Social Entrepreneurship: Indian Women Shine In Social Ventures

Social entrepreneurship is a vast field of work that deals with identifying a social problem and then giving it an entrepreneurial solution. On doing this, the main goal of a social entrepreneur is to bring positive changes in the society.

Women have always been associated with social entrepreneurship in some form. The work of Florence Nightingale practically gave birth to the concept of nursing as we know in the modern world, and can be cited as one of the best examples of women’s contribution to social entrepreneurship.

The Rise of Women Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is now a booming sector. Everywhere, women are leaving fat paychecks to jump on the entrepreneur bandwagon for their personal satisfaction. Some do it just to hone their passion while others do it to bring about a social change. The latter are known as social entrepreneurs. They use their intelligence to merge business with social welfare.

The statistics and surveys speak volumes about the relationship of women and social entrepreneurship in today’s world. In the United States alone, 38 percent of all the companies are owned by women, thus contributing annual sales of about $ 3.6 trillion to the economy.

Similar figures show up in the Europe and Asian corporate sectors, blurring the concept of gender discrimination to a large extent. Many women have even made it to impressive power lists compiled by the likes of Forbes and Fortune magazine.

But if you think that they’re doing well only in clichéd “feminine” sectors like cosmetics and fashion designing, then you’re in for surprise. Some of the crème de la crème positions of multinational banks, soft drink companies and stock-broking organizations are occupied by women. And they do not just talk profits.

Many of the top contributors of NGOs and other non-profit organizations are female entrepreneurs. Even these NGOs are run by socially-driven women who invest their contributions in various causes.

Indian Women In Social Ventures

India is fast growing in this aspect and being one of the most populated countries in the world, the demand and scope of social entrepreneurship is greater here than anywhere else.

Our country has no dearth of inspiring initiatives and shining examples set by women social entrepreneurs. Here are some examples of Indian women who have initiated social ventures.

Ela Bhatt founded the grassroot development initiative, SEWA, which worked for the simultaneous social and economic empowerment of women at the grassroots level. She is also the leader of the International Labour Cooperative Women’s Microfinance movement.

Shilpi Kapoor’s initiative, Breakbarrier Technologies, aims to make technology solutions accessible to the differently abled

Neelam Chhibber’s Industree Crafts, works for the emancipation of local artisans by connecting them to viable markets.

Revathi Roy started ForShe, a taxi service run entirely by women.

Vijaya Patsala founded Under The Mango Tree, an organization that promotes beekeeping among women farmers, and with the goal of making women more financially independent and self-sustained.

Women have always been passionate about the society around them. This is evident by their active participation in NGOs and other non-profit organizations. But with their growing confidence and exposure to the world around them, they are now taking their passion to a higher and broader level by running large-scale, successful social ventures.

The Golden Age For Software Testing In China

The China’s Computer Market 2008 Forecast Report has been released recently. It showed that in the first three quarters of 2007, the software industry in China has registered sales revenue of $50 billion, up 23.6% on pcp, accounting for 10.95% of the entire electronics and information industry’ sales revenue. As the software market matures, people have higher and higher expectations over software features, quality and reliability. In October 2005, Ministry of Labour and Social Security formally listed computer software product tester (software test engineer) as one of the new professions. In only two years’ time, software testing has become a powerful dark horse in the software industry.

Steadily rising status

“In the early 1990s, software industry was still at an infant stage in China. Most software projects were very simple, the whole code writing and development process could be handled by one person. As industry competition intensified, software companies were gradually evolving from one-man-band small shops to software engineering co-operations. Although division of labour could improve software development efficiency and functional varieties, it also lead to increasing number of bugs between modules and deteriorating qualities,” said Mr Wang Yazhi from CONCEPT Information Technology Ltd, a major software development company in Beijing. Quality impairment would not only damage a software firm’s competitiveness, it could also lead to massive economic loss for software users or even personal injuries, such as medical accidents.

As China’s software enterprises continue to prosper, the importance of software testing has also been increasingly appreciated by software companies. Many large and medium software companies have begun recruiting professional staff to take care of software testing. Ms Ran Chunjuan, a former testing manager in Wuhan Superidea Technology Ltd, said that “in Superidea, the ratio between software testers and developers is 1:4. Although this is still well behind the international best practice of 1:1, it is still a great improvement from 1:8 a few years ago.”

Industry experience appreciated

In addition to lifting the number of software testing staff, many companies are demanding higher staff quality as well, especially in areas of professional testing experience and thinking ability. “A tester without professional training can still work out 3-5 testing methods, but not necessarily detect bugs. Even if bugs are discovered, he might not be able to express the problems in proper languages, which could increase developers’ workload. Those well-trained testers can work out 10-20 testing methods, such as boundary value analysis, equivalence classes and cause-effect diagrams, to maximally discover any bugs. Professional testers can also articulate testing documents in standardised languages, thus improving the recovery rates of software problems,” said Mr Liu Fei, a former testing manager in Qualcomm. Many companies in China have now established independent testing departments, working along with R&D departments.

As companies’ software testing knowledge deepens, work scope for testing staff is expanding from system testing phase to unit testing and integration testing phases. “This requires software testers to have in-depth knowledge about the businesses a product is involved in,” said a testing manager from Founder Group, one of China’s largest software companies, “for example, when we test software for banking applications, we have to first understand the specific users in the bank. Some operators only use keyboards in the office, but if we don’t know about this and design it as a mouse-friendly control, banks will not buy, it no matter how well the software works.” Therefore it could be forecast that the status for software testers who possess technical experience and customer demand knowledge will further enhance.

