3 Lessons I learned building a Whale 🐳
Unicorns 🦄 are everywhere but here’s what I learned building a Whale.
When they tell you entrepreneurship isn’t easy. It’s no joke. Take having a family, raising small kids, AND growing a business, and I’m surprised anyone makes it out alive, never mind anything else.
Everyone has their own piece of sage advice regarding entrepreneurship. I don’t want to share any sage advice.
I want to give you the 3 hard lessons you need to survive entrepreneurship, or perhaps at least to share the 3 hard truths I wish I’d known before starting out!
How to add 10 years of stress in 1 year
If you think you’re stressed trying to manage a family and a professional life, then entrepreneurship takes that to the next level. Think stress on steroids! Get used to it and find ways to deal.
I think as humans we’re prone to want to ignore stress. It’s that whole fight or flight story.
Entrepreneurship will add 10 years of stress in 1! You’ll be trying to ‘woo’ investors, solve a customer query, grow your pipeline, pay invoices and bath the kids all at once. It can drive you crazy OR
You can face it differently. It’s all about developing resilience like athletes do when they’re training. They consciously seek to push further than before.
Just like athletes approach training and competing with a plan, systemizing your business and developing habits will go a long way to turning you into Neo from the Matrix. You’ll see the bullets coming and have the skills to deal.
Entrepreneurship + life is the ultimate test but bottom line;
“In a tough situation, stress makes you stronger.”
2. Know who you’re for you are
LOTS of resources will tell you to figure out your ideal customer profile (ICP) but here’s something I learnt the hard way.
If you don’t know who you are first and what you’re for, you’re in for a rocky ride. You won’t be able to define your audience and you certainly won’t attract the right talent, or customers for that matter.
I recently chatted to Omer Khan from SaaS on The Realities and Struggles of Building a SaaS Startup. You can listen to some of the story on their podcast.
When I met my co-founder Bram, we knew we wanted to do something but we didn’t know what! So we scrambled trying to figure out what to build.
After a couple of false starts, we sat down and asked two hard questions “who are we?” and “what do we want to help others solve”.
At Whale, we unlock the next level of growth for scale-ups. It took us a while to be able to articulate this focused purpose and is what has enabled us to hire the right talent and gain traction.
3. Celebrate growth, no matter how small
As an entrepreneur, you’re taught to DREAM BIG!
So you dream big! You read all these stories with valuations of millions of zeros. So when your business is gaining traction by the ‘relatively’ small hundreds or thousands, you tend to downplay it.
John Rampton, Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP said it best;
“Starting a company is hard, growing one is hard, and running a one is hard. Doing this day in and day out can be tiresome. Sometimes I feel like I’m not winning or getting anywhere.”
Because unlocking growth is what we do, we’ve tied it into our metrics and our meetings. Mondays we meet to plan the next steps to take and Fridays we celebrate the practical growth achieved, no matter how small.
1 new product update, 1 new client etc.
So remember, entrepreneurship is tough. Most people don’t succeed in the first month or even the first year but if we wanted the easy road, we’d never have become entrepreneurs in the first place right?