BizInc http://bizinc.ca The student business incubator in London, Ontario Thu, 11 Jul 2013 18:28:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 4 More Networking Tips for the Socially Awkward http://bizinc.ca/4-more-networking-tips-for-the-socially-awkward/ http://bizinc.ca/4-more-networking-tips-for-the-socially-awkward/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2013 18:19:20 +0000 bizinc http://bizinc.ca/?p=2074 Last week, I posted four tips that help all of us socially awkward people network. If you read it, you’ve armed yourself with the best conversational salvos you can muster, dropkicked your negative ideas of networking into a dump somewhere, and can now more confidently declare yourself to be an invaluable asset to a company or [...]

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1Last week, I posted four tips that help all of us socially awkward people network. If you read it, you’ve armed yourself with the best conversational salvos you can muster, dropkicked your negative ideas of networking into a dump somewhere, and can now more confidently declare yourself to be an invaluable asset to a company or an investor.

But if you truly want to network well, don’t forget to do the following four things:

4. Remember the Dale Carnegie Basics 

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When Dale Carnegie wrote the definitive guide to networking  and interacting with people more than half a century ago, he laid down the following five commandments:

A) Smile. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

B) Listen. People love talking about themselves, and if you’re not a big fan of talking in the first place, this is an easy way to get a good conversation going. Plus it gives off a great impression of yourself!

C) Ask a question. This goes hand-in-hand with Listening, but it also comes in handy when you’ve just joined a group mid-conversation. Once you’ve gotten the gist of what they’re talking about, ask a relevant question. You’ll have your “in” to truly join the group, and feel less awkward.

D) Use business cards. Technology may have now evolved to the point where you can swap contact information on phones, but it’s still more cumbersome to hammer in everything when you could just hand over a slip of paper with the information.

E) Say and remember their name. There’s no sweeter sound to a person than the sound of their own name, and it helps build a closer connection.

Never forget these commandments.

3. Be Yourself! 

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And never forget yourself either. There’s nothing wrong with being yourself at a networking event!  Humble, shy, and/or quirky can be endearing, and people would always prefer being around someone who’s authentic rather than a “schmoozer”. Never be a “schmoozer”: their approach to networking is to help themselves only, when networking is also about helping others!

2. Network Outside of Networking Events

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Networking events aren’t the only place to network. Especially for people who find themselves feeling awkward at the formality of it all, or want to try something with less face-to-face time – there are easier ways to do things.

First and foremost: tap into your alumni network! That’s one of the main reasons why it exists. Feel free to contact anyone who you think could help you – however, don’t expect to instantly find millions of people ready and willing to help you out. There’s a lot of work required, and you’ll probably have to contact 20 to 30 people before you get a response, maybe even 100 before you find someone who wants to build a business relationship with you. But it’s definitely well worth the time you put in. You’ll also find that alumni networks of organizations with a strong social identity like frats or professional student development organizations like AIESEC will generally tend to have alumni who are more willing to help out.

On that note, use your passions. No matter how hard you find it to talk with people, you’ll always be able to get talking with someone who shares a passion with you. So go join clubs or groups you’re interested in. After you meet someone there and have thoroughly gone over the hyperbolic structures of crochet, you’ll both be comfortable chatting with each other. At that point, it’d be pretty easy to bring up work and forge a business relationship AND a friendship! Because you never know, the sleepy guy with a mustache you sit next to at Toastmaster’s could be able to help you with exactly what you need to reach your business goals.

1. FOLLOW UP!!

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So you worked hard, pulled yourself together, and managed to talk with tons of really helpful people. Great job, you did it, you’ve reached your goals—NOPE! NONE of it means anything unless you FOLLOW UP. You met someone who’s willing to lend a hand with designing your website? Great, now FOLLOW UP and email them to arrange a time to discuss specifics. You met someone who’s interested in mentoring you? Great, now FOLLOW UP and book a coffee meeting with them. No follow up means nothing happens!

Also follow up and maintain your business relationships in general. Send them holiday cards, or wish them happy birthday. Start an email discussion with them every now and then, pointing out the new advances in that mutual passion of yours. Make sure you don’t let your networking efforts go to waste!

Now that you’ve read all the tips I have to give you, go out there and make some business magic happen!