A sellers’ market

“The software testing industry is at a growth stage,” said Prof Zheng Renjie, a software testing expert. The current hot market for software testers is mainly due to the rapid development in software industry itself, “companies are demanding better quality software, which has in turn stimulated demand for software testers. But talent supply and talent training are lagging behind the dramatic changes in market demand, hence a telent shortage.”

At present, software testing talent shortfall in China has exceeded 200,000, and it is rising to the 300,000 threshold. According to statistics, total software tester supply from nationwide IT training institutions is less than 10,000 per year, thus it can be foreseen that the testing talent shortage could last another 5-10 years. At the same time, talent shortage has given leverage to tester remunerations. According to a remuneration report from 51Job.com in China, starting salary for software testing engineers ranges from $400 – 650 per month, and it could increase to $1200 – 1650 for engineers with 2 to 3 years’ experience, higher than the remuneration for many developers with similar service years. As the talent supply shortage continues into 2008, software testers’ remuneration is looking for more gains.

Education and training

The shortage in software testers in China has not only lifted the remuneration levels, not also created a boom for educational and training institutions. Even two years ago, several prominent IT professional training institutions had realised the importance of software testing positions, and organized a few domestic and international software testing experts to co-develop training courses, which have successfully cultivated lots of software testing talents in the past two years. Currently in China, apart from overseas recruitment and company internal training, external professional training is also an important channel for producing software testers, amounted to 12% of total talent supply. As companies are paying more attention to labour costs control, more professional talents are expected to come from external training institutions.

While professional IT training is booming, tertiary education institutions also began to test the water. In August 2007, the first software testing education forum was held in Shanghai by various government bureaus and universities, explicitly marking “software testing” a core area in software engineering courses in China. But Dr Chen Honggang, who had been involved in development and testing of projects such as Windows95, Internet Explorer 4.0/5.0 and SQL Server 2000, commented that although universities can ease some pressures on software testing talent educations, based on overseas experience, professional training will still be the main channel for supplying software testing talents.

Proven, Practical Tactics For Agile IT Release Management – A Case Study

Overview:

This article is the first in a series of five that will explain how an IT organization delivered a release management process that exceeded its management’s expectations and provided a foundation for continued success. The series includes:

1. How did we get here – THE CONTEXT

2. First solution steps – DEFINITIONS AND TRIAGE

3. Intake and Release Planning – THE CORE SOLUTION

4. Production Change Control – FINAL QUALITY CONTROL

5. Metrics and Insights – LESSONS LEARNED

Summary:

Many Information Technology organizations flounder when they are tasked to understand, organize and implement numerous changes to the system and application software serving their clients and end customers over a period of several years. This article explains at a high level the very practical and common sense framework and processes that successfully conquered the problem for one corporation and its IT team. How successful was this framework? Frankly, IT metrics is a dangerous and obscure element to discuss scientifically. But this organization accomplished the following:

– In one year, it increased its client satisfaction ranking from 2.5 to 4.0 on a 5 point scale.

– In one year, it delivered 85% more change requests and projects into production than in the prior 12 months.

– The organization exceeded its own stretch targets for throughput and change request cycle time by 40%.

– It accomplished these results with no headcount increases and no expenditures for IT “toolware”.

– It did increase the IT expense budget by 3.2% to cover the cost of a single consultant to instantiate the framework and processes for agile release management.

What was the secret sauce to make these accomplishments possible? The answer requires that we carefully consider the context for this organization.

Context:

The company and its IT department can be characterized as follows:

Company

– Industry – telecommunications – one segment of a very large Regional Bell Operating Company

– Primary Products – voicemail service and ancillary features

– Consumer base – 4 million consumer accounts with 25% growth forecast

– Total company headcount – about 500 people

– Primary operation – a 24X7 call center of 300+ people selling and servicing consumers on voicemail products and features

– Financial Results – High Line-of-Business Profit Margins within very large corporate structure

– Everyone worked in the same building

IT Organization

– IT staff – about 60 – most with 2-10 years of organizational history

– Functionally aligned into – Operations, Project Management and Analysis, System Development, QA and Help Desk, Configuration Management

– Applications – 7 major home-grown subsystems serving the company’s direct operations

– HR/Financial/Corporate functions were served by corporate parent and processes, with interfaces

– Technology – fairly current languages, operating systems and technical infrastructure (hardware, network, DBMS)

– Recently installed improvements:

– Software Configuration management tools, staff and processes

– Perceived primary problem – no effective control of changes submitted to production

– Everyone worked on the same floor

Strengths

– Strong and growing revenues

– Company Management – generally very experienced in call center management and product improvement processes

– IT Management – 80% had 4+ years within this organization and very little churn, only 2 levels of IT management

– Mature and successful IT processes included:

– Project Management

– Quality Assurance Testing

– Several strong IT manager advocates for improved Release Management

– Co-location of IT and its direct clients – the managers of the business functions

Weaknesses

– Company managers negotiated private deals to get their change requests and projects installed “earlier”

– No central clearinghouse for adjudicating departmental requests for IT changes

– No tracking system to account for all change requests and projects demanded and delivered

