A 1936 musical fairytale might appear an strange inspiration for a virtual book-publishing platform, however for Jenny Atkinson, it used to be the spark for an concept that ended in the advent of her small business Littlescribe.
When her daughter used to be house ill from faculty with a good friend in 2015, an unrecognised solution to a phrase puzzle precipitated her to invite Atkinson what an “o-bowie” used to be. “The only way I could explain what an oboe was, was to actually show her an orchestra,” she mentioned. A YouTube seek returned a efficiency of Sergei Provofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Atkinson used to be stunned at their fast pastime within the recording.
“They were moved by the music and they ended up dancing. I have it on video because I was so taken with their engagement. They wanted to know what it was about, I explained everything is a story, this one told by music. They decided they’d like to become authors and write their own story. So, five hours later, they had written five books.”
“And they photocopied them, stuck them together and then laminated them. And they set up like a lemonade library stand, at the front of the house, waiting for all the kids to come back from school. It was really interesting because they were completely driven by purpose, were very proud of their own work and they wanted it to be read.”
Telling a tale
Using her daughter’s enthusiasm for her paintings as inspiration, Atkinson began digging into the problems round youngsters’s literacy and noticed the will for a platform to deal with flagging writing requirements within the training device. The celebrated Russian tale about a kid who rights a improper by way of difficult the established order turned into a becoming analogue for a publishing platform that appears to rectify the writing decline in Australian training, by way of celebrating and cultivating the innate creativity of youngsters.
“In Australia, we have seven years of writing decline. When you look deeper into this data, we have fewer kids that are good writers and more kids that are not able writers. Literacy is the bedrock of education and writing is the number one educational challenge.”
The end result used to be a virtual publishing platform that permits youngsters to create and illustrate their very own books. They can create their very own personal e book membership and every e book may also be learn and commented on by way of their depended on target audience, friends and family. Children can write their e book the usage of pen and paper, add it digitally by way of the Littlescribe app to be shared, in addition to purchase a print model of the e book itself.
“Technology is part of the problem but it’s also part of the solution. Littlescribe is about turning on the best of human tech. Handwriting, illustrations and purpose to your writing create deep muscle memory and layering knowledge like this makes it is easier for the child to recall and reapply knowledge when and as needed.”
“This learning process is referred to as “palms on, heads on, hearts on”. Our pupil toolkit makes use of the kid’s authentic e book and activates their mind. The pupil writes their very own comprehension questions, is rewarded for discovering their very own spelling errors and given extension phrases to incorporate of their subsequent e book. In different phrases we flip off auto right kind, replica and paste and switch at the childs mind to grasp their wisdom and subsequently their finding out wishes. We lately won nice knowledge proving the have an effect on of this method: yr five scholars the usage of the Littlescribe procedure completed a years price of writing results in simply eight weeks.”
The corporate now works with colleges, academics, non-profit organisations and fogeys, with the purpose of getting each Australian kid write a 12-page e book. They’re additionally having a look to make bigger the world over, having already introduced a pilot program in New Zealand.
The grim truth
Yet, by way of the factors of most small companies, Littlescribe is a fairytale of its personal. Despite accounting for over 97% of all Australian companies (with the bulk working as sole buyers), the realities of working a small business higher resembles the parable of Sisyphus: a day by day battle in opposition to the metaphorical boulders of a loss of money float, financing and time control.
Whatever find out about or survey you spot, the demanding situations for small business owners don’t make for beautiful studying. 58% of SME owners anticipated to omit sleep over the Christmas length and 63% should not have a probability to calm down, consistent with the hot Small Business Report launched by way of Westpac and Deloitte.
Finding the time
Three quarters of SME owners labored 50 to 80 hours a week, with lower than 1% reporting they had been often in a position to paintings a 40-hour week, consistent with the SME Growth Index by way of Scottish Pacific. The identical find out about discovered the typical paintings week for a small business proprietor used to be 66 hours.
Atkinson believes her moderate week would exceed 60 hours and concedes that the individual it most impacts is herself. “The biggest thing that it impacts is my life. So my kids, my family fine, but me, personally, about what I do for me, that comes last. What does that mean: probably not enough exercise and just having some down time. I’m lucky that I really love what I’m doing, so I don’t tend to watch the clock. I’m not saying it’s a good or a bad thing. It’s just how it is.”
She has additionally lately labored a selection of 80 hour weeks, however reveals an method that works round intense classes of labor adopted by way of classes of cutting down is efficient for her business. “We’re going through a huge opportunity at the moment. And so you’ve just got to grab those opportunities. And you’ve got to be quite conscious of where your time is and best spent, and at the same time having some time out, so you are fresh. I think I’ve got a responsibility to make sure I don’t burn out, so we work more in sprints, and then you have a little bit of a down time.”
Finding the proper paintings agenda may also be a very powerful to making sure you get the most from your restricted time. Sally Arnold, an writer and speaker who additionally works as a prime efficiency trainer underneath her corporate Creating Encores, discovered a co-working house boosted her focal point and productiveness, as did outsourcing her internet affiliate marketing in another country.
