Today’s post will be slightly different from the others. But as I have spoken a lot about getting organised, structure your day, being efficient. In a nutshell it’s about valuing time as the most valuable asset we have. It’s the only thing we can’t get back or more of it. We all have one life. We don’t know for how long we will be on this planet.
Since roughly 2 years I am reading a lot of books and I am always on the outlook for great books. One I came across is an absolute classic. It’s called “on the shortness of life”.
Time – our most valuable asset
As mentioned above our time is crucial and valuable. Therefore I absolutely love great book summaries. The animated ones by FightMediocrity on YouTube are a great example. I found a super short version of “on the shortness of life” and decided to share it with you. It’s maybe not a real “summary” but transfers the message pretty well. You can find many more animated videos on his channel – worth a search.
Flow … “in positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.” (Definition by Wikipedia)
Searching for the flow
In the beginning I found it pretty tough to structure myself and adjust to the new work environment. When you work full-time you usually get up at a certain time. Leave the house at a certain time. Commute. Arrive at work. Have your lunch break at a certain time and leave at a certain time. All these things are no longer given when you are self-employed and working from home.
You also have no longer an agreed target you have to reach and regularly get togethers or weeklies to review your progress. You have to set targets for yourself, for your business and keep yourself accountable.
There is a lot of change going on and the flow can be easily lost in the whole process.
Adapting and getting into the flow
For me it took roughly a month to fight all the confusion and set up at least a rough routine of planning and day structuring. It’s not yet perfect of course and still a long way to go. But at least I get my stuff done, have most of my shit together and know I was productive on that day. This was the worst feeling ever in the beginning when you couldn’t see any results. I hate the feeling of being “busy”. I truly believe there is no point in being busy. But I believe in hard work and productivity and efficiency.
Since I created myself at least a rough structure and clearly defined my priorities it was easier to keep focus and get results. Another thing that helped me was to define my money making activities as well as urgent and important actives. This way I can easily priorities my tasks, structure my day and have still enough flexibility to react to unforeseen events.
How are you getting on in the first exciting and chaotic weeks as a new entrepreneur?
British Library is one of the largest libraries in the world. They have a fantastic Business and IP Center where they hold regular workshops and trainings for Entrepreneurs. Many of their events are for free. Or you can use their search tools for an in-depth desk research of your product and market.
You also have the chance to book a 1-2-1 to get some more customised guidance. It’s a pretty great resource for everyone who is London based and wants to start on their own.
Yesterday however was Startup Day at British Library. A huge event with various speakers from different backgrounds.
Lean Startup Approach
One of the things that came up and I thought was worth sharing with you is the Business Model Canvas. The Business Model Canvas is a template to develop your business model. It’s great in case you use a Lean approach. The Lean approach is a “slim” approach version of your business model and process. This means you eliminate any waste and keep it as simple as possible. You usually build a minimum viable product – one that is a sim downed prototype of your product or service and test it in the market. You ask as many potential customers and early adopters as possible to build the best product as possible. Best product does mean the one that is wanted by the market. There is a great book about this whole topic it’s called the Lean Startup by Eric Ries. I will link it for you here.
As I mentioned before the Business Model Canvas is a great tool – a one pager that helps you think through a product and / or service.
You can access many templates for free. I can recommend you the one by Nesta as they also have a lot of other helpful resources for free. I used their page a lot as I generated a business plan during my postgraduate studies last year. You can access their resources here. It’s great for building a business in UK – but many of the sources are also great and relevant for businesses abroad.
The Business Model Canvas
The Business Model Canvas can help you to become more clear on your vision and how to achieve it. You find different categories worth thinking through on one page that gives you a great overview. The categories are:
Key Partners – Who will help you?
Key Activities – How do you do it?
Value Proposition – What do you do?
Audience Relationships – How do you interact?
Distribution Channels – How do you reach them?
Audience Segments – Who do you help?
Cost Structure – What will it cost?
