Sunday, October 25, 2009

Before you launch; things to consider before opening a business

For years I’ve worked with entrepreneurs as they go from bright idea to start-up business. Some people agonize over whether or not to launch. Others become reluctant entrepreneurs by inheriting a business or due to the sudden need for additional income. The decision to open a business can be complex both personally and professionally and for this reason the pre-start-up issues occupy a great deal of time in my introductory workshops. Start by asking yourself some questions. First, why are you starting this business? Is this an outgrowth of another career, do you have the “better mouse trap” the world is waiting for, or are you seeking a new stream of income?

Before opening a business there’s a lot of homework to be done. You need to thoroughly research your industry and your competition. After you launch is the wrong time to find out you don’t know who your target market is. Whether or not you plan to seek outside funding, your financial house should be in order as well. Your business plan should include a realistic view of projected cash flow and you need a good understanding of the responsible use of credit.

Do a personal assessment of your skills and talents. How are you going to fill in the gaps in your skill set? Most successful entrepreneurs have team around them to provide the specialized knowledge and abilities outside their core business talent. You will have to budget for and pay for some of these experts to do things like set-up your books or file your taxes. What’s your business model? Some businesses require you maintain an office, while others can be operated totally online. Are you looking at renting a storefront or will virtual office space be smarter? Location and communication methods are dependent upon knowing your market and how and where they shop.

The self-employed are some of the happiest people around. But like any major life decision you need to think carefully before taking the path of entrepreneurship. Consider how running a business will fit into your life and how you will pay bills during the start-up phase.

About the author: “Karen Southall Watts 

has been training and coaching entrepreneurs for over a decade. She teaches business courses for Bellingham Technical College.”

Posted via email from minna's posterous

The magic of word-of-mouth marketing

People are funny. No matter how smart or logical we consider ourselves we still prefer to buy products and services from those we feel we know and trust. This is true even if we “know” them by association only. This desire to do business with people we feel a connection to is the foundation of word-of-mouth marketing. A referral or recommendation is a powerful thing. When someone recommends a business to us we assume they have already vetted the business and it passed the test.

Once you understand how important word-of-mouth marketing can be you must beware of what I call the “angry customer rule”.  It turns out that customers who feel cheated or feel they received low quality goods or services are far more eager to talk about their experiences than satisfied customers. Call it human nature, but we just don’t seem to be able to resist sharing our bad business war stories with anyone and everyone who will listen. Getting happy customers to talk up your business is a bit more difficult, and we all know it. This is the reason a recommendation carries so much weight.  So what can you do to encourage customers to share their delight in your business?

  • Ask your customers to refer people to you—thank them EVERY time they provide you with a lead
  • Follow up on leads in a timely manner—don’t make people wait for your call for days and days
  • Be responsive to your customers’ comments and concerns—show willingness for constant improvement
  • Provide referrals to others freely—word-of-mouth marketing is based on relationships and you need to do your share

Whether you call it generating buzz or turning customers into fans, word-of-mouth marketing is an essential part of your marketing mix. Recommendations are golden. 

About the author: “Karen Southall Watts has been training and coaching entrepreneurs for over a decade. She teaches business courses for Bellingham Technical College.”

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Friday, October 16, 2009

Networking your way to success

John Donne famously said, “No man is an island”. When it comes to entrepreneurs this statement is absolutely true. Business involves exchanges of goods or services for money (or other goods and services in the case of bartering) and is based upon relationships. To do business you must connect, and the best way to connect is through networking. Just putting up a website or printing business cards is no more effective than putting a sign in the front yard. Networking puts a face on your brand. Your contacts will become your customers, clients and sources of referrals. Without them you are trying to function in isolation—making yourself a business island.

Ideally your networking will include a good mix of formal networking, informal and one-to-one networking and social networking through technology. By blending the approaches you can increase your chances of success. For example, formal networking events like the Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup give you access to a group of professionals who arrive ready and willing to network. They are there to share and listen and are super receptive. One-on-one meetings give you the chance to get more in depth with your contacts and to really delve into how you can create win-win opportunities. When possible try to schedule at least one of these during your formal event. In other words leave the Meetup with more than a handful of cards. Finally be sure to add technology based options to your networking blend. Social media sites allow you to exchange information with and connect with people from all over the world. You can stay in touch ‘round the clock and provide up to the minute updates on your newest projects and products.

People can’t engage you for projects or buy your products if they don’t know anything about you. Networking skills are what set the successful apart from the entrepreneurs who struggle.

About the author: “Karen Southall Watts has been training and coaching entrepreneurs for over a decade. She teaches business courses for Bellingham Technical College.”

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Monday, October 12, 2009

Who’s afraid of networking?

Life is about connections. Business doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it happens between people. Networking is a key function in almost every business and career, so what keeps us from doing it? Perhaps it’s our lack of understanding of the networking process. Or maybe it’s our fears, many unfounded, about doing it just right. Here are some of the most common stumbling blocks to networking

  • It’s a waste of my time—it is hard for me to believe, but there are still some people who don’t see the value of networking. After over a decade of teaching and coaching entrepreneurs I still have to point out that personal brilliance or product novelty is simply not enough to create success.
  • I won’t have anything to say—that’s okay, because some of the best networkers are great listeners. Real connections are made through conversations and not through elevator speeches.
  • Everyone there will be trying to sell me something—how do you know that? There are lots of reasons for networking and one of the best is creating your “team”. Networking helps business owners to find that perfect accountant, real estate agent, or PR expert. Think of all the people who are shopping and not selling and you’ll feel more confident.
  • I’m too shy—you don’t have to be “the life of the party” to be a good networker. There are no rules that state you need to meet everyone in the room or be the last to leave either. That’s the great thing about networking; it’s about building relationships and not sticking to a rule book. Focus on meeting a couple of people at each event and really connecting.

 About the author: “Karen Southall Watts has been training and coaching entrepreneurs for over a decade. She teaches business courses for Bellingham Technical College.”

Posted via email from minna's posterous

What’s so great about The Network Hub?

What’s so great about The Network Hub?   This is the question I was asking myself as I headed out to attend my first Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup there this fall.

True to the internet photos, this Vancouver office space features wood floors, brick walls and the funky and upscale look so favored by young and trendy entrepreneurs. Beautiful spaces aside, are there any advantages to getting your Vancouver office space through The Network Hub?  Yes, and they aren’t all immediately visible.

