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How to find balance between startup and family life

Entrepreneurship is not easy! In fact, it’s a daunting and time-consuming task. To ensure its success, you must devote all your time, attention, and effort towards your business. In simple words, it means sacrificing personal commitments and putting in extra hours during the weekends as well as holidays. But what about business owners who also have family responsibilities? How do they juggle time between their work and household? Is entrepreneurship only for the single and young?

Family outside

According to Pew Research, more than 50% of American parents agree that it’s difficult to find balance between work and their family. Another survey reveals that family pressure for time and money is one of the leading reasons entrepreneurs are unable to concentrate on their work.

Balancing family and startup life is tough. However, work and relationships are both important aspects of life and one has to keep equilibrium between them to avoid any conflicts. To help you out, here are some tips to find a much-needed balance.

1. Be organized

Staying organized is one of the best ways to keep balance in both personal and professional life. Create a to-do list each morning and carefully plan your day. Prioritize each task but make sure family commitments and school meetings stay on the calendar no matter what.

2. Keep your family in the loop

Share your schedule with members of your family so they are aware of your whereabouts during the day. Post it on the fridge or send out digital calendars. It is also a good idea to share the same timetable with members of your staff so they also don’t press for your time when you are busy with your family. Ensuring proper communication with both personal and professional members will eliminate arguments and make everyone more understanding of your life goals.

3. Keep a night aside for family

You might not be able to join your family for dinner every night or read stories to your 3-year old during bedtime. But make a habit of keeping a night aside for family where you can do some special activities. A quiet dinner, movie night, or even a computer game night ensure that you share quality time with your children.. This will let them know that even though you are not with them for after-school activities, there is a night when everything stops especially for them.

4. Spend time with your partner

Reserve some time for you and your partner sans the kids as well. This will strengthen your relationship and make you less guilty the next time you put in extra hours at work, leaving your significant other to look after domestic responsibilities.

5. Take care of yourself

In the midst of juggling between work and family, don’t forget your own well-being. Take time out for yourself during the day. Go to the gym, get a massage, or even go shopping if it helps renew your energy. And of course, make sure you eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Treating yourself well will keep you more ready to face the challenges of both the personal and professional world.

Final thoughts

Juggling family and work is not impossible. It may seem challenging but with proper organization and support, you too can become a successful entrepreneur and have an ideal family life.

December 8th, 2017

Posted In: Marketing Tips for Franchisees

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The Challenge of being a Young Entrepreneur

These days many young individuals prefer starting their own business rather than waiting for their dream job. Apart from being full of spirit and energy, younger adults are not tied up with family responsibilities, which allows them to focus on their newly launched business.

young_entrepreneur

However, like anyone else, millennial entrepreneurs are also prone to mistakes. And while blunders are considered a part of the learning process, minor slip ups can cause the complete project to fail. Unfortunately, more than 50% of businesses fail in the first four years and while incompetence is rated as the major cause of failure, lack of experience ranks as the second main cause.

So does age and experience matter when starting a new venture?

A quick look at statistics shows that 51% of small business owners are 50 – 88 years old while 33% are between the age of 35 and 49. Surprisingly, only 16% of individuals under the age of 35 have launched their own startup.

On the other hand, if I were to ask you to pick out a few successful entrepreneurs, you would likely answer Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. Well, did you know that the owner of Facebook became a millionaire at the age of 22 while Bill Gates and Steve Jobs founded their respective companies at the age of 20? Additionally, Larry Page developed Google at 25 while Jack Dorsey came up with the idea of ‘tweets’ when he turned the big 30. Age didn’t matter to them!

Even the most successful entrepreneurs faced challenges. Since they were quite young, not many investors took them seriously and they were often mocked as being “Toddler CEOs.” Additionally, family members are not as supportive of a young person starting his or her own business when there are plenty of other opportunities available. And although good ideas do sell themselves, companies without any brand recognition or experience in the industry often find it difficult to attract customers.

