Tag - entrepreneur

2016: Don’t Look Back in Anger

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The one area of agreement across today’s hyper-polarized society I’ve seen is around the sentiment that 2016 was / is an annus horribilis. Given what I witnessed politically, economically, socially (and personally) in both Turkey and the United States, just know that the angst surrounding this year is not isolated to one country, one company, or one individual. Today I want to look back on 2016, in an effort to find lessons from the pain.

Remember, you are not the ‘average’ person. Usually I say this in reference to product users, when doing testing: always remember that you are not the ‘average’ user. People from different geographies, age groups, interest areas, socioeconomic strata bring wildly disparate use cases, motivations, and capabilities to a product. This is certainly true of people outside of our Silicon Valley (or ITU Teknokent, or Bilkent IEEE, etc…) bubbles – i.e., in terms of how people behave with their money, their time, their vote – anything. Whether shipping a new product version, or simply being an informed citizen of your own country, we must not forget that even if (or, especially when) empathy between different groups is stretched thin because of a yawning gap distancing them, the ability to identify the need states of people different than yourself – and to identify a solution – is critical for long-term success.

Balance quantitative predictions with qualitative reasoning. In my rose-tinted glasses I truly did think that scientific prediction and high-tech survey algorithms, sliced and diced a thousand different ways, meant the death of drama in the political sphere. But from the UK “Brexit” to the US Presidential votes, I (and much of the poll-following world) was shocked at outcomes that veered so far away from pundits’ predictions. While overnight everyone seemed to become an expert on polls and conservative-this and liberal-that, the one certainty in my mind is that you can’t trust ‘just’ numbers. What were the exact reasons in these (and other cases) that Minority Report-like models and technology were incorrect, it’s not my place to say. But I can say that numbers are not enough – that understanding people’s motivations (for changing their minds, for not answering, for not voting) and the trends that may impact them is crucial. The robots still need the humans, at least for a little while longer.

Plan for chaos. Whether negotiating fundraising in the middle of a coup, or being sabotaged by a former business partner, or solving for a key hire’s abrupt departure, the most unpredictable forces tend to make the biggest impact on our companies – especially in startups. Being resilient, never sacrificing your integrity, having a support network of trusted advisors / partners / clients, and empowering your team to be nimble in its operations gives greater flexibility in finding solutions – or at least options – when at times it feels like you have none. Planning for chaos is not having a guidebook or practicing drills – it means building a team over an extended period of time that has not only operational excellence but also an inordinate amount of trust and respect for one another, so that when circumstances take a turn for the bizarre, you are already set up to work together to make the best of it.

The impact of a mentor, or a hero, is exponentially bigger than the person him/herself. We lost so many people who were loved and admired this year – celebrities, victims of war and terrorism, friends and more. But what gives me hope is that the reflection on each of those people shows a halo, a bright light that they have each extended through their impact on so many others that they either worked with or influenced from a distance. Being a mentor to someone, or a leader to a team, or a hero to a group, is not one-to-one, or even one-to-many; it’s truly exponential in its impact, because each person that they have apprenticed will likely carry and pass along the salient traits from that person to the next, and the next. Loss is permanent, but legacy is infinite.

Your “life KPI’s” should be different than your business KPI (Key Performance Indicator)s…. Many of us are armed with personal cell phones that access our work emails, and laptops we tote home to finish emails after dinner – increasingly blurring the line between business and personal life. But there is a stark need to keep that line intact. A clear focus on revenue, or customer retention, or cycle time, or whatever your business’s KPI’s are, is absolutely critical. However, bringing the activities home that contribute to those business KPIs often threatens the time and attention needed for your “life KPIs” – your health, your family’s happiness, your personal well-being. The relentless zeal with which you pursue the success of your business endeavor should not be your only pursuit.

… and remember that the Life goals matter more. Businesses come and go. They say 90% of startups fail, and that’s probably right. Even in large enterprises, companies fail or pivot or reorg and the job you signed up for might not be as expected. Your company will be the industry darling one day, and toxic the next (see exhibit: Theranos). People you trusted may try to steal your strategy, your team, your money – or perhaps most loathsome, may try to assassinate your character. At the end of the day, it’s all noise. Fantastic, exhilarating, challenging, heartbreaking, life-affirming noise, but noise nonetheless. It is a moment, it passes, it is transient. There are very few elements in life that are not transient – health, family, maybe your homeland, maybe your beliefs – that you are born with and spend the rest of your life fighting to protect, because there is no alternative. Remember to make sure you pick the right battles – for inner peace, for the health of your loved ones, for safety in your home – because those are the only battles you simply cannot afford to lose.

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I wish each of you a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2017 – and wish you the greatest success in fighting the battles that inspire you most.

Now or never? The value of not working in a start-up right away

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I have a dear friend – a former colleague from many years ago – who I think of as one of the most savvy, insightful people in the booming “fashtech” (fashion + technology) space. She has some of the most killer, unparalleled insights in the sector, and if I had my long-awaited lottery winnings (still waiting every week…) I would put my money on her and her killer idea for a wearable tech data platform.

The funny thing is, she’s not an entrepreneur.

