How to get out of your own way

Argentina; Kenya; Indonesia; Singapore; South Korea; Spain; Japan…

The list is (quickly!) growing.

These are just a few countries where I’ve connected with entrepreneurs over the last several weeks.

Two of the major themes of our discussions are fundraising and the importance of believing in yourself and your idea.

But what if you’ve got a million-dollar idea and no clue how to pitch it? Tel Aviv-based entrepreneur Dima Maslennikov feels your pain. And if you’re considering leaping from stability to uncertainty? Jess Visser can relate.

Or maybe you’re somewhere else on the path, reflecting on your journey to build something significant when that damned ol’ imposter syndrome starts to kick in.

(*Raises hand*)

Most of us have been there — 84%, apparently — and that’s when a little push to eliminate self-doubt, embrace our identity, remember what we’ve accomplished, and trust our vision comes into play.

This one’s for the 84%.

In today's email:

  • Featured founder: Kunaal Rach on creating your “Emotional Runway”

  • Becoming better: Leverage global insights to grow your business

  • Build like a global entrepreneur: A case study of a social entrepreneur

  • Weekly medley: Indonesia’s booming creative economy, and… another Shark Tank?

  • Watchlist: We’ve got A TON of stories on deck — stay tuned!

Kunaal Rach and the entrepreneur’s “Emotional Runway”

Defying doubt as an entrepreneur is easier said than done. Take Kenya’s Kunaal Rach. He’s a fourth-gen immigrant who was a happily-settled finance professional in England. He returned home to Kenya to sit at the helm of a retail and wellness chain as a second-gen entrepreneur.

Operational challenges and a year of zero growth aside, Kunaal battled deep emotional challenges of responsibility and empathy. “I didn’t feel that I was good enough or that I was the right person to fill my mom’s shoes,” he confesses.

That’s when his business coach, Laurie Fuller, asked him to start focusing on his “Emotional Runway.”

As an entrepreneur, this refers to your energy and drive — what keeps you going when [it seems] everyone else is focusing on problems, challenging you, or quitting when the going gets tough. You’ve got to feed your emotional runway (as you would your financial one) so you have enough energy to keep on keepin’ on.

In most cases, this involves a willingness to embrace yourself fully, to reflect, be raw, and be accountable to yourself and your team.

(Btw: Kunaal is now managing branches across Kenya and Uganda, pursuing distribution in Tanzania and Rwanda, and envisioning Healthy U as Africa’s largest wellness leader.)

💪 Becoming better

Grow your business with these global insights:

Find the crowdfunding site that’s right for you

Need to crowdfund to get your idea off the ground? GoFundMe has a comprehensive guide on different crowdfunding sites.

Women's Entrepreneurship Day Summit on 17 November 2023

Join remotely or in New York City. The event brings awareness to the importance of economically empowering women globally while also taking action to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Can super apps supercharge your business?

Super apps, unique primarily to Asia, are mobile apps that integrate different functions within a single platform. A Citibank report notes Asia’s widespread adoption of super apps could give exciting insights into the future.

Mexico sets new work-from-home rules

Associated Press reports the country’s labor department requires employers to pay for internet and provide ergonomic chairs for employees working from home. The department also mandates a “right to disconnect” for people who work at least 40% of their time from remote locations.

🎭 Build like a global entrepreneur

Think, build, grow. Three essential pillars of entrepreneurship. For every newsletter issue, we dive deep into a specific topic under one of these pillars:

  1. Think (e.g., productivity and problem-solving skills)

  2. Build (e.g., building teams and products)

  3. Grow (e.g., growing revenue and market share)

This week, let’s use Jess Visser as a case study for how to build a global business.

A successful pitch often starts with a big vision. In Jess Visser’s case, that means empowering female survivors of modern slavery to thrive socially and economically in the U.K.

To make her vision come to life, Jess launched Strength & Stem, a social enterprise that uses floristry to provide job opportunities, skills training, and simple human connection to survivors.

Strength & Stem started as a pilot four-week training program for survivors that Jess launched with a successful crowdfunding round of $20,000. Now it’s a thriving business with a charity arm that has served many survivors and expanded to South Africa.

If you want to build like Jess, focus on these three skills:

Never stop networking

Jess's story perfectly shows how every person you meet could help your business. She made an unexpected connection in South Africa that took the Strength & Stem brand to the next level.

Hone your fundraising skills

Access to capital is arguably the most difficult challenge for entrepreneurs, especially in areas with underdeveloped financial systems with scarce capital. But despite fierce competition for funding in these areas, you still have options.

Ask the right questions when hiring freelancers

Freelancers will likely play a critical role in growing your business, especially when you may not have the funds to hire full-time employees. Of course, finding, vetting, and ultimately hiring high-quality freelancers is easier said than done. This guide can help you keep the discussions productive and quickly weed out candidates who aren’t the right fit.

Have a suggestion for an upcoming topic? Drop us a line at [email protected].

🗞️ Weekly medley

Every week, our team scans the entrepreneurial world for can't-miss news:

  • In India, no one expected the Shark Tank reality show to succeed, but now, Season 3 is about to begin. Season 2 ended with Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee’s cosmetic brand ‘Sugar’ receiving funding. (If you’re taking notes, their advice is to “pitch like you used to when you had nothing!”).

  • The cosmetics space in India is HUGE. Beauty marketplace Nykaa led the IPO boom in 2021, its valuation surging to $13 billion and making its founder Falguni Nayar India’s second self-made woman billionaire. Mamaearth, another beloved personal care company, is preparing to go public.

  • Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Jemi Nikolaus is making waves in fashion. He applies Japan’s Sakiori technique to create products that sing of Indonesia’s local beauty, using Jakarta’s textile waste. Indonesia’s government wants to add 4.4 million jobs to the creative economy.

  • Lastly, while entrepreneurship is hard pretty much anywhere in the world, founders from emerging economies struggle particularly more with trust dynamics. They’re more biased toward choosing people just like themselves, which can limit innovation. Harvard professor Tarun Khanna discusses entrepreneurship in emerging economies on this podcast.

🔎 Watchlist

I’ll continue to keep this newsletter packed with insights from our conversations with leaders around the world, but I might take a break next week. TBD.

In the meantime, check out our stories about Venezuela’s Alexandra Uzcategui (who’s recreating the art museum) and Indonesia’s Enricko Lukman (who’s busy scaling his media startup).

Oh, and keep an eye on our website for another story about an AI startup later this week!

Until next time,

Nolan Bulger

Founder, Mergerous Media Co.