The Trials of Being an Entrepreneur

The release of the most recent Star Wars film brings to mind the idea of the hero’s journey. The original Star Wars was predicated on Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, a work that explores the universal journey every human makes, be they Jedi’s, warriors, or even entrepreneurs. In the spirit of the hero’s journey, here’s a look at the trials and tribulations found in the journey of being an entrepreneur.

Doubt

Becoming an entrepreneur can be a daunting prospect. Self-doubt is one of the first and biggest barriers to overcome. It’s very easy to not believe in your capabilities, to say “this is impossible,” “I can’t do this,” and “I’m doing this wrong.” It’s not uncommon for self-doubt to linger even into the later stage of business of ownership. Trust that this is just a phase. As you gain more experience and confidence you will find that doubt, like a rainy day, will eventually pass.

Setting Forth

When you first start planning for your company, you may find yourself possessed by a new-found sense of purpose. Everything you put on paper may seem possible. You may feel yourself buoyed by an overwhelming sense of positive energy. This is good and, if harnessed, it will carry you far. But often this newfound sense of optimism flees at the first sign of trouble. If that does happen, don’t worry. Just keep pushing onward.

Tests

When it rains, it pours. Entrepreneurship is a very demanding pursuit, and the challenges of it should not be underestimated. You will find yourself short on cash, needing to fill positions, missing projected goals and seeing the rise of major competition. During this time, it is completely natural to feel concerned, but you must try to channel this frustration into overcoming the obstacles that you face.

Confidence

Rest assured, after spending several months of slogging through your first venture or after moving on to your third, you’ll eventually get the swing of things. You’ll be better able to take on any challenges that come your way, more smoothly negotiate with employees and investors, and crunch the numbers to get you where you need to be.

Defeat

Even the most successful entrepreneurs face defeat at some point, whether it’s with an individual project or a whole venture. Failure is something to be embraced. Failure means that you are experimenting, that you’re taking risks, that you’re growing. As painful as it may be to experience failure, try to look at it as a growing pain.

Rebirth

After facing defeat, it is only a matter of time before you’re at it again. This is an exciting time. Not only are you getting back into the game, but you’re doing so with lessons learned from your previous experiences. With this new stage you may even find yourself going from Doubt to Confidence, skipping the stages of development in between. Even if your company fails several times, the total amount of experience gained will make a better, wiser entrepreneur out of you.

Wisdom

After years of Setting Forth and Defeat and Rebirth, you’ll eventually reach a state of equilibrium. The things that once rattled you no longer do so (well, maybe one thing will). Good decisions will become second-nature. You’ll have perspective on what failure means and how it can be converted to progress. At this point, you’ll be asset to any business you involve yourself with.

The article that inspired this piece can be found on entrepreneur.com.

 

Boost Your Conversion Rate with these Online Payment Insights

Firoz Patel

When you are just starting out the process of building a company, the ever-expanding number of items on your to-do list may seem somewhat daunting. However, the payments solution process on your website should not be one of them. Your company website – its design, messaging and functionality are critical in terms of developing a positive brand provides a positive user experience when the user attempts to purchase your product. That being said, it’s important to incorporate best practices in the shopping experience, and to consider the following factors when evaluating your site and ways to increase the conversion rate from users who are browsing vs those who are clicking “buy”.

Security

With large scale data breaches making headlines with an uncomfortable frequency, it’s no surprise that individuals place a lot of value on the security provided by online vendors. Consumers demand that their online buying experience is as protected as possible. From the vendor’s perspective this means that it’s important that you procure any certifications that show the users that you are trustworthy. So go ahead and display your SSL badge proudly!

Multiple Payment Options

It’s critical that online stores – particularly when it comes to small businesses who are still building a name for themselves provide multiple forms of payment. This addresses the consumer’s twin priorities of security and convenience when it comes to their online shopping needs.

Reflect Inventory in Real Time

In addition to providing multiple payment options for the consumer, it’s important that the shopping process is as easy as possible. If you operate both an online store as well as a brick and mortar location, make sure that the availability of inventory is as accurate and up to date as possible. You don’t want to lose potential customers because an item that they saw (either in person or on the site) isn’t actually available. Ensure that the inventory control system that you have in place helps you provide transparency about product availability both online and in your physical store location.

Guest Buyers

It’s a fact, businesses want to maintain as much information about their customers as possible. From analyzing data about buying habits, to sending targeting sales messaging to specific segments of the consumers, data is invaluable to a business at every stage of development. However, if you are interested in enhancing your conversion rate, make sure that the value of data doesn’t come at the cost of a sale. Offer consumers the chance to purchase your products without being required to create an account. Many potential buyers may reconsider whether or not they will make a purchase if they have to suffer the inconvenience of creating a shopping account with your store.

Increasing your conversion rate of casual browsers to paying customers will likely be an important step at every step of your company’s development. That being said, make sure to regularly evaluate what kind of user experience you are offering when it comes to purchasing goods from your site. To learn more about payment solutions news visit my Twitter Account.

Bitcoin At University…Is It A Good Fit?

Firoz PatelIn May of this year, Simon Fraser University became the first Canadian post-secondary institution to install automated Bitcoin vending machines. SFU installed these AVMs at bookstores on each of the school’s three campuses.

