8 Blogs Written By Entrepreneurs Worth Checking Out

Starting up a business is hard work.  You don’t always have time to build up your network, attend events and find good sources for advice. Blogs can be a good source of current and relevant information, particularly those by founders writing from direct experience.

This is a quick round up of blogs written by start up founders.

  1. Kate Kendall

Kate Kendall is founder and CEO of The Fetch, a hub for professionals to find local events. Kate’s blog charts the ups and downs of starting a business as well as digital culture, marketing and publishing. She has also been named one of the top 30 digital influencers in 2012.

  1. Joel Gascoyne

Joel Gascoyne, co-founder and CEO at Buffer, blogs about the lessons he learned along the way while setting up his business.

  1. Seth Godin

Most well known as a marketing guru, Seth Godin’s blog is loaded with juicy content on marketing, http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

  1. Clive Rich

Need to hone negotiating skills? Clive Rich, a leading UK negotiator, offers tips and articles on all this negotiation.

  1. Natalie MacNeil

She Takes on the World is aimed at women moving out of the corporate world and into their own business and takes a compassionate and feminine approach to business.

  1. James Altucher

Interesting blog by a trader, investor, writer and entrepreneur exploring not just business, but how it crosses over into life.

  1. OneStartups

Darmesh Shah is a software entrepreneur and co-founder and CTO of HubSpot, a software platform for Internet Marketing.

On OneStartups, Darmesh blogs about what it takes to succeed as a software startup.

  1. Founder Notes

Finding it all in one place, Founder Notes, is a community of start up founders who post, share and discuss the best content.

by Joanie Magill from The Careers Group Entrepreneurship Group

Getting your voice heard could land you a job

PhoneNew research published in Psychological Science has shown that written job pitches pale in comparison to the spoken word.

When scientists at the University of Chicago asked people, some of them professional recruiters, to evaluate student job pitches, they responded better to videos and voice recordings than to the exact same speeches written down. Using identical words, when evaluators are able to hear a person’s voice (importantly, both with or without a visual video recording) they rate that person as more intelligent, thoughtful and competent.

Speaking to The New York Times, Professor Nicholas Epley, one of the co-authors of the study, explained these results by saying that spoken words “show that we are alive inside – thoughtful, active….The closest you ever get to the mind of another person is through their mouth.”

So what does this mean for your job hunt? Well, it means that networking is EVEN more important than we’re always telling you it is. And that although online professional social networks can be a great way to identify useful contacts, they’re no substitute for actually meeting someone, or at least chatting to them on the phone. And you know when you’re invited to call for more information while applying for a job? Well maybe you should do that. Put together some intelligent questions to which you’d actually like answers, and use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself and what you have to offer – it could mean that they’ll pay more attention to your written application when it comes in.

5 books to further your career

Books HD

Article written by Jake Pittman for Nationwide Jobs.

We all strive to be better in life, whether that means appearance to some or your personal life. However for most of us, our career is where we aim to improve most. And why not, a better career could mean doing more of what you love, it could mean working with amazing people or let’s be honest it could also mean more money to spend in your personal life.

So, with that goal set, all you need now is some inspiration and a dollop of motivation. You’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve listed a handful of the books that have motivated and inspired us.

Chimp paradox by Dr Steve Peters

The paradox is that our brains and our actions can be split into two parts: the chimp and the human. These two parts think about life very differently and react in different ways to different situations. Understanding how you and other people think can help in all areas of life, whether in relationships, the workplace or just taking care of your own mental health. This is definitely a must read from a very clever man. Get ready to rediscover your brain.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

Pitch your idea, pitch your proposal, or just pitch yourself. Being able to present yourself clearly and incite emotions in people is a skill that can be used in any walk of life but is especially useful when trying to further your career. Using the STRONG method, online, in a meeting, or even in an interview, this book suggests you’re sure to succeed.

The STRONG method:

  • Set the frame
  • Tell the story
  • Reveal the intrigue
  • Offer the prize
  • Nail the hook point
  • Get a decision

Find the book on Amazon here.

Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion by Nathalie Nahai

What if you knew exactly what your interviewer was thinking and knew exactly what to say and do in order to get the job? Well this book doesn’t promise anything but it does give you an insight into how to connect with people, to nurture relationships and keep you in the forefront of people’s minds. It’s all about the psychology behind business.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Become a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley

Wouldn’t it be nice if the job came to you? What if people in your field of work already knew what you knew, and wanted to do business with you. Well what you need is to become a person of influence. Get social and get this book.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo  

Have you heard about TED? If not, check it out, this is a hub of inspiration just waiting to help you further your career. Once you’ve experienced TED, you’ll understand why you may want to ‘talk like TED’. It’s all about exciting and inspiring the people around you, so they in turn can inspire you.

