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What makes a good entrepreneur?

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By Emma Lewis, Myriad Associates Ireland

 

Many of us have dreamed of coming up with the next big thing that makes us millions. An incredible, never-seen-before invention that takes the world by storm.

But being an entrepreneur is about so much more than simply coming up with a good idea and shouting about it. It’s all about being a business leader too, running your own company and bringing real value to society in the process.

Emma Lewis

Entrepreneurship isn’t something that is innate to everyone and the chances are there’s plenty you will have to learn. So we’ve taken a look at just a few of the most important characteristics entrepreneurs tend to have so you can hopefully identify them in yourself (or work on them!)

 

Embracing creativity

Often ideas come at you when you least expect them but thinking creatively is a good place to start. Apply your own life experiences – is there something you need in your life to make it easier but that no-one seems to have invented yet? Is there a gap in the market that really needs filling?

A survey by CBInsights that covered employees and founders from 101 start-ups looked at why those companies failed. It found that 42% of start-ups fail because there’s no market need for their services or products. This is well worth bearing in mind – your creative new idea does actually need to be needed.

Thinking creatively isn’t always easy but there are things you can do to get those creative juices flowing. Anything from listening to music or going for a walk can help, allowing your mind to relax and your thoughts to flow more freely.

 

Having a business strategy that works

It’s easy to get carried away with the thrill of creating something new, but a good entrepreneur will have a watertight business strategy behind them too. They’ll possess a strong business head, and numbers that stack up to attract investors.

By living and breathing all aspects of their business strategy and applying it throughout their business, entrepreneurs will often know it inside out. They will also be quick to adapt their business strategy as an idea progresses, coupling it with their own keen ability to learn. Furthermore, only by having a really sound business strategy can you know where things like extra funding can be gained. R&D Tax Credits is a big one here.

 

Applying the art of communication

Effective communication is key, and something that many entrepreneurs can struggle with. Whether you’re just starting out as a solo entrepreneur or running a FTSE 100 enterprise, it’s vital that you can effectively communicate to people on all levels. This includes staff, creditors, potential investors, customers, mentors and peers. Listen to their feedback and customers reviews too. Because frankly, if you can’t communicate your idea and the value it will bring both to the company and the wider market, it’s unlikely you’ll be successful long term.

All forms of communication should be mastered in order to be a really good entrepreneur. We’re talking written communication, in-person communication and group communication as well as online message and emails. Spelling and grammar count here too!

 

Staying extremely self-motivated

Think of some big entrepreneurial names – Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Berners-Lee, Elon Musk – and the one thing you’ll probably notice is they all have is big personalities. They’re go-getters, not wall flowers. Because sitting back and waiting for the world to notice you doesn’t make things happen.

Innovation is a gamble, but successful people go out into the world wanting to make those around them sit up and listen. They desire action and change, thriving on the challenge of being a maverick. These individuals also don’t crumble under pressure or when people don’t instantly accept them, working tirelessly to overcome problems.

Motivating their teams to innovate and using innovation to promote a much happier workforce is also something a good entrepreneur will take seriously. They’re passionate about their ideas and the enthusiasm generated becomes infectious, weaving innovation into every area of the business.

 

Being open minded (even in the face of failure)

The fact is that being an entrepreneur is not easy and brings a large amount of uncertainty. Recognising useful events and opportunities and embracing them is key, but you need to accept that mistakes will be made and failure along the way is pretty much guaranteed.

Entrepreneurs are determined and should face their losses with a positive attitude rather than simply giving up. Sometimes there will be heavy financial costs to bear too (which again is why things like R&D Tax Credits and R&D grants can make all the difference).

It’s also important to accept that even the best laid plans may well not come off as expected. There will be setbacks and many learning curves, but effective entrepreneurs will maintain a strong mindset. Every situation and mistake can be learned from, strengthening the resolve to succeed. And of course, all new information gleaned is the chance to grow your business from a new perspective.