Of course, these minor encounters are part of every entrepreneur’s journey and they shouldn’t deter you from achieving your dreams. Any obstacle that comes your way should be dealt with confidence, enthusiasm, and optimism.

So to answer the question above – Does age matter for success in entrepreneurship? – no, age definitely does not matter and as time passes, business owners gain plenty of experience that helps them overcome the obstacles of youth.

November 28th, 2017

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Challenges Of A Female Entrepreneur

Once upon a time, entrepreneurship was considered a man’s domain. However, times have changed and according to a 2016 report, 11.3 million businesses in the US are owned by women. Data collected in 2015 by the National Association of Women Business Owners states that women-led businesses generate more than $1.5 trillion in sales. The good news is that these numbers are growing day by day and many women of today are successfully entering the business industry and closing the gender gap.

Female Entrepreneur
Unfortunately, the road to success is not an easy one for any entrepreneur, be it male or female. However, women claim to face more difficulties in starting a business than their male counterparts. What are these obstacles? Let’s find out!

Lack of funds

Many investors hesitate to fund businesses run by women. Although it may be unintentional, men do side with those of the same gender. Full Circle Insights, a marketing and sales analytics company, reports that venture capitalists have a habit of investing in startups that are headed by people of their own “tribe.” The 2014 Babson College Report also indicates that less than 3 percent of venture capital-funded companies had females in the CEO position.

Some men also have a preconceived notion that women are not as competent as them. Sometimes the importance of women-related products is difficult to convey to male investors, which also makes them reluctant to hand out funds. Although the difficulties women face in acquiring funds can’t be solved overnight, a good business plan is the first step to getting the necessary funding.

Lack of role models

If I asked you to name five of the top entrepreneurs you are likely to answer: Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Kevin Systrom, and Brian Chesky. But what about Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Marian Ilitch (founder of Little Caesar’s Pizza), and Doris Fisher (co-founder of Gap)? Surely they are equally successful in their respective fields and are doing very well in their chosen career path. Why do we tend to forget the names of women entrepreneurs? This is because in our society, men acquire more visibility in industries that are more prominent while women usually start business in areas where they have prior experience, skill, and interest.

Take the tech industry for example. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census data reports that less than 30 percent of workers in computer and math-related fields are women while the global technology meetups account for only 29 percent of the female population.

So how can the number of female startups in male-dominated industries increase? Ruta Aidis, roject Director at the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, recommends hiring more women in technical positions. “When women start working in these industries, they will naturally develop interests which will encourage them to build their own startups in the relevant field.”

Balancing personal and professional lives

Giving equal time to both work and personal life is a goal of many entrepreneurs, regardless of their gender. Initiating a startup takes considerable time and even the males in the field struggle to juggle their family and business life with stability.  However, the struggle becomes more intense for mothers, as “mompreneurs” have double responsivity. They not only have to commit to their work full time but handle kids as well. Of course, in the business world, no one will come and hand you a resource book. You have to become disciplined when it comes to managing time, and finding the way to keep up with boththe kids and work is the ultimate key to success.

Fear of failure

A 2012 survey conducted by Babson College rated fear of failure as the top concern of women preparing to launch startups. Failure is the biggest possibility of any business venture and sadly, nine out of ten startups do fail in its first year.

This is the hard truth and entrepreneurs, regardless of their gender, should always consider the possibility of a failure when starting a business. Failure is considered the inevitable journey to success and sometimes facing a series of challenges can empower women.. Take J.K. Rowling for example. Her idea for a story was brilliant. But she struggled to find a publisher. Of course, she did not give up and one day managed to find a company that agreed to publish her book. Today, her books have sold more than 400 million copies and she herself has a net worth of more than $1 billion.

Are women succeeding at entrepreneurship?

Despite the hurdles, women have proven that they are good for business.  Studies show that women-led startups tend to make better profits than their male counterparts because women assess risk better than man and are less prone to overconfidence.