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4 Networking Tips for the Socially Awkward http://bizinc.ca/4-networking-tips-for-the-socially-awkward/ http://bizinc.ca/4-networking-tips-for-the-socially-awkward/#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 19:25:03 +0000 bizinc http://bizinc.ca/?p=2044 Does socializing seem like a drag? Are you too mortified to bring up “business” in a conversation? (Do you still worry about puking at your next networking event?) As a current or future entrepreneur, you never know when you could meet someone that can help you and your business. But if you’re not really a [...]

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Does socializing seem like a drag? Are you too mortified to bring up “business” in a conversation? (Do you still worry about puking at your next networking event?)

As a current or future entrepreneur, you never know when you could meet someone that can help you and your business. But if you’re not really a social butterfly, these amazing opportunities for developing your business could quickly become an opportunity for feeding your nightmares. Thankfully, there are many ways to improve and cope with this. Here are a few tips to get you started:

4. Prepare yourself

2 They say practice makes perfect. They also say luck favours the well-prepared. If you want to improve your networking skills, you better practice and prepare as much as you can!

Practice your self-introduction or your business pitch with yourself. Anticipate questions, and prepare some answers for them. If you’d like to try things out on someone else, ask a friend to help you practice.

But if you get your social heebie-jeebies from chatting up new people, friends aren’t going to help much. Instead, you should also try talking to “low-danger” strangers like baristas. As students, it’s also pretty easy for us to strike up a conversation with people on campus too!

While you’re doing all of this, make sure you remember to…

3. Change your mindset

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Many students unfamiliar with networking don’t like it. They think that networking is insincere, manipulative, and cold—when actually, it’s the complete opposite! Networking is all about building intimate, sincere relationships based on mutual generosity – after all, no one can achieve their career goals completely on their own. The idea is that they will help you now, and you’ll help them later, all while fostering a relationship that could help the both of you for years afterward.

However, some other students don’t network because they lack confidence, fear rejection, or think they’re unworthy. If you’re in this category, you don’t just need to change your mindset about networking, you also need to change your mindset about yourself. First off…

2. Don’t take things personally!

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To the nervous networker, networking is a minefield of danger after danger after danger. You need to approach a stranger, then talk to them, then you have maintain the conversation and keep up a good impression… and after all that, you still need to ask them for help. (Not to mention there’s that evil voice at the back of your head, telling you all the ways that this person could torpedo your business/career before if you piss them off…)

Whenever you notice your thoughts wandering down this path, I want you to stop. Then start saying these three words to yourself:

REJECTION IS OKAY.

It’s bound to happen – not even the most socially skilled person gels with everyone.  And sometimes, there isn’t a mutual meeting of needs when you talk to someone, or they can’t think of anyone else who could help you. And sometimes, people are just plain mean. So don’t take things personally. Just keep trudging on, doing your thing.

On that note…

1. Don’t Apologize for Everything

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You don’t need to apologize for asking for help, or wanting to learn more about a person. Networking doesn’t force anything onto anyone—it’s relationship building. This is because you’re not asking them for a favour, it’s mutual generosity. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.

If you insist on constantly saying sorry, it only shows how unprofessional and unconfident you are. It gets annoying pretty fast.

After all, there is no such thing as not being worth someone’s time. And if they are already talking to you, then they have already decided you’re worth their time without you having to convince them!

In conclusion: Keep your head up, my fellow socially-awkward networker. It’s really not as hard (or as bad) as you think!

 

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5 Reasons To Launch A Startup In School http://bizinc.ca/5-reasons-to-launch-a-startup-in-school/ http://bizinc.ca/5-reasons-to-launch-a-startup-in-school/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 11:39:36 +0000 bizinc http://bizinc.ca/?p=2021 I came into the startup game a little ‘late’ in my life. Three years ago, I decided to launch my first startup with my best friend from way back in grade school. That didn’t last long. Three failed startups and an Ivey MBA later, here I am, broke but loving my life as a founder [...]

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Launch a Startup

I came into the startup game a little ‘late’ in my life. Three years ago, I decided to launch my first startup with my best friend from way back in grade school. That didn’t last long. Three failed startups and an Ivey MBA later, here I am, broke but loving my life as a founder of my 4th startup, FamilyTales.

If I could travel back in time, I would tell the 18-year-old Ramli to launch a startup while still in school. At that time, startups weren’t sexy; no one listed ‘co-founder’ as their title on LinkedIn. YouTube and Facebook were just new kids on the block. I would have still told the young me to launch a startup. Here are five reasons why if I could go back, I would have launched a startup in school:

1) You’ve got nothing to lose

As John Pollock of BizInc said, students (hopefully) don’t have a mortgage and people who depend on them. If your startup fails, you have many options. You can find a job. You can move back in with your folks. You can go study. This is much harder when you’re 30-something and have a mortgage, a spouse or a kid.