 

The take-home message

There’s no escaping the fact that some people are more naturally gifted in the entrepreneurial department than others. But with hard work, self-reflection and experience you’ll hopefully soon have a repertoire of skills at your fingertips that will bring you and your business the success you deserve.

 

Business

Ransomware chokes COBRA: How AI-powered data analysis can support financial services’ plight

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By Toby Butler, Financial Crime Solutions Manager at Ripjar

 

Ransomware attacks are on the increase in the United Kingdom. Most of the British Government’s COBRA meetings have been convened in response to ransomware attacks, showing how cybersecurity breaches are as pressing as national emergencies and crises. The National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) annual review found this year that the country was hit by 17 ransomware incidents that were so impactful they “require a nationally coordinated response”. That extends to the financial services sector, which saw an increase of ransomware attacks with 55% of organisations hit in 2021.

Where does this leave the sector and how can artificial intelligence and machine learning be instrumental in understanding the risks companies face against future ransomware attacks?

Toby Butler

Company information is being stolen and sold to different threat groups, who prey on the individuals in that organisation who are more likely to pay them. The UK is one of the most cyber-attacked countries in the world and the Government has been criticised for being “ill-equipped” to deal with this exponential rise of fraud cases.

 

Ransomware-as-a-Service

Ransomware is one of the most common forms of cybercrime. Fighting it has become one of the biggest problems that organisations today face during their everyday operations. For instance, Malware (malicious software) encrypts the files of a single computer, then works its way through an entire network to reach the server and inflict maximum damage. Company information is being stolen and sold to different threat groups, who prey on the individuals in that organisation who are more likely to pay them.

When these attacks occur the victims, more often businesses, are left with minimal options. If they have substantial backup solutions already in place, they can attempt to restore the encrypted data to their servers. But if that data isn’t already secured elsewhere, they may need to pay a ransom to the criminals behind the attack. Thereby allowing the business to function once again and restoring their reputation. The cost of paying the ransom will feel considerably smaller compared to starting a business again from scratch. Sophos’ State of Ransomware in Financial Services 2022 report found that 52% of financial services organisations paid the ransom to restore their data, the average remediation cost in financial services was US$1.59M.

Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that ransomware is set to cost global businesses more than $256 billion by the end of 2031. By that token, organisations need to be extremely mindful of the potential threats they may face. Businesses need to understand the methodologies these hackers use, to address the weaknesses within their domain and take measures to isolate and prevent further ransomware attacks from happening again.

 

The rise of WAMs

According to a recent report by security firm CyberSixgill, 19% of the 3,612 cyberattacks that took place in 2021 were traced back to Wholesale Access Markets – or WAMs for short. WAMs are, in essence, underground internet flea markets. These markets are where aspiring attackers come to purchase network access from threat actors – the individual or entity involved in carrying out the cyber-attack. Types of threat actors include insiders, cybercriminals, rival organisations, or even nation states stealing data.

WAMs sell access to multiple compromised endpoints (or pathways) for around 10-20 dollars. Researchers found that WAMs listed access to approximately 4.3 million compromised endpoints in 2021, which include access to both provider and enterprise software (for example, an organisation’s Slack channel) up to 180 days before the attack itself took place. This shows how long these compromised endpoints remain undetected without proper internal analysis.

 

How can Financial Services stay ahead of the curve?

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning is undisputed across modern businesses and sectors, and continues to revolutionise processes across the board. AI is a significant player in the financial services industry, building the ‘cyber-wall’ against nefarious users. It gives organisations optimal insights into reducing the likelihood of a ransomware attack in the future.

Namely, AI and machine learning collects and analyses vast amounts of messy (structured and unstructured) data from disparate sources. The challenge for the sector is to understand the volume and variety of the raw data collected from any source to build better protection in the future.

