What You Can Learn From Global Entrepreneurs
Since we found a new home for our UK accelerators 12 months ago, we have been spreading our wings to champion entrepreneurs globally. Now we’re back having just launched two new programmes in the UK, and we want to share some of what we have learned to help you in your own journey.
Where have we been?
In October 2018 we partnered with GolGlobal and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to launch a 3-year programme for female entrepreneurs. Our CEO Mike and Lucy-Rose went over to deliver our much-loved boot camp which inspired, challenged and enabled 40 female entrepreneur to come together, connect, and work on their businesses. Hear from Priscilla Villalobos of Zen Clean how she found the experience.
Then in May this year we launched our 20th accelerator hub! We were delighted to partner with Ignite Bermuda (a non-profit on the island) to bring our secret sauce to Bermuda entrepreneurs for the next three years. Get to know some of our first cohort and their take on the programme here.
We have some excellent new partners, and have loved learning about the differences and similarities between cultures, and how this shapes the entrepreneurs in different places. Meeting new people across the world, sharing their stories and unlocking the potential they have to make an impact is what gets us up in the morning!
So what have we learned?
The World is Your Oyster (or your Playground if you have a shellfish allergy)
In the UK we are spoilt as entrepreneurs by having a developed economy and a large economic market to play in. This means we sometimes don’t look beyond our own doorstep for opportunity.
Entrepreneurs in smaller economies and populations have to start with a global outlook. There simply isn’t enough business to keep them all going in their own countries. So from the start they consider where else their customers hang out and how they can reach them.
This discipline is powerful in opening new opportunities. What if your BEST first customer isn’t in the UK? What if your product has no competitors on another continent? Once you have exported to one place, the next is easier because you have some experience and systems in place.
With a global mindset you can set your business up for greater success from the word “Go!”
The female entrepreneur movement is growing.
Most studies in entrepreneurial diversity focus on flagship cities and huge “startups” that have raised millions in investment (like this post that I saw today). But we’ve been working in communities, at the grassroots level, and we’ve seen a surge of awesome women gaining ground.
Our boot camp in Costa Rica ran with 40 female entrepreneurs, with everything from innovative food and drink businesses to tech/gig economy platforms. Passionate, capable people pushing at the boundaries of cultural norms.
Our partnership accelerator in Bermuda with Ignite was 13 times (!!) oversubscribed for our first intake. 76% of these were female entrepreneurs, on an island with only 65,000 people.
In the UK our programmes have always attracted roughly 50% female entrepreneurs, and this still amazes people. Why??
Too many incredible female entrepreneurs remain unsung at the moment because they are not CEO of some fancy tech business in a big city. But trust me, they are rising.
If you have a dream of starting a business – it can be done. If you’re currently going it alone and struggling, you don’t have to. There is support available, and there are others like you who will share your journey.
The Mindset struggle is real, and universal
There are always local challenges unique to a region, whether political, economic or technological (ever tried to raise an invoice in Costa Rica??). But what we learned from entrepreneurs is that they are willing to tackle these, to take them on in pursuit of their dream. These technical challenges are not the barriers to starting and scaling.
Wherever they were from, whatever language they spoke, people told us about mindset. The fear, self-doubt, procrastination and disempowerment that held them back. The loneliness. And when they were at their best – the energy, the connection, the continual learning, stretch and challenge. The growth mindset.
We thought it might be different in other places, but these things are shared by humans everywhere. So whether you’re starting or growing, wherever you are, it’s OK to feel like this. It’s good to talk about it and find like-minded people who can help when you’re down, and who you can help in turn when you’re up.
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