Self Starter Gemma Pirnie, Founder of 'Your New Crew', a soon-to-be-launched service for grads & young professionals relocating to a new city for work, writes for Startacus on her top startup lessons learned so far....
"There is a poem by Robert Frost that ends in the lines “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference”. This, for me, is what being an entrepreneur is all about, except that I think there was a third road, a road only found by peeling back dense vegetation and that’s the startup road: prickly, tricky, often dark but lots of fun. These are my lessons learned on the startup road so far:
Ask for help! I have been hugely lucky with the great organisations who have helped me. Edinburgh University has a service, called Launch.ed, for helping students and recent graduates to set up their own businesses. Without their help with: bouncing ideas, getting free advice (e.g. legal advice), meeting contacts and some brilliant training, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today (close to launch and pretty well prepared). Even if this isn’t a service available to you there are lots of organisations who want to help: Princes Trust Youth Business, Business Gateway, Scottish Institute of Enterprise and local academic institutions. All of these services have supported me in some way – you just have to ask!
Share your idea (and develop a thick skin) Meeting other young entrepreneurs and bouncing ideas/getting feedback is crucial to working out what your final product should be/what people actually want. Just be aware that if you ask for feedback you will get it, there is no point in people lying to you and telling you what you want to hear so develop a thick skin, accept constructive criticism and know that you are not always right! (Universities, business networks and organisations like the ones above will offer great chances for networking. Twitter is a great source for finding local groups – just be careful about sharing your idea with just anybody, a business advisor can help you find a good/safe group!)
Get out there!! You will not start your own company by not talking to anybody (see points 1&2) and you can’t do it all alone so my advice is: work out who can help you make your dream a reality, email/phone/send them a pigeon and get a meeting. Once you explain your idea to somebody they can put you in touch with somebody else who can also help you and will introduce you to another person! Meetings lead to meetings lead to meetings… as long as you’re not having meetings for the sake of meetings but have a goal in mind then you will get somewhere (this somewhere may be back to the drawing board but nothing ventured…)
Keep your head up I doubt whether any entrepreneur’s journey has ever been smooth sailing all the way to launch and I know my startup road has had lots of ups, downs, potholes and highwaymen but Just. Keep. Going! If entrepreneurs are anything they are persistent and you will need persistence in bucket loads to deal with this journey. Be honest with yourself and your family/friends about how your day has been, especially when you are ready to throw in the towel, get as much support as you can, remember how far you have come and then pick yourself up and quit the pity party!
Think ahead in your idea and think as your end user This has been the best lesson I have learned on my startup road. By thinking about what your end user/customer is going to want you are going to be prepared when they ask for it and that will make a huge difference to both how you are perceived and the results you get. Being able to say, “I’m glad you asked that, I have a report on that issue” is better than “errr I hadn’t thought about that”. You’re never going to be able to predict everything a client might ask but by sharing your idea, hearing feedback and getting help you will be as prepared as you can be! (I must remember to keep doing this as I get close to launch!)"
Gemma Pirnie is the founder of Your New Crew, a service for graduates/young professionals relocating to a new city for work. Your New Crew introduces members to their new city and new people by organising unique events in stand-out venues around the city. Your New Crew is launching in Edinburgh and Glasgow this September. See www.yournewcrew.com for more information.
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