8 Lessons Learned Last Year as an Entrepreneur
The following post is from Juan Giraldo MBA’18, co-founder of Waku – Healthy Traditions. Waku is a delicious herbal infusion known as “the healing water” that has been consumed for centuries in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador for its health benefits.
- It’s all about momentum: David Chang – Summer Venture Program Director – always spoke about the importance of “momentum” during the summer and now I understand why he kept coming back to it. Momentum helps attract talent to your team (employees, advisors, investors, etc) and makes your start up move to the next stage. In the book about the Brazilian trio – Jorge Paulo Lehman, Marcel Herrmann Telles, and Carlos Sicupira –Dream Big from Crtistiane Correa, management guru – Jim Collins – affirms one of the key aspects of the trio’s success is being able to sustain momentum for years. They did this is by always pursuing big dreams. The key lesson learned here is you – as an entrepreneur – are in charge of building up and sustaining your momentum!
- Learn how to network via e-mail: This year I have contacted hundreds of people through various forms of introductions: friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends (you get the point). And I’ve understood there is etiquette regarding e-mail communications that can help you get better results. This article written by Dan Maccombie – Co-Founder of Runa – was really helpful in learning how to network effectively over e-mail. All of his advice is important but personally I think two points are key: Always follow up and say thanks!
- Be ready for thousands of “Nos”: Whether you are recruiting, fundraising, or selling; 90% of the time you will get no as an answer – at least at the beginning. Don’t take it personal, it is part of the game. I’ve understood that the best way to deal with no’s is smiling and using it as fuel to keep pushing harder. Leverage your momentum to get to yes!
- Be audacious: Stop thinking about what other people might think of you. If you don’t get stuff done for your start up nobody else will. In one of the best conferences I attended this semester Len Schlesinger – former Babson president – said a phrase that really resonated with me – “Don’t get hung up on status and prestige, do whatever it takes to succeed”-. From asking people for money to biking around Boston selling Waku door by door this year has been full of activities that have taken us out of our comfort zone.
- Run after people if needed. The day we met with Summer Venture Program advisors I specifically wanted to meet two of them – Martin Sinozich and Doug Fox – I had read their profiles beforehand and knew they could be important for our venture. After a couple of hours of workshops I realized Martin was leaving, I immediately stood up from the table and ran after him to introduce myself. He ended up being extremely helpful for Waku – offering valuable advice and industry connections. On the same line but even better, Doug left the room while I was talking to Martin (could you imagine!) so after I finished my conversation with Martin I ran after Doug who fortunately was in the restroom (I bet you did not know this story Doug!). Doug ended up mentoring Nico – my partner – and I on our positioning statement, a task we had been struggling with for a few months prior. This example is valuable to illustrate that if you don’t make it happen nobody else will, run after people if needed – you may loose an opportunity forever.
- Have at least 1 day off a week: I know is hard, I know you have thousands of things to do; however, if you don’t clear your mind you cannot think. Set aside time to reflect, do sports, take walks, and read. Do things that can take you out of the day to day to think strategically again and to evaluate if you are moving to the right direction.
- Communicate, Communicate, And Communicate: communicate constantly with all of your stakeholders. Send updates, show progress and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve realized people love to be involved and help in any way they can.
- Talk about your business to everyone you meet: World is full of serendipity, you never know who can change the trajectory of your business or your life.