Startup Community: Seven key learnings from building a startup

For the past two years, I have been a part of building a sustainable and scalable business for a startup called Startup Everywhere. We have developed and positioned a strong brand in demand, worked with some of the biggest corporates in the world and created new communities. These are some of my key learnings.

Titles don’t define us
My official title in the company has been co-founder and COO. However my actual role has been much broader, more hands-on and very entrepreneurial. I have acted as owner, employee, mentor, student and friend. I have adopted roles such as facilitator, relationship builder, project manager, fundraiser, text writer, coach, social media manager and public speaker. So be prepared to do it all!

Not dissimilar to marriage
My partnership and friendship with my business partner have been crucial. We have encouraged each other to be ourselves, while learning from each other. We have pushed each other in order to gain new perspectives. It can be extremely challenging to be good friends and business partners at the same time. But when it works, it is the best. And most importantly, you need to have the room to disagree. If you see everything the same way, then you are probably wrong.

Go ‘entreprofessional’
An entrepreneur is typically defined as risk-willing, passionate and opportunistic – important traits if you want success. But the real magic happens when this is combined with the traits of a traditional professional with analytical skills, rational thought and a strategic approach. The two stereotypes do not always like each other, but the best companies have a mix of them. Find the right mix!

Budgets are business
When entrepreneurs are wrapped up in concepts and ideas, it’s easy to lose sight of their spending. Learning to understand your burn rate is crucial, and paying close attention to it is critical.

Keep refining
We realised that business models need to be constantly developed, tested and refined – again and again. Do a pilot operation, measure it, learn from it and change it if necessary.

Build a skilled team
Team up with someone who offers a different skill set from you, but has the same drive and vision. And surround yourself with good talent. It might take time, but do it right.

Hire slow, fire fast
Don’t hire someone just because you need them now. Seriously! Take your time, do conduct several interviews and give them an assignment. Make sure you find someone with the right values who fits your culture and is eager to learn and work hard. Oh, and do take references!

How about you? What are your key learnings and how can you apply them to your startup or established company?