How to Inspire and Get Inspired with the Spirit of Entrepreneurship

On the second day of marketing and sales training, teams of the Biz4all social entrepreneurship training programme studied and practiced the method of story modelling, used to promote new products and services on the market. Participants were introduced to this technique by Darya Reutovich, a coach from the Netherlands, who is also one of the mentors of this year’s teams.

You can read more details and some interesting cases from the first day here: Marketing and Sales in Social Entrepreneurship: Never Be Ashamed of Making Money.

Biz4all-2 training is part of the "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator”  programme organized by ODB Brussels (Belgium) in partnership with TNU Network University (Netherlands), with financial support from the European Union.

Darya Reutovich, Biz4all-2 programme mentor from the Netherlands. Minsk, 2018

What is a startup accelerator

Darya is Belarusian: she graduated in Minsk and worked here for several years, but then she decided to continue her studies in the Netherlands and stayed there afterwards. Now she works as a product manager of Rockstart, a startup accelerator. Belarus does not have any accelerators yet. An accelerator is different from a startup school because it gives the startup money for development in exchange for a stake in the company (e.g. 8%). If a startup is successful and is bought purchased by a larger company, the accelerator receives 8% of the transaction amount. The accelerator does not actually have its own fund, but it can look for investors who provide funding to third parties. Rockstart accelerator has worked for seven years in the Netherlands, having invested into 138 companies, but only five startups have been successfully sold. Investment risks are high, but business leaders are not always motivated by profit margins alone: they might also want to help the teams change the society or solve a pressing social problem.

Darya thinks that the recent surge in startup popularity can be explained by the spirit of time itself, as we seem to be living in the perfect moment to start something. “The planet’s population is constantly growing, but the resources we deplete are non-renewable and will run out sooner or later. The modern society needs technologies to find the resources to satisfy people’s needs. Another thing is the continued growth of developing markets: they have a lot of problems but are perfectly willing to resolve them. The modern world is a globalized one, and communication technologies are helping to grow a local business into a global one. The world has three particular areas of focus right now: energy, health and agriculture”.

The expert from the Netherlands shared with the teams that every startup goes through the same developmental stages: people invest their own money or the money provided by their first investors, but quickly hit a wall when sales stop growing. 99% of new businesses go through that stage. If you get investors’ money through an accelerator, then you can take your business to develop further, but you need to persuade them that you have great potential profitability.

Biz4all-2 participants: team of, pay-by-the-hour nanny service. Minsk, 2018

Tips for all young companies from Darya Reutovich (Netherlands):

•    The team is the most important part. If you do not have a strong team, then you do not have a team, and no one is going to invest in you. We prefer to hire ready-made teams.

•    It is extremely important to learn to have conflicts within your team, because conflicts bring out the truth.

•    Surround yourself with people who inspire you and can teach you something. Remember, however: as soon as you surround yourself with people, you will have someone who does not agree with your ideas and is going to criticize them. The more people you have around, the more criticism you will get. Learn to filter it.

•    Inspire and get inspired by the spirit of entrepreneurship — you will have to sacrifice a lot, but you will have to find inner motivation to move forward. Everyone wants success to be right there, at the end of a straight path leading upwards, but that does not happen in life.

•    Understand why you need it.

•    Learn to sell and promote your product. Always keep interested people close by, so that they never forget about you and always follow your progress.

•    Dream and set big goals, and not realistic ones but ones that are much larger than what you actually want to achieve.

•    Learn to listen and ask for advice.

•    Learn and soak in information as quickly as you can.

•    Reflect upon where you are and take a step back if necessary. If you just keep running around for the sake of doing something, nothing will actually get done. Try to analyse why you failed to achieve your goals, and what you could have done differently. A step back is two steps forward, and after a while you are going to move much faster.

A practical session followed, where teams learned to build the story of their products or services. These stories help you develop your product and showcase the problem, the solution and the potential benefit the user would get from a product or a service.

Andrey Begun, Director of "Grai" Christmas toy factory (a social enterprise). Minsk, 2018

Andrey Begun, Director of "Grai" Christmas toy factory (a social enterprise), was the last speaker of the two-day offline training. Several weeks ago, his toy factory received a visit from female entrepreneurs who are taking part in “Female entrepreneurship with a social focus”, and our reporter Kseniya Kireeva came along. You can read her overview of the business and its history on our website: Proud of Homeland: Christmas Toy Social Enterprise from Belarus. 

Text by: Valeriya Nikalaichyk

Photo by: Alyona Lis

The goal of the programme is to develop a package of social entrepreneurship training programmes in Russian using innovative international practices, as well as the experience of Belarusian diaspora representatives who have become successful entrepreneurs in European Union countries and the USA.

The material was prepared within the framework of the "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator", implemented by ODB Brussels in partnership with TNU Network University (Netherlands), Belarusian Youth Public Union "New Faces" and International Civil Association "Union of Belarusian of the world “Motherland", with support from the European Union.