Berlin-based insha, the challenger bank ‘with principles’, raises €2.5 million for European expansion

Today insha, the “account with principles”, has announced a seed financing round of €2.5 million, led by Turkish payment service provider Param. insha will use the money for European expansion, further develop its ethical banking product and strengthen the team at its headquarters in Berlin and Istanbul. Founded in 2018, insha offers users a digital…

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The post Berlin-based insha, the challenger bank ‘with principles’, raises €2.5 million for European expansion first appeared on EU-Startups.

EU-Startups

Berlin-based insha, the challenger bank ‘with principles’, raises €2.5 million for European expansion

Today insha, the “account with principles”, has announced a seed financing round of €2.5 million, led by Turkish payment service provider Param. insha will use the money for European expansion, further develop its ethical banking product and strengthen the team at its headquarters in Berlin and Istanbul. Founded in 2018, insha offers users a digital…

This content is for members only. Visit the site and log in/register to read.

The post Berlin-based insha, the challenger bank ‘with principles’, raises €2.5 million for European expansion first appeared on EU-Startups.

EU-Startups

10 Principles For Surviving Hard Times In Any Startup

Devil-in-business“The devil in the details” is a quote that we have all heard, and clearly applies to startups, where success in the long run is all about execution. But for you as an entrepreneur trying to get started, the devil is really in your mind, where you must prevent drifting, and maintain that confidence, commitment, and passion, to achieve your business dream.

This is highlighted well in the classic book finally published just a few years ago, “Outwitting the Devil,” annotated by Sharon Lechter. It was written way back in 1938, by the famous author of “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill. It was too controversial to publish then, due to religious connotations, but still has key lessons for every entrepreneur today.

The premise of the book is an interview with the Devil, where he admits that he dwells in idle minds, and finds it easy to control the minds of drifters. Drifters are people who do little or no thinking for themselves, and allow themselves to be influenced and controlled by other people and circumstances.

In an interview, the Devil confesses that all people need only follow some key principles to outwit him (adapted a bit here for entrepreneurs):

  1. Do your own thinking on all occasions. Pursue your own dreams and your own thinking. Listen to others input, but make your own decisions. For success, entrepreneurs have to overcome any human tendencies toward laziness and indifference, which lead to procrastination and drifting.
  1. Decide what you really want from your business. Set your goal, and create a plan for attaining it. Be willing to sacrifice everything else, if necessary, rather than accept permanent defeat. Drifters chase a business idea for all the wrong reasons, and then give up easily, like get rich quick, or to please someone else.
  1. Analyze temporary defeat, no matter of what nature or cause. Extract from it the seed of an equivalent advantage. In business, it’s commonly accepted that you can learn more from failure than from success, if you choose to learn.
  1. Be willing to give before you receive. Other entrepreneurs and investors will more readily help you, if you have helped them first. In addition, you dramatically increase your odds of success if you learn the business domain first, before you try to lead in it.
  1. Recognize that your brain is a receiving set. Curb your output, and be an active listener, by providing feedback, an optimistic attitude, motivation, and a concern for people. A key part of receiving input is listening to what is not said.
  1. Recognize that your greatest asset is time. This is the only thing except the power of thought which you own outright, and the one thing which can be shaped into whatever material things you want. Budget your time so none of it is wasted.
  1. Recognize that fear generally is a filler. Fear rushes in to occupy the unused portion of your mind. It is only a state of mind, which you can control by filling the space it occupies with confidence and passion in your ability to overcome obstacles.
  1. When you ask for help, do not beg. Take full responsibility, and don’t be the victim. Make sure you earn any help provided, and don’t forget to properly thank your benefactor. In a startup, there is no entitlement to funding, or to a second chance.
  1. Recognize that business is a cruel taskmaster. Either you master it or it masters you. There is no half-way or compromising point. Never accept from a business anything you do not want. You can refuse, in your own mind, to accept it and it will make way for the thing you do want.
  1. Remember that your dominating thoughts attract. To become the master of your destiny, you must learn to control the nature of your dominant, habitual thoughts. By doing so, you will be able to attract into your life anything you choose. Your thoughts create your reality.