Find the book on Amazon here.




What a STEM Student could get from an Alumni Mentor

Michael Ezra, Regional Business Manager Western Europe at Biotech Vision Care Pvt.ltd., graduated in 1989 from Queen Mary University London with a BSc in Molecular Biology.

Michael spent the next 24 years working for a variety of Pharmaceutical companies, mostly in Sales and Marketing positions before settling 2013 in Biotech, a global manufacturer and supplier of intraocular lenses (IOLs), ophthalmic solutions and equipment for the ophthalmic industry.

He is now an industry mentor for undergraduate Science and Engineering students helping them to explore the Pharmaceutical industry he works in to gain confidence in the recruitment process.

What excites you about being a mentor?

It gives me the opportunity to think in a more focused way about my own work when I am guiding others, and also I like the feeling of helping others to achieve their goals.

How can you as a mentor help a STEM student understand their strengths?

Simply by telling them what strengths I observe during our mentoring sessions. I would be quite honest if I felt something important was lacking. As a mentor I can help a student become more confident by showing them tactics for securing a first job, with the do’s and don’ts of job applications and job interviews.

How crucial do you think networking is for getting on to the career ladder? 

It is much more important nowadays to get in front of employers face-to-face at every possible opportunity, because the whole blind CV application is encouraging unlimited applications globally and not restricted to the UK (nationally) because of the internet’s global reach, which is not only causing UK nationals to compete with global applicants for the same job, but also it is driving the salaries down as a result of foreign workers from poorer economies willing to take the job at much lower salaries. It is becoming more common place that one job advertised gets around 500 applicants (500 CVs sent online!) and it becomes a lottery instead of the best candidate for the job.

Written by Jacqueline Steinmetz, Mentoring Coordinator, Careers & Enterprise, QMUL

Insight into insurance

JENNIFER MOLLOY ATRIUM213875Jenny Molloy, an Assistant Underwriter, tells us about what it’s like to work for a medium-sized insurance firm in the City of London, plus tips on how to make a good application.

What company do you work for?

I work for Atrium Underwriters, a Lloyd’s of London syndicate. We write a variety of insurance classes including aviation, marine, casualty, property, energy, reinsurance, war and terrorism. Lloyd’s is an unusual environment to work in as I work on a trading floor. There is always a hive of activity as brokers visit the underwriters to discuss and negotiate business.

What do you do?

My job title is Assistant Underwriter, which involves risk modelling, data management and assisting the underwriter with underwriting decisions. I specialise in aviation reinsurance, which is the insuring of aviation insurers.

What did you study at university?

I studied Maths, which is useful for my role because aviation reinsurance is quite a technical class of insurance. My peers at Atrium have a variety of degrees including Business, Biology, Engineering and English.

Since joining Atrium I have been supported in studying for my insurance qualification from the Chartered Institute of Insurance and I now hold an Advanced Diploma in Insurance. This took about three and a half years to study for in my spare time but I was fully supported by my company and my managers.

What does a typical day in insurance look like?

I don’t think there is a typical day in insurance underwriting. Our class has busy renewal periods where a lot of our clients renew on the same date. If there is a big renewal date coming up I might be analysing our clients data to understand and price their risk, this involves using mathematical models to determine their exposure. I could also be reading through renewal information or checking contracts. We would also be meeting with the brokers who are representing our clients to discuss or negotiate the risk.

Outside of renewal season we could have client meetings, we could be planning for the year ahead or I could be working on projects which could be researching loss trends or updating modelling software. I also have to do a fair amount of admin – making sure the information on the system is up to date and correct.

Also as we sit on the trading floor at any point a broker can come in to see us with new business, to request changes to contracts or discuss renewals.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the combination of analytical and interaction with clients, brokers and colleagues. I need to be able to analyse and process complex information and maintain good relationships with brokers and clients. I have also started travelling to meet with clients in the US and in Europe. Insurance isn’t an obvious choice of career but can be very interesting and is very connected to the wider world as we can insure a huge range of things from satellites to insuring against the risk of terrorism.

What about any challenges?

I would say that it can be quite stressful around renewal periods when you need to get a lot done in a short period of time.

How did you apply for the job?

I found the job on milkround.com. I sent my CV and covering letter, and was invited to interview with my current manager, the Class Underwriter, and the Head of HR as well as taking numerical and verbal reasoning tests. In my second interview I also spoke to the Active Underwriter, who is the head of the syndicate, and an Actuary.

What makes a good application?

