No path is set in stone, prepare for the meanders ahead.

I always had a solid plan of what I wanted to do with my life. I had my business budding and in the planning, and I had an end goal of what I wanted the business to be in the future. However in the last few months alone, I have made huge changes to the plan, just to adjust to new life experiences and situations. Many factors changed my course, and many players helped change it too, but not all the change was bad. It was just a refinement based on better more developed knowledge.

Lets get the biggest and most known cause out the way, external factors. These happen everyday and even more so in todays world. We have the rambling big baby currently occupied in the White House, which I could write a whole blog on alone. We then had the dramatics of UK politics, with the change from Cameron to May, to Brexit and now Scotland wanted another referendum. We then have the threat of North Korea, Russia, China and the US launching a Nuclear War due to increased tensions. Our future looks bright! However above all this, all of these factors influence business, let alone other areas they impact. Brexit, means business with Europe will be different to what it is today. Trump means business will be different with the US. With all these minds, I have to play a very forward thinking game when getting my business of the ground and making it global. I used to want to follow a path where the business is very centralised, and everything happens from the middle. However more and more I feel this would be a very bad path to follow. This brings me to the first of the big changes in my thinking towards my business future. I now believe I want to take a group approach when it comes to my business. By this I mean take a virgin’esque approach, and Have my Serenity brand, as a group, and the departments and products are subsidiaries underneath it. This is also a model used by Alphabet, better known as Google. This means that building new projects is much easier and the future products my business can create is wide spanning, meaning greater opportunities to change things and make more revenue for the business to keep expanding and growing. I have already started to lay the ground work for this, with the naming of the projects. Serenity Apps being the main feature of the product portfolio, however we now have Serenity Talks, Serenity Web (Something coming soon 😉 ) and more to come! By doing this the products already share the Serenity Branding, however they could stand on their own and run as an efficient business on their own. This makes it easier to run the business as a whole, as it expands, the projects are not weighed down by the other projects, they are all free to move and expand as they please. This was change one in my rationale, thanks to external factors and also a better more developed business knowledge. This leads on to the second reason.

As we grow, in age and maturity, we also develop a better knowledge, a more refined knowledge as we grow. This can create change to the path we want to go down. So for the example I explained before, this was also based on better business knowledge. I am currently only 19 so rather new to the business theory, however prior to University, the group structure of business was rather new to me. However now I understand it better and its pros and cons, I feel the pros really weigh into favour for my business going forward and thats why It helped me change my projection for the future for how I want my business to prosper and grow.

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Now, my business has always been adapting and changing, its nothing new. However until now the biggest changes were the brand that was being projected into the world. The design, the aesthetic, the look. The business was once called Bournes Co, now its called Serenity. The business in total, when being developed had 9 logos (11 if you count the slight alterations we made to some of the logos over the years!). Now my attention is fixing and adapting the behind the scenes functions of the business and how I want it to work going forward and what I would like it to evolve into.

Lastly, change can be healthy, change isn’t something you should always be afraid of. Change, is difficult, its not easy, but if you stick to it and really believe in the change, then the end result will be so worth it! So go ahead and don’t be afraid of it!

Go out there, and be ready, be excited, for change!

Brandon x

My first year of University.

My first year of university has flown by so quickly. So quickly that I still feel like a new student, It hasn’t felt like a year, however a lot has happened since I started in September until now.

To give some context, the course I am on is BA Entrepreneurship, and the goal is learning by Doing approach. The way we learn is described in an earlier post (Click this link) and our aim is to build a team company comprising as the name suggests, as a team of now 18 people.

We started in September, rather more fresh looking than now, confident and possibly looking back, a little arrogant.

We started with the orientation which was a week introducing us into the Entrepreneurship course, and we completed a series of business challenges. The first was organising an event we didn’t know what was about and who would be arriving. The being given a day to sort it!

We however did it and did it well, and had a lot of fun while doing so too!

Our second challenge was at Mass Challenge. We were given three real start ups, who posed problems to us and we were given 24 hours to solve them. My group was given an App called ReRoo, a train line ticketing app that gets you cheaper tickets using the ticket splitting system. We were given the task of telling them how they should launch their app. We did win that one and lets just say I couldn’t see how we couldn’t win, clearly the best team but I am slightly biased!