2) There’s money for students!

Ian Haase of Tech Alliance makes a good point that if you are seeking funding for a fledgling company, there are numerous government programs these days that support student entrepreneurs. Most of these programs are only available to you if you’re a full time student. It may take a few months to apply for and receive the funds (if you are successful).  In order to hit the ground running upon graduation, you should start thinking about these things well in advance to avoid delays.

3) The best learning opportunity

I’ve worked in big multi-million dollar companies and I’ve worked in my own startup. Let me tell you that not only is it the most fun I’ve had working on my own startup, it’s the best learning experience of my life. School teaches you theory. Corporate jobs teach you mostly company-specific knowledge. Startups will kick your ass and send your learning to hyperdrive. You’ll have to learn new things very quickly. If you don’t, you’ll fail. And that just motivates me to learn even faster.

4) You have a great story to tell

I’m a big supporter of the Lean Startup principles. The Lean Startup method forces you to talk to potential customers first before you build anything. The best thing about being a student is that people are more willing to talk to you if you tell them you’re a student. They think that you’re just doing ‘research’ and not trying to sell them anything.

This is exactly what Ali and I did with FamilyTales. Way back then, in a galaxy far, far away, FamilyTales used to be called HaloLane, an online memorial for deceased family members (that’s a blog post worth sharing!). We were able to talk to 8 to 10 funeral homes because we told them that we were students doing business and technology research on the death care industry. It worked!

5) A Supportive Community

The final reason why you should launch a startup now is the supportive startup community. When I graduated from the University of Waterloo just five years ago, MaRS, Communitech, Velocity Garage, Next36, BizInc, and TechAlliance did not exist. Now it seems like a new startup accelerator is popping up everywhere- like weeds! I’m a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a startup. Now with these awesome startup communities, as Ian Haase of TechAlliance said, “leveraging this network for advice and connections is of huge value, and your fellow students are generally willing to help you out”. On top of that, these startup communities, like BizInc, are generally welcoming of student entrepreneurs. As long as you come in humble and willing to learn, they will welcome you with open arms.

Why You Should Launch A Startup Now

Let me leave you with what Colton Hathaway told me when I asked him for his perspective on student entrepreneurs. Colton was elected by Apple as one of their top 150 student developers, was invited to WWDC in San Francisco, cofounded Coachd, a mobile fitness company that was accepted into Hyperdrive by Communitech, and now leads a creative digital media agency called Inner Geek Media as the CEO. By the way, did I tell you that he’s only 22 years old and is still studying Software Engineering at Western University? Here’s what he said:

“Life is short, so why haven’t more students focused on building themselves, both personally and professionally? More students need to be challenging themselves beyond the classroom. There are so many opportunities waiting for them, they just need to go out of their comfort zone and grab them.”

What are you waiting for? Get out of the building and launch your startup!

 

 Untitled Ramli John is working on his 4th startup, FamilyTales, which is based in MaRS Commons and Velocity Garage incubator. He’s a University of Waterloo Computer Science and Ivey MBA alum who loves helping other entrepreneurs change the world. He blogs regularly at http://www.RamliJohn.com. Read more about him here.

 

 

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Forget About Finding A Summer Job http://bizinc.ca/forget-about-finding-a-summer-job/ http://bizinc.ca/forget-about-finding-a-summer-job/#comments Mon, 17 Jun 2013 11:00:22 +0000 bizinc http://bizinc.ca/?p=1999 Finding summer employment is a stressful endeavour for many university and college students. Not only are we pressured to find a well-paying job that can support our education and spending habits, but also a job that offers valuable experience relevant to our studies. With many of the 1.9 million post-secondary students in Canada looking for [...]

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job_hunt

Finding summer employment is a stressful endeavour for many university and college students. Not only are we pressured to find a well-paying job that can support our education and spending habits, but also a job that offers valuable experience relevant to our studies. With many of the 1.9 million post-secondary students in Canada looking for summer employment, competition is fierce in a job market already saturated with recent graduates looking for work. Rather than settling for unrewarding jobs that don’t build desirable skills, many students are now taking an alternative route and starting their own small businesses instead.

While starting a business may be an attractive alternative to a summer spent organizing filing cabinets or folding t-shirts, the experience means more than just having a flexible schedule without an irritable supervisor. Starting a business still requires determination, motivation and of course, an idea.