I would say that any application would have to demonstrate analytical skills as well as good communication and business awareness. Maths ability is very important. I also think that IT skills are a must, especially a really good knowledge of Excel. Any prior experience with contract wordings may be helpful but a keen attention to detail is an important attribute.

Any tips for getting into insurance?

I would recommend getting work experience. It is important to get a feel for how the industry works and Lloyd’s especially as it is a very unusual work environment. Lots of my peers at Atrium got their role following work experience at the company. Applying for structured programmes is a good idea as well as networking with people in the industry. Work experience isn’t essential, though, as that wasn’t my route in and the industry is often keen to recruit talented individuals.

What are the progression opportunities like?

In underwriting there is quite a linear progression – as you gain more experience, you are given more responsibility.

For more information about Lloyd’s you can find lots of information here: http://www.lloyds.com/lloyds/about-us/what-we-do

Written by Rhiannon Williams.


Pop up: a good platform for a start up

Pop ups are a growing launch pad for start up businesses. They are a useful, low risk way to test a business idea and there are a lot of opportunities to get involved.

Pop up shops can be a great way to start a business

Pop up shops can be a great way to start a business

Image via Goldsmiths, University of London

Pop ups are no longer a trend. Research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and EE in 2014 showed that pop-up retailers contribute £2.1 billion to the UK economy each year and the industry was expected to grow by 8.4%. Almost a third of new businesses launched in the UK over the next two years will start life as a pop-up and there will be 11.6 million start up entrepreneurs creating 3.4 million pop-up shops by 2017.

Pop-ups come in a variety of shapes and forms and range from temporary retail outlets, restaurants and food vans to market stalls. They can be located in traditional retail outlets or be tied to specific events or locations. Timing can also range from a day or two to a seasonal period.

They are a good way to test a business idea. Working to a limited timeframe can enable you to test out your idea or product. Innocent Smoothies started life as a stall at a music festival in London. The founders placed a sign above the stall asking ‘should we give up our jobs to sell these smoothies?’  People were asked to throw their empties into a bin marked YES or NO.

You can place your product where your customers are. Being part of a festival or a large scale event, you can place your product in front of the type of customer you want to attract and create brand awareness for your product. Pukka Herbs tour their 1976 airstream ‘Herbie’ around festivals to increase brand awareness.

Things to consider

Location Location Location. Aim for somewhere with high footfall to avoid having to drive traffic to your pop up yourself. If you are on a high street, find out if there have been pop ups in the past and if they were successful. Think about the retailers that will be on either side of you. If you are part of a festival, be in an environment that fits your brand or experience and the customer you want to attract.

Marketing. Here you can be creative. Good pop-ups get people talking and leave a lasting impression. Will you give the shop a theme or link it with something going on nationally? Make the most of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, post plenty of photos, engage with your users, invite key influencers and bloggers and get your friends to come down and talk about you online. Hand out fliers, get the press on board.

Tap into trends. Mintel predicts that seasonal pop up stores will continue to rise around key spending periods like Christmas, Valentines Day and Easter. Instead of pop ups using empty retail space, there will be more use of shared spaces: candle makers within florists, accessory designers within clothes shops. Pop ups will also become the retail destinations for trendsetters who want to find exclusive items that they find first.

A pop up is still a business, so you should take the same approach as you would any other type of business. If you are selling products, goods are still covered under the sale of goods act, so think about what you will do regarding returns.

If you want to try out your business idea through a pop up route, there are many resources to help:

Pop up Britain offers startups access to high street spaces across the UK

Appear Here could be described as the Airbnb for commercial property. It aims to make the process of renting vacant shops or even shelf space as easy as booking a hotel room.

3space is a charity which unlocks the value of empty commercial property for community use.

We Are Pop Up links businesses with spaces in London

Collective Pop Ups, The Artworks Elephant and Boxpark are all London based opportunities to tap into collective enterprise.

Useful links

Business Rates gov.uk/introduction-to-business-rates/overview

Employment Regulation gov.uk/browse/employing-people

VAT registration: hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/register/when-to-register.htm

Licence finder: gov.uk/licence-finder

Music licence: prsformusic.com

by Joanie Magill from The Careers Group Entrepreneurship Group

Sticking up for STEM women

Displaying Studies show that women leave academic research in larger numbers than men, and are poorly represented at higher academic levels. Initiatives like Athena SWAN have been set up to address the problem, but if you’re a female researcher there are other sources of support out there for you too. One example is STEM women.

The site was put together by Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe, Professor Rajini Rao, and Dr Zuleyka Zevallos, three women with PhDs who wanted to generate open debate around how to improve the situation for women in STEM. Here, Buddhini tells us a little more about the site.

