I never understood being chained to a desk. Or what it was like to have a steady pay-check. I started my first business in my late teens, unemployed and with hardly any cash. I love the freedom being an entrepreneur grants you. It comes with great risk, but, if you’re smart, also great opportunity. That said, experience is the greatest teacher, and I’ve learnt a few things along the way which can benefit any entrepreneur starting out on their journey.
There’s so much out there, so much to learn. The more you absorb, the better informed your decisions will be. If you’re going to start a business, you need to be obsessed with it. Eat, sleep, drink it. Always be watching the market, the competition, spot the opportunities and learn from other people’s failures as well. All entrepreneurs are passionate. But you have to mix passion with hard graft.
Focus on the MVP
Too many businesses spend thousands of hours (and dollars) building something that doesn’t work or sell like they’d hoped. By then it’s too late. I’m a big advocate of agile development, and prototyping. At Aquare we test, adapt, test again. Some companies talk about the “minimum viable product” (MVP). Don’t be afraid to put something out in the market and iterate from there. Getting early feedback on something that’s not fully developed is invaluable. It’ll save a lot of time and money in the long run.
Tackle one problem at a time
Anyone who’s started a business can tell you about the extreme highs and the extreme lows you go through along the way. It’s very hard to maintain the same level of energy and enthusiasm for everything the business needs, and as a result many entrepreneurs have the same problem – they start things, but struggle to finish them. I see entrepreneurship as being about problem-solving. It’s about fixing one issue at a time, hitting milestones and KPIs.
Don’t give up to early
In the past, I let a couple of projects fail because I simply gave up too soon. In hindsight, I actually came very close to making them a success, but I was so disheartened by not seeing the results I wanted straight away that I lost motivation. But if I’d known what I know now, I would have understood that failure is absolutely key to building a business. If you embrace it, you’ll know how to adapt and evolve. This is something that a successful entrepreneur needs to get a grasp of early on.
Be ready to pivot
This is one of the biggest challenges involved in starting a new business and one of the hardest to do, because it means letting go of your ego. At Aquare, when we work on a digital marketing campaign for our clients, we first collect extensive data from their online customers, analysing their behaviour. Often, what we show the client surprises them, and occasionally it means they need to change what they’ve been doing for years. Being able to pivot like that is not for the feint-hearted, but it is frequently essential to a business’s survival.