 

 

November 10th, 2017

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Your customers are talking….Are you listening?

“Whenever I am upset about something, the first person I call is my mom. She listens patiently while I vent out my frustrations and at the end, the only sentence she speaks out is – Everything will be ok! And with these words, the world immediately starts looking like a better place to be.”

Listening EarThis may seem like a simple life situation that many of us go through, but it is enough to show the importance of listening.We humans like to be heard and whether it’s our frustrations, ideas, or whatever emotion we are going through, it feels good to just let it out of our system. Our customers are the same way. Time and time again, research has shown that customer satisfaction is the key to success for any business. Consumers want to be heard and whether it’s their suggestions, criticism, or appreciation, as a business owner it’s your responsibility to listen to them. And maybe, if you really listen to them, you can gather more insight on how to improve and enhance your business.

How to make them feel heard?

So how do you make sure that the customer knows you are listening to them? The consumer gives you their business and loyalty, and you must return that by appreciating whatever it is that they have to say about your business/company, good and bad.

Ask for their ideas

Taking customer’s feedback is a popular practice that is followed by many successful companies. The renowned candy company Tootsie Roll often hosts a giveaway where their fans and followers are given a chance to taste the new flavors of their company. This not only allows the company to gain insight on their new offering but also helps in promoting the new flavor and creating more brand awareness. Starbucks has added a special Twitter handle to their social media account where customers can share their ideas/suggestions to make Starbucks better. The company not only responds to each customer but also has a separate blog where each idea that has been implemented is listed.

In simple words, all feedback is good feedback. Social media platforms should be your number one source while a feedback/survey form also works great.

Offer a prompt reply

According to a survey conducted by Search Engine Watch, 7 out of 10 Twitter users expect a response from the brands they get in touch with. In fact, 53% of the Twitter users want their favorite brands to respond within an hour and if they have shared a complaint or criticism, the number increases to 72%.

Review Tracker also conducted a survey in the same regard and concluded that 52% of customers want feedback on their query within 7 days while one in four expects a response within 3 days, specifically if it’s a negative review that they have posted.

Avoid leaving your customer’s feedback unattended. Reply to their queries promptly. If they are looking for a solution to any issue they are facing with your product/service, offer a solution. And don’t forget to thank them for being loyal to your brand.

Be honest

Your word is your bond. If you have promised the customer some changes in your business operation, follow through. Making false claims or promises that are unfulfilled can ruin your reputation instantly.

Customers hold the key to your business’s success!

A SalesForce survey shows that 55% of customers are willing to pay even more for a product if they are provided with exceptional customer service. Remember, “The customer is always right” and believe it or not, they can foresee many problems in your business – well before you can. Even though their feedback might not be positive at all times, with a little effort, you can easily convert their complaints into compliments.

October 24th, 2017

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Best Career Advice from Top CEOs

While many of us take advice with a grain of salt, the advice of successful individuals can be enough to motivate and inspire us. Whether you are starting a new job or gearing up to launch your own business, chances are you are all ears for some good advice. And who better to dish out tips than the most successful individuals out there.

Below we have rounded up some of the best and most useful tips from the most highly successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business leaders out there? Here’s what to do if you want to make it to their tier:

ceo_advice

Set clear goals

“Setting a goal can be daunting,” says Robert Herjavec, the multi-millionaire owner of the Herjavec Group, a cybersecurity company. “It means you are taking a chance that might result in failure.”

Of course, many business owners and entrepreneurs don’t set expectations. However, Herjavec says, “Even successful ones don’t want to set expectations in case they don’t reach them. But failure only comes when you don’t try. Setting and working toward a goal will empower small business owners to achieve their potential. I know because I’ve done it.”

A Harvard goal-setting study also revealed that people who wrote down their goals are likely to be 10 times more successful than those who don’t have any written plan.

