Tag Archives: start-up advice

Wise words from StartUp 2020

For a third year I’m in Central London on a frosty Saturday morning in January to learn from an impressive line-up of speakers advising 2,000 aspiring young entrepreneurs about putting head and heart into starting a business.

For the past two years I’ve reported on what I learned and readers of this blog seemed to find that useful, so here are a few quotes I picked up during a packed day of keynote talks and workshops expertly organised by Enterprise Nation.

It’s about you

“When you’re starting a brand, people are buying you… think about having a head-shot [photo in your publicity]” EJ

“Know your story and use images consistently… think Richard Branson.” EJ

“Accept full responsibility for where you are and where you’re going. Show up every day, put yourself out there, and take risks.” SAO

“There are two sales in business – the first is selling you to you, the second sale is you to others.” SAO

Don’t measure your success by other people’s metrics… know your own premium value.” SAO

“Focus on what you do best and outsource the rest.” EJ

Mindset is one of the most important tools on your journey… It can turn interest into commitment, indecision into decision, problems into opportunities, lack of resources into being resourceful and creative.” SAO

“Focus on all that you are, not what you are not. The only person you should compare yourself to is who you were yesterday.” SAO

“Solitude can lead to real clarity in business.” GT

Getting started

“Don’t get nervous about telling other people about your idea… sharing your start-up story warms up your [future] customers and builds your brand profile.” EJ

“Until you do it, you don’t understand your business – and talk to people.” AP-A

“When pitching your business idea, always be prepared, make it personal – make phone calls and ‘stand up and smile’ when you do so!” EJ

“I used my unique story to create an online community of people who felt the same.” TRW

“I found it really important to create a specific ‘ideal customer’ – we paid to get help with this. We used the detailed profile for targeting all our communications… To widen our audience, we then identified people who ‘aspired to be our ideal customer’.” TRW

“To turn interest into commitment, come up with reasons why, reduce distractions, plan your day the night before.” SAO

“Don’t over-research – just do it! It doesn’t have to be perfect – put it out there and get feedback.” NG

 “[Looking back] our best business idea was the one with the most differentiation from the competition (our USP) and ease of entry into the market.” AC

“There’s a fine line between procrastination and intentional rest.” SAO

Routes to success

“The only way to know if you’ve got something is to try it with your customers… be brave.” RS

“Our customers are the biggest force in deciding what we should be doing.” AC

“A passion turned into a business doesn’t really feel like work… But it takes hard work, so it makes it easier to put the time in.” EJ

“Your value is how much you offer against what you take in payment.” SAO

 “The worst things in life often lead to wisdom, insight and skills for the best times in your life.” SAO

“Having a clear purpose is important for pushing on when the going gets difficult.” KL

“Resilience in a number one skill to learn… try everything, challenge everything.” GT

“Look at your core business and invest in that. Don’t cut corners, collaboration can help.” NG

Working well

“As an entrepreneur, there’s no point in working on your vision if you burn out in the process.” SAO

“Take time for reflection and be more mindful; creativity will blossom… Thomas Edison used to take two hours a day to go fishing – without bait ‘so no one will disturb me, not even the fish’.” SAO

“How you start your day is important – a balance between stability and excitement about the challenge. Set your morning routine and have a good quality breakfast.” ED

“Know your team… their backgrounds, their interests beyond work. Enjoying being with them is important for the tough days. Care about them and the space they work in.” KL   

AC – Adam Carnell, Instantprint

AP-A – Abena Poku-Awuah, Legacy

ED – Evelina Dzimanaviciut, Elite Mind

EJ – Emma Jones, Enterprise Nation

GT – Guy Tolhurst, Intelligent Partnership

KL – Katrina Larkin, Fora

NG – Natalie Glaze, StayWildSwim

RS – Rachel Stockey, Kings College London

SAO – Simon Alexander Ong, business and life coach

TRW – Tim Rundle Wood, Twoodle Co

Thank you, and to Enterprise Nation for bringing us all together  www.enterprisenation.com 

https://www.enterprisenation.com/learn-something/the-top-eight-gamechanging-pieces-of-advice-we-heard-at-startup-2020

