Gemma Pirnie has guest written for Startacus before. One such post was aptly named Lessons learned on the Startup Road and aptly named as this post addresses just that again, but with Gemma's startup just about the launch we were keen to find out what other pointers Gemma could highlight. Over to Gemma...
"I’m just about to launch my company, Your New Crew, this month and it has made me look back on the last few months and what I have learned as I set up on my own. A few months ago I wrote about my lessons learned on the startup road so far but I thought an update might be useful to somebody thinking about starting up/half way to launch. Here are the latest lessons that I have learned.
Everything will take longer than you thought – a lot longer!
This has been a bit stressful at times, all too often I have read about the “12 year old who set up his app overnight and sold it to Google for millions within a week”, OK I may be exaggerating slightly but articles like this at best make me feel thick and at worst make me think “there’s no way I can do this”. Unfortunately, I think, the truth is that most of the time setting up your startup takes time and lots of it. Just work to your own timescale and don’t get disheartened by what others achieve/the time they do it in.
If you’re hesitating/it doesn’t feel right then there is probably a reason.
I’ve had some experience now of getting to a stage where I think, “is this the right direction to be taking the company in”? or “is this where I should be spending money”? Whilst, yes, sometimes as an entrepreneur you just have to make quick decisions and accept risks, there are other times where, if you can afford to, you should take a breath and look at your options. If somebody is pressuring you one way then 99 times out of 100 it is probably for their gain not yours. Don’t be afraid to just take a minute and think, it could make all the difference in the future (not to mention to your bank balance)
If you don’t ask you don’t get.
In the past couple of weeks I have managed to save myself hundreds of pounds by just asking people if they would be willing to help me out with projects rather than going straight to charging professionals. Sometimes I have had to ask a few people before finding the right one but it’s always been worthwhile. If you’re a young startup then cash is going to be limited and important so don’t be afraid to ask for free help, the worst somebody can say is no. Just ask in the right way, remember to say thank you and importantly pay it forward – if you can help somebody else then do it, entrepreneurial karma!
Somebody will know somebody who can help.
This follows on from my last point but if you need help then don’t be afraid to reach out to your network and friends. The majority of people will want to help out a young business so you never know who you may end up getting help from!
Follow up emails – don’t be scared of rejection.
Similarly to 3 and 4, don’t be afraid to follow up emails. If you don’t get a response from the first one then send a polite follow up with a call to action and a note saying you really appreciate any time their willing to give you. Time is precious so it’s a big deal to ask for somebody’s time in a call or meeting – once you get the time make sure you’re prepared and have some information on hand to give them. I’ve got so much help/business from the second/follow up email that I couldn’t have done without so go for it (and always send a thank you!) On the flip side if you do get ignored, whatever, at least you tried!
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