– About 325 requests/projects believed to be in play

– A haphazard intake and control/tracking process for “small” change requests

– Programmers could independently implement an application change to production

– No single point of contact/communications between the IT organization for each small change request

– Current status and target implementation date of any single change request difficult to obtain/pin down

– IT operations changes were totally independent of organizational change control and viewed as disruptive

Opportunities

– A new chance to consolidate and share information on everything on IT’s plate in a single place

– A chance to leverage the existing knowledge and maturity of the IT staff

– A chance to reduce the start/stop nature of IT work due to competing and vociferous input from company managers

– A chance to incorporate IT infrastructure changes from Operations in a planned manner

Threats

– Software developers desired new toolware – not more management processes

– Company business managers enjoyed calling the shots directly with programming resources

– Tension between IT managers on what were the best paths for organizational improvement

– IT had failed on its first attempt the prior year at Change Control and Release Management processes

– Consultants rarely added value

Conclusion/Transition

The CIO, facing this situation, agreed to allow the Manager for Project Management and Analysis to contract for a resource to implement Release Management (Version 2). The CIO believed that she could deliver better results to her constituency by implementing change in a series of well-understood application package upgrades at regular intervals. She also wanted to take back to her peers a plan that they could understand and use to directly influence the order of implementation for their changes. The Manager of PM retained me as the Release Manager with the mandate to institute the processes and controls needed, and engaging all IT staff and VPs in business departments as needed for success.

The rest, they say, is “agile” history. To learn what it really takes, our story continues next with DEFINITIONS AND TRIAGE.

Entrepreneur’s Risk Management Strategies

Risk is as old as man and has been an old time acquaintance of businesses. There is no approach that will make risk to go extinct in business environment however; it can be controlled to an appreciable level. As an entrepreneur, you are duty bound to reduce your risk level to the barest minimum if you can continue to make profit. To this end, better risk management strategies are good inhibitors of business failures.

No matter what the sizes are, companies must have an approach to risk management since they can be easily managed when identified. To protect a business against risk, an entrepreneur needs to do the following:

1. Stop activities associated with risk: Activities that brings about risks to an organization need to be stopped. For instance, if a business fund is not separated from a personal fund, the temptation of using the company’s fund for personal expenses will always be there. Quick and unilateral decisions of top members of the management most times pose great risks to the company.

2. Spread the risk: there is no need for the risk to be concentrated on your desk. Spread the risks in form of contracting out some projects/services with a performance bond signed by the contracted firm can help. Sometimes, selling out products on credit to trusted customers can help to minimize the risk of obsolesce and high inventory cost.

3. Reducing risk through better management control: if the pros and cons of running an organization is properly spelt out for management staff, employee and customers etc, certain risks will be averted in the business. Proper management of the company’s data also helps to prevent risk. Hardcopy data can be digitalized and stored by reputable data managers for safety.

4. Insuring against risk if possible: a company need to insure against damage brought about by fire and natural disasters.

5. Apply improved technology: if risks will be averted, modern techniques will be applied in the operation and service provision of any company. This will enhance the business supply chain management hence making service provision to be excellent.

Managing some aspects of our businesses against risks takes automation. This will eliminated a lot of human errors associated with the risks. To be able to reduce risks in planning, monitoring and evaluation, software tools will be a veritable instrument.

After Decades of Conditioning, India Is Re-Aligning Itself With the Culture of Entrepreneurship

Globally, entrepreneurship has become a key engine for employment generation. As policy makers grapple with economic uncertainty and cultural changes, large corporations that traditionally created jobs are biting the dust. From 2003 to 2013, 712 corporations disappeared from the Fortune 1000. One can safely extrapolate that very few Fortune 1000 companies will be around in another 30 to 40 years. However a new breed of risk-takers and innovators in the form of entrepreneurs are beginning to line up on the horizon of business world. According to a report by the Kauffman Foundation, industrial era companies in the US dismissed more jobs than they created in contrast to high-growth startups that created the maximum number of new jobs between 2000 and 2010. Facebook has been credited with having created 4.5 million new jobs, directly and indirectly. This global trend makes a strong case for supporting Indian start-ups and entrepreneurs as a means to create future employment.

However, it is even more important to create a support system that ensures the survival of the start-ups beyond the first five years. In other words, once invested in a start-up, return on investment (ROI) can be assured only when the investment finds further sustenance. This is critical as 70 to 95 percent of start-ups fail or exit, resulting in disproportionately high job destruction. Studies have shown that 47 percent of the jobs created by start-ups are eliminated by exits in the first five years. It is the surviving 53 percent of businesses that witness rapid growth and bring about broad-based job creation.

This means that government policy must be attuned to the practical needs, while addressing the pain areas, of Indian entrepreneurs. The policy must address: funding to be more easily available to entrepreneurs; creating a large pool of experienced mentors and advisers who provide inputs around manpower and resource management, legal and marketing, partnerships and technology; and providing mechanisms to improve access to local and global markets.

It is evident that supporting entrepreneurship is a medium to long-term approach. The question that needs an answer is: what type of entrepreneurship should be prioritized for support so that success and subsequent job creation is assured? Today’s marketplace has become hyper competitive. Just take a look around. There are more choices available to consumers and enterprise buyers than ever before. There are new business models that don’t require buyers to own products or commit up front to long-term subscription of services. Delivery systems have changed, allowing businesses to reach customers in remote locations and new markets, bringing down geographical and political barriers. Entrepreneurs are innovating to give birth to entirely new asset-light business like Uber, Ola, Airbnb, Oyo Rooms, Zomato, Foodpanda, PayPal and Paytm. These businesses are re-shaping entire industries, forcing traditional players to re-think their strategies.