Revenue Stream – How much will you make?
You can access a downloadable version of the Nesta Business Model Canvas template here. It’s a great way to get clear on what you want and also to cross check whether this makes sense. It’s also great in case you do not want to write a “proper” business plan (although it can be helpful to put in the work and sometimes necessary) to have at least everything thought through.
A while ago I met an old friend I studied with back in 2006. We kicked off our careers at the same bank and had equal opportunities. The main difference is that I have left the bank after six years and she stayed. Along with her some other colleagues have stayed with the bank and celebrate now their 10th anniversary.
So I have a direct comparison of what title and salary I would be on right now.
But I left.
Was it worth it?
When I left the bank to join a startup company many people thought I would have lost my mind. Maybe I did. Do I regret it? Not at all.
Financially I might have gone a huge step back. Especially with now having founded a startup company there is no such benefits as paid holidays, paid insurance, expensive incentives and bonuses etc.
But I guess it’s not all about a financial aspect. Journeys like mine will always loose when the benchmark is prestige or money.
Most startups fail and will never be successful. So, my decisions to get into business on my own was also risky – in every aspect.
Why did I do it?
I did it anyways and would do it over and over again as I used my 20-ies to gain experiences. To try out different industries, to figure out what I enjoy doing and also what I definitely hate doing.
I went back to University and I did this in a different country. Two things I wanted to do forever and would have regret if I wouldn’t have done them.
For me the whole thing isn’t too frustrating anyways as I had never the aspiration to have a quick win. I am in it to win it. I am in it for the long run.
I truly believe legacy over currency.
All this blogging stuff I definitely don’t do to become rich. Or to become famous. This would actually freak me out if I would because I sometime don’t even know whether anyone is reading this. If you do, please give me a hint so I know I am not alone.
Legacy over currency
Of course I want to make money – preferably a lot. But I believe you have to put the work into it. And I want to do this by delivering great customer experiences, great products and great service.
Therefore I guess I might no longer be comparable to my colleagues from earlier days and that’s fine. I would make any decision over and over again. And to answer the question: Yes, I truly believe it is worth it. I am creating the life I want. It sometimes sucks, it can be lonely but so does employee life. Je ne regret de rien.
It’s MyNutShare’s birthday week – whoop whoop 🙂 I registered this blog in September 2015 and my very first post went online on September 26th last year.
Can’t believe it’s been a whole year already.
Anyways, back to basics… Today it’s about startup struggle.
On Saturday we met an acquaintance for breakfast and a walk and talk. He teaches entrepreneurship on one of the leading business universities. The question “is entrepreneurship teachable?” came up … I guess it depends on the course and it’s content. When you want to teach someone the DNA to be an entrepreneur, the mindset, the hustle I believe it’s hopeless. There is literally no point in doing so. But if teaching entrepreneurship does mean teaching the toolkit, the business necessities needed to run and build successful companies I think there is absolutely a point. It surely does help to understand what makes businesses successful, how to test markets etc.
Startup struggle – it’s real
Another thing that came up was that most startups struggle with exact the same things.
So many of us struggle to focus and worry about stuff that is either not relevant and / or will never happen. Therefore it might be a good idea to challenge the mindset’s in some courses. To challenge overthinking and teach brainstorming techniques etc. – to get away from the formal educational paths and teach stuff that matters to aspiring entrepreneurs.
5 things to quit right now
In line to the above point I came across a pic today on Instagram which states “5 things to quit right now” (source unknown).
It’s already day 33 of my series “BWM – My first 100 days as an entrepreneur”. Already 1/3 through the project.
How did you like the project so far? Would love to get to know your thoughts. And also to get an idea what was most beneficial for you so far.
Well, day 33. It’s been an exciting week. Becoming a professional trainer and learning all the necessary tools seems like a pretty good decision. I am currently sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight back home to London. It has been a real fun week but also pretty tensing. And I am also suffering from a small injury just now. But I guess I couldn’t be happier just now. Sitting here, looking at the airplanes and writing this post. It’s exactly what I have chosen to do and I am very pleased how everything has turned out until now.