Be passionate

Starting a new business is scary and the developmental process is undoubtedly challenging. At times, the budding business owners feel that it is impossible to succeed in the vision they have created. However, if the intuition feels right in your heart, then allow yourself to go in the direction. Instead of worrying and limiting yourself, ask “What can I learn from this?””, and “What do I really want?” Being positive and staying motivated will help you achieve your goals faster. about your goals will move anything overtime.

Curt Richardson, founder of OtterboxOtter box, saidalso comments, “Understand who you are and what you want. That’s not about money or things; it’s about what’s in your heart. I always knew I’d be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t find success until I got to the core of what I really wanted to build, which was a company that does well so it can do good.well.””

Don’t work for money

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple who has a passion for technology, has advised many times: “Don’t work for money— it will wear out fast, or you’ll never make enough and you will never be happy, one or the other.There’s a big difference between loving to work and loving the work. And there’s a big difference between whether you fall in love with some work that is just for profits or revenues versus work that is in the service of others.”

Embrace failure

Failure is a part of business. Unfortunately, nine out of 10 startups will fail in their first year while only half of the businesses started survive till their fifth year. However, “rather than letting failure define them, the most successful people recognize when they make a mistake and think about what they can learn from it,” says Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and CEO of Birchbox, a health and beauty subscription box company.

Looking back in history, it’s not hard to find business failures. There was the time when Walt Disney faced major financial setbacks and as a result, was $4 million in debt. However, a great idea in the form of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” became a major hit and helped the company come out of bankruptcy.

We are also familiar with the story of Steve Jobs, who after attempting a failed idea of starting a computer business, learned how to make software that later led him to create a new start-up known as Microsoft..

And in the end…the main thing that will get you where you want to be is “work, work, and work.” As Daymond John, “Shark Tank” star says, “Get up before everybody, go to sleep after everybody, and work. That’s it.”

October 9th, 2017

Posted In: Marketing Tips for Franchisees

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5 Top Reasons to Advertise

Businesses use methods of advertising and marketing to fulfill various goals. The main goal is usually to gain more consumers and hence make profits. For a newly established business, the fight for more sales is with large, well established businesses that have a loyal consumer base and a large marketing budget to grab even more prospective customers. With so many businesses fighting for customer attention, an entrepreneur of a newly opened business may find spending on advertising quite challenging.

5 Top Reasons to AdvertiseHowever, advertising is important for any business regardless of its size, customer base, and budget. In fact, a survey of more than 3,000 companies found that business owners who maintained their marketing strategy over a five-year period saw an average 100% increase in their sales. On the other hand, companies that cut back on advertising grew at less than half the rate of those who advertised steadily.

In short, advertising should be made a high priority by all entrepreneurs. Here are some more reasons why an entrepreneur should give due importance to advertising:

1. Product introduction

If you are launching a new product in the market, it will need an impressive introduction to be accepted by potential customers. Ads for new products focus on explaining the specifications, showing how the product can act as a solution to problems or how it is better than other products in the market. Moreover, in the case of a new company launching a new product; advertising aims to introduce both the brand as well as the company behind it.

2. Increase sales

Many brilliant products have failed due to poor marketing strategies while mediocre products have attained high peaks due to brilliantly executed advertising. A business cannot make significant sales without marketing its product through the right channels. For instance, you will barely make an impact by advertising men’s razors on a morning show that is seen mostly by female audiences. Hence, to increase sales, you need to advertise as much as you can through the right channels. If you have a low advertising budget, be smart enough to choose the means which will have the most focused consumer reach.

3. Product promotions

Advertising is necessary to promote sales and special offers on your product. Limited time offers are introduced for a reason and will not reach your consumers without advertising. Promotions are an excellent way to continually get a company and product name out to the consumer, long after the product is initially introduced. Customers respond to sales and promotions more; in fact, 83% of consumers claim that they crave promotional products and are always on the lookout for sales and deals.

4. Product differentiation

New products are being introduced left and right in the market. They are usually very similar to old ones already present in the market. Advertising your product enables you to market the differences and benefits of your product over what is already available in the market. Focus on what sets your product apart and the problem your product solves.