The team runs a tight ship and thoroughly interviews every new tenant. Because they limits the group to one entrepreneur per industry, tenants immediately get the same advantages they might find in a formalized networking or leads group. Cooperation and collaboration abound as group members not only share office space but ideas. The downtown location near public transit and the vital areas of Vancouver is just a surface advantage. Vancouver office space at The Network Hub comes with all you might expect; shared reception, mailing address for your business and available meeting rooms.

However, The Hub team makes sure tenants get so much more. They reap the benefits of the team’s due diligence and hard work. They have the advantage of an economical Vancouver office space that comes with a dynamic and inspiring group of peers.

About the author: “Karen Southall Watts has been training and coaching entrepreneurs for over a decade. She teaches business courses for Bellingham Technical College.”

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Entrepreneur Interview with Brian Wong from Follow Formation

Some of the best people I have met are through random introductions. Brian Wong was introduced through a mutual acquaintance of mine and after five minutes of meeting, I was completely fascinated by his endless amount of energy, enthusiasm and all of that on two hours of sleep. Even more fascinating is the company he has started with his co-founders and what they are up to right now. Followformation is a media darling at the moment as they are the start-up company from Vancouver that is making big waves in the social media world. If you don’t believe me, at the end of the interview there is a list of the press coverage they have garnered so far!

1. Tell us what you do.
Right now, I’m the co-founder of Aer Marketing Inc., an online start-up. We are the dudes behind Followformation.  I am responsible for the ideation, the design concepts behind all our work, and business development (i.e. full-time networking) + anything else that needs to be done.

2. You just finished university, how did you find the time to run Aer Marketing and also start Follow Formation while dealing with exams plus an internship with 1-800-got-junk?
I tell people I practice polyphasic sleeping, but the real truth is just that I sleep very little. I would my manage my time by following what Tim Ferris would call a low-information diet, while separating certain parts of my day for certain things. Followformation was started during the summer, so it was a little less stressful then. But near the end of my last term at university I was working my internship during the mornings and early afternoons Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, going to classes in the remaining time during the day, and allocating “aertime” every evening between play-time and dinner to work on our projects.

3. What was the most challenging aspect of being a young entrepreneur from your perspective?
Young and old, I think the hardest challenge is to “keep trucking” – there are always things that get in your way, and every day, it’s a battle. All I know is that this work has empowered me as a youth to go out and learn new things and meet and work with amazing people – things I would not have been able to experience had I thrown myself at a yawn-worthy line of work.

4. You have had a ton of press lately from the Georgia Straight to the highly sought after, what was the biggest reason for your success with getting press for your company?
Mashable was a complete fluke, but I took it upon myself to leverage that buzz. I have been up very early every morning since then hitting journalists on their blackberry’s and iPhones right before they hit the office. I’m actually pretty bad at it though. The other big reason is, and I hear this a lot – if your idea or concept at its core is not sticky or buzz-worthy, pushing it can only go so far. I think all the blog posts and tweets are a good litmus test for that.

5. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself regarding your business?
Don’t assume that everyone’s on the same page even when they’ve nodded their heads.

North America Press Coverage

Fast Company:
The Examiner:
Killer Startups:
Blogger Institute:
Local – Techvibes:
Local – The Georgia Straight:
Local – Sauder School of Business Newsletter:

International Press Coverage

Brazilian business magazine:
French social media blog:
Singapore top Tweeter blog (@techxav):


And all the rest of our blog hits:

Posted via email from minna's posterous

An Entrepreneur Interview with Leon Ng from Real Estate Channel

Surrounding yourself with positive, ambitious and like-minded people is one of the important requirements to staying motivated as an entrepreneur.  I am fortunate to count Leon Ng as a friend and am constantly amazed at what he accomplishes as a young entrepreneur.  Keep an eye on this young entrepreneur as he builds his expanding media empire – TV, Production Studios, Film.

1. Tell us what you do?
I’m in real estate marketing, tv/film & media production. I had my start at a small local cable station in Vancouver. From there, I saw the opportunity to start my own business. Three years ago, we launched the Real Estate Channel on one of the smallest networks in Canada. Three years later, we have expanded nationally and will soon be on the nation’s largest TV networks.

2. At 27, you already run the largest Real Estate Channel in Canada? Are you building a real estate media empire?
You’re flattering me. I am taking this one step at a time. I am very far from that right now. I do have a personal interest in real estate media and I think it is important to keep myself up to date with current real estate technology. One of my favourite real estate blogs is

3. You also own LNG Studios, was there a moment you considered giving up on having multiple businesses?
Never! I believe in diversifying, as long as you can stay focused and not spread your resources to thin. It is best if you can expand in a way that your businesses can complement each other.

4. Do you have time to have a hobby?
I have a work hard, play hard mentality. I like to be creative. My true passion is in film. I am currently producing a short film called ‘Henry’s Glasses”, which received a grant from the Directors Guild of Canada’s Kick Start Program. The film is based in a Japanese Canadian Internment Camp in 1945 and production starts in October 09.

5. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself regarding your business?
If you know me, you’ll know that I am a very spontaneous person. When I feel good about an idea, I tend to jump on it (which is sometimes good & sometimes bad). I should be giving myself more time to plan and do my due diligence but you live and learn from your mistake! This is only the beginning.

Posted via email from minna's posterous

An Entrepreneur Interview with David, Alex and William from Design Vetica

Starting a company is hard but it’s even harder when you are in high school! So if you have excuses such as – I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, or I don’t have the connection to start my business, team Design Vetica will blow all those excuses out of the water. They are young, they are determined and they are having fun working on their business.  Follow the team on twitter @designvetica.

Design Vetica

1. Tell us what you do.
Design Vetica is a Vancouver based interactive agency dedicated to web design and media production. With our core service being web design and development, we work with clients across all kinds of industries to aid them in staying ahead of the competition. Not only do we emphasize on businesses, we also create websites for individuals who want an online presence. In addition, within the next few months, we look forward to adding new media services offerings to what we currently provide.

2. What is the start-up story behind Design Vetica?
All of the partners in Design Vetica, before establishing this agency, have either worked as freelance web designer/developer, or have built some websites themselves. Most of the projects they received were referrals from friends; but long before that, they have done multiple projects for themselves. Recognized by what they can achieve, they were given one of their biggest projects: building their school’s site (and they were paid with school credits). In the following year, William and David started talking about building a company on the idea of web design and media production in IT class. Soon, they pulled Alex into the picture since he was very close in working on previous projects with William. On February 6th, 2009 Design Vetica was born.