The week ended there, and we had a quiet conclusion to reflect on the happenings of the week, how after only a week into the University, we had conducted two business challenges and networked with many business contacts and startups. This was a huge reality check about what we were getting ourselves into.

The weeks that lay ahead were ok, we were getting along rather well and everyone was happy, the group dynamic was good and we all were fine. Then came a week I can’t remember exactly when but everything changed.

We hit the chaos.

The chaos being, it was November, we had no business yet, no group structure, no formation, and no direction. Many of us were wondering what was the point of doing this degree?

This is when we Skype called Team Academy Finland,  who were more advanced position to us at that point. They established they had a leader, team roles, small group cash generating projects and a vision, a goal, a direction. This was everything we were lacking. The result of this call was me being elected the first team Leader of our company, which was now named Team Future.

I set out that we needed a direction, a structure and money! Without these we have no foundation for a bigger idea in the future that we can develop. I also wanted to streamline our communication as a team, WhatsApp groups were not working, so I set up a Slack for the team and this worked well. I also wrote an agenda and set up a Thursday team company meeting for us to hunker down and talk/ work on team future.

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This worked well, In January my group made their first revenue and eventually profit by selling Valentines day hampers, and the same group continued to make more money with other projects like smoothies and juices. Then at the end of February I stood down and made way for two new leaders, who were elected to create a new longer term strategy for team Future, that I didn’t agree with at first I have to admit however looking at it from our position now I can see their swift action was needed.

With the new leaders in motion, we have online social media presence, a website that I built, and we decided to create a social media management company, called Collective Media.

This helped us greatly as we started to develop a brand, build awareness, and pitch to potential clients.

We then had a change up near the end of the year that I can say was rather unexpected. We shifted, the social media company was now to be a project, not the overall business. The business Team Future is now and will always be an Incubator, so our businesses can use it to share as a community and thrive together.

The social media business also got its first potential client. We pitched the business and what we could offer and did it to a great reception, and we are now negotiating terms and what else we can offer to try and solidify the deal.

So now we look to now.

Team Future is bright. We have lost some people and there have been times where the end just didn’t seem clear. However now we have a goal, a vision, a direction, an end in sight. We are now building our own businesses, like myself with Serenity Co, so that hopefully, when we graduate, we can take them on full time and reach and aspire to our dreams of running our own businesses.

Its been a crazy first year, with many firsts academically and socially. As a person, I feel more confident, more open, more passionate about my cause, and overall a stronger person after being leader. People have annoyed me and will probably continue, I have probably also annoyed others, but thats life. Things will never be easy, when they feel easy, we are not working hard enough!

However, looking forward, I cannot wait for what the next year has in store, and Im fully ready to go into second year with my head held high, and ready to take my business to the next level.

That was my first year of University!

Brandon x

Planning for the future

I always think to the future.

There is always a time in the day, everyday, when I think about what my future looks like. Academically, politically, socially, all of these factors.

I feel I am odd in this respect.

One of my previous and still a sort of weakness of mine though is over thinking the past. Now not all things about the past is bad don’t get me wrong. Thinking to the past to not repeat mistakes in the future, is how you should look at the past. However, I used to think of the past and make it something that takes over my mental capacity, and basically in normal terms overthink everything. If I did this then this wouldn’t happen, or if I did this that would have happened. This made me very down at times and sometimes even ill, and this wasn’t right. So lately I focussed my full attention on the future, with a small beady eye on the past, for the reasons above.

One of the first things I thought about was living. I have so many dreams, places I want to go to, things I would like to eat, businesses I would love to experiment with. The mantra ‘You only live once’ often comes into play here.

So to fast forward to now, its a week from my 19th birthday, which is the last year of the teen years and I haven’t done anything purely sporadic and for myself for a little while, being so focused on work. I decided to write a list of things I would love to do.

