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THE TOP 5 REASONS WHY EVERY ENTREPRENEUR NEEDS TO TRAVEL MORE

Running your own business is a serious commitment, and when you’re striving to meet goals and make a profit it’s only natural that you’d want to pour your time and energy into work. Effectively, entrepreneurs are notorious for abstaining from vacations, with the view that it isn’t a valuable use of time; because time is money, after all. 

The irony is, by turning down the chance to explore the world, you could be bypassing experiences that could help your business thrive. Not only does taking a break help reduce your stress levels and avoid workplace burnout, but exploring new countries and cultures could provide you with precious inspiration, knowledge and new contacts that could foster business success.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are five points that may change your mind about breaking free of your routine to travel.

1)    It will prevent burnout   

Overworking yourself can lead to stress and other health concerns. Take the time to disconnect your mind from business, so that you feel recharged and inspired when you return to work. Travel can also provide you with the chance to relax and reflect on what you could be doing differently. Ideas come to you at the most unexpected times, and your best idea yet may even come to you on the top of a mountain!

In fact, the feel-good endorphins released during exercise have been proven to improve brain function and boost creativity[1], so it’s worth throwing yourself into adrenaline spiking adventures. This bucket list guide outlines plenty of exciting activities to pick from that are sure to get your heart racing and stress levels down.

 

2)    You’ll meet new people from around the world

Humans are sociable creatures and there’s something extra special about forging relationships with people in different countries. Travelling to new places and starting conversations with individuals from various cultures and backgrounds is an incredible way of boosting your emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.

And you never know who you might meet when you’re travelling – it’s possible that you could even stumble across a potential new business contact or somebody who can share localised business experience and knowledge, so it’s worth putting yourself out there.

3)    It can help you develop language and communication skills

In a similar vein, you may find that travelling boosts your ability to communicate with people, and not only through learning snippets of their language. Of course, the ability to speak multiple languages can be incredibly beneficial in business – and there’s no better way to pick up a foreign tongue than by immersing yourself in the country where it is spoken natively. But, more importantly, the capacity to read people can also prove itself invaluable.

While travelling, you’ll likely find yourself in situations where there is a language barrier and you’re forced to communicate through alternative methods. You’ll learn how facial expressions, hand gestures and tone of voice convey meaning around the world, and develop a better understanding of people in the process.

 

4)    It will broaden your mind

Visit new places with an open mind and you could find yourself looking at things from a whole new perspective. Observe processes, traditions, solutions, values and interactions. You could pick up some useful tips and lessons to take home with you, whether it’s related to how you do business or simply the lifestyle you are leading – because there is life beyond work!

You’d be amazed at how leaving your comfort zone and becoming more culturally aware can broaden your mind and foster productive out-of-the-box thinking. Lessons may not even be directly related to business; simply learning how to be more adaptable in new situations – like the ones you face while travelling – could be useful going forward.

5)    It can drive creativity

Spending every day in the same routine, in the same place can stifle creativity. By embracing new experiences, you can find inspiration for potential projects and new approaches to your work. Often the most exciting ideas come to you when you allow your mind to drift from your work.

So, taste the local food, chat to the local people and explore the beautiful sights – there’s a world of inspiration out there.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless benefits to be reaped from travelling the world that can boost your personal wellbeing, open your mind to exciting new prospects and provide momentum to grow your business further. It’s time to get exploring!


[1] https://ladiesfirstrocks.com/2019/01/26/regular-exercise-and-the-benefits-for-your-mental-health/

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Business

BACK TO SCHOOL – CEOS NEED TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE, FAST!

By Simon Axon, Financial Services Industry Consulting practice lead in EMEA, Teradata

 

Chief Executive Officers of banks know all about change. Leading responses to new challenges, new opportunities, new regulation and new markets is all in a day’s work. But the existential challenge posed by Big Tech requires a totally new set of skills. It is an entirely different beast that inhabits a totally new environment and speaks its own language. CEOs now need to learn the language of data to survive in the emerging digital world.

Learning a new language later in life is hard. CEOs need to fully commit to accomplish it. Becoming data literate means mastering the basics of vocabulary and grammar. Gartner defines data literacy as the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied — and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.” Extending the language analogy: the building blocks are an understanding of logical data models – the basic vocabulary; meta data providing rules and information about data is the grammar.  Learning needs to go beyond parroting a few key phrases and acronyms. To really communicate in this new language CEOs must not only be data literate – but data cognitive. Language shapes thinking, and to succeed, today’s CEOs need to think data like digital natives.

Simon Axon

As anyone who has learned a language will recognise – practise makes perfect. This means rolling up your sleeves and getting into the data ‘lab’. Run some queries, experiment with data to test theories and learn how data can, and should, inform all aspects of business management. It is daunting, and different functions are fiercely protective of their data. But that’s one of the big cultural shifts the CEO needs to lead. Data is more valuable when it is used across the business. Developing safe and secure ways to combine, refine and analyse data at an enterprise level is fundamental to competing with Big Tech. The Chief Data Officer can help. Spend time with them and use them as a teaching-resource to get more familiar with what can and cannot be done with your data.

As you practise you will build confidence and move from school-level conversations to business-class data fluency. Spending more time looking at and working with data and you will begin to recognise ‘quality’ data, identify attributes and flag anomalies. This will build confidence and essential trust in data. Last year KPMG found just 35% of CEOs trusted the data in their organisations. This shocking stat undoubtedly stems from a data skills deficit among CEOs themselves. If they don’t know what to ask for, and can’t recognise what they get, they won’t trust it. To stretch our linguistic analogy, if you are not confident in the language then you’ll be anxious ordering food in a restaurant!