I couldn’t help but think that these points are still so relevant today in our own pandemic recovering economy, even though they were written during a comparable challenge over 70 years ago. I guess we all should take comfort in the fact that even though we live in a world of constant change, some things about human nature will always be the same.

Can you outwit the Devil today to succeed in your dream?

Marty Zwilling
Startup Professionals Musings

9 Principles Especially Critical For A Micro-Business

home-micro-businessToo many of you business owners think success only means being the next Amazon, or you stress yourself out trying to be everything to every customer. In reality, the opportunities are greater for starting with a micro-business, ideally from your special expertise or passion, with fewer than five employees, and just enough sales to comfortably support you and your team.

This type of business has long been primarily run out of the home, well before COVID-19 made that a necessity, and it still works to keep the costs of operation down. In time, many businesses outgrow their meager beginnings, to become major enterprises, comparable to the current giants Amazon and Apple. These are proof that you don’t have to start with the mindset of a giant.

Yet my years of advising entrepreneurs and small businesses has taught me that you do have to follow some basic principles and operational strategies, even to get a micro business off the ground. Key ones in my mind include the following:

  1. Build your business around what you know and love. I still hear people determined to start a business as a path to an easier life, or a way to make some money on the side. From my experience, these drivers are fraught with risk and unhappiness. Think first about where you have a natural advantage, or a unique insight or critical purpose.

  2. Keep the initial scope within bootstrapping limits. Just because you want to start a business doesn’t mean you are entitled to outside equity, loans, or crowdfunding. These only make your startup riskier, and add stress you don’t need. By spending only within your means, and re-investing the money you make, you will more likely enjoy success.

  3. Meticulously manage cash inflow and outflow. Cash flow is the nemesis of every business, particularly small ones. Don’t delegate this task to another family member or accountant. Understand and write down every expense, and budget for required costs, especially initial inventory and accounts receivable delays. Details are important.

  4. Learn to use basic business financial tools. One of the most useful tools for any small business is Excel or Google spreadsheets, for monthly profit-loss statements and operational tracking. You need to see quickly both positive and negative trends, and understand whether the fluctuations are caused by customer or internal needs.

  5. Take advantage of bartering and less-than-new equipment. You don’t need the latest-and-greatest computers or office furniture to get the job done well. Put the message out that you are willing to trade a little extra work for something you really need. Be creative in negotiating work agreements with vendors and even initial customers.

  6. Limit the scope and focus of your initial offering. You must learn quickly when to say no, as well as when to say yes. Customers will always want to stretch your limits, and it’s tempting to agree to things which may be outside your realm of expertise. Attempting to deliver these can kill you, both in quality of your solution and time to completion.

  7. Get in the habit of documenting all agreements and terms. In my experience, this is what separates a business from a hobby. Hobbyists tend to work informally with like-minded people. Skip the complex contracts by lawyers, but at least use an email to confirm terms and conditions to all parties. It’s good communication and good business.

  8. Don’t forget to do continuous marketing and networking. There is an old saying in business that what you know is not as important as who you know, and who knows you. You have to find your customers, and people who can help you – they won’t find you. Count on spending 50 to 75 percent of your time marketing and networking.

  9. Pay attention to competitors, and differentiate your offering. The quickest way to fail is to be just “one more” consultant or assistant. Every business solution has competitors and alternatives. Define your “secret sauce” or intellectual property, and advertise it as well as protect it. Be prepared to update it regularly as customers and trends change.

Businesses that start in the home are becoming more and more the norm. The Small Business Administration reports that over 50 percent of small businesses are now home-based. Yet these can fail just as quickly as any other, if basic business principles such as the ones outlined here are not followed.