Entrepreneurship Can Be Sweet

Taylor Toll, Lindsay Wheeler, and Stephanie Fricke are three university students in Wilford, Connecticut that have been operating their own ice cream truck company, College Creamery, for the past three summers since their freshman year. With a personal loan from Wheeler’s parents, they bought a plain white ice cream truck and transformed it into their own startup venture.

College Creamery

In addition to working up to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, the ladies also do special events. This includes private parties, birthdays, weddings, and corporate events. Earning up to $1,000 a day, College Creamery helps Toll, Wheeler, and Fricke pay for a part of their tuition, books, and personal expenses. While the women admit that the work is hard and that they have questioned their decision to start a business, they all agree that the startup has provided them with many valuable skills for the future.

It Takes Skill To Start Up

Starting and running your own business can help you develop skills such as leadership, marketing, networking, financing, and strategic decision-making. Rather than performing repetitive tasks every day, running a startup is a multi-faceted experience. As the owner of a business, you’re not only responsible for daily operations, but also marketing your business, managing your team, meeting investors, and keeping track of your budgets and expenses.

Richard Branson, billionaire entrepreneur and CEO of Virgin, claims that delegation skills were crucial for the success and growth of his company. Virgin now employs over 50,000 people, and although your business may at first consist solely of you and a friend, efficient delegation and leadership will help you grow your business the same way that Richard Branson did:  by capitalizing on the ideas, initiative, and skills of everyone involved with you.  Starting a business may at first seem like a daunting task, but the skills you develop, the relationships you build, and the money you make all culminate to a rewarding experience.

This summer, forget about finding a summer job and start your own small business. Gain a broader experience and reap the benefits that come with being your own boss. Who knows, maybe your summer startup will become the next big thing!

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The Power of Female Role Models http://bizinc.ca/the-power-of-female-role-models/ http://bizinc.ca/the-power-of-female-role-models/#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2013 18:17:51 +0000 bizinc http://bizinc.ca/?p=1929 Post by Sarah Robson, BizInc Communications Assistant  After working with BizInc for the greater part of a year, I have noticed a significant trend: there are far less females that have come forth with their business ideas than men. I am a female who falls into this category, as I have not been confident enough [...]

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Post by Sarah Robson, BizInc Communications Assistant 

After working with BizInc for the greater part of a year, I have noticed a significant trend: there are far less females that have come forth with their business ideas than men. I am a female who falls into this category, as I have not been confident enough to come forward with a business idea, and I have given excuses as to why I would not succeed as an entrepreneur. After talking to many female students across Western University I found that my skepticism is prevalent, and it is common for other women to view entrepreneurship in a similar way as I have.

Now, why is this perspective common? This is a question that has constantly been in the back of my head, and it led me to co-organize BizInc’s first Women in Entrepreneurship event that took place on March 5, 2013 at Brescia University College. During this event, students heard from female leaders in the London community who are running their own businesses. As well, it provided an opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded females to gain more insight into what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

 

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Sara Blakely

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Arianna Huffington

 

 

I believe that it is extremely important for female students interested in entrepreneurship to have role models to look up to. As much as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg might be the first entrepreneurs that come to mind, there are a growing number of female entrepreneurs that too are taking the stage. Some influential role models include: the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, the woman behind TalentEgg, Lauren Friese, and the Huffington Post’s founder, Arianna Huffington. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, is a powerful woman of influence whose books and TED talks have touched countless young women across the world.

women-entrepreneurs-business-loans-for-women

It is evident that female entrepreneurs are creating amazing things, and it is good role models that inspire students like myself to push the boundaries and take risks I never thought I could take.

So ladies, my message to you is to just jump in! Drop by BizInc, even if it’s just an idea. You don’t need a full business plan and go-to-market strategy to get a meeting. We have resources right here to help you validate your idea and take it to the next stage.

Hope to see you soon.

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How to Find the Next BIG Business Idea http://bizinc.ca/how-to-find/ http://bizinc.ca/how-to-find/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 18:37:33 +0000 bizinc http://bizinc.ca/?p=1859 Post by Sarah Robson, BizInc Communications Assistant  You want to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, but how on earth are you going to come up with the next big idea? If you are an individual who would rather own a business instead of working for a corporate giant in a 9-to-5 job here are [...]

