5 Learnings From an Entrepreneurial Journey
As the startup grows beyond the founders, the firm's culture becomes a direct extension of the entrepreneur's personality
Elizabeth Kim once remarked, “We struggle through 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows in our lives”. Perhaps he forgot to add that being an entrepreneur will subject you to an additional 10,000 set of emotions.
From a journey that alternates between doubt, fear, failure, satisfaction and success, entrepreneurship is a whirlpool of emotions. Entrepreneurs are often seen as disruptors and world changers. However, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes which change the entrepreneur before he begins to change the world. Here are some learnings which might help in giving perspective.
1. The Art of Staying Balanced (Even When You Are Not)
Building a startup is an emotional rollercoaster and you are bound to face numerous breakdowns along the way. At the same time, everything that you build unavoidably becomes personal as it has grown from within you. This is where the DNA of the entrepreneur steps in - an entrepreneur has to learn to detach from his emotions and keep his ego away from the business. This might be challenging but you will soon realize that looking at problems objectively makes them relatively easier to solve as opposed to looking at them emotionally.
2. Building a company’s culture starts from day 1.
As the startup grows beyond the founders, the firm’s culture becomes a direct extension of the entrepreneur's personality. Entrepreneurs are synonymous with building products. However, a large part of an entrepreneurs’ journey goes in building and managing his or her team. We often look for ‘passionate’ individuals in startups. However, passion cannot be bought but rather has to be instilled, and an entrepreneur must be at the helm of this process. In chasing customers, investors and revenue, it is easy to neglect or deprioritize culture. However, culture is an intangible asset that not only brings in new talent but also keeps the employees motivated through all the lows.
3. Balancing Customer Experience vs. Growth
A startup is always hungry for exponential growth and entrepreneurs are always aggressive when it comes to expansion. However, the growth has to be measured against the cost at which it occurs. If the cost includes customer experience or product quality, the growth will do more damage in the long run. Sustainable growth can only be achieved with standardisation across product, service and quality.
4. Hire the Right People, Not The Best People
An entrepreneurs’ vision is dependent on the team he builds. In the search for A-grade talent, founders often pay great focus on experience and past achievements. However, working at startups requires a mindset and attitude matters more than aptitude. When you are building a product or idea from scratch, often there is no structure or process. During this period, you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty, reiterate and fail. Here’s where an entrepreneur decision making and ability to spot the entrepreneurial mindset comes into play.
5. The Best Way to Know Your Customer is to Meet Them
Data can help you capture your customer profile but if you truly want to understand your customers' emotion, you have to meet them. The experience of seeing your customer use your product in person is an enriching experience and you will be surprised with the ideas it can lead to. Founders must ditch their office and try to spend as much as they can with their customers. With time you will realize that the customer is not only adding to the revenue but also co-creating your product with his feedback.