3. What was the most challenging aspect of being a young entrepreneur from your perspective as your entire team is still in high school?
Our most challenging aspect of being a young entrepreneur is that we are STILL in high school! People who are not constraint with schoolwork can focus solely on their work (apart from all the other random stuff). However, we, as students have to juggle school work and getting good marks while keeping up with deadlines from multiple projects with clients. This has caused some problems already. For example, we had to drop potential clients during finals. Nevertheless, at times, we encourage each other to keep up our grades in school.

4. To what do you attribute your company’s achievement?
All of us at Design Vetica can attribute our achievements to the individual member in the team. Without such a dedicated and hard working team, Design Vetica wouldn’t be where it stands now.

5. What advices do you give aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those who want to start in high school?
It may sound cheesy, but DO IT; because you never know unless you try. The truth is when we think back to how we started, we were even shocked to find ourselves following such a crazy idea; but we are glad that we did it. Even if your idea fails, use it as an experience because we all learn from mistakes.

Posted via email from minna's posterous

An Entrepreneur Interview with Carlos Obregon from Bloom Marketing

With the explosion of social media sites on top of the existing sites, it is difficult to navigate in the online marketing world  – how do I position my online brand and what do I do with this thing call social media?  I lucked out and landed my first entrepreneur interview with Carlos Obregon from Bloom Marketing, you bet I will be asking about social media.  Bloom Marketing is a leading search engine marketing agency located in Vancouver British Columbia.

1.  Tell us what you do.
In a nutshell, we do online marketing. The services we offer are:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to make your site easier to find by prospective clients.
  • PPC (Pay per click advertising) these are the ads you see next to search results.
  • Copywriting – we write text for websites, this text is different than the text you see in print media, it is designed to be easy to read and informative for users and easy to read for search engine robots at the same time.
  • Social media marketing - we help website owners unleash the power of Web 2.0
  • Web Analytics – We track and analyze the traffic that comes to your site, we can then determine who the most likely buyers are, which cities they come from, what times of the day do they normally visit your site, and a large number of other metrics that can shed light into how your online sales are happening.

2. What is the start-up story behind Bloom Marketing?

In 2006 Azita Fazli and I saw the opportunity to start this company because we were witnessing the growing demand for online marketing services. Azita has been doing internet marketing since 2000 and I have been in this field since 2005. We had paying customers from day one and despite the recession we have been growing every year. We currently serve clients in the following industries: financial, tourism, real estate and consumer products and services

3. Where do you see Bloom Marketing going over the next 2 years?

We seem to be specializing in tourism related industries; we currently have a hotel chain, an airline and two regional tourism associations as clients. We also work in partnership with 4 ad agencies in the city to enable them to offer not only traditional media capabilities but digital media as well.

4. Social networking is huge these days; do you incorporate that into your business offering as well?
We do, we are currently active on Facebook with and ad campaign and a Fan page, on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

5. Any tips for start-ups with regard to online marketing and how to navigate through the social networking explosions?

Try it. If you are familiar with print and electronic media, chances are you will be greatly surprised by the ROI and lower cost of online marketing. As for social media, make sure you claim your company name on all the major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Even if you don’t have the time or resources at the moment to maintain your profiles, at least you can avoid the problem of someone else posing as yourself or your company.

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Following your bliss

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

You have probably heard a million times, follow your bliss or follow your heart which really means do what you are passionate about. What it means for me means casting aside my degree, defying my parents, and leaving a possible career in criminal law – everything that is seemingly concrete and predicable to do something that my heart tells me. Try explaining that to your parents and your peers – my heart is telling me something else and oh yeah by the way, forget what happened in the last 7 years of education and yes that 2 years in law, let’s pretend none of that happened. What I really want to do was with two partners; build a place where entrepreneurs can call their second home.

We struggled and struggled hard. We were MISERABLE as we were all young all still in university with pressure of exams, satisfying demands of current clients for our current business and dealing with family pressure. One of my partners was in Computer Science and another in Chemistry, and I was in Applied Science with a clear path going to Law. None of us knew what constructions look like but we all came to the office after work and school to carry hardwood and drywall to help out the construction workers. We accelerate the construction process from the estimated timeline of 6 months to 3 months.

That was 2 and half years ago and we never looked back. The result is The Network Hub. The space is now more than 4 walls and some doors, it vibrates with enthusiasm, energy and passion from the people who occupy it. If I ever doubt my path or have a moment of weakness, all I need is to open the door to soak in the buzz and the vibrations from the people in the space determined to change the world in their own way, completely absorbed in their passion and loving every minute of it.

One person in our space who is so passionate about his cause, he is staying up 24 hours to blog to raise funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. Dr. Raul Pacheco has lost 3 family members to cancer, including two of his Mom’s sisters (lung cancer and stomach cancer, respectively) and his grandmother (pancreatic cancer). If this isn’t pure passion, I don’t know what is… please donate generously to Raul. I sure will be as a person who recently lost my uncle to pancreatic cancer.
Quote of the day:
"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

Howard Aiken

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Confession of an entrepreneur: Friendship

At last week’s Meetup of Meetups, I had a chance to kick my feet up early and catch up with some keen entrepreneurs who came earlier to the event. A question was posed to me… what was one of the disadvantages of starting a business when I was so young? I had to think about it… perhaps because my second Budweiser Lime Light got my mind a little hazy, but off the top of my head and maybe because of the social event we were about to have, I exclaimed, “You lose friends and you lose them fast!”

What people don’t tell you is that once you start your business, when you live and breathe your business, you literally become a social outcast in your close-knit circle of friends. You can no longer relate to the complaints about a nasty boss, long hours in cubicles and crazy co-workers. I find myself having little patience – if you have such a problem then find a new job or start your own business! Those were not satisfactory answers and it usually gets me in a lot of trouble with my friends. In replies, I usually get the “I can’t believe you would trade a regular paycheque for little or no money”, why would you work from the basement or even worse “get a real job”.

