Embarking on the journey of starting a business comes with many uncertainties; you don’t know if you’re going to succeed, where you’re going to be in one year, or what the future looks like in general. However, one thing is for certain: you will learn more than you could ever imagine and it’s an experience, that is going to reshape the way you look at the business world and other companies. As we come up to our three-year anniversary as a start up, we have been around the block once or twice ourselves and who better to ask about all the things we’ve learned along the way than our three founders? Since starting Nomoko back in 2014, Nilson, Kevin, and Vincent, have been through all sorts of highs and lows related to starting your own business, and they have a lot to share when it comes to what they wished they had known, or maybe even not known, before hopping on the start up wagon
1.Time vs. Timing
In every job, you will have to invest a lot of time in order for you to achieve your goals and get to where you want to be career-wise. It’s not any different when you start your own company, but what’s even more important than time investment and management, is timing itself.
You have to figure out the best time to recruit, the most profitable moment to raise funding, and it is only after a few years in business, that one gets to understand how important and complicated timing is. The right timing can make the difference between a successful round of funding or a failed attempt at doing so, it can change the outcome of the most important situation, despite your best efforts.
However, if you get the timing right, you will find that a lot of endeavours are easier to achieve and that plans are more likely to work out the way you want them to.
2. People’s Business
Although it is well-known that networking is important for starting a company and succeeding in doing so, the actual extent of this relationship between business and people becomes even clearer once you have spent some time building your start up.
Now more than ever, you will have to put yourself out there and just invest heaps of time into meeting people and getting them to love your company as much as you do. Nowadays, it’s all about knowing someone who knows someone, about making an effort to meet new people from the industry and most importantly, leaving a lasting positive impressions on your new acquaintances.
Moreover, it might not always just be about what you’re working towards, but more about who is helping you to get there. You can have a good product, but in the end it is all about relationships with people and convincing them of your vision and your team’s abilities. While founders often talk about the importance of a good pitch, showing investors how talented and motivated the people behind your business are might be worth much more than fancy charts and long speeches.
3. Would you do it (again)?
While it is a good idea to read up on experiences from start up founders and to learn from their mistakes and regrets, the question poses itself: Do you really want to start your own business? If you had known beforehand about all the struggles and issues you might run into, would you still want to go through with it?
The prospect of powering through all the downs might seem too daunting to some entrepreneurs and they end up not starting their own business. It does not seem rational to take this many risks, to give up a perfectly comfortable life for one idea, and as an average human being you should think long and hard about whether you are able to shut out all the noise from people on the outside and to truly give it your all to make your company work.
Still, when asked about whether they would do it all again and start another company, the founders at Nomoko all replied: “definitely!”. After all, one thing you will undoubtedly take with you after the experience of building a business, will be an immeasurable amount of experience and knowledge, regardless of the success of your business.
4. Building a Team
One thing’s for sure: Finding people who are motivated and excited to help you build a company from scratch is key. Initially, you are looking for the best partner to help you start your enterprise, who ideally finds themselves in the right place in their lives where they have the means and the mind-set that allows them to get involved. Being an entrepreneur is a way of life, a way of thinking and if the timing is right, you might just find the best fit for your start up.
5. Hardware vs. Software
Of course, once you get your business up and rolling, you will need amazing employees, as one thing you might learn pretty fast is that people are what make a good, successful company. If you manage to put together a great team of ambitious employees, everyone at your start up is working together to make your vision a reality. Moreover, there will be days when you will face a lot of challenges and might doubt your own abilities, but good employees will manage to get your spirits up and will change the way you feel about your start up’s future.
As a tech company, you are certainly aware of the fact that the perfect product will not just miraculously fall into your lap, but that it will take a lot of fiddling around till you get everything just the way you want. However, one thing that might only surface after some time, is the difficulty it might pose to facilitate a marriage between hardware and software.
At Nomoko, we are building a completely new technology, pushing innovation, which makes it hard to build both software and hardware, let alone combining the two. While everyone likes a product, especially if you are wondering what exactly a company is working on, it is important to be aware that a user-friendly, competitive product is not a given and that a lot of meticulous work is involved in creating it.
6. Small World
Starting out as a founder of a rather unknown company, the thought of playing in the big leagues and getting in touch with all the important personas in the business might seem like something only the far off future can hold. However, you might be surprised at how far-reaching and efficient your network already is at an early stage.
When you are trying to build a successful business, you will have to meet with and talk to a lot of people which soon will enable you to get in touch with a dazzling amount of human beings in all sorts of influential positions. As your business is gaining momentum and you have put your ideas out there, influencers and big companies will start coming to you. Especially as a founder you will soon realize: it is a small world after all.
7. Personal Life
It might come as no surprise by now, that building a company requires a lot of hard work, time, and dedication, all of which will end up affecting your personal life in one way or another. As your business grows, it will also face challenges and deal with some serious struggles, which will put pressure on you as a founder who is invested in this project in more ways than one. Thus, having people who support you and accept that you might not be at you best in social aspects of your life while your company is going through a rough patch, is key in the success of any business.
While you want your team at work to be supportive of your actions and of your vision, you especially want to be able to count on your social surroundings to have your back when times get tough. Not having the support of your social environment on your side can make things much more difficult and the whole process of building a successful company gets even harder.
8. The Government’s Role
You will probably find yourself worrying about a lot of things when you start out building a company, but one factor that you might not have fully considered yet is your location, specifically the country you are mainly conducting business in. As many founders of start ups have found over the years, the government, laws and legislations of the place you are trying to grow your firm in can have a massive impact on the growth of your company, especially when you’re an international company from day one.
You choose people to work with you based on their knowledge and experience, hiring employees from both your own country as well as from an international background is simply part of it. The workload associated with hiring people often turns out to be massive and the visa regulations in your country might turn a quick and stress-free recruiting experience into a nightmare. This framework created by the government can significantly slow down the growth of your company and make it truly difficult to hire a team that is culturally and educationally diverse.
Moreover, as soon as you start expanding and getting ready to open shop in a different country, you will have to deal with more legislations for hiring people than just one, so get ready for more paperwork and time spent on government websites.
9. The Coolness of it All
People love to talk about the struggle that is founding a start up; it is the main stance you will find on the web regarding this topic because people are so fond of it. While it is true that starting a business is not comparable with a stroll in the park, and it truly does take a lot out of you to put so much on the line, you will probably realize along the way that being the founder of a start up is also just very cool!
If you have been lucky enough to find amazing people to work with, you will encounter an astonishing amount of motivation and dedication towards your project. A start up is going to take a lot of time and energy from you, but it will probably also give everything right back in the form of priceless experiences and dedication from the people around you. Furthermore, as a founder you are the first one who gets to see the results of your actions and decisions, which in a lot of cases can be very exciting and rewarding.
You might imagine the success of your company to make you happy, but you cannot imagine yet what it will feel like to work in a job that manages to give so much back to you.
Written by Lea in collaboration with Nomoko’s founders Nilson, Vincent and Kevin
Image: New York Skyline – Lea