Don’t get me wrong, she has the “itch” and is keen to make the leap into entrepreneurship, but she has been taking her time, and for all the right reasons:

1. Problem-orientation. Many startups are based on a planned or fortuitous development of a piece of IP that is the core of a product, then scrambling to identify that holy grail of “product-market fit.” She turned that equation upside down – with her in-depth knowledge of consumers, retail, technology adoption rates, and more, she can clearly see gaps in the market, and build a solution oriented to that.

2. Credibility. Most investors say they’d rather put money on a B idea led by with an A team, instead of vice versa. What makes that A team? That depends – but usually it’s not your school or GPA, but rather your work experience. Successful startup backgrounds (especially with exits) are certainly a plus, but someone with a decade of operational experience who knows the industry, key influencers, and trends is another step ahead.

3. Potential strategic advisors. Related to the above, current or past employers are not just great for building operational expertise – they are also great for networking with the sector’s heavy hitters and innovators. More often than not these people will be the foundation – advisors, board members, investors – of a future endeavor with someone who was a rockstar employee and knows the industry.

4. “Free” training. I remember when I first tried “marketing.” Not consulting about it, or being an intern watching it, but really being responsible for how many new customers my company had. I was scared that I couldn’t deliver results – or at an even more basic level, that I don’t have “real” skills (to be fair – that’s still debatable ;)). I was given a budget and connected to advisors to help me along the way, but was still skittish until my CEO took me aside and said – “Peri. You’re the only one on this team who can at least try to do this. Take the budget, and just keep learning.” And with that I understood the value of a free education. From the rigorous training sessions I was lucky enough to have as a consultant – things like analysis, synthesis, and storytelling – to the tactical, street-smart training I received in mobile user acquisition, I realized that the best training is the one you can get on someone else’s dime. I don’t mean that in a crude or transactional way, but I mean that I had investors who were willing to take the risk as I learned with their capital over the course of successes and failures. It is much easier to do so, to get both book and hands-on training, when it is not your bootstrapped venture putting your ability to pay rent on the line. Indeed, one might even find themselves stepping into too risk averse-a role to really be able to flourish.

Some people have the itch and will take the leap into startups straight from college / high school / the crib – and that’s fantastic. My point here is that age, or operational experience should not be seen as a negative; quite the opposite, it can help create an even stronger product and a more engaging story.

How To Avoid Time Wasters

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Whether you’re a business leader, or a newly entrepreneur, you must avoid these time wasters:

 

  • Salesman: It’s a fact that small business leaders get a lot of phone calls from salesman. Really time consuming. Maybe you won’t be polite but you either have to interrupt their speech, tell you’re not interested and shut the phone or even if possible you may not hang up at all.
  • Employees: Every business needs their employees, without them, the business means nothing for sure. But you can spend hours and hours to find a good employee on the recruiting, managing, training or hiring periods. Think about the conversations you have with 1 employee in the day, think of the times you exchange emails, think of the meetings, think of the time you spend when creating the documents for their training etc. This way you can measure and reduce the time. Hiring on the other hand is maybe the most important part and you can’t just gloss over it. You have to take as much time as necessary to make sure you do the interviews right, in order not to hire the wrong person.

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Financial Terms That All Entrepreneurs Should Know

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Entrepreneurship is something that is trending in the world of today. Whoever you come across wants to become an Entrepreneur but what is commonly observed is the lack of knowledge about some key terms used in the entrepreneurial world. This is something that you should not be worried about, because we’ve got you covered.

ELEMENTARY FINANCIAL CONCEPTS

In order to set up a basic cost-structure of a company these financial concepts must be on your finger-tips: Read More

10 Things You Should Do Regularly If You Want to Become Better Entrepreneur

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Tony Robbins has said: “People are rewarded in public for what they practice for years in private.” Often under the spotlight are entrepreneurs, who seem like they can achieve all of their goals effortlessly. We tend to call them “natural born entrepreneurs”. Well, this might not always be the case. Of course, there are many personality traits that help people to be better at entrepreneurship, but let’s don’t forget that through practice and experience everyone can become better at what they do. Read More

Sunday International Column: Startups around the world #73

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Startups around the world is Sunday column series created with the ambition to unite the entrepreneurial community around the world by introducing to the audience different startups on weekly basis. The purpose of this column is to improve our knowledge of what is being created by entrepreneurs around the world, to expand our network, to get informed and hopefully inspired. Read More

The Secret Behind Growth Hacking

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Ross Kingsland, Founder and CEO of Inception Growth was one of the speakers of Startup Turkey 2016. He talked about the secret of Growth Hacking and the psychological aspect of it. You can watch the full talk here and read below some of his insight about the topic.

Growth hacking can be seen as an extension of marketing. It is how we attract, retain, grow, get to referral and increase revenue. Read More

How to Expand Your Business Network

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We have a few articles that will give you tips about what to do and not to do while networking. What I would like to focus on is how to build your network. Do not underestimate the power of your network and having one that is adapted to you. Networks determine which ideas will make it, they give access to skill sets, private information and power. Meeting the right person might change your life and to make this happen you need to get out there. These are a few suggestions to start expanding your network right away.

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