Make the effort to do it right, and you too can enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on Inc.com on 10/02/2020 ***

Startup Professionals Musings

10 Key Principles For Managing Your Time In Business

work-time-managementEvery startup founder feels the pressure of the thousands of things that need to get done, all seemingly at the same time. There is just not enough time! The real solution is better time management to put you back in control of your life.

We all know someone who always professes to be stressed out and “so busy” that they never have time for anything – yet they never seem to get things done. The real reason is that these people don’t manage their time well. They waste too much on low-priority busywork, procrastinating on higher priority but tougher tasks, resulting in last minute crises, and failure to complete the critical work that people are really expecting of them.

I still remember the classic book on this subject by Dr. Jan Yager, called “Creative Time Management for the New Millennium.” She preaches that “Managing your time well means managing your life well. People who handle their time well do it creatively. They practice creative time management by taking control of their time and therefore their life.”

Here are ten of her key principles and mine:

  1. Set goals. In business, this means create a business plan before you start. I’m still amazed by the number of entrepreneurs I meet who have no business plan, or who haven’t updated their plan for years. If you have no goals and milestones, you can’t measure progress.
  1. Be proactive, not just reactive. Doing things before the deadline is looming reduces stress and gives you a sense of being ahead of the game. For a startup, this means starting your networking before you need money, or building the website before the business is ready to open.
  1. Prioritize actions. The secret is to identify what really needs to be done in each day. If you look closely at how you spend your days you will probably find that there are many things that aren’t really that important, but take a lot of time. Skip those.

  1. Keep your focus. Everyday interruptions in your new business can be a key barrier to managing your time effectively and, ultimately, a barrier to your success. Close the door to your home office, or turn off the phone when you have work which needs to get done.

  1. Create realistic deadlines. A realistic schedule takes several things into account. You need to spend time working, eating, sleeping, doing chores, running errands, and spending time with family. Unrealistic deadlines create stress, rework, and unhappiness.

  1. Plan and delegate. Strive to understand the relevant capabilities of team members, and then deliberately schedule tasks, delegating to the right people to get tasks done within deadlines. Even an entrepreneur can’t do everything personally.
  1. Don’t procrastinate. Some entrepreneurs actually sabotage themselves by putting obstacles in their own path that take more of their precious time. They often choose paths that hurt their performance. This represents a profound problem of self-regulation.
  1. Be a pragmatist, not a perfectionist. A proven path to success in business is to get something out, and iteratively improve it. A new product or service will never be perfect in a rapidly changing world, so don’t delay.
  1. Balance your life. When life is busy, or all your energy is focused on a special project, it is all too easy to find yourself “off balance,” not paying enough attention to important areas of your life. This causes inefficiency and stress, and your work is not fun.
  1. Do it now. In my opinion, this is the most important element of time management. Too many people procrastinate, worry, and defer, rather than just do it. Divide and conquer what you have to do. Now, not tomorrow.

Take back control of your time and your life. We are not all endowed with brilliance, good looks, or lots of money, but we each get the same number of hours every day. Use them effectively to get your startup going, and have some fun in your life. Start with item #10.

Marty Zwilling
Startup Professionals Musings

I built my online presence by following a few key principles

For the past year, I’ve been creating videos online and growing an audience through that. And then, last week, my channel hit 1000 subscribers. This was a goal that seemed kind of unattainable a few months ago. While this is a small milestone and there’s plenty of growth left to take place, I think there are a few key things that I’ve learned along the way… and these are things that can be applied to starting any venture from the ground up.

  1. Set a goal that you can control
  2. Aim for Consistency
  3. Be open to making sacrifices
  4. Identify what you enjoy about the process
  5. Pay attention to the market (or audience)
  6. Have Patience

There are certainly many other values and practices that matter, but these were the most pivotal to my growth online. I expect these keys to be applicable for any other entrepreneurial venture as well, and leaning into these practices will allow you to start from a stronger place. I discuss this in depth here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVZzBUaOUDU. Let me know if there are any other pillars that you rely on when pursuing your own ventures.

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