Igniting the spirit of entrepreneurship and sustaining it is also a long-term undertaking. Not everyone is blessed with the DNA of entrepreneurship. A culture of free enterprise needs to be nurtured. Today, one of the nations to have taken positive steps towards creating such a culture is the US where 1,600 colleges offer over 2,200 courses that ‘skill’ students in entrepreneurship. These courses build knowledge through academic studies, practical industry experience via apprenticeship programs, entrepreneurship clubs, boot camps and access to investor networks and support systems. Education, without doubt, is a way to ensure higher success rates for entrepreneurs. In India, we need to create cost-effective and scalable education models that help reach students using video and mobile technology on MOOC platforms that transform teaching into learning, thereby eliminating the need for massive armies of instructors and trainers.

Lastly, a substantial demographic in the form of Indian women remains untapped. Of the total number of entrepreneurs in the country, only 10 percent are women. However, even within these small numbers, women entrepreneurs from India-Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Sulajja Motwani and Ekta Kapoor to name a few-have been in the limelight. Significantly, a Dow Jones study has confirmed that start-ups with female executives have a higher chance of success. What they need to succeed is education, vocational training, access to funding and interaction with entrepreneurs and buyers across the world. According to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), annual growth of the Indian economy could improve 2.4% if the country implements pro-gender policies.

Historically, Indian society and the education system have focused on creating doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. These professionals are a necessity. But after decades of conditioning, the nation is re-aligning itself with the culture of entrepreneurship. We are at the cusp of entrepreneurial success. This opportunity must not be lost for the lack of policy and world-class support systems

Intercepting the Digital Divide

“Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” – President Obama, January 14, 2015.

Let’s pause and reflect on what we have.

In some parts of the world we have GPS controlled drones and in the rest, we have around 3.6 billion people, who do not have regular access to the internet. These are the people who are terminally failing to get the benefit of the internet as an economic engine.

Digital divide is the gap in availability and access to information and communication technology (ICT) among individuals and communities. Numerically, this gap, i.e. people with no/limited access to computer or the internet, is three times the Indian population. The idea of digital revolution cannot be achieved when 50% of the world population is excluded. In other words, this population can’t compete on an equal footing in the labour market. The ‘optimistic path’ surmised by UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 9 and Agenda 2030 also envision avant-garde industrial revolution dubbed Industry 4.0. As this industrial breakthrough is heavily dependent on the adoption of technological innovation, the population disconnected from this technological grid will be less informed and under-represented in the capital and labour market.

The ability to access computers and the internet depends on many interwoven factors i.e., social, and economic dimensions. Nonetheless, the digital split can easily be bridged if these factors are broken down into specific action plans. Aside from these obvious barriers, the following would help narrow the gap:

Develop physical infrastructure: The Mason Analysis shows that the lack of proper infrastructure conducive to internet connection is more prevalent in the developing countries, especially in Africa. In this regard, key inputs such as development of terrestrial connectivity between the submarine cables, development of training centres and data module are perquisite to overcome the induction barriers of digital divide.

Promote investment and cooperation: The cardinal element to independent development of physical infrastructure is the liberalization of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment. Such a measure would boost investor confidence and could maximize the effectiveness of new investments conducive to financial and infrastructural resources. At this stage, policy remedy is required to lower licensing cost and high taxes on equipment and services. At the same time, integration of internet into the service delivery of government agencies and usage of communications infrastructure should also be highly prioritized.

Develop customized content: Developing physical infrastructure and providing training modules are not enough if local demand is not met. To welcome the next billion users, technologists need to deeply engage with local communities to understand their demands and ways to use this access. That way, internet and communications networks can be built to serve the demand. Responding to internet’s actual demand is equally important as devising new schemes.

Less dependency on social media: Excessive indulgence into social media cannot help uplift the internet penetration because of its limited use. People can disregard the real power of internet penetration and benefit of usage if they are confined into the 140 characters on Twitter or the square boxes of Facebook profile. The challenge to adopt and apply the divergent tools of internet can be overcome if internet platforms and its hosting devices are used in smarter ways.

With its ubiquitous and inclusive presence, internet is the key to next-gen technological access. Realizing it, companies such as Google and Facebook are assessing the form factors of attracting more people online. Individuals, government, and corporations are equally responsible in bringing the mass people into the internet bracket. At the same time, the government should also have smart policy interventions to combat the handicaps brought by the usability divides and any other forthcoming obstacles for digital divide.

Not Your Grandfather’s Factory: Modernizing Manufacturing to Attract Millennials

Why is engagement such a big deal in manufacturing and the skilled trades? Because according to a 2013 industry report, for every four trade positions that workers retire from, the industry is producing only one replacement. Worse yet, it’s predicted that in the next decade, that 2 million out of the 3.5 million manufacturing jobs available will go unfilled because of the lack of available talent.

Now you may be asking, how can that be? With millions of jobless Millennials, who happen to be facing an unemployment rate that is double the national rate, don’t we have enough people to fill those positions? Not until we change the image and perception of manufacturing – for both kids and their parents.

