Finding your sweet spot as an entrepreneur needs to start with a meaningful personal purpose that is also a business opportunity. Some people are so passionate about a cause that they forget to consider the lack of business potential, while others are so enamored with profit that they jeopardize their ethics. Both ends of this spectrum fail to bring long-term satisfaction or success.
Many entrepreneurs are finding their “secret sauce” these days by combining a strong purpose with a good business opportunity. For example, the handmade-item platform Etsy sponsors free entrepreneurship courses for underemployed and unemployed people, including assistance in setting up a store on Etsy, thus adding more artists and artisan sellers to their platform.
Patagonia, a successful outdoor products company, combines building safe high-quality products with philanthropic efforts to help the environment. In the name of this cause, the company donates time, services, and at least one percent of their sales to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups around the world. Purpose must not be perceived as just a gimmick.
So the question is how do you find a personal purpose and a business purpose that are in sync, to be the driver of business success, as well as your own happiness? I remember a classic book, “The Purpose Effect,” by renowned author Dan Pontefract, that provides a good framework and background or doing just that. I recommend his tips for creating and maintaining that sweet spot:
- Define a personal declaration of purpose. Deciphering one’s personal purpose should be priority one. Keys to this must include how you want to operate your life, and how you incorporate your strengths, interests, and core attributes. Write it down, make it specific, expressive, yet succinct and jargon-free. Then take ownership and make it happen.
- Don’t stop believing, learning, and developing. If one stops growing and experiencing, personal purpose will be inhibited. We all change as we mature, and we all need to keep changing. To find new work you love, it helps to do job shadowing or short term rotation. Outside of work, it’s important to join a club, do volunteer work, and help at local events.
- Establish a team-defined declaration of purpose. By constructing with the team a purpose-first strategic direction with a role-based mindset, a business will have far greater buy-in from its team to achieve its mission and objectives. When every team member sees purpose in their role, the benefits begin to accrue quickly for all.
- Set specific targets for serving all stakeholders. The challenge of every business is to create a win-win relationship between business owners, partners, team members, customers, and the community at large. By setting specific targets, you can apply measurements to chart progress and be able to celebrate successes along the way.
- Delight and deliver value to your customers. Without customers, there is no business. Thus even purpose-driven entrepreneurs need to maintain a “customer-first” perspective. When the customer is put first, the team will rally around that focus. When the customers are delighted, they become your best advocates of your purpose and your business.
- Create an engaging and ethical workplace. Prioritizing an ethical culture is a critical step to gaining the respect of customers, team members, and the community in the pursuit of becoming a purpose-based organization. Factors which increase engagement include more manager face-time, flexible work rules, and better recognition opportunities.
In the long run, both purpose and business are all about people. Neither of these can be static, and still stay vital. Both should be thought of as in perpetual motion, so finding your sweet spot is not a one-time event. You and your business are on a journey, by way of new experiences, insights, and knowledge, requiring constant attention, or the sweet spot will be lost.
That should convince you that finding and maintaining your sweet spot in business will not be easy. It takes hard work and requires hard choices be made, which can be painful. In the difficult early stages of any business, it can also seem like you are leaving some things for others that should be in your pocket. But you will soon find that the joys of giving far outweigh the taking.
Startup Professionals Musings
In his newest book, “The Practice: Shipping Creative Work,” author and entrepreneur Seth Godin provides the roadmap for all creative people seeking to implement change in the world through their work.
“The Practice” is a little book packed with lots of wisdom. Based on The Akimbo Workshops created by Seth and his team, readers now have a compass on how to “ship” creative work, create change by trusting themselves and their voice, and work without waiting for flow.
As Godin says on his blog, “Our best work happens when we contribute something new, something generous, something that makes an improvement. And making a contribution isn’t possible until we ship the work.”
“The Practice” serves as an essential guidebook for all those who consider themselves artists, teachers and leaders.
In the book, Seth teaches readers how to:
- Find their passion
- Become creative, especially when it’s frightening to do so
- Trust themselves and their voice
- Model being positive in their practice
- Determine who and what they’re creating this work for
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The following is excerpted from “The Practice: Shipping Creative Work” by Seth Godin, published by Portfolio, an imprint of the Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2020 by Do You Zoom Inc.
