What a hell of 3 months!
During the last 3 months I haven't got a single minute to take care of this blog. I started a new adventure and moved to Ireland to attend the Bank of Ireland Accelerator Programme in Cork with my startup Sbaam. There I spent 3 incredible months with a huge amount of lessons learned about startups and entrepreneurship. I want to share with you 5 of the best quotes I heard from the mentors and explain what I learned from them.
Consider this is my first "non technical" post with a lot of english written text. You'll probalby find it plenty of mistakes, so feel free to send me an email and help me to improve it (and improve my english too :P)
1. Being an entrepreneur is hell
"Welcome... to hell!"
– Bill Liao (@liaonet)
This is the very first phrase I remember from a mentor. It was the opening day and Bill was one of the first speakers. He wanted to warn us about the upcoming months, but also about our choice of being entrepreneurs.
Yes, it may sound trivial but it's true. Many think that being an entrepreneur means freedom, money and 0 responsibilities. The truth is that this is absolutely not the case!
Entrepreneurs work a lot more than the usual workers (and this very often includes nights, weekends and holidays). They have to care about their business in every single moment and every stakeholder ends up to be their boss: customers, investors and partners require a lot of attention, their money (and time) are not supposed to be wasted!
And, speaking about entrepreneurs' earning, get ready to spend months, sometimes even years, without a single cent in your pocket especially if it's your first time as an entrepreneur. Every penny you have should be invested in your business because at the end of the day you are the "number one" investor of your company.
2. Understand who you are, what you want to accomplish but don't forget about your customers
"Nail it and then scale it! Find your first 100 happy customers and really understand them"
– Sean O'Sullivan (@sosventures)
Sean explained us why most of the businesses fail: they simply are not focused in trying to solve a problem for their customers!
It's crucial to understand what you are doing and what your customers need. You shouldn't really keep adding 10 thousand features to your product or trying to attack every possible market and regions from day one.
Start small. Find a niche and try to grasp what's the real pain there. Then see if your solution solves the problem for real and see if people are willing to pay for it. If that's the case you found your first customers, well done! They are your most valuable asset, so you have to be sure they are really happy with you and that your solution is the best for them before trying to move on to a broader audience.
3. Passion breaks the point!
"You need to be totally and utterly in love with your business as it keeps you alive and your business itself alive"
– Daniel Ramamoorthy (@mynameisdanram)
Daniel has an incredible attitude of life and he is a surprisingly positive person. This quality is not something he is born with, but something that he developed in time and something that everyone can develop.
Great success can be achieved only if you work hard on staying positive and if you are totally passionate about what you are doing.
You will spend so much time and energies on your business that you can really perform only if this motivates you and makes you feel good.
There will be times when everything will go wrong and it will be almost impossible to remain positive. These are the moments in which you should find your way to keep going and recover your positivity. Going out for a walk, practicing some sport, reading a book, watching a movie, listen to your favourite music, talking with a friend are just few of the thousand possible solutions. Everyone is different and the key here is to find out what's the best way for you to release the stress and be ready to start again.
Daniel told us that he printed his favourite quote on the ceiling over his bed. Everytime he wakes up in the morning this is the first thing he see and this allows him to remember who he is and what he is passionate about, this makes him ready to do his best during the day.
4. Surround yourself with great people
"You are the average of the five people you spend most time with"
– Seàn Gallagher (@seangallagher1)
Nobody is alone. Unless you are an hermit in the Himalayas your days will be spent with different people from work to family and friends.
The fact is that every one can give you something, so the trick is to surround yourself with the best people you can find. People that can teach you how to be better at something, people that can make you feel positive, people that can transmit their experience to you, people that can compensate your weaknesses. If you can do this you will surely became a better person day by day and will live happier.
This obviously applies also to your business: team, team, team! If you are an entrepreneur you will spend most of your days with your team so you have to build the best team in the whole World. Not necessarily the best in terms of individual skills but the best in terms of people and the synergy with them.
Just imagine what can happen to your business if your core team is not the right one...
5. You should work really hard if you want to look as good as a swan!
"You need to be as smooth as a graceful swan on a lake but you must keep pedalling very hard under the surface to maintain that forward momentum"
– Wayne Murphy, programme manager (@waynemurphy77)
This is really a great metaphor. I simply loved it.
I have two different interpretation of it.
The first is that you have to look great to every external observer, almost pretending that everything is possible for you. But being able to do so requires a huge and continuous effort, you can't fake it, you have to earn it!
My second interpretation is that once you start having some traction and you are floating smoothly on your way you have to start working even harder to keep the momentum and reach the next great milestone. So don't make the mistake to relax at the first goal reached, but immediately look at the next one and do what's needed to reach it, immediately!
These three months have been probably the best of my life in terms of learning and experience, so I have to say a huge "thank you" to everyone that made this possible.
Secondly i'd like to have your opinion and interpretation of all this quotes. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me which one of these five lessons you liked most.