Five lessons from a Startup
Startup and ‘smallbiz’ are two words that go very well together, but how many start-ups feel that way by the end of their first year. Every journey as a startup is different and there are lessons I wished I had learnt before throwing myself into Tech Coach HQ. This is a celebration post of surviving my first year with Tech Coach HQ and five lessons I have learnt during that time.
1. Set up systems and procedures.
I have been to two Entourage ‘Uncoventions’ and learnt about systems and procedures when not only setting up your business but then maintaining them especially in your first year.
Sometimes though you actually need to step back and work out your ‘trigger points’ that stop you from doing these tasks. For me, personally it was dealing with paper trails around the house. This was only realised once I had Denise Childs from Systems for Order in to help me work on filing systems and organising my study space.
Challenge 1: What do you do when you bring the mail in? Do you open it before getting inside, or is it put in a set place (or multiple places)? I actually had six different places where the paper trail led and now try and break the cycle and file the appropriate bills/paperwork as I bring them in from the mailbox. I also do the same with conference/expo/workshop material, otherwise it also ends up in a particular spot.
2. Work out what you are good at and outsource the rest
I have worked out over the past year my weak points and have tried to surround myself with a support crew who can help me out with the things I struggle in. Coming from a teaching background over 10 years, business skills weren’t necessarily something I was taught during that time of teaching in both primary and secondary classrooms.
SEO, Internet marketing and business strategy (including getting a good business plan going) are things that I have sought advice for and paid service providers to help out in this arena. My next thing on the list is book keeping, sales funnels and lead generation to help Tech Coach HQ succeed in 2014.
Challenge 2: What are your weakest points in the business? Sometimes it really does make a difference if you pay to get someone to help you out. It will save a lot less stress, save you time (because you are not trying to do it yourself) and money in the long-term.
3. Have a digital footprint (but in a good way)
Having used social media for a few years before I set up Tech Coach HQ meant that I had already been using LinkedIn and Twitter as an active user. Even though I went with a different name for the business rather than ‘Megan Iemma’ it has been challenging trying to connect the two for my digital footprint.
What has been the biggest surprise for me, is using Pinterest as a business tool. I don’t currently sell products (though this will change in 2014) and it has been interesting the growth in my followers as an expert in ‘digital knowledge’. I also learnt that automation of ‘blog posts’ can be a good way of sharing content with your fans on social media. I use a mixture of ‘Buffer’ and ‘Hootsuite’.
4. Connect and Joint Ventures
I think a great concept with any networking opportunity is to ask ‘How can you help me’ or equally ‘How can I help you?’. This conversation starter has opened doors that I previously would not have thought possible and shown ways to engage with both B2B and B2C. Not all of these opportunities have exploded and taken off (in fact some of them have fizzled quite early on) but it has given me good experience on what I really want to focus on with Tech Coach HQ.
Challenge 4: What are three possible joint ventures that you could set up with your business? Ask for referrals when networking and offer referrals of course in return.
5. Self-belief and motivation
As with any business whether it is a small micro-business and multi-million dollar enterprise, business owners are always going to suffer self-doubt and loss of motivation at some point. A wise friend told me last year you need at least ‘seven contact points’ with a person/business before sometimes things eventuate and that helped after getting stuck on a particular deal. A close friend, Fiona Lucas from iRespectOnline shared today with me via twitter ‘don’t care what the other person is doing’ and I think this is very wise advice regardless of whether you are a startup or an established business.
Challenge 5: What are three things that can sometimes pull you down mentally in your business?
Overall Reflection: There are some key things I have learnt setting up Tech Coach HQ and will carry them through with me in 2014. The biggest piece of advice: Don’t give up!