I have fantastic supportive friends who I have known from high school and elementary schools. They love me and I love them. We do anything to support each other but we strain to make conversations whenever we meet each other. Once we get past the pleasantries and the updates, we have a hard time connecting about the present so we revert back to past events…. our conversations usually take the tone of “remember that time in the cafeteria and you slipped?” or “remember that teacher who was so nice?” I almost feel a relief when our social outing is over because it took so much effort to come up with conversations. My best friend and I see each other maybe once every 6 months, most of the time more because her work keeps her very busy, actually busier than me! She’s an auditor at one of the top 5 firms. It was always her goal to be in the top 5 and mine to be running my own business. It is slightly sad that the further ahead we get in our respective field, the further we drift away from each other. While we still make every effort to catch up, things aren’t quite the same.

It’s not all that bad though, I have fantastic business partners who live and breathe the business with me. People who in an instant would know what I am going to do and vice versa, I think my partners are now my best friends too. We have to be… we are in a relationship that is even deeper than friendship, I rely on them for my livelihood and I see them more often than my family. If you are looking to start a business on your own, I would ask you to consider bringing in a partner but if that isn’t an option then please join organizations with likeminded individuals who are in the same boat as you.

I think this is the reason why I threw my hat in the ring to be president of then Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurs (now called SIFE) and after graduation I started organizing the Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup. It can get pretty lonely sometimes to not be able to share the success, obstacles and challenges with another human being who is on the same path as you are. Well at today’s event we are expecting about 600 people, about 360 of those attending are from Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup so I guess I can’t feel that bad I have 360 people who can share, understand and relate to what I am going through.
Quote of the day:
"Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out."

Stephen Covey

Posted via email from minna's posterous

How good do you want to be?

As promised, I will quote certain phrase from “The world’s best-selling book by Paul Arden” and elaborate on it each week. This week I’ve landed on the chapter with the question, “So how good do you want to be?” When asked, most people will say I want to be the BEST whether it is with regard to the best in their field or the best at whoever they want to be – husband, wife, daughter, son, etc. So why then isn’t every one the BEST?  This brings me to the quote of the week.

“Talent helps, but it won’t take you as far as ambition”

Everyone wants to excel at what they do but they are unwilling to make the sacrifices it takes to achieve those goals. This is what the quote intend to say… some people would rather well-liked because they confused being liked with being good. Some would rather take short-cuts but they don’t realized to be good you have to learn from experience and make mistakes. A long time ago, when I was in grade 11 I wrote a letter to myself in a notebook (which I still have to find) – in that notebook I wrote out the contract to myself. I knew to get myself on the path of being the best I had to sacrifice a few things…. in exchange for freedom to make my own decision and set my own rules I had to give up sleep, friends and peace of mind. I was ok with that but I also wrote down what I wasn’t willing to sacrifice, which was time with family, good friends and time for myself.

My start in my academic life was in science so I am fully aware of the rule, for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction. It doesn’t just apply to science; it applies to life as well. I know there is give and take in order to achieve what you need. So the next time I feel exhausted, hungry and grumpy due to lack of sleep I just have to remember this is my sacrifice to gain the freedom to make my own decision and play by my own rules.
Quote of the day:
"By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day."

Robert Frost

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Happy with my Facebook Vanity URL

Facebook single-handedly created a wave of cultural phenomenon by releasing vanity URL at 9:00pm last night.  Enthusiasts and geek-alike wait patiently and faithfully forgoing their Friday night rituals glued to their computer waiting for the countdown.  I have to admit, I was nervous and I had no strategies for picking a username.  It was going to be whatever was left over.  My palms were sweating and my head was already going over the alternatives that I could pick if Minna was taken.

Clock strikes 9:00 pm, I clumsily and nervously put in Minna to see if it’s available.  IT IS!!!  SET USERNAME!  Done done and done.  I am officially the only on Facebook.  According to, Facebook members registered new user names at a rate of more than 550 a second after the company offered people the chance to claim a personalized Web address.  According to Larry Yu, a spokesman for Palo Alto, California-based Facebook 345,000 people had claimed user names within the first seven minutes and after 15 minutes, 500,000 users had grabbed a name.


It was an exciting event, it was very much like waiting to see if your name is announced for a very important award.  I don’t remember being this excited even for my university graduation.  Geeks around the world were gathered at one URL at 9:00 pm Pacific time to grab their own Facebook vanity name,  I was part of this geek history.   Highlight of my week :)

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Rethink Vancouver Office Space Strategies

Every year, Business in Vancouver magazine publishes their Office Leasing Guide and this year, The Network Hub was fortunate enough to be mentioned in the 2009 Office Leasing Guide. The recession has many small businesses in Vancouver rethink their office space strategies. Aptly titled “Pooling together: Co-working creates space options for small businesses” on page 31 of Office Leasing Guide 2009, Peter Mitham explores the different options for small businesses in this economic downturn.

Here are highlights from the article:

“Most often downtown, you can just rent the office space but there’s no utilities, there’s no one taking when things breaks down, there’s no receptionist, nobody’s taking care of the cleaning. You have to manage everything yourself.”

At The Network Hub, “You can concentrate on your business. We’ll take care of everything else.”

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Breakfast meeting? No thank you

A recent article on, “Can We Ban the Breakfast Meeting?” got me thinking about about breakfast business meetings. For those of you who know me, I do not do breakfast meetings.

My last breakfast meeting was the most comical and disastrous but also the last straw that led me to ban breakfast meetings. I was approached by an executive who was interested in pitching his service to me. He scheduled the meeting himself for an early breakfast meeting. After arriving 15 minutes late, he apologized and asked me for my name. He plainly forgot who he was meeting. He yawned in the middle of his pitch about how great his company was in their ability provide world-class services. What made it even worse than forgetting my name was he kept forgetting my company name, I had to help him out a few time. He apologized profusely about being unclear because he was out late the night before.

Needless to say, we never worked with his company. For the folks out there trying to maximize your day by starting early, here are some simple rules of thumb when you are itching to book a breakfast meeting.

1) Are you a MORNING person? Is the person you are meeting a MORNING person?
If you do not know your name or can not articulate a full comprehensive sentence, please do not book

2) If you are doing the pitch – please realize you might have to eat really fast or not eat at all unless you want your client’s shirt to end up with bits of your breakfast.

3) If you are doing the listening – will you be able to focus to listen or better yet make a logical analysis at this time in the morning?

Please think carefully before booking breakfast meetings, otherwise you might end up being an example for a blog post :)

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Vancouver office space evolve...