Shipping your work, because it doesn’t count if you don’t share it.
Creative, because you’re not a cog in the system. You’re a creator, a problem solver, a generous leader who is making things better by producing a new way forward.
Work, because it’s not a hobby. You might not get paid for it, not today, but you approach it as a professional.
Lost in all the noise around us is the proven truth about creativity: it’s the result of desire—the desire to find a new truth, solve an old problem, or serve someone else. Creativity is a choice, it’s not a bolt of lightning from somewhere else.
There’s a practice available to each of us—the practice of embracing the process of creation in service of better. The practice is not the means to the output, the practice is the output, because the practice is all we can control.
The practice demands that we approach our process with commitment. It acknowledges that creativity is not an event, it’s simply what we do, whether or not we’re in the mood.
Finding your passion
One question comes up in my podcast the most often: where do I find my passion? And the corollary: if I’m not passionate about my work, what should I do?
Once you decide to trust your self, you will have found your passion. You’re not born with it, and you don’t have just one passion. It’s not domain-specific: it’s a choice.
Our passion is simply the work we’ve trusted ourselves to do.
This is worth deconstructing, because the strategy of “seeking your calling” gives you a marvelous place to hide.
After all, who wants to do difficult work that doesn’t fulfill us? Who wants to commit to a journey before we know it’s what we were meant to do?
The trap is this: only after we do the difficult work does it become our calling. Only after we trust the process does it become our passion.
“Do what you love” is for amateurs.
“Love what you do” is the mantra for professionals.
I feel like an imposter
At least when I’m doing my best work.
The imposter syndrome had been around long before the term was coined in 1978 by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. It’s that noise in our heads that reminds us we have no business raising our hand, jumping in the water or standing on stage.
And I feel like an imposter often.
That’s because my best work involves doing things I’ve never done before.
Recent research estimates that 40 percent of the workforce has a job that requires innovation, human interaction and decision making. And for each of these people, every day exposes them to the feeling of being a fraud.
Of course you’re not sure it’s going to work. How could you be?
The person you’re serving might take offense, or walk away or simply might not speak the same language.
Of course there’s no manual, no proven best practices, no established rulebook. The very nature of innovation is to act as if—to act as if you’re on to something, as if it’s going to work, as if you have a right to be here. Along the way, you can discover what doesn’t work on your way to finding out what does.
Start where you are
Identity fuels action, and action creates habits, and habits are part of a practice, and a practice is the single best way to get to where you seek to go.
Before you are a “bestselling author,” you’re an author, and authors write. Before you are an “acclaimed entrepreneur,” you’re simply someone who is building something.
“I am _______ but they just don’t realize it yet” is totally different from “I’m not _______ because they didn’t tell me I was.”
The only choice we have is to begin. And the only place to begin is where we are.
“The Practice: Shipping Creative Work” is available now wherever books are sold and can be purchased via StartupNation.com.
Feature image courtesy of Darius Bashar and Archangel
The post Seth Godin Talks Creativity and How to Find Your Passion appeared first on StartupNation.
U.K.-based Fertifa has bagged a £1 million (~$ 1.3 million) seed to plug into a fertility-focused workplace benefits platform. Passion Capital is investing in the round, along with some unnamed strategic angel investors.
The August 2019-founded startup sells bespoke reproductive health and fertility packages to U.K. employers to offer as workplace benefits to their staff — drawing on the use of technologies like telehealth to expand access to fertility support and cater to rising demand for reproductive health services.
Challenges conceiving can affect around one in seven couples, per the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS).
In recent years fertility startups have been getting more investor attention as VC firms cotton on to growing market. Employers have also responded, with tech industry workplaces among those offering fertility “perks” to staff. Although the access-to-services issue can be more acute in the U.S. — given substantial costs involved in obtaining treatments like IVF.
In the U.K. the picture is a little different, given that the country’s taxpayer-funded NHS does fund some fertility treatments — meaning IVF can be free for couples to access. Although how much support couples get can depend on where in the country they live, with some NHS trusts funding more rounds of IVF than others. There can also be access restrictions based on factors such as a woman’s age and the length of time trying to conceive.