Despite incessantly setting up lengthy hours operating from house, a exchange in atmosphere helped her steer clear of distractions and separate her operating existence from her house existence. “Having a co-working space really taught me that if I just did four or five hours of solid work it was better than working all day and all night.”
Ebb and float
Alongside a loss of time, the largest problem to business owners stays the issues round money float. 79% of companies cited loss of money float as their largest factor, consistent with the SME Growth Index from Scottish Pacific, and an previous record discovered 90% of companies reported that a loss of money float had averted them from producing extra income. 40% of business owners may also most likely obtain overdue bills from borrowers, consistent with the index, and companies spend a median of eight hours a week chasing invoices to ease money float problems, including additional rigidity to what is already a subtle state of affairs.
Alexander Langshaw, who turned into a barrister previous this yr and now operates as a sole dealer, has discovered the executive sides of invoicing to have had the largest have an effect on on his money float.
“Managing cash flow is a daily issue. I am usually only able to bill for my work at the end of the month and then have a 30 day invoice period, which means payment for work may not be due for 60 days after it has been done. In practice that is usually much longer as many of my invoices, particularly the bigger ones, are paid much more sporadically. An added difficulty is that most outstanding invoices are due from solicitors with whom I have ongoing matters or want to foster a relationship with to ensure future work, which limits my ability to press for timely payment to a degree.”
“It is also difficult to find the motivation for administrative tasks because I am very busy and charge by the hour, so the temptation is always to do more billable work rather than do administrative tasks.”
Atkinson believes money float problems are merely the cost of doing business, and that many owners are confronted with tough questions on how a lot to place into their business because it develops. “There were pressure points. There constantly is in any business. Whether you’re a startup, or you’ve been involved for a long time. And the real question is, how much do you keep investing in the business? So you’re always checking in and going, ‘am I going to invest knowing that I’m not going to get cash flow return in the immediate term?'”
With 4 in 10 businesses needing finance to help with short-term cash flow or liquidity, consistent with knowledge from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it is transparent that now not sufficient is being finished to assist small companies function successfully.
Funding the dream
Despite to begin with bearing in mind a business mortgage, Langshaw used to be hesitant to load up on debt sooner than securing paintings. “I was aware going in that it would be some months before payment would come in so saved some money to cover set up costs and a couple of months’ worth of outgoings.”
“Since that money dried up, I generally use a credit card to smooth over the ‘lumpy’ nature of my payments. I am also lucky in that my wife was working full time so we could rely on her regular salary to cover rent and basic living expenses. The credit card covered everything else and was the second thing paid when an invoice was paid.”
The realities of working a startup make conventional financing a problem, if you are lucky sufficient to be licensed within the first position, consistent with Atkinson. “Going to the banks, and the process for that, and what they’re looking for is something that doesn’t have risk. And when you’re a startup, you’re a risk.”
“You think you’re risking enough, and the bank’s going to ask you to risk more. I’m risking my time. I’m risking lack of cash flow. I’m risking a whole series of things. Do I want to then go and risk and put more on the table? And the answer is frankly, no. There’s a line. Banks are clearly not looking to share risk, they want to remove it. They want more than what I was prepared to put on the table.”
When bearing in mind investment, Atkinson eschewed the banks altogether, as a substitute the usage of a aggregate of sweat fairness, private investment, grants and personal buyers to finance Littlescribe. “I’ve been quite fortunate that I have spent quite a bit of time around government funding and application. And so once you start to understand that space, frankly, it’s a better use of your time.”
Yet Atkinson believes there may be nonetheless a large disconnect between what is demanded by way of the federal government and lenders to get admission to investment, and the price of that point to small companies. In making use of for grants, she discovered some portions of the method a deficient use of her time.
“In one scenario, the maximum that they would value my time is $16 an hour. Beyond being insulting, it’s not worth me filling in that part of the application. I just allocated a third party cost; it was quicker and simpler and clearly demonstrates the lack of consideration of a founder’s time and value.”
For business simply beginning out, it may be subsequent to unattainable to get the backing you wish to have. “Getting support in that early phase is pretty much nonexistent. You’ve just got to back yourself and access the support mechanisms within your own personal network. You have to do everything, from the coffee to the CEO. So the challenge is the diversity of skill set, and you’ve only got so many resources in your team. And so it’s then deciding who’s, actually, got the best skill set for that particular need at the moment. As you grow, then you’ll get that additional skill set into the team. So you’ve got to have a team that is flexible and diverse. And you’ve got to be very clear about who’s the best fit.”
Looking to the longer term
With a federal election at the horizon, small business is already shaping up as a key coverage battleground in 2019. The Morrison executive lately introduced the Australian Business Securitisation Fund (ABSF) to lend a hand small companies in getting investment from choice lenders, and each main events toughen the fast-tracking of small business tax cuts by way of 5 years.
But for the time being, small business owners should be just like the eponymous Peter of the fairytale and stay resourceful and pushed within the face of institutionalised adversity. For Atkinson, that implies believing to your business. “Ironically their need is to be aligned with innovation and creativity so we find ourselves solving their needs and ours, growth and cash flow at the same time. We invest in developing innovative partnerships and models that are easier for large traditional organisations to adopt.”
“We’re just choosing to back ourselves.”