Co-working is fast becoming an option for entrepreneurs who don’t yet have the funds or desire to rent office space, yet face a growing need for a place that enables them to hold meetings, have a place to work that doesn’t involve a bedroom or a family of four making menu decisions five feet away, and a need for added legitimacy in the eyes of their clients.

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Coworking vs. the coffee shop: Who wins?

The Bane of the Coffee Shop
Original post can be found at Coworking vs. the Coffee Shop: Who Wins?

When the pajama piece gets old, freelancers often head to coffee shops. There, you can be isolated among other lone wolves, experiencing human company, familiar faces, and a placeboic level of social interaction. The coffee shop allows freelancers to feel as though they’ve accomplished in that old-fangled world outside of the Web.

Admittedly, some freelancers are enterprising types who dress nicely every day, attend meetings and workshops, and expose themselves to open skies on a regular basis. I cannot count myself among their ranks. In my world, the suction capacities of the Internet tend to overwhelm the urge to self-present as a professional member of society. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I live in a town where business owners walk around in ski pants and dogs run around office spaces. You get away with less here, appearance wise.

Why Coworking is Better
But that’s not my point. My point is that working at home gets lonely; coffee shops are a little bit better, but coworking rocks. I say this having never done it (there is no venue in my town; I am considering opening one). I imagine that it must rock. Consider the average coffee shop, where:

-A cafe latte sets you back $3-$4. You feel guilty if you sit around without purchasing a new one, making an average day of work there cost around $12, excluding yummy baked goods.
-You may or may not end up next to really loud, gossipy people.
-You feel like a ham if you are the only one with a laptop.
-The seats are often uncomfortable.
-You can’t talk on your cell phone inside. Well, I don’t. Plenty of people do. I consider it rude.
-You are obligated to look somewhat hip.

Coworking, on the other hand, allows you a range of cafe-like benefits, without the cafe:

-You pay a flat membership fee instead of a daily fee.
-Everyone has a laptop!
-You get the chance to collaborate with your peers.
-The seats are probably more comfortable.
-Cell phone use is more acceptable–it is a workspace.
-The hip factor may not be a factor, although I am not sure about this point.

I can only imagine that coworking will burgeon as more people turn towards freelancing. Having frequented far too many coffee shops, I will allow myself to claim, having never coworked, that coworking is better.

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Coworking Visa is now in Vancouver

The Network Hub has been a part of the coworking movement since 2006. We are proud to be part of the movement to redefine office space.

We are excited to announce we will be participating in the Coworking Visa program.

A coworking visa allows active members of one space, when traveling, to use another coworking space, gratis. Terms vary from space to space, with regard to hours of operation, reservation requirements, etc.

For the travellers from abroad (especially those coming to enjoy the Vancouver 2010 Olympics), you can come and hang your hat at The Network Hub for three days for free (if space permits) if you belong to another coworking space participating in the coworking visa program. We want to make finding office space in Vancouver office space a lot easier for our fellow coworking colleagues.

If you are in Vancouver and looking for office space, please email me at and let me know your arrival date as well as which coworking space you are with.

Posted via email from minna's posterous

If you don't know... now you know.

For those who know me, know I would reschedule a meeting, purposely avoid a phone call or shush you because I am watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It has to be Star Trek: The Next Generation and no other series in the long running franchise. It was one of the very first TV shows that I learn English from and also the very theme song that I fall asleep to every night in elementary school and some of high school.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

I argue that Star Trek: The Next Generation has a lot to do with shaping my adolescent life.  The generator which produces food at will and any thing you need, the holodeck which can recreate any environment you want and the transporter (THE TRANSPORTER) were the things that got me very curious about engineering and computer science. 

I later did a paper on the transporter as part of my university thesis on how every time some one is “transported”  they literally have to die each and every time until their molecules are rearranged, the end result is a different person as their molecules are re-arranged according to a memory file kept on record thus that’s how reverse transport can happen. 

Yes I am slightly obsessed.  But the very idea of exploration and to boldly go where no one has gone before is so entrenched in my mind and heart, that it is the very principles I use as my guideline for life.  I think that is why I decided to become an entrepreneur, to explore my own possibilities and to challenge myself to go beyond boundaries.  It was amazing to reflect back and to only come to this realization of how Star Trek: The Next Generation is so critical in shaping my life through a coffee chat with a friend of mine a few ago.

I still watch Star Trek: The Next Generation today and still find it SO FASCINATING!  The level of diplomacy, the intricate technologies and the technical language being used makes me feel like I am seeing each and every episodes for the first time.

I know there is a new Star Trek movie coming out, it is based on the original Star Trek series so I am excited to see it but I don’t know if it will have the exploration theme that Star Trek: The Next Generation has. 

Now if I can get myself to one of the Trekker conventions in Vegas, my life will be complete :)
Quote of the day:
"Fate protects fools, little children and ships named Enterprise"
Cmdr. Riker

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Networking 101

After two years or so of hosting the Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup, I have a few simple suggestions for people when it comes to networking.

  1. Weak handshake makes me wonder if you are an indecisive person
  2. If you are quick to walk away after I tell you what I do (because you have sized me up and realized I’m not a customer) I am more likely to tell 10 friends how uncomfortable and unimportant you have made me felt.
  3. Please make eye contact with me when I am talking to you.
  4. If you have food in your mouth, please clear all content before proceeding to talk to me.
  5. Please bring your BUSINESS CARD!  It doesn’t make a very good impression if I have to carry around a piece of napkin with your information on it.

Just a few tips to better prepare you for the next time you are out at a networking event. 

Happy Networking!!!
Quote of the day:
"A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business."

Henry Ford

Posted via email from minna's posterous

My philosophy??

A lot of people have been asking me, “Minna, what is your philosophy?” and I always have to think about it. I have to think about what it is because it is something I put in practice every day; it’s ingrained in me so I can’t nail it down to a phrase. I thought long and hard about it, after I nailed it down to a simple phrase that can be simply articulate to others I was still very embarrassed to tell every one about it because it is quite simple and silly.

My philosophy is the “spaghetti” philosophy which is simply throwing it (IT is any thing – from business ideas, fun activities to trying out new restaurant) against the wall and see what sticks. That’s all! I am quite a simple girl. It is a wonderful time to be alive, there are more opportunities than ever for determined people to achieve more of their goals than any time in the past.

I truly believe there are no limits to what I can accomplish except the limits I put on myself. Success to me is as much about learning from failure as it is about achieving your goals.

So get out there, try things out and see what sticks.