For the past two generations, young professionals haven’t exactly been leaping at the chance to work in manufacturing. Part of the problem is the stigma that manufacturing has – working in an unclean environment, with outdated thinking, and little room for growth. The other, bigger issues are the parents who have discouraged their kids from attending trade or technical school and instead promote the value of a four-year degree from a college or university. According to the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute (NAM), only 3 in 10 parents would consider encouraging their child toward a manufacturing career. The perception has been that you go into the trades if you are not “college material.” And parents want their kids to be “college material.”

As the United States is now undergoing a “manufacturing renaissance” and looking to produce their goods on American soil again, there is an urgent and growing need for new talent.

So, how do you make manufacturing jobs more attractive and appealing to prospective employees? You can start by modernizing your brand. If your company is stuck in an old, calcified way of doing business, you’re going to have a hard time finding and keeping younger workers.

Today’s workers are digital natives. They are “wired” for technology in a way unlike any previous generations, and they expect to access it in the workplace. That’s why it’s critical for manufacturers to not only have cutting edge Industry 4.0 technology available, companies need to promote the technology used in their production process. Millennials will be pleased, if not surprised, so know that more than two-thirds of U.S. manufacturing companies are adopting 3D printing and more than half use robots.

Look for ways to better utilize mobile devices, videos and virtual reality in your hiring process as well as throughout the plant. Millennials are used to watching videos to learn about new things, so why not use YouTube or another video website to give potential hires a realistic view of “a day in the life” of a worker at your facility. Keep the videos to 2-3 minutes of less and capitalize on the “wow” factors of the job. Not sure what they are? Ask your current team members what they enjoy most about their job. You may even want to interview them and let them share their story in the video. In doing so, you’re letting job applicants know that this isn’t their grandfather’s factory!

One of the first places to start is your company website. Yes, it’s a great place to share what your company is all about, but it needs to be real – not a bunch of mumbo-jumbo “marketing speak.” Look for ways to share your company culture and mission. What is it like to work there? Demonstrate how your products and services serve a greater mission that simply making a profit. Take advantage of your online presence to show how your company makes a positive impact on society.

Next, check out your social media. (Now, if you’re saying “What’s that?” or “That’s just a fad,” you have your work cut out for you.

Figure out where your potential hires are hanging out. They may not be on Facebook, they may choose Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn instead. It’s important to make sure your channels are active and up-to-date. Give your employees opportunities to share what’s going on from their perspective. Post pictures from social events, charitable projects, and other fun occasions. Does your company look like a fun place to work from a social media standpoint? If not, look for ways to improve public perception. When done well, this can be a relatively quick fix – just start posting! When you have an active, engaging online social media presence, it builds credibility with potential hires from the younger generations.

Finally, keep in mind that Millennials are always connected. They look for one-on-one communication and immediate feedback. They consider their managers and leaders their peers and want to have access to them. If the only time you’re giving feedback is during the annual review process, you’re going to lose. There are lots of online tools, pulse-type surveys, and artificial intelligence programs that can help give feedback on demand. Communicating frequently and keeping employees in the loop will do wonders for engagement and performance development.

The digital nature of today’s manufacturing is opening up many opportunities for skilled positions, transforming the manual nature of a factory job to the high-tech environment it is today. According to Vicki Holt, President and CEO for Protolabs, “Digital manufacturing is revitalizing our industry and is igniting new opportunities. The skills gap presents a critical roadblock for all of us. But it’s encouraging to see a renewed optimism from a new generation of workers, and to hear that they understand this isn’t their grandparents’ manufacturing industry. Much work remains ahead of us, but this is a good start.”

Achieving "Plan B" Through Individualpreneurship – The Notion Of An Individual As An Enterprise

What is entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is a competency (set of knowledge, skills, and activities) required to start, develop, and assume risk for an enterprise. An entrepreneur is an individual who organizes, operates, and assumes risk for an enterprise with the intention of transforming innovative ideas in products and/or services for a profit.

An enterprise is an undertaking for a prize or cause. It is a group of activities intended to produce income organized for:

  • Profit as a business of any size and type: unincorporated or incorporated; one or many entities, of which one is designated as the “holding entity” in a multi-entity structure; and such that one enterprise can incubate another
  • A not-for-profit association, such as a public charity or a private foundation
  • A government agency

When an enterprise is referred to as an entity, the reference is specifically to the holding entity, unless otherwise specified. The term “not-for-profit” is generic; the term “non-profit” means an entity that has been approved by a taxing authority as being exempt from income tax. “Not-for-profit” does not mean “not-for-revenue.”

As a discipline, a business delivers products and/or services to a customer for a profit. As an entity, a business can be:

  • Sole proprietorship (individual)
  • Partnership (pass-through to individuals): general, limited, or limited liability
  • Limited liability company (pass-through to one or more individuals as a partnership or as an equivalent to a “subchapter S” corporation)
  • Corporation: general with directors appointed by shareholder investors, and officers appointed by directors (“subchapter C”), pass-through to one or more shareholder investor individuals who may also be directors and officers (“subchapter S”), professional (pass-through to one or more individuals), or foreign

An upwardly mobile enterprise is a small-to-large enterprise focused on large market dominance (share being either industry-wide or in niches) with local-to-global aspiration in both traditional and non-traditional industries. It has growth potential from highly innovative people, processes, and products and/or services, and/or duplication of a business system. It is financed by founders and/or third-party investors (closely or widely-held) seeking capital appreciation, and potentially cash flow from dividends and/or interest, with medium to high risk. An upwardly mobile enterprise may be founded by one or more entrepreneurs, who either become part of a larger management team as new investors come on board, leave to form another venture as serial entrepreneurs, or retire.

