Top 5 Lessons Learned from Being Part of a Start-Up (guest blog)


There is little more exciting that starting a business. That incredible process of creation… the seeing an idea become reality. Very little… expect for when you get to meet some incredible individuals who join you in that journey.

I was incredibly lucky to have witnessed the phenomenal Baphiwe Mancotywa, feminist actuarial graduate passionate about life long learning and pushing one’s own boundaries, be part of the team with Ameer Gaibie and Tamar Goren to launch the world’s biggest sensuality portal (www.sensual.guide) which went live on the 1st of April.

In asked her what she learned about starting a business during the time she was involved in this amazing project. Here is her reply.

 

Mind to matter

 

Life is one big adventure – at least, when we are young, we have an innate understandingBaphiwe of the need to explore, fall, get up and explore some more. However, as we navigate the terrain of growing up, we often learn to become more pacified. We take less risks. And we say yes a little less each time. Growing up, I have often had to create a healthy combination between maintaining the inner child and the adult.

But what is it that distinguishes children from the “been-there-done-that” adult? The ability to say “yes” to life’s call, and completely surrendering to it. A month ago, I heard life’s call. After my interview with Tamar Goren, she asked whether I would be willing to go on a journey to create the world’s largest sensual guide portal. I gave a resounding yes, and in the following weeks I obtained valuable lessons about birthing a concept and making it reality.

5. There is no “perfect time” to start; the only time is now

We all have wonderful ideas that we desire to implement; however, we often get in our own way by waiting for the so-called perfect time. Fact: there is no such thing as a perfect time to start anything. In fact, the best projects are often birthed when there is outright chaos. The only question you need to ask yourself, is whether you can live with yourself if you do not execute this project? If your answer is no, then you know what to do: start.

4. Have a plan, and always revise the plan

When deciding the look and feel for the website, as a team, we spent a lot of time brain-storming, not just about the features that would be included in the site, but adding key elements to the overall blueprint of the project. While building the portal, we often had to revert back to the blueprint and make necessary changes that would propel the project forward. Having a plan in mind is key, but it is just as equally important to understand that the plan will be ever-changing, because when you are birthing your business from concept to functional start-up, curveballs will be thrown your way. And when those curveballs come (and they will), instead of giving up and throwing in the towel, revise the original blueprint and continue moving forward.

3. Start with what you have

A lot of people do not start their start-up projects because “they don’t have the capital”, “the economy is on the downturn” and so forth. If you are serious about creating your business, you need to have an honest look at your current position and look at what you have. For example, most of us have laptops, and more often than not, simply having a computer can be sufficient when birthing your start-up. In business terminology, it’s called “bootstrapping” or “lean start-up”. Whichever term appeals to you, one thing is undeniable, we all have exactly what we need to be able to bring the concept from vision to tangible. So, examine your position and use what you have to get your business to the next level.
2. Having a great team is key

A lot of start-ups fail because the founder does the job of 5 to 10 people. The ability to multi-task is an admirable one; however, if you are serious about creating a long-term business you need to think about having a team. Since most start-up business owners do not have a lot of capital to play around with, a way to assemble a team would be to look at hiring freelance interns, whether they are students or job-seekers who are keen on adding value. If you do not have the funds to be able to create that structure, look within your circle of people you trust and approach them. Some will say no, but some might just say yes. That way, you have a group of people that are committed to helping you get your business off the ground without having to pay a cent. If you can find a way to add value to your team members, then they too will add value towards your venture. So, stop doing everything on your own and create a strong team – it will definitely take your business to the next level. Total disclaimer: it’s much more fun having a team anyway.
1. Launch and then tweak

There is no such thing as a perfect launch. A lot of my failures came from my stressing about having a perfect launch, and being part of the sensual guide project taught me the golden principle of “Launching and then tweaking”. If you have set a specific date to launch your product, then you have to honour the commitment you made to yourself, your team and your awaiting clientele. Your launch won’t be perfect. More often than not, something will go wrong. Instead of stressing or running around like a headless chicken, keep calm and deal with the problem the best way you possibly can. Once you have launched, you have an amazing opportunity to obtain valuable feedback from your clients. Make use of the information you get in order to create a wonderful experience for your client. After all, a happy client means a happy business that has the ability to move from milestone to milestone and maintain longevity. So what’s the magical phrase? Launch and then tweak.

If you are still on the fence about what steps to take next, remember to ask yourself important questions about your motive(s), because that is what will sustain you when the bumps on the road show up. If your motive (or motives) is compelling enough for you, then the next step is obvious: start, and simply do the best you can every single day. A journey is a series of steps, so have a vision of the destination, but focus all your energy on each step! The world is in need of fresh ideas, because the current model has become obsolete. So, just like you did in the beginning – say yes. And the world might just say yes to you, but the only way to know is to start.

 

 

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