Posted via email from minna's posterous

An honest answer

I always tell my partner, if every one is saying YES we are not doing any thing interesting, during challenging times.

Although this is also important when it comes to making crucial decisions. A leader’s success is heavily dependent on getting honest feedback from people around them. Don’t flex your “I’m-the-boss” muscles and neglect the opinions of others around you. Success is driven by the team – it is not an individual effort. You need help from people around you so don’t be so quick to brush them off because they differ in opinions. Get rid of your YES men/women and find some people who give you the straight up truth. When every one agrees, it creates a comfortable environment but nothing new is learned.

Quote of the day:

“The price of inaction is far higher than the cost of a mistake.”

Meg Whitman, President and CEO, eBay

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Franchise model

Michael Gerber – the small business guru said to me, “Minna set your business up like a franchise otherwise you will never be able to get away from the daily grind”.  Michael is a huge mentor to me; and I have admired and respected his work for so long so when he spoke to me it was almost like God talking to me.

So franchise system, Ok now what?  I read the E-myth over and over again…what is this system?  I spent numerous days at Chapters looking for franchising books and countless hours of hours on Google looking for the best way to set up a franchise.  Nothing! Absolutely nothing, there are tons of information about how to SELL one or how to market one but not to set one up.  I guess that is the million dollar secret that no one wants to let out.

It was only last month that I had my AHA moment.  I was fortunate enough to be able to ask Brian Scudamore from 1800-got-junk some questions about setting up a franchise.  At the risk of sounding stupid, I asked…what is this franchise SYSTEM? It was so simple but made so much sense….Brian basically said “it is the best way to do something” and it can just be hand-written on one sheet of paper. 

Simple solution to complex problems is my new mantra from now on.

Quote of the day: 
”A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.”

Charles Schwab

Posted via email from minna's posterous

A new level of thinking

Business growth is a pain. Urban Bella, even though it has been only 8 months old has been able to signed clients such as Zhu Jiang beer, Toni & Guy, Schick Quattro and Reactine. We are in a crucial growth phase – the killer phase of most startups. This is a test of human resources management, financial management, cash flow management and my sanity.

I’ve been pacing the floor, staring to the gray Vancouver weather the last few weeks, wondering about some of the problems that my partner and I need to overcome before we can catapult Urban Bella into a different stratosphere. As I look around, look within me and recognize some of the problems we need to overcome.

I’ve been referencing a book by Stephen Covey “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” to hammer through some of the problems that we need resolve. It is actually quite weird but the most profound example that I got from the book was about how to have a happy marriage. To paraphrase Stephen, “in marriages where each spouse wants the other to change, where each is confessing the other’s “sin”, where each is trying to shape up the other” and “people spend tremendous amounts of time and energy trying to create legislation that would force people to act as though the foundation of trust were really there.” To think of it, most cause of all relationship difficulties whether it is marriage or in a business stems from conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.

At the root of the problems that most businesses face is the lack of foundations which requires principled-centered and character based approach to resolve. Three consecutive nights in a row spent at Waves on Commercial Drive, 8 Earl Grey teas and 12 hours later I worked on a new training program that is based on a completely different paradigm that we are used to. All objectives, criterias to demonstrate accomplishments are identified on one sheet of paper. Guidelines, resources, accountability and consequences that results when objectives are met on another. Focus on results and not methods otherwise you will always be stuck in micromanager mode. Sound so simple? Not really, most businesses do not allow their employees to have active participation into their own goal setting, define their own criterias and set their own rewards.

Save yourself the trouble and set the right foundations in place for your business before you wear a hole on the floor pacing the office floor as I have. Create the framework, have performance agreements in place and plan for reviews but have faith in your employees.

Quote of the day:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

Posted via email from minna's posterous

What does business pro have in common with poker pro?

Lately, I have been hearing a lot of comparisons between business and poker (must be the World Series of Poker this month that is generating this entire discussion). What makes a person a good business person or a pro in poker? It is a similar process, both industries have the same farm system that mould people into professionals but at the same time, any one can join the game – for business, if you have the chutzpah and in poker, if you have the buy-in.

In poker, the thing that separates the pros and the amateurs is the ability to read cues and the ability to focus. Business likewise is all about the attention to the details and the ability to focus on a mission. “Keeping your eyes on the prize” is perhaps a common phrase that poker players and business professionals can relate to the most.

Although, to be top-notched in any professions, laser-focus attention, consistency and ability to scrutinize minute little details are all basic skills one need to have.

For the love of the game…play on and good luck.

Quote of the day:

“…effective people are not problem minded; they’re opportunity-minded.”

Stephen Covey

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Accelerator Program

I was recently invited to join Accelerator Program by Cameron Laker of Mindfield Group and Jade Bourelle from Hire Desk.  After the first introduction meeting, I was completely floored by what it has to provide…

The Accelerator Program is the catalyst that enables first-stage entrepreneurs to catapult your business to the next level. To qualify for the Accelerator Program you must apply before your 36th birthday and be the owner or founder of an operating business with gross annual revenues between US$250,000 and US$1 million. Educational content focuses on four key issues faced by first-stage entrepreneurs: strategic planning, sales and marketing, human resources and finance.

Any entrepreneur with a growing company knows that growth is a painful thing – financing, sales, marketing and finding the right talent are huge obstacles.  Being an entrepreneur is also a lonely journey sometimes – I sometimes find myself talking to my friends and family about my challenges but I get big saucer eyes staring back at me.  Entrepreneurs are of a different breed – masochistic, egotistical and stubborn.  We don’t believe that any thing is impossible and we don’t take no for an answer. 

Accelerator Program is a lead in into the Entrepreneur Organization where members each make over a million a year.  It provides peer-to-peer support, expert session and access to seasoned entrepreneurs such as Jade Bourelle, Brian Scudamore, Mike Desjanins – all whom I have deep respect for. 

It literally is an MBA class – if you make over $250,000 a year make sure you apply!  Thank you Cameron and Jade for the invite!

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Books every entrepreneur should read

I always wondered what people are reading, it is crazy but most entrepreneurs I have asked are reading the same books….  Well folks, start reading because these come highly recommended from many entrepreneurs I know:

1) The E-myth by Michael Gerber
2) Good to Great by Jim Collins
3) Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
4) Built to Last by Jim Collins
5) The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
6) The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
7) The Art of War by Sun Tzu
8) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Are there any other books you think an entrepreneur should read? 