This means U.K. couples can run out of free fertility support before they’ve been able to conceive — pushing them toward paying for private treatment. Hence Fertifa spotting an opportunity for a workplace benefits model around reproductive health services.
It signed up its first employers this spring and summer, and says it now has a portfolio of corporate clients with an employee pool from a few hundreds to >10,000 — although it isn’t breaking out customer numbers. Rather, it says its services are available to around 700,000 U.K. employees at this point.
“At Fertifa we want to make fertility services more widely accessible to people,” says founder and CEO Tony Chen. “Some levels of fertility services can be provided by the NHS but every single NHS trust is different with eligibility, requirements and resources, and so unfortunately it can too often be reduced to a “postcode lottery”.
“We believe that everyone should have easy access to information, resources, education and services relating to fertility — and that working with workplaces is one way to start. With our efforts and partnerships we hope to normalise the conversations about fertility at work, just as other forms of health are openly discussed and provided for.”
Passion Capital partner Eileen Burbidge — who is joining Fertifa’s board (along with Passion’s Malin Posern) — has been public about her own use of IVF and takes a very personal interest in the fertility space.
“The unfortunate fact is that over recent years, even though success rates have increased and of course more and more patients are exploring the benefits of IVF, NHS funding has been declining and the number of patients using the NHS for their first cycle has also been decreasing,” she tells TechCrunch.
“This doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s brilliant what we get from the NHS here in the U.K., but there’s clearly a lot more which can be done to further increase accessibility and affordability — given less and less funding for the NHS in the face of increasing demand of both the NHS and private routes.”
Fertifa says its model is to provide direct care and support to employees — rather than being a broker or acting as part of a referral system. So it has two in-house clinicians at this stage (out of a team of 10-15 people). Although it also says it “partners” with clinicians and clinics across the U.K. So it’s not doing everything in-house.
It offers what it bills as a “full range” of fertility and gynaecology services — from assisted reproductive technology such as IVF, IUI and more; fertility planning such as egg, sperm and embryo freezing to donor-assisted and third-party reproduction such as donor eggs and sperm; as well as surrogacy and adoption.
Its doctors, nurses and “fertility advocates” are there to provide a one-to-one care service to support patients throughout the process.
“We use technology in a number of ways and are ambitious about how it will help us to maintain an advantage over others in the sector and provide the best customer experience,” says Chen, noting it has developed “a full end-to-end” app for patients to guide them through the various stages of their fertility journey.
“On the employer side we have a full employer portal as well which provides educational resources, support options and access to services for HR/People teams to use and share with their workforces. Additionally, we use telehealth to enable more efficient, convenient (particularly in the age of COVID-19 restrictions) and immediate consultations with clinicians and nurses. Finally, we are refining our machine learning algorithms to help drive more informed decision making for patients and clinicians alike.”
It’s not currently applying AI but says that over time its in-house medical experts will use artificial intelligence to aid decision-making — with the aim of reducing clinic visits, enhancing the patient experience and yielding better clinical pregnancy rates.
Chen points to the U.K.’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority having already made its data publicly available on more than 100,000 couples and their treatment and outcomes — suggesting such data-sets will underpin the development of new predictive models for fertility.
“With additional insight and data sources [we] could more accurately predict probability of success for a patient — or the best type of treatment for them,” he adds.
While Fertifa’s current focus is U.K. expansion — targeting workplaces of all sizes and scale — it’s also got its eye on scaling overseas down the line. Although it will of course face more competition at that point, with the likes of Y Combinator backed Carrot already offering global fertility benefits packages for employers.
“Fertility and reproductive health is important to people all over the world,” says Chen. “Globally one in four women experience a miscarriage, every LGBT+ individual requires support to become a parent, and everyone needs to be increasingly empowered to take control of their reproductive health through fertility preservation treatment.”
The virtual event industry is shining bright! The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of numerous events, turning most of them into a virtual event online. As a result, the virtual event platform is witnessing higher demand as most companies have adopted the work from home (WFH) policy.