The winner by far was travelling to New York. I have always loved this place, before I have even been there. Just the place itself, the sights, the culture, the bustling nature of New York fascinates me and entices me. So then my next debacle would be who would go? My family were grounded for the time being and to bring everybody would up the costs by a large margin. Friends also suffered the same problems. Also part of me wanted alone time to clear my head, and release this stress and built up emotion by exploring a great new place I’ve never gone to. The decision was then made I am to do it alone.

The first week of May, I intend to visit New York for a week, explore the Statue of Liberty, explore the city in the sky with a helicopter ride, visit the iconic Apple store on Fifth Avenue, and most importantly do something I have always longed to to do, visit and pay my respects at Ground Zero. Even describing the trip excites me and I cannot wait. Some people called me mad, by saying, ‘you are stressed and want to relax, so then you decide to go to the busiest city in the world?’ and they have some sense in the questioning of my logic here. However that’s me, I have always been immersed in a city. I love the country and the country is somewhere where I have fond memories and intend to continue making great memories, but my life is the city. I live in London, ‘arguably’ another very, very busy city. So to visit New York with no business or work agenda is my relaxation, I always dart around London to meetings, trips, appointments, and never act like the stereotype tourist and take it in. Thats what I want to do in New York, be a tourist, walk around with no agenda at all, just be free and do whatever my heart desires.

Thats what I want the most!

Now of course, I shall blogging everyday and giving in-depth looks into what I do there, for me to reflect upon afterwards, and also for you the reader, as It may, and I hope inspire you to do the same. When you feel overworked and work becomes a chore and not a job, then thats when you need to let go. Theres a quote I always love to refer too, ‘Sometimes it hurts less to let go than to keep holding on’. Now I’m not letting go of my business per say, however Im letting go of all the stress and the built up emotion that comes with being me and running a business at the same time. Im a holder. I hold in my emotions and hope they stay, however they don’t. More so now that I have come to realise that they don’t stay and they do climax and come out in ways I don’t want them to sometimes. This is partly why I love writing blog posts. This is my way to reflect and gently let them out in the form of words, even if no one reads them.

So stay tuned, I shall be blogging before hand but my May segment shall be focused on New York! I will also be making a tabbed page especially for the trip to keep those blog posts in one place!

Goodnight x

B 🙂

How I want to change the world with my business.

Changing the world is such an over used term these days, and this annoys me. The term ‘changing the world’ is almost only for marketing purposes now, and this again really annoys me.

When I set off on this journey with my business Serenity, I knew exactly what my long term goals were for the business. I want to make Serenity a game changer, now thats what everyone says, however I feel today Serenity has an advantage.

Currently, the market in technology is highly saturated, and you may think well this is the perfect reason not to go into the industry, however at this present moment in time, the technology sector is also becoming very same – same, for example smartphones. Now, I don’t intend on ‘reinventing’ the phone once again at any point in the near future, who knows down the line, but this is the perfect example of things getting complex. All phones are now made of metal and glass, all are predominantly black and look very similar. Once upon a time this wasn’t the case. However as technology progresses, people are getting left behind, because they simply can’t use the tools at hand because they are too complex, enter photoshop.

I want to make Serenity a game changer, now thats what everyone says, however I feel today Serenity has an advantage

This was my eureka moment. The moment the oversized lightbulb lit up above me. This is where Serenity comes in.

I wanted to make the complex simple, thats the mantra of the business in anything it does. The first app we made was built to be simple and secure, welcome Switch into the family (Or Swift as it was known then) in 2013.

Our second project however, was when we went fully into the research. We wanted to solve this complex into simplicity debacle. Sketch was born when we realised people wanted to do high grade photo editing but simply didn’t because they didn’t know how to use photoshop. Or sometimes felt scared to use such a feature rich, and heavy program. Sketch was built to be the stepping stone into using Photoshop like apps. Its built in an incredibly simple way, with one bar at the bottom housing everything that you need, with a studio option to do more high grade editing and the main screen mainly for previewing and viewing and cropping your photos. Its still a project with a lot of new features and more in-depth technology being built into it and it shall explode with new features in the next year or so. However when we saw the success of Sketch, we knew we were onto something.