Ultimately, no one expects the CEO to personally implement data-analytics programmes across the business. But unless they have the confidence and the skills to accurately communicate what’s needed, to sit at the head of the table and ask the right questions about the menu, then the organisation is unlikely to put the right emphasis on the data strategy.

In How Google Works, former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt outlines how every meeting revolved around data – it is simply how Big Tech works. Banks need to adopt the same approach. Exploiting data in all scenarios must become second-nature. By modelling the use of data across the business – dissolving silos rather than sticking to narrow data sets that reinforce them, the CEO can define a powerful data culture. Operationalizing data strategy will, just like using language skills, stop data literacy from becoming rusty.

Entering any new market requires investment in understanding the language, culture and business environment. In the Big Tech world, data is the lingua franca informing every decision. Bank CEOs need to learn from them and invest in building their knowledge to become data fluent. There are no short cuts. Throwing money, bodies and tech at the problem will not get you there.

 

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Business

REVITALISING THE TOKEN MARKET

By Gavin Smith, CEO at Panxora

 

With interest rates near zero and fears that whipsawing stock markets are set for further plunges, many investors are turning to alternative markets in the search for returns. Money flowing into cryptocurrency hedge funds and trusts like Grayscale is at all-time highs and the large cap coins seem to be entering a bull phase, but that capital is not trickling down into new token projects. Why are blockchain token projects struggling to attract funding?

 

Seed investor scepticism

Setting aside the reputational issues with mainstream investors, even those educated in blockchain tech are not signing on the dotted line. This is certainly due in part to the hangover from the early token market.

During the heady days of 2016/17, investors could buy tokens during the token sale, and if the project was legitimate – even if the business case wasn’t particularly strong – prices would soar based on market enthusiasm. Early investors purchased at a discount and cashed out almost immediately for a handsome profit – and then repeated the process again. The token sale allowed founders to amass a war chest large enough to finance the entire token project – without having to give up a large chunk of company equity. Everyone got what they needed out of the deal.

Running a token sale is far more expensive today than it was during the boom. Getting the attention of the token buying public in a market where advertorial has replaced editorial is expensive. This coupled with a regulatory framework that requires the advice of accountants, solicitors and information gathering of KYC details for investors all comes with an escalating price tag.

To accommodate the change in cost structure, tokens now need to acquire funding in two rounds. Frequently there is a first round where capital is raised from a few, large investors. This cash is then used to finance setup and marketing the main token sale. The token sale, in turn, provides the capital needed to run the entire business project.

 

Bridging the gap between token projects’ needs and early stage investors

To successfully get a token through the capital raising process, founders must acknowledge the risk assumed by those very early investors and reward them appropriately. And given that tokens may stagnate or fall in price post token sale means that a deep discount in token price is not necessarily attractive enough to get investors to commit.

Many tokens have turned to offering equity in the business in the effort to raise that first tranche of capital. If you look at the number of successfully concluded token sales, the downward trend has continued since Q2 2018, so offering equity is not sufficiently stimulating the market.

 

Two sides of the coin

So, what is the answer? It’s a complex question but one thing is certain. Any solution must be rooted in a deep understanding of what both parties need to successfully conclude the deal.

On the one hand, token founders’ needs are clear: they need enough capital to get the token ready for and through a successful liquidity event that will provide sufficient funds to build the project. The challenge lies in striking the right balance between accruing that capital and making sure not to offer so much project equity that give up either the control or the incentive founders need to drive the project forward.

On the other hand, while the needs of the seed capital investors are more complex, there are two areas of key concern: transparency and profit incentives.

 

Transparency can mean many things, but almost always includes providing more informative cost and profit projections, as well as answers to a whole range of questions, not least the following:

  • What happens to investor capital if the token sale event fails? Token founders must be transparent from the outset. The token market is highly speculative and early investors run the risk of losing their money should the project fail. Therefore, investors require a well-established fund governance process in place throughout the fundraising so they can make informed decisions on whether the project is worthwhile. 
  • How are the assets for the entire project managed? Investors need to know that their money is in good hands and that proper treasury management techniques are being used to manage cryptocurrency volatility risk. Ideally, an independent custodian will be used to hold the funds and limit founders’ ability to draw down the capital – releasing funds to an agreed-upon schedule of milestones.
  • How are the rights of investors protected, for instance in the case of a trade sale? Investors need to know what happens if the company they are investing in is sold. What impact could this have on the value of their stake? Would a separate governance framework need to be established? These are critical questions and investors aren’t likely to settle for any ambiguity in the answers.

Profit incentives are important when it comes to encouraging early participation in a project. Investors need convincing that the proposition will keep risks to a minimum and focus on providing a strong probability of a return. This means that founders need to be able to defend the case for the increase in the value of their token.

But this isn’t the only incentive that matters. Investors can also be incentivised by preferential offerings such as early access to projects and services that might help their own business.

Let’s not forget that investors don’t support just any project. What really matters is that there is something special and unique about the business being underwritten by the token. Preferably something that could be shared upfront and directly benefit the investor – proof that the investment is really worth it.

And that’s what it all comes down to. Ultimately, while token projects are having a hard time finding funds at the moment, if they can prove their worth and provide full transparency and clear profit incentives to ease investors’ concerns, the money is out there. And deals can be done.

 

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