Now that I'm eighteen I can finally legally set up a business and hold a directorship at that. But starting a business is not just signing the documents and sending them to the relevant organisation. It is a process. A process of nurturing and developing something in order for it to succeed in the future. It would be a lie if I told you that I didn't do an awful lot of things over the last year horribly, horribly wrong. So I decided I would write a blog post detailing what NOT to do when starting a business.
1. DON'T Lose Focus
From the start of this journey one of my biggest problems was staying focused on what we were trying to do. Evan (co-founder) and myself have very active minds, by that I mean we get distracted pretty damn easily. For the first 6-9 months it was almost as if every day the product was changing. Some of these ideas may have been great but when it comes down to it, we were never really going to be able to actually implement these features? First we started off as a subscription service then a three product kit and now this. Notice anything? The product has gone from being 12 different kits down to 3 down to 1. Why 1? Simplicity.
This kind of simplicity is something which can only be attained through focus. Remove everything else from the equation and just FOCUS. If you keep the focus you won't waste 6-9 months of your time messing around and you will be a lot further along than we were at the 1 year mark.
2. DON'T Think About Investment
Ah investment, is it a friend or is it a foe? At that beginning it is a foe and I have no doubt about that. So many people start a business and focus more on getting investment so much that they actually lose focus on the product. If you don't have a product/service you WON'T get investment. How can you invest in something that simply doesn't exist? You can't. So don't think about investment for now.
I know this from my own experience. For the first 9 months while working on the product all Evan and I were thinking about was investment. Honestly, I want to go back and punch that Evan and that Adam in the face for being so damn stupid. Focus on your product and when your product is ready then you are ready to seek investment.
3. DON'T Forget Why You're Doing It
Number one reason why a business is successful? The driven and passionate individuals that are behind that business. We started Robotify from a very real place. We simply wanted to help. To play our part in the world and to make an effort to actually change something. Soon we realised we could actually turn this into a business and make a living off something we love.
It's this passion and burning want to do something that will set you apart from your competitors. Remember why you started something and even in times of hardship you will strive through. Trust me on this one, your business will NEVER be successful if you don't believe or care about what your company is trying to do!
4. DON'T Give Up
Look, I understand this is most probably the most cliché point I could possibly make however it is a cliché for a reason. The fact is there are going to be times when you are doing something that nobody is ever going to see or ever going to know that you have done. Honestly, it is moments like these that make you feel like giving up. Staying up late through the night to work on something you don't want to work on but you know will help the business. Or going to some event you don't want to go to just so you can make some potential connections. Or struggling to get a product off the ground after what seemed to be a year of hard graft.
Don't let these moments get to you because if you do, you will no succeed and you will most likely give up. Focus on the wins, however small they may be. They will get you through these moments of sheer frustration and keep you going.
In conclusion, starting a business isn't easy and we aren't perfect but we have learned from our mistakes. If you follow these four steps from the start along with some serious planning you should have the framework in place for a successful business.
Focus, Produce, Remember, Persist.