Leave comment below

Posted via email from minna's posterous

The mobile entrepreneur

As high school students, we were just kids working in the basement spinning out codes and websites. We were not only young, we were solo entrepreneurs and we worked out of our basement. We had many requests for meetings and we used coffee shops many times to help faciliate business meetings. Granted we had to compete with the espresso machines most of the time with….WHAT??!!??? SORRYYYYY…..CAN U REPEAT???? and the awkward SHOUT over the espresso machine when it stopped and you didn’t realized it stopped. Company meetings were done in the basement with a big helping of snacks and lots of green tea – our meetings usually lasted around two hours. Why so long? Because we were so relaxed – we spent an hour and a half doing casual chatter until we realized we have to get down to business.

The cheques started coming in but where are they sending it to?? Well I guess my house will do for now…. My tip for every one out there starting a business: Do not use your house address unless you intend to find your client on the other side of the door and you in your pajamas completely and utterly stunned. Please don’t use your home address, EVER. My second tip? If you can’t answer your phone 80% of the business working hours, get a phone answering service. I was answering my cell phone at school and none of my teachers were impressed.

So we made the transition into using a commercial mailbox…. I then got a call from the UPS store from a gentleman who kindly informed me that a client of ours has shown up to our “office” to only find a UPS store and he was wondering if it was a mistake. You bet, a COLLOSSAL mistake – by us!

I seriously don’t know what the big deal with the fascination with working from home or in a coffee shop is.   It is a good place to start but leave as soon as possible…

Quote of the day:

“Leaders are the most result-oriented individuals in the world”

Warren Bennis

Posted via email from minna's posterous

A former someone

Perhaps it is the rainy Vancouver day or the breezy cool wind that is coming through my window that makes me feel like I am back on Bowen Island again…but I’m feeling reflective. 

It’s quite strange that I have been in business for a while and I feel like my identity is so closely intertwined with the business I have no idea where the business ends and I begin.  Somedays I certainly feel like I am the business especially when I pull 14-16 hours/day into the business.  When you see the first blog posting and the pictures of The Network Hub built together from scratch – piece by piece by my two partners and I, you can see that there is a story and a history of how it all began.  A strange emotion comes over me when I look back and see how it all begins….  What would happen to me if I am no longer a partner at The Network Hub or Atomic Media or Urban Bella?  I often refer starting a business as a birthing of a child….(must be the woman in me and no I have never experienced childbirth).

You first conceive the idea – you are not so sure what it is and you are terrified of the future.  You nurture it and prepare for it, once you give birth it is a painful process and you aren’t sure if you even think it is a beautiful idea.  But you work at it until it matures, you recruit people to help you nurture the idea…..and when it does, you can’t help but feel an anxiety at the thought of being separated from your business.  Who am I and what will be of me if I am no longer part of the business? 

I am sure most serial entrepreneurs have this anxiety – that’s why we have so many businesses, we can’t bear to see any one taking over.  Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with parting with any companies but unfortunately for now, I have to learn not to take any thing said about my “babies” personally.

Quote of the day dedicated to a certain some one:

Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
Napoleon Bonaparte

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Because "it felt right"

“A Business Without a Dream is Like a Life Without a Purpose,” explains Michael. “Most entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs are dreaming with a small-d–dreams fashioned from personal expertise and by what is expedient in solving the problems of the moment, be they personal or business issues. This kind of incremental dreaming always becomes prison and can never bring the true freedom the entrepreneur seeks, or the true miracle he wishes to create”

It was a Wednesday night, I was pacing the floors tweaking our wireless connection at the office and I got a call from Keith – founder of “Rent-a-geek” who asked me if we could chat. Of course, I wanted to talk to him! He and I share a mutual love of Michael Gerber and he was coming to town and Keith said, “Minna, let me tell you what he has done for my business.”

Well, enough said I’ve read his books 6-7 times over and I need to attend a workshop with him. By Friday, I was ushered into the Wall Centre Hotel with 20 other people. Michael entered and he said, “Today is the beginning of the rest of your lives” in a very ominous God-like voice. This little man in a white suit, pink tie and a booming voice said he was going to teach me how to dream.

What?!!?? Dream???? I paid my hard earned cash to learn how to better my business. Is this all I’m getting for it?!? I have to sit here for 3 days through this dreaming hokey pokey?

But after everything was said and done, it became clear that it is indeed about my business and even more than that, it is about me. Every business begins with a dream – that dream has to be big enough to sustain itself.  Unfortunately, we dream small dreams, the “incremental dreams” as Michael Gerber puts it – because we are scared of what we are capable of, so we shrink our dreams to fit our comfort zone. 

 It is almost as though there was not a decision made, but an act moving one forward.  First I was here, and then I was there.  There’s no way in most cases that one can explain it.  It simply felt like the right thing to do.  Talking to hundreds of thousands of people who had made that choice, the majority of the answers to the question: So why did you take this step? The  answer almost always was…”It felt like the right thing to do.”    

I’m glad I kept an open mind and was receptive enough to his words because they were some of the most inspiring and mind opening I have heard in a long while. If you are thinking about starting a business or have your own business, you definitely need to read Michael Gerber’s books – THE E-MYTH or attend the Dreaming Room and see Michael in person.

A business is a reflection of its founder – what were you feeling at the moment you conceived your business?

Quote of the day:

It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste time.

                                                                                                    Henry Ford

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Are you a freelancer or an entrepreneur?

Before you start your business, consider this question “Are you a freelancer or an entrepreneur?”  The answer to this question will help determines your vision and lays the crucial framework for decision making. 

What is the difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur?

According to Bootstrapper’s Bible by Seth Godin,

A freelancer sells her talents. While she may have a few employees, basically she’s doing a job without a boss, not running a business. There is no exit strategy. There is no huge pot of gold. Just the pleasure and satisfaction of making your own hours and being your own boss.

An entrepreneur is trying to build something bigger than herself. She takes calculated risks and focuses on growth. An entrepreneur is willing to receive little pay, work long hours, and take on great risk in exchange for the freedom to make something big, something that has real market value.

Atomic Media went through 2 founding partners in its first 2 years because we didn’t ask ourselves this crucial question.  My first partner is a programmer and oh boy did he ever love to program.  One time, we spent a couple of hours trying to figure out the algorithm to determine the pattern of the barcode of the Vancouver Public Library cards.  My second partner is a designer and he absolutely LOVES to design.  He worked for bigger companies such as Starbucks, Wal-mart, etc…  He doesn’t want to do any thing but to do perfect pieces of art.  As we progressed as a company, there was more and more fight about little operation details. 