5. Increase trust

Sometimes the primary motive of marketing is presenting a positive and trustworthy image of your business to your consumers. When your company is marketed well, consumers automatically feel a positive vibe about your product and become more inclined to make a purchase. Hence, the good image eventually gets transferred into higher sales.Be careful, because the opposite is also true. In a recent survey, 84% of consumers agreed that a poorly executed or intrusive ad gives them a negative opinion of the brand. Advertising is crucial to a business’s success and you must carefully evaluate your marketing strategy before launching your own business. Even the smallest right move can bring your product into a positive light for your customers. This will eventually reap you higher sales and profits for your business.

September 19th, 2017

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The one skill that can make you a better boss

What is it that every good boss has and the ineffective one lacks? Here’s a hint: it’s not a degree or something you can buy.

The answer is EMPATHY.

This, along with the ability to do the job well, is crucial to working effectively with employees in the best interest of the company.

What is empathy?

Empathy is often confused with the term “sympathy” and while they are related, they are actually quite different words. Budding entrepreneur Joey Pomerenke describes empathy as “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences, emotions, and feelings.” On the other hand, sympathy is feeling pity or sorrow for someone. It is more distant while empathy goes deep down to share the other person’s feelings and experiences.

Not many of us think of it as an essential business skill, but according to Harvard Business Review, empathy is rapidly making it to the top of the list of “soft skills” that business owners need.

The importance in the workplace

Empathy is the one skill that can make you a better bossThere are a number of reasons employees leave the workplace. They move out of the country, decide to stay at home with their children, or even go back to school. However, a “bad boss” is the number one reason for quitting a job.

There is no need to be buddies with your employees. However, a boss and an employee work closely during office hours and if they are not cordial with each other, the workplace can become intolerable.Employees want to be heard and appreciated. Having an empathic boss will not only make them more productive at the workplace but will eliminate the requirement factor from their work as well.

According to Pomerenke, “Many businesses use punishment and negative consequences so employees behave in a particular way, but showing appreciation through benefits, coaching and development, incentives and genuine rewards sends the message that the business simply cares about the people connected to it.”

So how can you develop empathy if you are not naturally empathetic to begin with?

  1. Put yourself in their shoes
    For just one day or even a few hours, take time to understand the employee’s day. Do the tasks they are responsible for, whether it’s taking orders or assembling reports – whatever you can do to gain firsthand experience.This will not only allow you to understand their perspectives but also send a positive message to the staff that the boss is not above doing anyone’s job and that each job is valuable
  2. Talk to them
    Arrange regular meetings with your employees, either privately or within group discussions. Allow them to give their ideas or suggestions. But don’t use this time to rebuke anyone. Instead, act on the ideas you like or explain why you are not implementing others.You can also use this time to open up about your own managerial struggles. Let your team know you are on their side. In short, make it a positive experience for everyone.
  3. Take interest in their personal lives
    Ask about their weekend or their families. Are they taking too much work home? Being genuinely interested in them will make them feel appreciated, and employees who feel appreciated develop the internal motivation to work hard and give their best.
  4. Break the ice
    Ask anyone how they are doing and they are likely to say they are fine. However, that is not always the end of a conversation. Do they look fine? Are they fidgeting while they are replying? Is their head drooping? Sometimes employees are facing trouble and they are hesitant to share them with you. Break the ice and show genuine concern about their well-being. Business owners know that if an employee is dealing with problems at home, it is bound to affect their performance at work. Show that you care and ask if you can help.
  5. Above all, be honest and sincere with your employees. Stay updated about their personal lives, and their struggles and help alleviate issues that might affect the workplace. You may not be able to solve their problems, but being understanding will show your employees that you care.