Upwardly mobile enterprises are the heart of Wall Street.

A lifestyle business enterprise owner operates an enterprise in a local community, and may also be the founding entrepreneur:

  • Either as an active owner-manager, making a living from its activities for their own lifestyle
  • Or as a passive owner-manager, with an active management team in place

Lifestyle business enterprises are the heart of Main Street.

A lifestyle business enterprise owner can be a sole proprietor, partner, member (and usually also a manager) of a limited liability company, or a shareholder investor in a corporation (and usually also a director and an officer).

An employee is an individual who provides services in exchange for compensation under an explicit or implicit contract for hire, whereby the employer (hirer) has the right to control what work is performed and how. An independent contractor is self-employed; the hirer has the right to control only the result of the work, and not how it is performed.

What is individualpreneurship?

Individualpreneurship is a mindset for thinking about oneself as an enterprise, actively developing and managing multiple sources of income, and without being highly dependent upon any if possible.

Sources of an individualpreneur’s income include:

  • Employment
  • Entrepreneurship/business ownership
  • Investing

The individualprise represents the aggregation of all sources of an individual’s income. Gross income results from wages from employment, and from both revenues (commissions, dividends, fees, interest, rents, royalties, and sales) and from capital gains from both entrepreneurship/business ownership and investing activities. Net income (profit) results from gross income less the cost of revenue and the expenses required to generate it. The cash flow generated from net income generates wealth, which can be used for investing activities and supporting a personal lifestyle.

The broadest definition of wages includes all remuneration or compensation paid for services rendered by an employee, whether in cash or in other media including bonuses, commissions, and gratuities, based on piece, task, or time.

The need to develop and manage multiple sources of income arises from increasing uncertainty about economic, regulatory, and social trends.

For many individuals, the primary source of income is remuneration from employment, and the largest asset is their home. Employment is an active form of income – in effect employees exchange time for money. However, the best forms of income are those that are residual and passive.

Residual income results from an initial transaction at some time in the past for which an ongoing cash flow is received; passive income results from transactions where the individualpreneur is not actively involved.

Examples of residual income include enrolling members in systems where downstream commissions can be earned; selling items, such as subscriptions that are automatically renewable, or consumables where the ordering is processed by third-parties; and affiliate programs based upon referrals.

The rise and fall of employment opportunities

Prior to the industrial revolution, families were in effect enterprises. Augmenting farm work with other trades and crafts, families flourished in cottage industries working from home, effectively as a group of individualpreneurs. Merchants brought raw materials to homes and would take finished products to markets. Entrepreneurs would “put out” work to families, who were in effect their subcontractors.

As the industrial revolution progressed, work was transferred form homes to factories when the required machinery became too large or expensive. Initially, the “put in” system was used whereby workers in a factory were treated as subcontractors, and eventually became employees. Labor movements were founded to fight for workers’ rights, from which today’s employment and labor laws have evolved.

As the economy shifted from family to commercial and industrial enterprises, employment opportunities grew. Workers could expect long-term employment opportunities as manufacturing demand increased. Through improvements in manufacturing techniques, such as production lines and automation, the scale of units produced increased dramatically. Through improvements in energy, transportation, and telecommunications technologies, reach extended into new geographic markets for acquisition of materials and supplies, and delivery of end-products.

However, recent globalization trends have changed the cost structure of certain activities through outsourcing to providers who offer economy of scale, or to lower cost production markets. As a consequence of information and process control technologies, work has shifted from manufacturing to knowledge-based services. Technology can play a major role by creating jobs in new areas and eliminating them in others.

Enterprises have been impacted dramatically by these trends. For example, “big box” and online stores have had an impact on retailers on “Main Street” – but the savvy ones offer specialty products coupled with exceptional service. Even the local coffee shop is impacted by the price of green beans in global markets. Many manufacturers have downsized through strategic sourcing of components to scale providers, and in the construction industry, general contractors take advantage of prefabricated assemblies. As industries shift from manufacturing to knowledge-based, a major differentiator is marketing capability. Marketing capability requires understanding customer needs and wants, and responding with products and/or services designed for niche or mass markets, regardless of where the components are made.

The consequence is that job markets are dramatically changing, and that old assumptions for employment have become invalid. The notion of working for one employer for forty plus years is no longer possible because technology is changing the structure of industries and the nature of employment. Downsizing has become common, and it is a challenge for the education system to keep up with changing trends in the knowledge, skills, and technical requirements for jobs in emerging enterprises and industries.

The increase in consumer debt coupled with unstable employment opportunities has created stress for many individuals and their families, especially for those who are unemployed, face foreclosure on their homes, or even bankruptcy.

What is “Plan B?”

The term “Plan B” is used to describe an alternative course of action in case the preferred or primary “Plan A” fails. For many individuals, Plan A is a combination of a good education leading to a well-paying job. This form of Plan A stresses individual achievement through successes in education and employment – failures are usually downplayed. However, changing trends in employment put pressure on most individuals’ Plan A, who may face downsizing or even their employer going out of business.

