Team Talk Tuesday – A note from the founders on launching a startup! #TTT
“When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary”
– Dale Carnegie
Co-founding a startup is a little like dating. The last person you speak to before falling asleep in the early hours of the morning is your co-founder. The person you wake up to texts from is your co-founder. Even the person you start spending most of your time with is your co-founder. As a result, it’s pretty important that you get on, and perhaps more importantly, share a vision. When we (Aamar and Johan) met, the revelation that we shared a vision was instant. Within 10 minutes, we were talking about where our startup, Funding Invoice, would be in 3 years’ time. Our long-term goals were aligned in a way that it hadn’t been with previous potential co-founders. It’s more difficult than one would imagine to find another person crazy enough to let a shared dream become an obsession. Fast-forward a few months, skip past some ups and downs and gloss over some heated (yet productive!) discussions and we’re ready to launch. Before we do, here are a 7 lessons we’ve learnt on our journey thus far.
- When two partners always agree, one of them isn’t necessary. – Whilst, as mentioned above, we share a long-run vision, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have our short-term, day-to-day tiffs. We’ve discovered that the key to overcoming these disputes is to completely swallow your pride. It’s not about who is right and who is wrong but rather finding the correct solution regardless of who concocted it. As long as co-founders care more about achieving the best outcome rather than being right, efficient decisions can be made. The way we deal with decisions on which we disagree is to step back and stop trying to convince each other that the other is wrong. Instead, we look to be proven wrong by the other’s argument and, usually, the better argument then wins.
- Rest makes you more productive – It’s easy to get caught up with the idea that launching a startup is all about all-nighters and sleep deprivation. Whilst it’s true that you have to work hard and you often might not get as much sleep as you’re used to, it’s important to strike a balance. Recent studies have found that there are no returns to work after 55-hours per week. Whilst we don’t agree with the 55-hour number, we do agree with the principle. It’s not really about the number of hours worked, once you feel yourself seriously lacking concentration and reaching negative returns to effort then you should rest – whether that’s after 55-hours, 65-hours or 95-hours is down to the individual.
- Look after your body and your mind will look after itself – This ties in with the second point but rather than sleep, we’re talking exercise. An early-morning workout can give you that extra level of concentration that boosts your performance throughout the day. When you enjoy your work, it can be easy to fall into the slump of working 20-hour days with minimal sleep and exercise but you can almost literally feel your body and mind start to deteriorate. It’s healthy to have hobbies and interests outside of work to make sure that you’re constantly developing all aspects of your life as well as giving your mind a well-earned rest.
- Prioritise tasks efficiently – Perhaps easier said than done but once you find a balance which works for you, productivity reaches new heights! In our office we use a whiteboard with sticky notes (pictured below) to manage tasks. There are a range of apps and software out there which do similar things but our team loves having a visual representation on the wall at all times as a reminder of what we’re doing, what we’ve done and what we’re doing next!
- Schedule important meetings in the morning – This is probably one that benefits those of us who hate getting out of bed early in the morning. Scheduling early morning meetings ensures that a) you have something to look forward to and b) if you want to be on you’re A-game, you’d better be up early enough to be ready! As a secondary point, we’ve found that having important meetings in the morning means that you don’t spend the whole day preparing for them such that once it’s out of the way, you can get on with your day as normal.
- Playing to your strengths is great, playing to your weaknesses is growth – It’s important to not focus only on the things that you do well. In a team of people with very different skill sets, it’s great because we can share our strengths and are open about our weaknesses. If you’re always resting in your comfort zone, you’ll probably be getting on with your work just fine but you run the risk of stifling your personal development. In life and in business, you either win or you learn and learning is the only way to grow.
- Have fun with it – In our opinion, this is the most important part of being an entrepreneur. To be clear, we’re not saying that every day you should be having loads of fun and not getting any real work done. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, right? We do believe, however, that in the long-run you should make sure that you enjoy what you’re doing. If your business doesn’t excite you and keep you on your toes, it’s probably not the right one for you. The only way to keep your ambitions and desires alive is to be passionate about what it is that you’re doing. We’re both workaholics but that’s only because we love our jobs, we love our industry and we love our product. If we were launching a business that didn’t inspire us or excite us, we wouldn’t work with the same effort that we do!
This list will probably change as we grow as partners and as entrepreneurs but that’s what it’s all about. Development, progress and continuous learning are key to success in any venture, business or personal, and we’ll keep you up to date with real-life business lessons as we learn them going forward.