How did you first start the website?

Back in 2012, I think it was on International Women’s Day, someone on Facebook shared a list of female scientists whom you may or may not have heard of. Obviously Marie Curie was in it, and there were lots of other black and white photos of women who were mostly already dead. Great that such a list is being shared, but I figured I should put together a list of more current female scientists to whom people could better relate. I used Google +, which was pretty new at that time and had lots of female engineers and scientists who were posting publicly about their work. So I started compiling a list of their names and ‘shared’ them around, making a group of strong female role models who could inspire people. Off the back of that, I teamed up with two other female researchers and launched a website to celebrate females in STEM, and to comment on the current issues they face.

What kind of things does your website cover?

We profile successful female scientists, and host Q&As with them, to help inspire the next generation of female scientists. For example, we featured an amazing woman called Annika O’Brien who runs robotics workshops in disadvantaged areas in LA, and has her own company now. And we also talk to high-profile male scientists to try to get their input in how to improve the STEM environment for women.

And we call out and comment on current issues that are relevant to women in STEM, such as sexism. As an example, last year the journal of Proteomics published a paper on the sequencing of the coconut genome, and the picture that accompanied a link to the article featured a scantily-clad woman holding coconuts in front of her breasts, which was extremely inappropriate. One of my fellow website authors wrote to the journal’s editor to complain, and she received a less-than-satisfactory response from him, telling her it was all normal, and as a physiology Professor she should be familiar with female physiology!

The photo has since been taken down in response to a twitter storm involving outraged people like us. But I think this perfectly highlights why a site like ours is needed. Firstly, the picture went up when it absolutely shouldn’t have. But secondly, when it was taken down, the apology was far too wishy-washy; they were sorry we’re offended, but they didn’t really acknowledge what they’d done wrong. Which is why things like this keep happening e.g. The Rosetta-landing shirt controversy. Some people think it’s silly to focus on these things, that at least the situation today is better than it used to be. But these are the microaggressions that make women feel less welcome in the male-dominated scientific space. We want to shine a light on sexism within STEM, to help the women facing it know they’re not alone, and to try to move the field forward.

Picture courtesy of STEM women, taken from their Nature blog article.

Finding disability-friendly employers

Researching employers is a great way to help find out which company would be a good fit for you. Targeted research can reveal employers’ attitudes and their corporate social responsibility aims, helping you to find a supportive environment.

Employer directories and reviews

There are a few employer rating sites around that can help inform you about the company culture.

TARGETjobs’ Inside Buzz covers a limited number of employers but each has a rating based on answers to “How would you describe your firm’s commitment to diversity?”

Glassdoor and The JobCrowd are other such sites. These don’t have a specific rating for diversity information but sometimes equal opportunities issues are discussed in the reviews themselves.

Disability-specific resources

One of the Reach blog’s sponsors, EmployAbility, has worked with many leading blue-chip and public sector organisations, and matches talented students and graduates to these prestigious disability-inclusive employers.

Great with disability has detailed information on how its listed employers approach disability along with case studies from disabled employees.

Business Disability Forum’s list of disability-smart organisations can be downloaded from their website.

Even Break advertises vacancies from employers who value diversity and are serious about looking beyond candidates’ impairments to identify what skills they have to offer.

The Employers’ own content

A clear way to see if an employer is disability friendly is if they use the “two ticks” symbol on their website and other materials to show they’re “positive about disabled people”. To get permission to use the symbol the employer needs to fulfill five commitments including guaranteeing an interview for any disabled applicant who meets the minimum criteria for the job.

Employers who are positive about mental health may also participate in the Mindful Employer charter. This isn’t accredited like the “two ticks” symbol so employers may claim more than they can prove, but it is a pledge showing commitment to being positive about mental health so is useful in showing commitment to working towards best practice for their disabled employees.

Websites, recruitment publications, and annual reports can also tell you a lot about employer attitudes. When doing your research, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do they have specific information on diversity / disabilities in their recruitment information online?
  • Do they include any disabled staff in their employee profiles?
  • What do they say about diversity and inclusion?
  • Do they have a named contact in their HR Department for queries around disabilities / disclosure?
  • Are there networking groups for disabled staff?
  • What kind of language do they use when writing about disability?

Sometimes the messages can be subtle but it all adds up to creating an image of the employer. Being able to speak to individuals you find through employee profiles or named HR contacts will give you an even clearer picture.

Further Reading

The “Disability and Mental Health: Diversity Matters” section of the TARGETjobs website provides further useful tips on this topic…

This article originally appeared on the Reach blog.

Making money as an online tutor

Tutoring online could be the next big thing in private tutoring. But what is it, how does it work, and can you make money out of it?