For others, Plan A is a combination of entrepreneurship and business ownership. This form of Plan A can result in failure. However, ultimate success in entrepreneurship and business ownership is often achieved by learning from mistakes and failures over time, and by building teams. Plan A for entrepreneurs and business owners may change from time to time as their ventures change. Eventually, many entrepreneurs and business owners finally get it right as lessons from past failures lead to successes. Many entrepreneurs and business owners become investors in other enterprises with a sense of “wanting to put back,” and often with a higher tolerance for risk than those who have, in effect, earned income in exchange for time.

The uncertainty of the economy, regulation, and social trends as evidenced by downsizing, high consumer debt, government debt and unbalanced budgets, and high unemployment has created the need for all individuals to have a strong “Plan B.”

An effective Plan B begins with the notion of an individual behaving as an enterprise in their own right – the individualprise. Whereas Plan A may provide a primary source of income, developing a Plan B means understanding opportunities for earning multiple sources of income and allocating time efficiently by prioritizing on the best. Executing a Plan B may allow an individual to keep their primary form of employment, but work on other income producing activities, such as part-time employment, home-based businesses, or investing in real estate and/or securities.

The income statement of the individualprise is the tax return – after all, if the an individual has multiple strong streams of income, taxes are likely to be an important consideration.

The basis structure of the Individual Tax Return (IRS Form 1040) applicable to both Plan A and B activities includes:

  • Wages
  • Interest (Schedule B)
  • Dividends (Schedule B)
  • Business income from sole proprietorships (Schedule C)
  • Capital gains (Schedule D)
  • Supplemental income from rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, and subchapter S corporations (Schedule E)

The tax return offers clues as to opportunities for alternative sources of income; however, it is useful to separate the type of income from the forms of business, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations.

Types of income include:

  • Wages – all forms of compensation for full or part-time employment
  • Interest on investments
  • Dividends on investments
  • Capital gains on investments
  • Net income from active revenue generation such as commissions, fees, rents, royalties, and sales less expenses
  • Net income from passive revenue generation activities – primarily real estate rents and royalties less expenses

Types of business forms include:

  • Sole proprietorship and single member limited liability company – an individual that sells products and/or renders services, including as an independent contractor to hirers
  • Partnership or limited liability company – where an individual is a partner or member in an enterprise that shares profits, losses, and capital with others – the individual may be a general partner or member-manager, or a limited partner or member; a single member limited liability company is considered to be a disregarded entity
  • Subchapter S corporation – where an individual is a shareholder investor in a corporation that passes its profits and losses through to its shareholders – the individual also may be a director and/or an officer, and as such earns wages as an employee in addition to receiving dividends
  • Subchapter C corporation – where an individual is a shareholder investor in a corporation that is taxed separately from its shareholders, but may pay tax on the dividends received (thus is subject to double taxation) – the individual may also be an employee, and as such earns wages in addition to receiving dividends

Only individuals and corporations are legal entities, and as such, corporations have separate rights and privileges from their shareholder investors. Individuals are natural persons. However, a juristic person is a group of natural persons behaving as if they are a single group, such as in a partnership, a limited liability company, or an association. A company is a group of individuals that make up an enterprise regardless of business or legal form.

Entrepreneurs may start enterprises in any business form, but lenders and investors may require a specific form, and may place personal guarantees in individuals for contingent liabilities. Venture capital and investment firms may place specific requirements on business forms and management structure, such as being a Delaware subchapter C corporation. Thus a founding entrepreneur could become a shareholder investor in an enterprise that they are no longer in control of if an investor group brings in its own management team. Delaware is the preferred choice for incorporation for many investors because of its well established corporate laws.

Although self-employed individuals are treated as business owners through sole proprietorships, single member limited liability companies, and single shareholder corporations, they are unable to leverage their time unless they can delegate to trustworthy employees, or earn residual and/or passive income.

Individuals who are sole proprietors, partners, and members in limited liability companies are subject to self-employment taxes, and shareholder investors who are officers in subchapter S corporations are subject to employment taxes.

Achieving “Plan B”

There are many ways to develop and achieve a Plan B that has multiple income streams, and it is possible that one component may become the new Plan A eventually. Some opportunities result from converting a hobby into an income producing activity, whereas others result from leveraging professional qualifications and experience.

Examples of income producing activities include:

  • Part-time employment
  • Establishing a home-based business on a part-time basis, that has the potential to become full-time
  • Earning fees and commissions from referrals through affiliate marketing relationships
  • Earning royalties and fees through writing and speaking engagements
  • Investing in real estate for rental income and capital gains
  • Investing in securities for interest and dividend income and capital gains

Businesses that require separate physical premises, inventories, and employees should be avoided as a Plan B because of the high overhead of carrying costs, insurance, payroll, risk of theft, and governance. Whereas the notion of owning a restaurant can be a dream to many, all too often such an enterprise becomes nothing but a nightmare.

Home-based businesses can take many forms such as buying and selling products on the internet or providing professional services on a part-time basis. It is important to note that home-based businesses are subject to licensing and zoning laws and regulations, and may be subject to property, sales, and use taxes, in addition to income tax.

Any form of revenue generating activity requires business development and marketing capability to create awareness and build relationships. The degree of selling experience necessary is a function of the type of business. These activities can be routinized through duplicable, predictable, and measurable processes that can be learned over time.

Some investing activities may require active trading to ensure that capital gains can be properly realized in up markets, and to prevent losses in down markets.

The best form of income is both residual and passive, whereby ongoing cash flow results from activity that occurred in the past, and for which little or no management activities are required in the present.

