I’m going to share a lot of information about my startup experience so it would be logical to start with introducing of who am I and what I’m doing.
I’ll try to make a long story as short as possible. As you probably know, I was born and raised in Belarus. I can proudly say that I’m a lawyer in the second generation: my mum, dad and brother are all lawyers. I graduated from The Law College of the Belarusian State University first and Belarusian State University later and got a bachelor’s degree in Business Law.
Graduation @The Law College
I’ve been working in a full-cycle software development company for more than 5 years as HR director first and Business Development Manager later. And after that joined a startup of a friend of mine. From that time I started a new exciting, challenging, cognitive, unstable, sometimes stressful, sometimes fun period of my life.
My first awesome team @CactusSoft
Out startup is called Adzuki. It’s a Japanese bean, however, what we are doing is not related to agriculture or food 🙂 Adzuki team is creating a platform for fashion bloggers, where we first identify up-and-rising stars on social, invite them to be a part of our platform and give an awesome tool to create useful and engaging content. This tool is a plugin for websites, that makes any image a) shoppable b) supported with a carefully picked and curated personal recommendations of styles from the blogger. It means, that now you don’t need to search for dress or shirt, which was worn by the blogger (and most probably already sold out or not available in your size/location/colour), but you will have a range of choices that the blogger thinks are match the best with her style and taste.
If you press on this link, you can check how it works. It’s a first prototype of the tool, which helped us a LOT to test our ideas, wishes, fears, problems and so on and so of. Initially, we started this project with a slightly different idea, but after a couple of pivots, we came to what we have now. It’s not so easy to change the direction in the middle of the development process, but it is what it is if you are focused on success but not just constant regret that something went wrong or was not planned. And, yes, it’s impossible to know and plan everything in advance if you are building something that hasn’t existed before.
What have I learned over these years:
- Your product – it is great, but your team is everything
You have to know, first of all, WHY are you doing this personally and all together. You have to be like-minded. You have to be ready for mistakes, learn from them and forgive them. You have to LOVE working with each other, admire skills and knowledge of your teammates and be respectful. You have to be patient, understanding and ready to help. You must be sincere.
- The work can’t be done just by itself
The same as the decision couldn’t be made somewhere by somebody. You have to discuss, doubt, fight, offer solutions, do brainstorming – well, just PARTICIPATE in a daily life of the project. You shouldn’t sit and wait while another “department” will solve the problem because there are no departments in the startup. Every voice of each team members is needed and matters. Every.
- Be ready to be wrong
Every single day. Building something new – it’s a learning process but not the way to prove that you are the smartest, more experienced, better educated or whatever else. Listen to others, appreciate the advice, read books, watch videos. All these – are small bricks to your success.
- Looking and feeling stupid is not so bad
It is natural to make mistakes, it’s is AWESOME try something new, experiment, FAIL, learn and turn it into your experience. Accept your mistakes, discuss them and learn from them. As long as you focused on being perfect you are not focused on your product.
- Learn to trust
Of course, YOU are the most beautiful, smart, sharp. But you simply can’t know and do everything. Be aware, if you become a bottleneck of all decisions and processes – it will slow down the whole process in dozens of times. So, don’t be afraid to delegate and leave some tasks on other people. And you might be surprised how smart and creatively they can be done by others.
- Do a research
Someone hates is, someone loves it. Regardless, if you are the first or second type – you MUST do it. Every team member must do it. Not for copy-pasting, proving that something can not work, but JUST TO LEARN.
- Discuss your product
With everyone, if even this person is nor related to your industry. Someone can point on your mistake, someone can recommend something or somebody, someone can introduce you to the right person. Well, you got it.
- Be clear
As clear as possible. Impossibly clear. Learn to do it every day. It will help you not only in your work but also in personal communication. Define clear tasks, speak your mind, ask dozens of times if you were understood exactly the same way that you was trying to explain.
- Be a hard worker
It’s your life, your product and your future. It depends only on you if you make the story of your life successful or not. Stop complaining. Just get the shit done. Regardless if it depends on you, weather, environment, politics or whatever. And, of course, LEARN. Every day learn something new.
- Learn to be strong and well-balanced
You must find a balance in your personal life, health and mood. Work on building your personality same way as you are building your own company. Remember, if your personal life sucks – everything around sucks as well.