Blog Archives: My Startup Lessons

Entrepreneur Events. Get out the building and explore!

Taking entrepreneur events for granted.

For many years I have frequented entrepreneur events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Some might say I am addicted.  But, after you read this post, you will know why it is addictive.  And, you might want some too.

Entrepreneurs are remarkably good at getting focused. Sometimes this works against them. Like when they stay holed up in their garage for months on end building a product, only to emerge at the end with something that nobody wants. All that focus and energy is lost.

Last night, I attended a gathering of entrepreneurs who were interested in New Zealand’s new accelerator programme: Lightning Lab. And, last night I got reminded why entrepreneurial events are so freaking awesome!

The people you meet are awesome!

When you get out of the building and go to events with other entrepreneurs you meet crazy, energetic, passionate people. These are people that are where you are, or have been where you’re going. They want to help as much as possible with your journey, because they’ve been through the struggle.

If you’re looking for great co-founders in your startup, you will possibly meet the your future team at these very events.

People know people.

It’s crazy how much serendipitous value comes out of events like these. I get the most value out of the connections I make, and the introductions that are made with me.

When you’re talking to people about your venture and the problems you’re facing, entrepreneurs will always offer you solutions. You’ll be told “You need to meet <fill in awesome, valuable person’s name>”. Make sure you get these introductions because over time, the more people you know, the more you are able to achieve.

So much knowledge in one room.

Entrepreneurs have so much knowledge and insight, they’re just bursting to share it with you. They learn through experiences,  and boy do they have a lot of experiences!

When you’re out at events share the problems you’re facing and questions you have, you’ll get lots of advice. Listen and ask deeper questions so that you really understand the advice.

Note: not all advice is good advice, so make sure you listen and get insights from the advice, but take most of it with a grain of salt. Your hardest job is figuring out which advice fits your situation and applying it.

An outside perspective.

One of the greatest benefits of getting out of your garage and attending events is that you get some true and honest feedback from your peers. They will challenge your idea and beliefs (and many will call you out on the ones they don’t believe in). This feedback is an important part of making your idea better. Either you will use it to make the idea better, or you will be more resilient in believing that you have more insight than other people. Hopefully, whatever you choose will result in your success. But, enjoy this feedback – it’s free and it’s valuable!

Give what you can, too.

The only way anybody gets any value at events is because someone chose to give it away. When you go to events remember you know people and you have knowledge too. Keep an eye out for where you can add value to other entrepreneurs. With everyone helping everyone out, all us kiwis can take on the world with our ideas.

Go get em!

Awesome Entrepreneur Events in Auckland

Some awesome events I like to attend:

If I’ve missed out an awesome event, please add it to the comments below, and I’ll update this blog post.

Money: Make as much as possible! Or is there something else?

Thinking about starting a business or already working on your business ambitions?  What sparked that drive, that ambition, that passion? Was it all about making “as much money as possible”?

Having just read this article about Money and Passion by David Wilson on the Audacious Blog, it got me thinking about what drives me as an entrepreneur.

It is worth noting that David’s article is missing a lot of content, and if you are an entrepreneur reading it, I encourage you to ask more people about this topic and do further research.

I would be cautious about starting a business “to make as much money as possible”.   Because, sadly, many entrepreneurs will start businesses with this intention and hardly make any money.

What happens then is that you lose motivation – you can only live on ramen noodles for so long before “it’s just enough”. If this is your reason for starting a business, I encourage you to ask why you want to make as much money as possible.

Many entrepreneurs that I meet and interact with share this ambition with me – and when we delve deeper into that motivation together, something incredible emerges.

Often, entrepreneurs want money so that they can make a difference

— invest in others, give money as philanthropy, start and support socially-conscious businesses.

Too many entrepreneurs believe that they have to make money first before they can make a difference. Why do you believe that?

Think about it…Right now you have time, you know people. You could start making a difference today. It might be a small difference now,   but you can grow. If you spend your whole life trying to make money so that you can make a difference when you finally have money, instead of just making a difference, what if you FAIL?  You lose all that time, all that energy and all that potential impact.

I invite you to consider that you can make a difference TODAY – at the same time as you make money. The world is changing, social enterprise is a massive and emerging form of business – you can make a difference whilst making money!

When you are doing things every day with a larger purpose, you will get access to contentment, fulfilment and success. Be genuine with others and follow your true ambitions. Don’t settle for anything less. Be a small hero first, and grow into a big hero.

What difference do you want to make in the world?

Entrepreneur, why share your idea?

 

I recently read a great story by Natasha on the Audacious Blog, about the value of sharing your ideas as an entrepreneur. Here’s a few extra thoughts that I left in the comments:

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over four years, and nowadays I interact with entrepreneurs every day.

“Not sharing your idea is the biggest barrier facing first-time-entrepreneurs.”

It’s like shooting yourself in the foot.  The most important part about entrepreneurship is the ability to learn and iterate (pivot or change).

If you’re not sharing your idea this is what you lose out:

(1) Initial validation

Good ideas have a “wow!” factor. If you’re not getting that “wow!” response, either your idea isn’t great, or you’re not pitching it right. (Ask the receiver of your pitch for feedback at this point. I recommend asking them to play Perfection Game on your idea and/or your pitch. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask me on Twitter.)

(2) Perfect pitch comes with practice

Explaining your idea to people:

  • helps you understand it better yourself,
  • helps you understand how people perceive what you are saying, and
  • allows you to learn how to pitch it better.

If people aren’t getting it – listen to the questions they are asking…is everyone asking the same questions? Could you adjust your pitch to incorporate the answers to the common questions you keep being asked?

(3) Feedback and contribution

When you share ideas with people (and they’re excited about them), then they almost always come up with ideas. Listen to what they are saying and keep their suggestions in mind. They might be describing the perfect solution…but you have to have your ears (and mind) open to their suggestions for you to hear it.

(Some of the best ideas for Copono and Digitribal have come from people we’ve shared with, some incredible suggestions!)

(4) Team mates

Sharing your ideas gets people excited! They may be your first team mates and the ones to get your idea on the ground and running. Keep an ear out for people who are passionate about your idea.

There are four people in the Digitribal team and 10 people in the Copono team. A year ago, I didn’t know a single person in any of these teams – today they are my best friends. Share your idea and you will find these inspiring and amazing people. So much untapped value comes from sharing your ideas.

First-time-entrepreneurs, please consider sharing your idea with people and capturing this value!

If you want someone trustworthy to share ideas with and get some initial feedback, I’d be happy to help and have loads of experience as one of the National Organisers of Startup Weekend New Zealand.

For the entrepreneurs reading this, what other value have you gained by sharing your ideas? Share your story in the comments below.