Taking the plunge – one young entrepreneur’s thoughts on the world of digital business
Posted on 18th November 2017
It’s been a year and a half since I took the plunge and entered the world of business. It’s been an interesting journey to say the least. I’ve been fortunate enough to raise my first round of investment and I now run my own digital agency – Pogo Studio - and have grown my team to 5 full-time. We build apps, websites, e-commerce solutions and web applications using Microsoft Technologies and I bloody love it. Our website can be found here; www.pogo-studio.com. It goes without saying that it’s had a huge number of ups and downs and I genuinely think I’ve made more mistakes in the past 18 months than I had in the previous 22 years of my life. Consequently, I thought it would be useful to put some of the things I’ve learnt down on (digital!) paper. Some are good, others not so good….but, well, here goes.
1.As a general rule, people like to help – I have been blown away by how open and helpful people have been with me. I can honestly think of only two times in the past year and a half where I have asked to meet someone to pick their brains and they have said no. This has resulted in me getting in front of literally hundreds of people with far more experience than I have who have helped guide my business to be where it is today.
2.Your team is far more important than you are – I would not consider myself to be a massively talented person, particularly when it comes to programming as I don’t know any! This is fine though as I have built a team around me who are exceptionally talented programmers. What I bring to the table is completely different to our Operations Director and all three of our developers: collectively we have unique skills that extend the reach of our company. We have recently brought in a marketing consultant, which improves our mix of skills even further. In other words, don’t try and be everything at once. Understand what you’re good at and stick to it, but, more importantly, understand what you’re terrible at and avoid it like the plague.
3.You will have good days and bad days, and that’s okay – In my personal life, a bad day normally means that that I get a bit more stroppy than usual and end up buying something exceptionally unhealthy for dinner. In my business, a bad day results in me feeling a cold sense of dread creep up my face and having the ability to think slowly drain from me. The thought of my business going under scares me more than most things (other than spiders and flying – no human should enjoy be 30,000ft in the air). It’s okay to have days like this though. I’ve learnt to just keep my head down and ignore that feeling until it passes.
4.Don’t keep your idea close to your chest – The chances are if you have an idea someone in the world will also have had that – or a similar - idea. Don’t run around telling people you have a great idea but then not tell them what the idea actually is. It’s the adult equivalent of ‘I have a secret and I can’t tell you what it is’. From my experience, you should be more worried if no one has the same idea as you and, let’s be honest, people are far too busy to steal your idea. It’s not so much about the idea anyway, it’s about the execution.
5.Stop comparing your average to other people’s excellent – This is something I am awful for. You check on LinkedIn, or Twitter, and see people spouting out all of their good news. Which is fine, they are places to share good news and it’s always nice to see how others are doing, but stop assuming their journey has been easy and they don’t have negative aspects to their business. Just because they raised six figures, or have grown their team by five or made the biggest sale of their year doesn’t mean they haven’t gone through exactly the same stressful situations as you have. You only see glimpses of their life whilst you experience all of yours.
6.News travels fast – I don’t want to share any examples of this because that would be unprofessional, but I’ve encountered plenty of people in my time who have told me stories which have massively influenced my opinion of someone. Edinburgh in particular is a bad place for this: everyone knows everyone, and people love a good gossip. Be careful who you wrong, and if you do wrong someone be damn sure to apologise for it.
7.It can sometimes be a little lonely – I would consider myself to be exceptionally lucky with the support network I have. I have great mentors, a supporting family, a wonderful girlfriend and friends I can talk to. Saying that, sometimes I feel there isn’t anyone to talk to when I’m worried about my business. Sometimes it’s just not the right time, other times the people I’m talking to wouldn’t understand. This can often result in me feeling like I’ve bottled up my worries, which is never a good thing, especially on those bad days I was talking about above.
8.It can be very tiring at times – At uni an average day would consist of me falling out of bed at around 2 pm, playing my Xbox until the evening then jaunting to the pub with some friends. Having a schedule that starts as early as 6am and ends as late as midnight was a real wake-up call. Granted, the late nights are often spent networking, but talking to strangers for an evening can be bloody exhausting. It’s all worth it though, and if the world’s laziest student can do it, you can too.
9.Being organised is very important – I’m really, really, unorganised. This is a terrible thing. My room accurately reflects this and can often look like a bomb has hit it. I’m trying my very best to be more organised however. I’ve downloaded Evernote and I actually started using it the other week. I am trying so hard to stay on top of things, especially as we are becoming busier. It’s important to get good habits in early and stick to them.
10.It is massively rewarding – As with most things in life, it’s best to end things on a positive note. Setting up a business has by far been the most rewarding and amazing experience of my life to date. It’s given me a goal and every day I’m able to take steps towards that goal. Granted it can stress and frustrate the life out of me, but I love it. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
It’s probably important to say that these lessons only come from one individual’s experience and every single person will have a different journey. And that’s part of the fun – not really knowing where it’s going to go or how to really do it. I hope this has been of use to some people reading this, and who knows, maybe it will inspire one of you to take the plunge and get started. If anyone reading this would like to hear some more about my experience, or discuss their own, I’m always happy to have a chat, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Francis, Pogo Studio
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