Other StartUp tips:

https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2019/01/23/wise-words-from-startup-2019

https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/enterprise-essentials-21-tips-from-startup-2018

 

The customer is usually right

Quite often on Dragon’s Den, you hear them say ‘you’ve designed a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. In the wider world, if that disqualified any business that offers something we don’t need or want, we wouldn’t be surrounded by gadgets we never use, and services we thought would be useful when we first signed up for them.

The best business ideas are both needed and wanted and, unless you’ve got money to burn, this needs to be confirmed through market research. Or ‘customer validation’ as Davina Pancholi-Ifould describes it in relation to her start-up journey (we’re all on a journey these days) as founder and CEO of Rightgig Ltd.

To be fair, customer validation is not just any old market research, it’s about testing real products with real customers in real environments. For Davina, customer validation is also… “developing something because you know someone is going to pay you for it because they want and/ or need it. It’s about getting out there with a clipboard and talking to people you don’t know – so not your mum!”  That ‘something’ is Rightgig – an online marketplace to, in Davina’s words “Help companies decide who they should hire.” The online platform helps people looking for work or hiring, to match skills, motivation and personality to fit with different business cultures. As Davina observes “Some things, like skills, can be taught, but motivation and personality is also key to finding the right people.”

We’ve all probably seen the problems that can arise when people don’t fit in with the rest of the team. For Davina, the spark that ignited the flame that has become Rightgig was harnessing her love of technology to solve a problem that she and others had experienced when trying to hire. The ‘data matching’ idea was born and four weeks later, Davina was working fulltime on the business.

Lesson one – don’t hand in your notice too soon! Davina advises you do as much customer validation as you can before you leave the security of your paid job.

Lesson two – get outside support from people with a shared vision as early as possible. A lot of business success is about networking – about who you know. Gather your advisors and tribe!

I was intrigued to know what was behind the name – Rightgig – and the company’s logo. It was obvious I wasn’t the first person to ask Davina about this.

“Business names are emotive, often the embodiment of the business values, so it’s important you’re attached to the name. That said, our process for developing the name and logo was pretty random. I’m very visual so it was a matter of putting things up on the wall at home. We wanted a name that was one word and was easy to say and spell. We put ‘right’ and ‘gig’ (thinking of the gig economy, and gig as in ‘job’) on the wall and Rightgig had a resonance with the property website.”

I’m sure the process wasn’t that painless, but… I was also interested to learn that the logo started out as a doodle with a coffee mug stain on top of it!

“We aspire to become the Google of job search” jokes Davina (or maybe she isn’t joking?)

That ambition is reflected in the care with which the customer verification goes on. The technological base will only be built once a focus group has approved it – unusual in the world of technology. A broader focus group of users are testing early versions of the platform and saying which features they’d like to see first. Those features will then be tested further “Each release is an opportunity to build awareness and do further testing on the basis of real data” explains Davina.

I wonder what other lessons can be passed on to would-be entrepreneurs, and not just those of the techy variety? The fluency of Davina’s answer implies she’s also been asked that before.

“Don’t give up your day job too early. [Try to] keep your home and work life separate – turn off your phone and laptop, shut the door. Most creative solutions come when you’re not working on them – my 60 second pitch came to me in the shower! Know your strengths and weaknesses. To me finance is dull, but I know it’s important – I’ve learned to love it. Social media is my biggest challenge and my time is probably best spent on other things – I’ll outsource it as soon as I can.”

Returning to the subject of customer validation, Davina has a last bit of advice to share. “You can’t talk to enough people – you can always do more. We know our recruitment solution isn’t for everyone but we had to learn this. I have no regrets.”

More information: https://rightgig.co.uk