For some, the idea that you can use Bitcoin to buy your Psych 101 textbook is merely a fun novelty. But the reason behind SFU’s decision to invest in these AVMs is rather telling.

By purchasing these AVMs, it’s likely that SFU is stating their belief in the current and growing use of this cryptocurrency. Instead of fearing the decentralized, completely digital currency, this university is willing to participate with and provide access to the currency.

The university’s Executive Director of Ancillary Services, Mark McLaughlin, claims that “The plan is to eventually roll it out to our dining hall.”

He goes on to state that the school didn’t incorporate AVMs into its landscape because of financial incentives. However, there were two purported goals in utilizing this new currency at bookstores at each of the three campuses.

While some may argue that there are certainly financial perks that the school’s book sellers receive owing to accepting this type of currency (ie. no transaction fees for the retailer), the school maintains that the objectives were a bit more heady.

First of all, incorporating Bitcoin into the bookstores’ forms of accepted currencies, it started a dialogue on campus about disruptive technologies. Additionally, students and staff members alike had the opportunity to learn about Bitcoin.

Although the school does not disclose the number of Bitcoin transactions that have come through these AVMs, they do remain optimistic about the future of the currency at the school, and pleased with the number of people currently taking advantage of the fact that it is being treated as an alternative to other payment methods at the school’s bookstores.

While only time will tell where and when this trend will catch on, Simon Fraser University will certainly offer an interesting testing ground for how young people choose to interact with this currency when it is presented as a payment option IRL.

Countries Other Than China Set their Sights on Singles Day

Firoz PatelSingles Day started as a holiday in the 1990s in China that essentially served as an opportunity for single people to treat themselves to something nice. With the advent of e-commerce, however, the holiday has become one of the country’s highest traffic shopping days. Part of this is due to significant promotions from e-commerce titan Alibaba. Last year Alibaba earned three quarters of sales from that day. That is to say a reported $9.3 billion USD in sales. A Nielsen survey reports that the average expected amount to spend per person for the holiday is $277.76 USD. This number is based on a sample size of over one thousand internet users based in China.

While Singles Day not only rivals, but exceeds the numbers from Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in the US, another interesting trend of note is the changing demographics in terms of who the buyers are. In China, Singles Day captures the rising middle class and a younger generation that is flush with disposable income and developing a growing desire to spend.

Although Singles Day stems from a holiday first celebrated on Nanjing Campus back in the ‘90s, Alibaba is responsible for not only helping to spread the popularity of the holiday, but to brand it in a way that directly links the celebration to online shopping.

In many ways, Alibaba owns the holiday – and not just in a theoretical way. The Alibaba Group puts a lot of money into creating the advertising and content leading up to the holiday, and has built an infrastructure and system that caters directly to the demands of this day. But in an even more practical sense, in 2012, the Alibaba Group trademarked the term “双十一” (or “Double 11”). Although that is different from the term “Singles Day”, it is associated very intimately with the holiday. And in the fall of 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against any media outlets that would enter into advertising deals from competitors that used this term.

Alibaba Although Singles Day has continued to grow rapidly over the past few years, this year international markets are clearly taking notice of the potential for this holiday, and Alibaba will celebrate Singles Day by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Although this is not a new holiday, this particular gesture suggests that other countries have really begun to take notice and that expansion of celebrating the holiday globally is likely on the horizon.  

6 New FinTech Cities To Watch

Firoz PatelWhile payment loans and emerging payment solutions tend to be the focus of this site, it’s important to take a step back every now and again to consider the broader industry. Today payment solutions are intrinsically linked with emerging technologies.

And when it comes to fintech, there have been three major players that have been dominating the industry: New York, London, and Silicon Valley. But as the market grows rapidly, other cities are coming up to make their mark. Here are 6 cities to keep your eyes on:

1. Vancouver

Known for valuing privacy and security, Vancouver has acquired an “organic” talent pool of engineers and innovators with their lack of government influence and sponsorship. Within one year, they have already tripled their value from $4 billion in 2013 to a little over $12 billion in 2014.

2. Hong Kong

Hong Kong has been a constant pest to the top fintech cities for awhile now though some experts have argued that it have been dropping off the map compared to other cities. But it’s showing successful numbers similar to Vancouver. The country’s roughly $3 billion market jumped to around $12 billion in 2014. It also repositioning itself towards a leading position with its ever-thriving Cyberport.

3. Dublin

Dublin is ready to challenge London for its leading position by taking a crash course into the European markets. Being an outsourcing location for many companies, It’s the hub for Accenture (a fintech dedicated to the ecosystem worldwide) and the U.S. bank Citi.

4. Singapore

Singapore has become a major player across the board in the industry. Both in global services and in Asia. Over a span of the next five years, the country has pledged $166 million for fintech investments.

5. Sydney

With its thriving deep-rooted professional, creative and digital industries, Sydney has come out of the woodwork and started to utilize its fintech potential. Sydney’s hub has been estimated to be worth over AUS$2 million and continuing to go strong with support from the government and the private companies.

6. Berlin

Known as the startup capital, Berlin has mastered growing tech startups and has become the second largest hub with fintech funding in Europe, bringing in a whopping $300 million in 2014. It’s second to only the U.K.

 

Info courtesy of Procurement Leaders and Tech Crunch.

 

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