Structured information could be best understood as the clear data we see in a table. For example, the following attendees made a business meeting: first name – Joan, surname – Smith, age – 46. But unstructured information is information presented in a complex manner. For example, ‘there were five people who attended the business meeting, one of whom was forty-six and called Joan Smith’. Naturally, due to the complex nature of the prose, it would be more difficult for a machine to process that data into a digestible format for further risk analysis. This is where AI continues to prove invaluable.

AI uses natural language processing to understand the information provided on the web. As the software continues to evolve, natural language processing reads the information in a way a human would to extract the key information from the text. By incorporating AI and machine learning within an organisation’s IT infrastructure, companies operating within financial services can be better equipped to handle cybercrime.

These tools are flexible and adaptable, they can be configured to analyse different types of data from different sources to curate key insights. This collated information provides a better analysis of the organisation’s exposure, allowing them the opportunity to get upstream in preventing future attacks. This kind of approach is essential to processing listings on WAMs.

The power to analyse data to identify weakness is vital in the battle against cybercrime. It gives organisations a better understanding into what they could expect to see in the future. Hosting the correct data, and with the analytical skills, financial organisations can gain a better understanding of the methodologies and weaknesses in-house that attackers use and exploit to hold them to ransom. Organisations can then use this as a reference to pinpoint compromised endpoints, giving them a chance to reduce access before this route can be exploited and ruin their business.

With cybercrime and ransomware continuing to remain prevalent, it’s vital that financial services companies understand how they can get ahead of the curve and build a robust security platform within their IT infrastructure that can withstand an attack. In 2022, a ransomware attack occurred every 40 seconds. The mindset for the sector needs to be one of when, not if.

Organisations need to be thinking about an attack now – before it’s happened. Pre-planning and preparing for the worst possible outcome from future threats and adversaries. The introduction of AI and machine learning in the fight against cybercrime is a must, and the sooner the industry gets behind in implementing AI, the safer it will be through the next decade.

 

 

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SVEA BANK ACQUIRES AREX’S FINTECH OPERATION IN FINLAND

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AREX Markets, the data-driven FinTech company that drives financing costs down for SMEs and enables them to get paid quicker, has announced the sale of its Finland operations to Swedish payment and financing institution Svea Bank.

With the deal, Svea will further strengthen its position as a corporate financier, as AREX’s c.1200 Finnish customers and partnerships in the areas of financial management and financial management software will be transferred to the bank’s portfolio. The Finnish operation of AREX has financed over EUR 500M worth of invoices.

AREX’s Spanish and UK operations remain unaffected and remain focused on building embeddable financing products for third party platforms. Customers in Finland have been informed of their transition, and their contracts and service details will port across to Svea.

Svea is reshaping the playing field of corporate finance in Finland, and taking on the operations of AREX in the region is a natural step to strengthen their own business and at the same time offer AREX’s partners and customers an easy path to a wider range of services than before.

“Over the years, Svea has grown a lot also through business transactions, therefore acquiring AREX’s business operations in Finland was a good and natural solution for us. In addition, the deal is pleasant for us at Svea because the focus of our activities is to help partners and customers succeed – offering AREX’s partners and customers a wider range of services is exactly that,” says Pasi Väre, country manager of Svea in Finland.

The deal also brings new opportunities for AREX to focus on the UK and Europe in its roll out of embeddable financing products, which can be white-labelled by neobanks, ERPs and accounting software alike. The business is seeking to bridge the liquidity gap faced by most small businesses in the face of a recessive economic climate.

UK SME’s can continue to access AREX’s core invoice financing product through the Xero marketplace.

“For us at AREX, this is a great step: we are developing a stronger presence in the field of embedded finance, which is underpinned by our sophisticated marketplace software, our strongest point,” says AREX’s CEO, Airto Vienola.

“For the AREX team it was extremely important that we find the best possible corporate financier to take care of the business’ customers and partnerships in Finland. Svea convinced us with their customer and partner-centric approach”, adds AREX’s co-founder Perttu Jalkanen.

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