If we could do this for Photo editing, why not another high grade complex application.

Now this part is where I would love to unveil our next projects but I won’t do that just yet, as it hasn’t got a patent! However I just want you to know its there.

This the basic structure of the business and mentality of Serenity, and this is the mentality it shall share and use for years and years to come. Its a mantra that we believe no one uses to the extent we do. Other companies and big corporates say they make things simpler, but they don’t, its based on marketing. We do not making anything that we would use and think this is little hard to use. We don’t even feel that we need a support page on the website, we are that confident. However we have a basic one in place just in case something doesn’t work, as thats the nature of tech. Sometimes things do go wrong, same as a human, same as anything.

This is where Serenity Co, and I, want to change the world. The buzz of something new is electrifying, I love working on new things, and especially when its technology, as the barriers in technology just don’t exist, the opportunities tech gives to change peoples lives is infinite!

This infinity of opportunity and creativity was the main reason that got me into the world of technology in the first place. Having the tools to change someone even if it was a small change that could make a big difference to their lives, that was enough to sell the wonder of tech to me.

This is where Serenity Talks comes from. We gain no revenue at all from Serenity Talks, and we don’t intend to. Talks is intended to teach and inspire people in the way that technology can impact peoples lives and other industries. We want to get people from different industries, industry leaders to express the way tech impacts their business, and the way it helps for the better. This is was main reason for the existence of Serenity Talks, not to have another revenue stream.

I want Serenity to inspire and engage people into the practical applications of tech and the way it can help one another and change peoples lives, in developed and developing counties alike

I feel this is a good note to end this post on. Serenity Co is all the above and more. I want Serenity to be a beacon for people who find tech frustratingly hard to use, I want Serenity to inspire and engage people into the practical applications of tech and the way it can help one another and change peoples lives, in developed and developing counties alike. Technology is not a luxury, nor a product restricted to certain elites of people. Tech is everywhere and it should be, and we want to spear head a new technological revolution that makes Technology easier to use, and harness the creativity of people had previously doubted tech as they couldn’t fully understand its huge value.

This is me, and this is my company.

Time Management is difficult, but not an impossible thing.

I have always thought that I was a good manger of my time. I was never late to anything, I was always on time or mostly early. I always hit my deadlines and overall was good at time keeping, and still am.

However, when I took the role of Team leader, my mindset changed drastically. I saw myself was several deadlines for academic work, the company deadlines, personal business deadlines. I was overwhelmed by the amount of deadlines I had to hit!

However this isn’t uncommon! I had spoken to a friend of mine about my situation, and they had literally the exact same thing! Thats when I realised I had been taking it easy all this time. I then asked them how did they do it? I had no clue how to manage my time, I was getting stressed, felt really low and wasn’t in a good place, I had felt like like a failed honesty, but thats when they said, you don’t have to change a lot to make your life easier, just simply write down what you have to do.

I seriously felt angry at this rather simple, easy, and rather condescending remark of just write what I have to do down! I have! However it never worked! Then It came to me, he was right!

I wrote down what I did, not what I have to do next. I was relying on past dates, to predict future dates, which didn’t work when I had multiple big deadlines ahead of me.

The way I improved my time keeping was simply writing down a daily agenda, hourly what I need to do. This is when technology shows its true colours. I had 20 min prior notifications to tell me what I needed to do next, and this helped me so much! Just logging them in the evening or a few days before, so your ready for the next day, makes all the difference! It only takes a few minutes of your evening, and it makes your day run a lot smoother, and just raises the pressure off a little.

Once I did this, I hit my daily goals, and even had time to spare! Also those deadlines, I hit them, after feeling definite I wouldn’t!

So the moral of this story, is to not turn your nose up at the simple solution. Simple solutions are the best solutions, solutions that will make the most impact. Writing down what I had to do for the next day, literally made me a happier, less stressed person, and hit all my goals!

And I continue to do this to this day! And will continue!

Reflecting on my time as Team Leader.