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Post by Sarah Robson, BizInc Communications Assistant 

You want to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, but how on earth are you going to come up with the next big idea? If you are an individual who would rather own a business instead of working for a corporate giant in a 9-to-5 job here are some tips to finding the next big idea:

Get Inspired:

Engage in some self-discovery to determine a field that you are REALLY passionate about. Once you have identified this field analyze your current talents and skills, and determine ways that they can be developed to help you identify viable business ideas.

entrepreneur-superhero

Monitor Trends on the Horizon and Identify the Gaps:

Think of new innovations that are ahead of the times, and industries where major players have left gaps that can be filled. For example, with people spending more time than ever on social media websites, such as Facebook, there is an increasing demand for online games that are embedded in these websites.

Ensure the Business Solves a Real Problem:

Look for needs that have not been met in the market, and focus on problems you are having yourself. Great business ideas don’t make slight improvements, but instead they solve real problems. They require a deep understanding through market research, which takes much more than simple brainstorming sessions. Talk to experts, professionals, read books, and become as knowledgeable as you can about the industry before you pursue your idea. This will help you decipher a good startup idea from a bad one because it ensures the problem your business will tackle actually exists.

Validate Your Startup Idea: 

Asking family and friends for advice seems like a good decision because they know you best, but unfortunately their advice is not the most constructive for your new business idea. Instead, validate your startup idea with individuals that will be using your product or service, and get feedback from your potential target market. This can be done through interviews, online surveys or mock-up PowerPoint presentations.

Engage in Startup Weekends:

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that provides the opportunity for startup enthusiasts and aspiring entrepreneurs to come together under one roof to share ideas and cultivate new ones for startup ventures. Startup Weekend provides hand-on experiences allowing individuals to test the waters, and learn the basics behind running a business. Take a look at the Startup Weekend event that took place in London on February 8, 2013: http://ldn.startupweekend.org/.

When is a good time to pursue your business idea?

finding-your-window-of-opportunity-infographic

The real question is not when is a good time, but it is whether you have the energy and passion to pursue your dream business. Becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn’t mean you need a game changing idea that no one has heard of, but it does mean that you must plan, execute and think strategically.

In the words of the great Walt Disney, “the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” It is not where the business idea comes from that matters, but it is what you make of that idea that can make or break an aspiring entrepreneur.

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GamePress wins $5K at Seed Your Startup http://bizinc.ca/gamepress-wins-5k-seed-your-startup/ http://bizinc.ca/gamepress-wins-5k-seed-your-startup/#comments Wed, 17 Apr 2013 19:40:31 +0000 bizinc http://bizinc.ca/?p=1781 After an intense, exciting, and inspirational afternoon, the 2nd annual ‘Seed Your Startup’ business pitch competition awarded GamePress $5,000 to launch in London over summer 2013. Hosted by BizInc and the Student Success Centre at Western University, Seed your Startup encourages the transition from entrepreneurial ideas to formalized action plans. 50 business proposals were submitted [...]

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After an intense, exciting, and inspirational afternoon, the 2nd annual ‘Seed Your Startup’ business pitch competition awarded GamePress $5,000 to launch in London over summer 2013.

Hosted by BizInc and the Student Success Centre at Western University, Seed your Startup encourages the transition from entrepreneurial ideas to formalized action plans. 50 business proposals were submitted by current students on the campuses of Western University and Fanshawe College and 5 finalists were selected to work closely with event organizers to refine their idea and polish their pitch for the final presentation. Finalists competed in front of a panel of London business leaders, and an audience of 150 students, faculty, and community members.

“We are so impressed with the caliber of proposals we reviewed this year”, says John Pollock, Director of BizInc. “There is a strong culture of entrepreneurship on our campuses, and Seed Your Startup is a great way to showcase this talent to London”. A wide range of business proposals were presented on April 11, 2013:

  •   ShockLock, a mechanical tool which reinforces gas-charged vehicle lift supports for hatches such as hoods, trunks and windows at varying heights;
  •   Igniteck, the GymNut application allows personal trainers to offer a secondary affordable service for gym members;
  •   Modern Edge Razors, combines restored vintage straight razors with modern design and exotic woodworking to produce cutting-edge razors;
  •   GamePress, allows users to create, share and play mobile games on the iPad;
  •   Build-A-Bakeshop, provides generic and customized packaging, display items, accessories and design services for small to medium bakery businesses.

Seed your Startup 2013 was made possible by community sponsors: Royal Bank of Canada, the Investor’s Group, Ivey Business School, Loblaw Companies Limited, Ernst & Young, the Small Business Centre, and Enactus.