Confusion still abounds over what online tutoring actually is. It doesn’t include the use of pre-recorded videos (such as Khan Academy), games or testing software (such as Carol Vordemann’s The Maths Factor). A sensible definition of online tuition is therefore as follows:

“synchronous (live) tuition provided by a human tutor over the internet to one or more students”

Online tuition – its benefits as a part-time income

The thing to remember with tutoring is that that your academic achievements become your selling point. Can you pass on to others what you’ve been successful in? Undergraduates and recent graduates are often favoured by parents because they can become inspiring role models, and because they still remember the challenges of taking school exams.

Private tuition pays well per hour, is flexible and looks good on your CV. But online tuition itself has a number of additional benefits for university students compared face-to-face tutoring.

Firstly, the money and time costs involved in travelling to pupils’ homes are reduced to zero. Secondly, you won’t have to contemplate teaching pupils at your accommodation (imagine tutoring at halls of residence or amongst messy or noisy housemates…). Thirdly, your working hours for online tuition can be even more flexible than tutoring face-to-face: consider the fact that many online tutors will work with pupils living in different time-zones. Finally, since location doesn’t matter with online tuition, you’ll be able to provide continuity in your tuition sessions even if you return home during your university vacations.

Some facts about how online tuition works

Our recent report on online tuition in the UK found that around 80% of tutors were using Skype to tutor online. Although quite a number of tutors opted for using a headset microphone and speakers, many tutors would simply use their computer’s built-in webcam and microphone. The overwhelming majority of online tutors also received payment from pupils via bank transfer or Paypal.  So far so easy.

Maths or science tutors often also used online whiteboard technology such as Scribblar, consisting of an online workspace where text, graphs and images can be shared in real time. So-called virtual classrooms such as Wiziq are also an option.

Where to find students?

Experienced online tutors often tend to have their own websites where they market their services,  and the setup costs and promotion can be costly. This is not the only route to finding students, however. Online directories such as The Tutor Pages are a useful place to advertise, and there are various agencies there to help as well. One agency which specializes in online tuition in the UK is Tutorhub, and there are countless others which may sign you up as a face-to-face tutor but also pass on online tuition work. It may be worth Googling tuition agencies in your area.

What can I make per hour with online tuition?

The Tutor Pages survey report found that around half of tutors charged the same for their online tuition work and face-to-face tuition, while around a quarter charged 70%- 100% of their face-to-face fee. Private tutors can easily make £25-£35 an hour face-to-face, and so online tuition is really not a bad option financially at all.

Further details on online tuition

If you think online tuition might be a good option for you, The Tutor Pages free online tuition report will be useful. This will bring you up to speed on the ins and outs of the UK online private tuition industry. For more general advice on becoming a tutor, the acclaimed e-book Tutoring: The Complete Guide is also a great place to start. It contains useful information on subjects ranging from child protection, self-promotion and self-employed tax to advice on effective one-to-one teaching.


Henry Fagg is director of The Tutor Pages website, an award-winning hub for the UK tuition industry.

LinkedIn guide to getting ready for graduation

linkedinIf you’re graduating this summer but haven’t got a job lined up yet, don’t worry. LinkedIn’s Darain Faraz shares his top tips for building your network and sussing out your first career move.

Get visible

It’s completely normal to find yourself surfing the net when you’re supposed to be revising, but you could be using your time online to kick-start your career.

As a first step, if you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, get one. Next, show recruiters and potential employers that you’re open for business by stating clearly in your headline and summary that you’re looking for graduate opportunities.

The more complete your profile, the more interesting it will be to others, so take a few minutes to fill in each section to boost your chances of being ‘found’ by one of the 17 million UK professionals on the network. Make sure you include a photo, as makes your profile up to 14 times more likely to be viewed.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any paid experience in your chosen field – few graduates do – include volunteering, academic skills and extracurricular activity to paint a picture of what you have to offer.

Nurture your network

There’s no need to leave it until after graduation to start growing your professional network – students are the biggest growing member group on LinkedIn. Connect with family, friends and contacts from internships and other experience now.

You could even take an hour out of revision to meet up with a contact for coffee – online connections are great, but meeting face-to-face can seal the deal.

Meet a mentor

This may feel like an intimidating time, but you’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help if you know where to find them. Ask your friends and family to introduce you to a professional with relevant advice to share, or contact your careers department to see if they can put you in touch with alumni who work in a sector you’re interested in.

It’s also easy to find out where people from your university ended up through LinkedIn’s University Pages. Reach out to people in your dream job and ask for some guidance – they’ll have some great advice and tips to share.

For more information visit: www.linkedin.com