My start as a blogger
In the beginning when I started MyNutShare I did not really where I will head to on this journey. And whether I was on a journey at all. I didn’t know whether I would enjoy blogging and sharing information with a totally unknown audience.
And the beginning was somehow weird. Weird in the meaning of communicating with the world. Without being sure that anyone is reading all this. It also took me quite a while to figure out what I really want to blog about. I had narrowed down a couple of subjects already from the beginning but still it felt pretty broad.
I always kinda new that entrepreneurship is what fascinates me most and what I would love to blog about. But I believe there is not really a point of blogging about entrepreneurship when you are not at least having a desire of being on the entrepreneurial journey.
Next to what to blog about I also had to decide on when and how often I’d like to blog. How often I wanted to blog was actually pretty clear pretty early. The only thing is I didn’t blog that often.
Why did I not blog as often as I wanted to? Because I had excuses! Many of them. I didn’t make it a priority. I didn’t fully commit to blog on a super regular basis.
The difference to then and now is that now I am blogging daily or at least every second day. Since 33 days. And I love it! I guess the big difference is that I on the one hand fully committed to this project and my blog. It’s part of my journey and I want to keep it this way.
And on the other hand I value writing a post very much. I of course try to deliver value and try to create enjoyable content. But I also document my journey. I have dedicated the daily time when I blog as my absolute me-time. The time where I have the opportunity to reflect every single day. I usually write my blog post at the end of each day and schedule them for the next morning. Non of my blogposts has a script or anything. Most of the times I don’t know what I will blog about tomorrow. Every blogpost is a total reflection of my day, my mood, my thoughts. It’s only a real impression of what it means to be on the entrepreneurial journey.
Building a company is like many other things hard work. This hard work does not stop the day you register your company and change your job title to director. This is usually where the hard work starts. The real hard work.
It’s the same with every other profession – you have to work hard towards your goals to eventually achieve them. That’s it. There are no overnight successes out there. Do you know one?
Deep insight we all know they don’t exist. Why would we then still pressure with this picture of overnight success and use this fairy tale as a benchmark?
The stuff that happened before starting a company
This is something pretty personal and maybe not quite transferable to every single startup out there but to a whole bunch of them. Before someone decides to start a company this person has an idea. Ideas are easy. We all have them. All the time.
But to actually execute an idea it takes a bit more than just having an idea. You usually also have a feeling whether this idea might work, whether this idea might be something valuable. You usually will have an idea that is different from what’s available right now. This idea might ideally help solve a real problem.
How do you get such an idea and figure out whether this idea is valuable? You will probably get such an idea by having a clue of the area you want to solve a problem in. You will probably have a certain level of expertise and understanding of this area. And then you will have to test the idea and also test the market.
This means even before you actually start working and testing an idea you will have put in a certain amount of work already.
In my case this means for example having been in sales for 10 years – in different industries, roles and areas of sales.
Starting a company
Only because you then eventually decide your idea is worth spending more time on and eventually this results in starting a company the work you’ll have to put in won’t stop there. It then starts! You can be great in sales but it is something totally different to teach or train someone else becoming a great sales person. You won’t have immediate customers, supporters, concepts and products.
Therefore when a person has started a company they usually will have to figure out a lot of stuff. They usually will have to put in a whole lot of work to get the company ready to actually start.
You start from zero. NADA. There is no infrastructure given. There is no business model yet. There is no payment system. There are no contracts. There are no price calculations. There is nothing.
One month in already – are you already successful?
Depending on how you would define success I guess one could stretch the answer to this question. But the real case scenario is probably “No”.
