the challenge which was softened by this group mentorship initiative” said Marlon.
Shaking Up the Ecosystem
Based on his analysis of the current market environment, Marlon laments that Covid-19 has certainly pushed the re-set button in the entrepreneurial ecosystem forcing players to re-examine conventional business models adding “business processes are becoming more efficient as many transactions are being done virtually; young entrepreneurs would be more inclined to adapt easily to do business in this new dispensation.”
What’s in the Entrepreneurial Charisma?
Alongside the forthrightness that is built within Marlon’s character, young entrepreneurs are usually attracted by the special kind of charisma that he exudes when connecting with them Why? “I usually share real stories with young entrepreneurs because I’ve also led a very interesting life and so, I try as much as possible to avoid the use of text book language and instead keep conversations real, believable and most importantly honest.”
Mentorship equates Passion!
“If money is your goal then mentorship is not for you” – a firm belief shared by Marlon as he describes the characteristics of mentors. They must possess high levels of generosity and passion if they’re serious about helping young entrepreneurs along their journey of success. He is also convinced that mentors must know the difference between sympathy and empathy. According to Marlon “mentorship is a 24/7 task and he does not want to corrupt his attitude and approach by accepting payment.” He adds that the combination of mentorship skills and entrepreneurship is very rare, and therefore, one must have a certain level of empathy before becoming an effective mentor. Marlon’s love for mentorship has evolved into supporting YBTT’s efforts in further enhancing the program to assist mentees to develop a franchising model that would result in a multitude of opportunities; creation of a mentee directory with contact details and photos and support from exporTT in sponsoring trade missions.
With social distancing being the new world order coupled with a bundle of health and safety protocols, online platforms have now become our best friends; in fact, social media is now deemed to be man’s lifeline!
But for young entrepreneurs, social media must move beyond just plain old “likes” and transition into connecting with customers in a targeted and strategic way. So essentially instead of waiting for customers to come to you, you can actually meet them in the middle of the social networking ocean that lends to easier interaction.
The beauty about social media is that it costs nothing to create a mind-blowing presence on every available platform; be mindful though that quantity does not always translate into quality so it’s important to know which networking site would help in reaching your target market. For example if most of your customers are on Facebook and Instagram then expend your energies on those two (2) platforms.
Your social media presence allows you to build community and express your brand that would be aligned with the desired public perception both offline and online as consistency is key; it should also be reflective in the content you publish and the way you connect with your audience. Having one-on-one conversations with your customers or having them jump in on conversations on your page is excellent in building relationships.
Social networking opens doors for customers to share feedback that can be positive, negative or simply constructive.
“Digital Marketing is one of those things some big companies usually have a problem with” says Tamara Mon Louis, Founder of Monivan Digital Marketing. Operating between the Caribbean and North America, Tamara is convinced that in the absence of a sustainable digital strategy many businesses would be left behind particularly in light of the Covid-19 crisis. She admits “we don’t approach companies as fixers but instead show how revenue can be generated.”
Tamara admits that the perspective is different for small and medium-sized businesses….”they must spend time educating their customers before indepth engagement and also help them to understand the synergy between metrics and revenue; everything must add up” she said. In November 2018, Monivan hosted “Beyond The Likes” workshop which spun the wheel of digital marketing quite differently from layman’s perception to the extent, that it has now become a critical pillar of understanding for customers.
Debunking mythical views around “likes” on social media platform Tamara argues “getting likes must be enhanced by follows which is the first step in progressing; persons liking your post must start following you and engagement on your post is critical in understanding related pain points.” She stressed that small businesses need a digital space that can be called home which may lead to developing a website where messages can evolve into continuous engagements from likers to followers to consumers of your information, and ultimately result in customers.
Helping others and sharing knowledge are embedded in Tamara’s DNA…..”it’s natural for me to share knowledge and I like to see people succeed; I need to give back and being a Mentor is an ideal way to do so.” She has been teaching young entrepreneurs that digital marketing must be infused into the mentorship experience. Tamara boasts of her mentee Shauna Grant who she helped with developing a Digital Marketing Plan that would position her business differently.
Moving beyond Covid-19, Tamara would like to see young entrepreneurs build stronger relationships with their customers ; they must take time to understand the interactions with their customers at all times in order to safeguard the relationship. She believes that successful customer experiences must be complemented with strategies that demonstrate how SMEs can add value to what customers already have; take time to understand their pain points and be a good listener. In closing Tamara reiterated “the customer is always right and so negative feedback must not be taken personally; instead look at it as a journey that would evolve in a positive digital experience.”