Seven weeks ago today I launched my business, Buzzy.
Launching a business changes you in ways you aren’t prepared for. All of a sudden, you’ve created an entity whose sole survival depends on you. You wake
up every morning both excited and frightened for all of the adventures that lie ahead of you that day. Here are 13 lessons I have learnt launching a startup:
I would not be writing this article if I had not taken the first small step years ago to bring Buzzy to life. Truthfully, I still have no idea what I’m doing. What I do know, however, is that by taking small steps in the right direction, the path before me begins to reveal itself.
2. Life goes on
We’re all guilty of failing to take the first step to pursue an endeavour. I realise that my reluctance to launch was due to fear of failure and judgement. As a result, I spent too much time obsessing over my website and tech issues.
I’ve since realised that launching a business is actually a relief because every day after launch becomes a wonderful opportunity for you to improve and build your business into your ultimate vision.
3. It’s insanely hard work
Don’t bother launching a startup business unless you’re obsessed with building businesses otherwise it’s just way too freaking hard. Entrepreneurialism isn’t glamorous. Some aspects (like admin and filing) are downright boring. Customers can be painful and you’re going to spend a lot more money in your business than you had anticipated. You’ve been warned!
4. There are amazing people out there
Something amazing happens when you decide to step out into the unknown and follow your dreams; other people want to help you. I have been genuinely humbled by all of the wonderful people that have helped me reach this point. My family, friends and early adopters of Buzzy (many of whom are complete strangers) share my vision.
Your network is also invaluable at this time. I’m still learning that I shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking for help when I need it.
5. Some people will not be happy for you
I’ve been told, “I hope you don’t fail!” too many times to count in the past month alone. To those people I say, “You can keep the word “failure”. I won’t be needing it.”
It’s an unfortunate truth that not everyone will be happy for you when you start your own business. Some people just won’t get it. Your dreams will frighten them because it shines a light on their own insecurities, fears and broken dreams.
With that in mind, only spend your time with people that are willing to fan your flames. As Jim Rohn said, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Choose those five people wisely.
6. Get used to not knowing what to expect
These days, I’m drafting my own set of rules and I love it. Corporate hierarchies and glass ceilings are a thing of the past.
I’ve always been a rebel and now I get to be a rebel with a cause. Here are my three tips:
- Business is a giant problem solving exercise – I never have any idea what I’m doing but I’m also realising that I have the ability to figure it out as I go.
- Don’t make any assumptions – Some mornings you may feel helpless and by the afternoon, a breakthrough has happened and you’re back to kicking goals. Entrepreneurialism is a roller coaster and you need to learn how to ride out the peaks and the troughs.
- Learn to love the process – You will never ever get the opportunity to launch your first business again. It’s a beautiful moment in time that you should really embrace.
7. The formula for success is very simple
Aside from the fact that you need to find a problem worth solving, I’ve come to realise that the formula for success is insanely simple.
Positive Action + Perseverance = Success
Positive action is the ability to keep moving forward in an intelligent and calculated manner. Concentrated action is key. This is very different from action that you don’t learn from.
Do not underestimate the importance of perseverance. I’ve realised that this is what is going to set me apart from the others that don’t make it. I refuse to give up.
8. You will doubt yourself
I am a positive and confident little soul by nature. Some mornings though, I will wake up and think, “what in the world have I gotten myself into?”
Nip this self-doubt in the bud otherwise it could ruin your business. Do not doubt the power of a positive mindset. This mindset gets me through the very challenging times, which all of us will have. You should spend 20% of your time working on yourself because you are the foundation of your business.
I am comforted by the words of Ricky Gervais:
The best advice I’ve ever received is, ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.’
9. Think big…but small at the same time
Think big – Just before I launched Buzzy, I sat down with my mentors and drafted a 12-month strategy. I now know exactly what it is I am working towards.
Think small – At present, I’m not thinking about scaling Buzzy. My focus is on the customers I have (100+ to date). My aim is to provide a really valuable service for these customers. If I’m not delivering 100 people a valuable service, then I’m not doing something right and I may need to adjust my business accordingly.
10. It’s not personal
I have a tendency to takes things personally. I’m slowly learning to just take on the aspects that I consider to be constructive feedback and ignore the rest.
I’ve also learnt that very few people actually know what they’re talking about. They may be older and have experienced more than you but this is no reason to accept their advice as gospel.
I’ve received a valuable piece of advice from some of my mentors and friends: take at least one day off a week. You’ll need this time to recharge and gain some perspective.
12. It’s ok to be a David against the Goliaths
I have come across this great tip by Paul Graham: “There is always room. In a hundred years the only social networking sites will be Facebook, MySpace and Flickr? Not likely.”
I’m embracing the distinct benefits of being a David amongst Goliaths; I can move faster than the big guys, I can easily pivot, I can experiment and make mistakes without anyone noticing and I can still trust my own vision and gut without outside interference.
13. You will LOVE every single moment of the adventure
Launching my own business has already opened so many doors for me that I never would have imagined possible.
Despite the anxiety, the doubts and the hard work, I cannot see myself doing anything else at this point in time. I am in my element and I love every single part of the startup process.
When you find something that gives you purpose, you know you’re on the right track. Opportunities, people and experiences just seem to gravitate towards you.