Especially when building a company for the long run you won’t sell a totally lean version. Especially not when your product is professional service. You will of course adapt your products along the way and get better over time. But there is no point in rushing too quickly into things, loosing patience. This does definitely not mean to wait till your product or service is perfect – because it never will be. But it does mean that it must be OK to think things true, to get your toolkit ready, to build something presentable and sellable. You build a business. You change you life. You change your lifestyle. I’m in it for the long haul. And I’m in it to win it.
Patience and overnight success
This external pressure like “do you already have a huge client?” as well as my internal pressure to hit the road running has been part of my journey from the beginning. The pressure and impatience to get started asap, to have the urgency of making money. And I had to understand and learn that it’s OK that creating good trainings concepts takes some time. That I can’t compare my chapter 1 with someone’s chapter 189. It’s just not working like this. I am in this game full-time since a month. I am on a pretty good way, keeping up with my pace but it simply takes a lot of work and a bit patience and time. Building a company is not a sprint. It’s a life change.
This videos gives a pretty great impression of the overnight success fairy tale, hard work and patience. All credit goes to Gary Vaynerchuk!
Do you know the African proverb “it needs a village to raise a child”?
This is what it feels like to start a company. It’s a bit like raising a child. Watching the baby making the first steps. Being proud. Being worried…
You will be challenged – constantly. It’s hard. And in the same time it’s a lot of fun! But entrepreneurship is for sure not for everybody. And therefore you will come across many people who won’t understand what the heck you are doing. Your friends who are not on the same journey as you are might not realise that you are changing your life. Your friends might not be interested because it’s not for them. It’s not a lifestyle model they can handle.
You will probably come across a couple of people who show no interest at all. Who are busy living their own lives and maybe simply forget to ask how it’s going. That’s life. That’s it.
Find your village, your tribe
You will need supporters. But these supporters do not necessarily need to be the people you know for ages. It might be even good sometimes to keep some things sometimes a bit separate.
But when you get on the entrepreneurial journey you will come across so, so many people who will support you.
I would have never ever imagined that I will build quickly so intense, deep business relationships based on the mindset of being on the same journey. But it happened. Pretty often.
You might move to another village
The people you will meet during your entrepreneurial journey might not be the people who are in it for the long run. It might not be long lasting relationships but there will be relationships. There will be touching points, there will be mentoring, there will be sparring.
It’s an amazing journey to go and the support is massive.
Even so many people who are not keen to become an entrepreneur themselves but who are interested on the startup story can be uber supportive.
Go out there, make contacts, share your story. We are all humans. We all have something to tell, to teach and to be happy about. The entrepreneurial journey can be lonely sometimes – but it doesn’t have to be all the time. Get close to the people that do you good and empower you.
Life is what happens while you are making other plans! Guess what.. I wanted to blog every day and was so far absolutely on track but will now summarise two days. I hope we can make an exception.
OK, so, what has happened?!
It’s been crazy busy. Simply life. When you start out there on your own you will get stuck in stuff you would have never imagined would be on your plate. But it is. A massive portion on your plate – deal with it.
This is what I was doing and I went to Octoberfest. Yes, totally right I took a day off. Regrets? Absolutely not!
Only a short break tho and absolutely back on track. Currently getting qualified as a professional trainer.
Train the Trainer
With having a company called SalesTrainerIn I thought it would be kinda self explaining to become a professional trainer. So, this week my training course has officially started and am currently learning how to structure my trainings to create the best courses for my clients.
It’s super exciting and again an amazing opportunity to push boundaries, challenge my thinking and grow.
Becoming a trainer
For me becoming a trainer is a goal that’s on my “bucket list” for ages. When I kicked off my career at Deutsche Bank back in 2006 I went to a couple of trainings and later on worked closely with coaches and trainers. I was always fascinated by a role that embraces constantly learning. To finally becoming a certified trainer is a big milestone for me.
Why? Because I believe that every company is only as good as the people. No matter what you sell, produce or design the people are the key factor to success. I also believe that sales people are not born but made. Therefore continuous training and development is a key element of success. And I love to become a small factor to help people perform at their best.