(Written to my team, or Post Motorola)

In terms of expertise and skills, I learnt the importance of gaining peoples attitudes and views, and incorporating these views into my leadership. At first my first appointment as leader was to construct a weekly agenda. My aim was to make this fully inform the group on what was going to happen in the week ahead, so we could ideally have consistency and prior knowledge of what to think about in the meeting. This didn’t work so well, at this stage of the business, as I have a lot of feedback saying that most people didn’t read it. This shocked me, and I had wished that more people said this earlier so then I could have altered or changed it, or possibly scrapped it all together but this was one thing I had learnt from being leader. Another aspect of being leader, taught me the importance of decisiveness. At the time of my election, we were at ‘rock bottom’ and were not moving anywhere, so really I was elected at a point of crisis. This meant that things had to be done quickly and effectively to help build the motivation of the group. I feel personally I did act quickly, but maybe not on the right things. I enacted and constructed the agenda straight away, and within the first week appointed leaders for the departments that we had created before my election. I wanted these leaders to act as a ‘board of directors’ and pathway for communication to the group, as having everyone contact me would be too much. However as we didn’t have a running business at this time, the departments were non existent, and therefore the department leaders were really rendered useless, so I decided to scrap them, and continue on the path that we have now.

On a personal level, being leader showed me some very interesting things about myself that I had not known before becoming leader. I realised that I was very emotionally driven, maybe not so good trait when trying to be decisive at times of crisis, so this may not have helped things for the team company, and did make me in the words of Jonathan, ‘too liberal’, however I feel this also had its benefits. This meant that conflict was avoided at times when conflict was not needed, however I personally feel conflict earlier in the process may have progressed the team further than we have gone now, but this is a view helped by hindsight so something we cannot help, its just a learning outcome. I also discovered what leader I am. After a long hard think, I feel that I am not a an effective leader, when trying to ‘germinate’ the company, and actually create it, or at least need improvement. I can’t answer for everyone, but I found this incredibly stressful, and brought me mentally down at many times, especially when we returned from the Christmas break. I found myself hitting a mental block, that i had hit before in the past and that had worried me, but again it made me think, Im putting my all into being leader, but maybe Im doing too much and need to delegate. This is something else I think I should have done earlier, but more effectively than the department leaders, for example tracking absenteeism. The discipline of the group. My biggest flaw, I know, is my nice nature. At times when stern action is needed, its not my strong point. I feel I have improved slightly just through the process of stress and being under pressure, but still have a long way to go int terms of being the best I can be.

On a personal level, being leader was a great achievement and honour for me. To have people elect me in was a bonus, and having the support from the team was a great boost to my esteem and my confidence as a person. I do not feel I did the right thing all the time, and at times, I feel I could have been better, but this is what this experience is about, learning and finding out how to improve your leadership and entrepreneurial skills. I learnt a great deal from my time as leader, skills and techniques that I will take with me into my future career prospects going forward.

Lastly to conclude, I feel in myself honestly I think I could have done better. I have learnt a lot from being team leader both professionally and personally however I feel with in myself I could have done better, but that in itself is a learning curve. As a whole, I hope and feel that my tenure has stabilised the company in terms of the ‘crisis’ we were in, and even though we may have made some small progress, which is much better than no progress, I want to believe and hope that I have left the next leaders, a better performing team than when we first started. I did throughly enjoy it and wish the next leaders the very best.

Music is a great way to get thinking!

I love music.

I cannot get onto the busy, bustling London Underground without with headphones one listening to some great music. Some of my best thinking comes from listening to music. Music helps clear my mind and focus on something specific.

I never really understood, why this would be the case.

When I listen to music I always thought I would be more distracted as I’m focussing on the music rather than what I’m working on.

However ever since I’ve started university, I’ve listened to music a lot more than I used too, and also do a lot more work on the train and tube which are times when I Listen to music the most.

Im not a psychologist, I did study it for a few years, but I’m no expert. However I have learned that music is actually a really great focussing agent!

I like a lot of classical music, not really classic, but ballads from the 80’s and 90’s, sometimes earlier, they are my optimum listening when I work.

So, if you want to work, I suggest listening to some music! Not metallic or rock ballads, but something a little soothing, seems to do the trick!