Every single time we fight, we always agree to step back and stay small so we can focus on quality.  It was a huge mistake to keep staying small, we should have figured out….what is keeping us small?  The truth was my partners love doing the work and they will work work work until the cows come home.  They love it…they LOVE working on their craft.  I, on the other hand after many nights of working alone in my room to program and design – I decided I want to go big.  I wanted to have a multi-national firm reaching people from different continents and also be able to make money when I am sleeping or on vacation. 

I wanted to grow, to hire and to step back from the daily operations.  My partners couldn’t understand why….   They thought I was “corporate” and “greedy” but I wasn’t – I wanted freedom and I wanted to envision an entity bigger than what the three of us can do by ourselves.  My mentor always said, “Minna, it is not failure you fear it is the success you fear because it is an unknown” and she was right.  I didn’t want to challenge and speak out against staying small because I wouldn’t know what to do if we were successful, I was more comfortable in being mediocre and tucked away from any important decision making. 

I don’t remember when but slowly the fights got to be too much and my first partner left us.  We were Cerberus Studios and we re-branded to Atomic Media.  After last partner left me, I kept the name Atomic Media and ran the company by myself for another 2 years.  It was a tough two years because when my partners left, we still had obligations to our clients that we had to fulfill.

With my new partners for Atomic Media, we have a clearly defined vision that we all agreed on.  It has been 6 years now since Atomic Media first started but the first 4 years were mostly about learning lessons.  Only the last two years did we really grow and it was because we now have a clear definition of who we are and what Atomic Media needs to be.

Avoid the pain…. have that conversation with yourself now, “Am I an entrepreneur or a freelancer?”


“One’s objective should be to get it right, get it quick, get it out, and get it over….your problem won’t improve with age.

Warren Buffett

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Top ten signs you are ready to escape to a real office


#10: “I want to hire an assistant, but we’d have to share a chair.”
If your business is expanding faster than you have office furniture or you are meeting with your clients in the hallway, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

#9: “My husband thinks I need to get a real job.”
If your husband or wife thinks that you spend your day chatting with the neighbors or your mother-in-law is convinced you are running a drug cartel out of your living room, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

#8: “My friends think that working at home means I never miss Days of Our Lives.”
If you are like Rodney Dangerfield and “can’t get any respect” because your friends think you catch every episode of Dr. Phil and sleep until noon, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

#7: “Starbucks is starting to encroach on my profits.”
If you are conducting all your big meetings in the science fiction section of Barnes & Noble or you are working on your sixth grande frappachino, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

#6: “I realized today that at 4pm, I was still wearing pajamas.”
If your idea of networking is talking to the cat and you haven’t been in a shower or out of the house in over a week, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

#5: “I could die here and no one would ever know.”
If you worry that it might be the smell that gets people to inquire about your business, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

#4: “Why did God invent Oprah? How are we supposed to work when Oprah is on?”
If you are overwhelmed by the urge to climb back into bed or regularly feel a deep longing to do several loads of laundry in the middle of the business day, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

#3: “No, the baby doesn’t go in the playpen…Important papers go in there so the baby can’t get at them.”
If you find yourself picking Cheerios out of your laptop, chasing the kids around the kitchen while conference-calling Japan and wiping peanut butter off your client’s proposal, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

#2: “I feel like I live at the office…Wait! I do!”
If your workday ends two minutes before you drop into bed or you are taking four-a.m. phone calls from sleepless clients, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

And last but not least…

#1: “Since you’re home all day anyway, I need a favor…”
If you are picking up your wife’s laundry, driving your friend to the airport or running errands for your neighbors in the middle of your workday, you are a good candidate to escape your home office.

Posted via email from minna's posterous

Toiling in isolation...

My very first business, Atomic Media started from home. What’s not to like about working from home? There is no cost for overhead, I work when I want and it is just really comfortable to do work in your pajamas! This was during my high school years and it wasn’t the best setup but it was the most logical option for me as I had no money to get the business off the ground.

Let me tell you about the day I decided to move out of my home to seek other entrepreneurs…

Let’s backtrack to 1999, I landed a client from Victoria Island – an import car garage business. He wanted an edgy, interactive websites with all the bells and whistles that the dotcom era is pumping out. Macromedia Flash was all the hype during this time and so I decided to work with program to create the shiniest website any one has ever seen – the only problem was I’ve never used Flash before.

Toting a Macromedia Flash newly bought from Chapters, off I went my merry naive way home to start working on this website. I had it all in my head about how it was going to look and how things were going dash across the screens to the oooh’s and ahhh’s of the users. I was doing quite well from just fiddling with the interface, referencing the book and the support until it was time to put it all together and putting on the finishing touch…

It was late at night, I was trying to put together a pre-loader effect for the website. I am trying to tweak this one effect but it kept giving me error messages. My brand new $60 reference book couldn’t tell me what was wrong, my Macromedia Flash support also couldn’t tell me what is wrong….. Flash is too new and there aren’t too many support forums. Asides from the occasional break to have a cigarette and get a coffee, I did nothing but work on this one effect…. I spent over 8 frustrating hours trying to resolve it but no matter what I did, nothing worked. I broke down and was just so tired from trying I wanted to just collapse. I don’t know if it was because the one small nagging problem got to me or it’s because I can’t vent my frustration to any one. I am sure now it was probably a combination of both.

I was craving the human connection of some one else who can relate to what I was going through. Starting a business and running it by yourself is incredibly hard – without a support network of like-minded individuals to support and bounce ideas off of, it becomes an incredible frustrating experience.

The Network Hub is set up so that there is a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who can share their frustration with each other and support each other business. Finding like-minded individuals has become an obsession for me ever since that day – it materialized in form of The Network Hub. Which I was more than thrill to get started when my two partners and I came up with the idea.

My advice for startups and other entrepreneurs is to make sure you have a network of support – online community or offline board of advisors as a source of inspiration, support and ideas.

Don’t toil in isolation……


“Knowledge is the only meaningful resource today.  The traditional ‘factors of production’ – land (i.e. natural resources), labour and capital – have not disappeared.  But they have become secondary.

                                                                                                                                   Peter Drucker

Posted via email from minna's posterous