While organising a virtual event may sound easy, but it’s no cakewalk. You need to set a lot of things right to make your event successful. However, there are dozens of platforms in this space offering distinct technologies and services.
Simplifies event management process
HeySummit is one such startup that claims to take the heavy lifting out of creating, managing, running, and analysing online events, summits, conferences, or talk-series. It provides management and marketing tools that are required for multi-talk virtual events, including landing pages, speaker management, and ticketing, and then integrates with the leading webinar, networking, and video hosting platforms.
HeySummit raised €847K funding
Recently, the Scottish startup raised $ 1M (approx €847K) funding led by Techstart Ventures with the participation of Active Capital and Ankur Nagpal (CEO and founder of Teachable). The company intends to use the funding to accelerate the growth of its platform.
The company says it has served nearly 2 million attendees and hosted over 4,500 events on the platform within the past year. The app can be integrated into other video hosting platforms including Zoom, Remo, Livewebinar, GoToWebinar, YouTube Live, RunTheWorld, Icebreaker, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, among others. The hosts can opt for the pre-recorded or live programming, or even the hybrid of both.
Main focus on passion economy
As per the company, many organisations including the Red Cross, the UN, Udemy, and others used the platform, but the startup’s main focus remains the passion economy like painters, teachers, and others.
Founder Benjamin Dell started HeySummit as a side-project to solve his problem as a solopreneur. “I wanted to reach a wide audience, increase my thought leadership, and build my community, but couldn’t find anything that could do the things that took the most time – the marketing, organising, and management of the summit.”
“At HeySummit, we see that innovation first-hand. We’ve seen the yoga teachers who have pivoted to online classes. We’ve seen the museums who have thought up new ways to earn an income virtually. We’ve seen large conferences like SaaStr quickly adapt to a new virtual environment. We’ve also seen the joy and success that can come from sharing your passion, teaching others, and creating communities,” he adds.
Main image credits: fizkes/Shutterstock
Fronted, the new London-based startup aiming to make life easier for renters, including lending the cash needed for a deposit, has picked up seed investment from Passion Capital. The investment showed up in a recent regulatory filing for the company.
The exact cheque size isn’t yet disclosed, but what we do know is that Passion Capital partner Eileen Burbidge has joined Fronted’s board. That’s unsurprising, given that Fronted co-founder Simon Vans-Colina was an early and important employee of Monzo, the challenger bank that counts Passion Capital and Burbidge as original backers.
Confirming Passion Capital’s investment, Fronted co-founder and CEO Jamie Campbell gave TechCrunch the following statement:
“Like a lot of businesses we have been finding our feet in post-pandemic world, we are grateful to have supporting investors like Passion Capital who have supported us from the very beginning and who believe in our vision to help renters move.”
The company, founded late last year by Campbell, Vans-Colina and Anthony Mann — former employees at Bud, Monzo and Apple, respectively — is planning to launch later this year with a fintech product to help renters finance their rental deposits.
The nascent company is currently in the FCA “sandbox” program (run by the U.K. financial services regulator) to begin lending cash that can only be used for a rental deposit.
By using open banking and other financial technology, and offering a credit product designed to finance deposits directly, Fronted believes it can lend more cheaply than existing options — such as credit cards, pay-day lenders and overdrafts, or insurance-backed membership schemes — and at lower risk.
Late last year, Campbell and Vans-Colina explained that renters that apply to use the Fronted service will be asked to link their bank using open banking, therefore sharing their recent transaction data, and provide details of the property they wish to rent. Then, once Fronted has run the required checks and agreed to provide credit, the startup will send the money directly to the estate agent to be placed in the U.K.’s Deposit Protection Scheme, meaning that the loan never touches the renter’s hands (or wallet).
Renters will then pay back the loan over a set schedule, or they can pay it off entirely when they have the money to do so. There is also a planned “holiday mode” that will allow borrowers to temporarily reduce their monthly payments in order to help avoid falling into financial difficulty.
Fronted paused operations as the coronavirus pandemic took hold and at the height of uncertainty, but with the initial product built and money in the bank, a launch doesn’t look too far off.
“We are in the final stage [of regulatory approval] and once we are authorised we can launch,” adds Campbell.