    September 6th, 2017

    Posted In: Uncategorized

6 tips for hiring for your new business

tips for hiring for your new business

As much as you want to, it is impossible for a founder to run an entire business single-handedly. With the growing demands of business, therefore, it is important to recruit trusted, reliable employees. Apart from aiding in different aspects of work, your employees will add their own skill sets to the business, which can be beneficial to the company in its road to success.

Recruiting new employees is time consuming and oftentimes frustrating, especially when weeding through hundreds or even thousands of unqualified applicants. To add to the stress, making a poor hiring decision or allowing the perfect CV to get buried in mounds of others can have dire consequences.

To help you make the right choice, here are some tips that you can use when you have a vacancy:

1. Be honest

Be honest when writing the job listing and be specific about your requirements, the skills you are looking for and what your company is like. Giving sufficient details about your demands will save you a lot of time sorting through resumes that are not the right fit.

2. Don’t rush

The last thing you want to do is re-hire for the same position after six months because you made the mistake of accepting an “okay” candidate. To get it right the first time, make sure you ask good interview questions that get beyond the surface to reveal the applicant’s true nature. Personality tests are also an excellent tool for ascertaining whether an applicant is the right fit for your business.

3. Don’t forget references

Although you may want to get through the hiring process as quickly as you can, take the time to investigate further than the face-to-face interview. Ask for references from former supervisors and follow up with a personal phone call to all references. Definitely check out applicants’ social media accounts, as these reveal how people present themselves to others, how they spend their time outside of the office, and what is important to them, all key aspects you might not be able to get from an interview.

4. Look beyond traditional job sites

Even though job sites are the first place one looks when job hunting, there are several places you can post your job advert in search of the right candidate. Post vacancy announcements on your social media sites, forums, or any other place where your business is popular. And don’t overlook your network – ask fellow colleagues, family members, and friends if they know anyone who is the right fit for the post.

5. Consider recruitment agencies

If budget allows, you can transfer the recruitment process to the respective agency who deals in finding the right prospects for specific companies. They do the dirty work of shortlisting candidates and provide you with a few interview-ready applicants. This not only saves time but also the hassle of narrowing down from the piles of CVs. Of course, recruitment agencies charge on a commission basis which is typically 10 – 20% of the annual salary. While they can be expensive, if you don’t have the temperament to go through all the trouble and if your budget permits, it will be well worth it.

6. Look for someone who is committed

Is the candidate serious about the job? Is he willing to learn and grow with your business? Or is he just passing through until something better comes along? Look for commitment from your candidates.Analyze their previous jobs and time spent at each to get a better idea of the employee’s work ethic and longevity, especially in similar positions.

Initially, it may seem difficult to find the right employee and you may fear hiring the wrong one. But with patience, commitment, thorough investigation, and little bit of luck, you increase your chances of hiring exactly the right person.

August 22nd, 2017

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4 Social Media Tips to Grow Your Business


Today’s business world relies on the power of social media. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK claims that 80% of consumers would be inclined to make a purchase merely because of the company/brand’s social media presence.

Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and even Snapchat stories – there is no end to the opportunities for entrepreneurs to create a strong online presence. However, to succeed in the social media madness,
you have to adopt a successful strategy that not only helps you attract more customers but also keeps you on top of the game.

Here are 4 social media tips that you can apply to your new or existing marketing strategy which in turn will assist you in reaching your business goals more efficiently.

Be Consistent

When it comes to posts, tweets, photos, and messages, make sure your posts are timed properly and consistent in nature and message. Before starting your social media marketing, make a plan regarding
what you are going to post and how often. Keep a set duration in mind as you shouldn’t go back and forth by posting every day for one month and only once the next.

Use All Social Media Platforms

Yes, Facebook has the most active users – 1.7 billion monthly to be precise – but that doesn’t mean that other platforms are not popular. Research suggests that while older individuals (age 65 and above) are
more inclined towards Facebook, the younger lot is experimenting with different platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.

