Nine Lessons I've Learned Launching and Running My Own Business
I've founded and run Sail Magazine for about four years now- it's an Emirati magazine that covers topics in community, culture, and creativity. The magazine's content is fully written and illustrated by Emiratis -which gives it the twist that it's all Emirati content- making it one of the few if not the only publications that you can read the real (and true) Emirati opinion. Over the years, Sail had its ups and downs, recognitions and abandonments from the mainstream media, and so on, until finally we were recognized from the British Council as the "Digital Publisher Entrepreneur of UAE." In the years that I've been running Sail, I've learned a few things that are terrific business lessons for any industry:
1. The Work Persona Differs Writers are a very sensitive bunch. Running a magazine means the editorial process has to be thorough, more than any regular blog and at sometimes more than a daily newspaper. Every article goes through several levels of review until its last form, which means, most likely, the article will change at least a little along the way from the original draft. I learned along the way that if any of your staff is one of the sensitive ones, you should stop trying to correct them, and just learn how to deal with them in a way that brings out the best in them, and understand that their sensitivity is also behind their creativity.
2. Unpredictable User Behavior I learned that some content that I may think would sell because it is well structured and well thought out doesn't always sell as I hoped. And some content that I wouldn't have thought it would be read much, is sometimes what hits the jackpot. People's tastes are different; always remember that when offering a service or a product, that your customers wouldn't necessarily have the same opinion or taste as you.
3. Deadline Motivators Running people without money is one of the hardest and easiest things on earth. I run an empire on contributors, so it can get tough to get them to submit the content on time when there is nothing really at stake- in this case, pay or tenure. But it always comes back to the same basic stuff to get anyone to deliver anything, remind them that they are doing what they love to do, and the end goal is to have their name out there in the best form possible. If your team loves what they do, they'll deliver in abundance and way ahead of time.
4. Unlikely Sources Of Great Ideas When you receive opinions or suggestions, and you will receive plenty in any business you run, make sure you jot the ideas down and keep an open mind, even if it's not exactly something that you like. Sometimes it's those ideas that make the radical breakthrough for your business.
5. Analyze Potential Partnerships Some people will always want to be a part of a great business, and they most likely will approach you to form a bond. If your business have been running for a while, it gets harder to partner up because you've already come a long way in your particular journey and oftentimes, the other person has a different agenda than you do. Unless you are willing to compromise a lot, then it's not right. Even if you are willing to compromise, you need to ensure that this person has the same mindset, goals, and objectives as you, or else they can take the business direction elsewhere. If partnering isn't working out, remember, you can still recruit them as relevant executives in their area of best delivery. Why miss out on a dedicated resource who can benefit the business well?
6. Pick Your Path People will always come forward with ideas, but you can't execute all of them. You won't always have the resources or the manpower to get it done- in specific the people who offer up suggestions (and volunteer to do the work) can drag you down a long way before you finally realize they'll never really do it. So choose the ideas you want to run wisely to avoid wasting your time and energy on a suggestion that isn't even worth it. Choose your battles wisely.
7. Priorities Are Priorities Content matters, but an engaged audience is just as important. Quality content is important, but a content that sells is as important to stay in business.
8. Keep The Goal State In Sight Having a vision as to where you want to take your business for that matter and why have you started it are the most essential things. It's easy to get distracted and detour into a million different directions with the abundance of opinions, suggestions, and collab requests that you get along the way.
9. Keep Your Head Up You need to keep believing in what you do always, no matter how many downers you face, how many rejections, and how many slow periods you may go through. Just keep going, keep persisting, and keep working hard, and you'll eventually reach where you want to be. You'll create the success you dreamed of that is rightfully deserved!