An effective way to achieve a blend of residual and passive income is through a combination of sources from membership systems and investing activities as follows by:

  • Enrolling customers in membership systems where commissions are earned from ongoing sales of consumables, for which the ordering and distribution is handled by third-parties – this activity generates residual gross income
  • Investing the residual income in an investment portfolio that diversifies risk, and generates cash flow from interest and dividends – this activity generates residual gross income; the income is passive if the portfolio does not require active management through trading
  • Note: investing in real estate may generate residual income from rents; however active management may be required for finding tenants, negotiating leases, collecting rents, paying expenses such as utilities, and performing maintenance and repairs; investing in securities may require some trading to hedge from risk, and to take advantage of capital gains.

A shorter-term objective of Plan B is provide a hedge against Plan A as an alternative. A longer-term objective of Plan B is to gain financial independence – the state of having sufficient wealth to cover expenses required by a certain lifestyle. Wealth is achieved by having sufficient assets and income producing activities to generate a gross income that exceeds all professional, physical, and personal expenses required by that lifestyle. Wealth is a source of capital for future investment. It is usually advisable to eliminate debt in the quest to achieve financial independence.

Enterpriship

A key success factor in developing a Plan B is understanding those enterpriship (entrepreneurship, leadership, and management) competencies that are essential to income generation.

Is Your Company Ready For Industry 4.0 Transformation?

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is the 4th industrial revolution. To give a little history, industries used steam to make the machine work which increased production and reduced cost in the industrial revolution. The next phase of the revolution was the mass production with implementing electricity and assembly lines. The third revolution introduced automation and computers. We are now here in the fourth revolution through digitizing and networking where we can connect the digital world with the physical world.

With hassle free wireless networking you educate the machine. Earlier the intelligence lied with the humans and machines just helped with the physical work, but now we can educate the machine and the products itself, also get a virtual image. Using Internet of Things (IOT) you can connect all the physical machines with software, networks and censors and they would exchange data with each other making human life and production much more simpler.

How many hours have you spent to hire a mechanic because your machine stopped working and the mechanic failed to understand what went wrong with the machine? With Industry 4.0, the machine will tell you what part has been failed and what has to be replaced. With artificial intelligence, it also tells you which spare parts need to be fixed.

Why Transform to Industry 4.0?

The Cyber ​​Physical systems enable your product to communicate with your machine. Your product will instruct the machine as to the quantity and the type of product that needs to be produced, and the machine is then produces and labels the products. After detecting the product, you can never go wrong with packaging, also your quality check has been performed by the machine while packaging itself.

Industry 4.0 allows you to have a flexible manufacturing process that will better react to customer demands. This new manufacturing technology reduces your cost of production, cost of wastage, reduces errors, increases efficiency due to use of robotics, yields higher revenue, improves customer service and increases innovation. It also allows you to create a virtual image of the real world using 3D printers and help you test your product and know your contingencies beforehand which would allow you to change the process in order to avoid the contingency before you even start your production.

You don't need to manually check your stock. You can add a censor to your forklift and your products, and while stacking up your goods, you get the data of the quality, description, weights and dimension as well as the location of the product. This would immensely reduce errors and damages.

Feed your machines, knowledge of automated systems with this new manufacturing trend and let them communicate with each other while you see your profits rise up high and costs go low.

The Latest in Smartphone Technology

The smartphone field moves at a lightning pace, and keeping up isn't always always easy. Technology that was eye-popping a year ago, such as WVGA screens and eight-megapixel cameras, becomes outdated quickly. Here we will take a look at what the latest technology trends have been for smartphones in terms of both hardware and software.

Processors and screens have easily been the most rapidly advancing aspects of smartphone technology. Dual-core processors began to get included in devices at the beginning of 2011, and they are now standard in any top-tier smartphone. What's even more interesting is that quad-core processors are here, and are being included in the new Transformer Prime tablet. While the Prime is a tablet, it's only a matter of time before smartphones begin shipping with these quad-core chips. Meanwhile, in the screen department, HD screens have started to hit the latest premiere smartphones. The HTC Rezound is one such device that makes use of an HD screen to make using the device an absolute pleasure.

Another aspect of smartphone technology is literally just days old, and that's the latest version of Android. Nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0 was just released with the Galaxy Nexus smartphone on Verizon. The operating system brings several new features to advance the smartphone industry. One feature in particular is the incorporation of software buttons into the interface. While current Android smartphones include physical or touch-sensitive buttons to navigate through the interface, Ice Cream Sandwich does away with this. Expect smartphones in the next few months to be released that feature no buttons outside of the power button and volume rocker.

One final noteworthy advancement in smartphone technology in the last few months is speech recognition technology. With the launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple introduced the world to Siri. While Google already had incorporated its own voice command software into Android phones for over a year and a half, Apple made the idea mainstream and revolutionary. Now, Google is rumored to be working on a competitor to Siri that will also allow the user to interact with the phone through natural speech. Speech recognition definitely seems to be the next big thing in smartphone technology.

Between all of these recent leaps in smartphone technology, 2012 is already shaping up to be a very fascinating year. With such strong sales in the industry, manufacturers are all striving to gain and maintain market share. This is leading to some incredible devices and loads of innovations. Thanks to this perfect storm of competitive forces, consumers are benefiting greatly from what seems to be a limitless number of incredible devices.