If you want to be successful in social media, you have to join all the leading platforms and gear them toward the appropriate audience. Of course, if you are going to use different platforms, you have to use content that is optimized specifically for the platform you are using. For example, Instagram is all about images while Facebook requires posts, memes, and videos. On the other hand, you can do well with short but powerful messages on Twitter.

Blog

Blogging is a proven way to improve your social media strategy. For example, if you share your post on your social media account, you will have a higher chance of bringing readers back to your website.
Additionally, blogs can serve as a teaching platform where you can share knowledge about your product/service and company.

Keep a Balance

Your social media account (regardless of the platform you choose) is all about your business and should focus mainly on getting more customers. However, to be popular on social media you have to add a bit of fun to engage your potential clients. Simply put, you have to keep a balance between both and mix the fun side along with your professional front to boost the reputation of your business.

If you are looking to start up a business, part of your plan should involve your social media presence. In this day and age, branding is everything, so consider how you want your business to appear to the rest of the world and then get out there and sell it!

August 16th, 2017

Posted In: Marketing Tips for Franchisees

From Welfare to Billionaire – The Story of WhatsApp

from welfare to billionaire

Life has indeed come full circle for Jan Koum and Brian Acton. Being rejected by Facebook, the entrepreneur duo acquired $19 billion from the same company for the mobile messaging platform that has greatly impacted the telecom industry.

Yes, we’re talking about WhatsApp, the messaging app that has made communication affordable for users all over the world. One of the most popular mobile apps, WhatsApp currently has 800 million active users monthly.

The co-founders had to survive a lot of ups and downs in their lives, but the journey was worth it.

Who are Jan Koum and Brian Acton?

Jan Koum was 16 years old when he migrated to the U.S. from Ukraine with his mother in hopes of finding a better future. Unfortunately, the initial days in America were challenging for the family and they had to live off food stamps while taking on cleaning and babysitting jobs to pay the bills. According to Forbes, the family lived without electricity while trying to build a life for themselves.

But life’s hardships only made Koum stronger. Using manuals bought from local used book stores, he taught himself programming and computer networking. While studying, he worked for Yahoo, where he
met Brian Acton. The two quit their jobs in 2007 and travelled for a while but it was not until 2009 that inspiration for a new concept came to Koum’s mind.

WhatsApp:
Koum came up with the idea of WhatsApp after purchasing an iPhone and figuring that mobile applications would be the next big thing. At first he started the venture alone but soon persuaded Acton to join him. During this time, the duo applied for jobs at Facebook and Twitter but were rejected.

So they got a few friends to sponsor the app and between 2009 and 2015, WhatsApp saw significant growth. Ultimately, Facebook, the company that initially rejected Koum and Acton, purchased their app for a whopping $19 billion in 2014. At that time, the acquisition was the largest purchase made by Facebook in the company’s history.

Even though the idea of WhatsApp wasn’t new and users could get similar services through instant messengers like Facebook, WeChat, and Skype, it was free and user friendly. Users preferred WhatsApp to traditional SMS texting because it had no limits and no charges, offered encrypted messaging, and made sending photos and videos quick and easy.

What can we learn from the story of Jan Koum and Brian Acton?

  • Age doesn’t matter. Acton and Koum were 42 and 39 respectively when they entered the field. This age is considered ‘old’ for Silicon Valley but the businessmen remained persistent. In fact, Acton even claims that their ages were an advantage as they remained practical throughout the whole ordeal.
  • Persistence is the key to success. Acton and Koum both faced hardships. They lost money and were rejected at job interviews; however, they continually moved forward and came out on top through their hard work and dedication.
  • Passion matters. Although both partners had an idea in their mind, no one knew it would take off. As with any idea or product, there is always a chance of failure, but Koum was focused and determined to make his app a success.

According to Forbes, Acton now holds over 20% stake in Facebook while Koum owns 39.7 million Facebook shares. Koum also remains WhatsApp’s CEO and continues to be a part of Facebook’s group of
directors.

July 27th, 2017

Posted In: Uncategorized

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