My experience of launching a business
Hey – It’s MVMNT’s first birthday about now and even tho’ any celebrations are firmly on ice, I’d written this piece before our lives were immeasurably changed by Covid-19 & the impact it is having on us all.
My hope is that there is a lasting positive change in understanding each other a little better once things return to normal – but normal is a tough thing to imagine at the moment. As for this?…I’m going to post it as I wrote it. Here is my experience of launching a business. Look after each other x
Hi…me again!. So about now sees MVMNT turn the grand old age of one. Sort of. The website was up in March 2019 but we didn’t really start trading until July. But Sam, my partner in crime, joined me for the journey later in April so that’s good enough for me. If you can be bothered, I thought I’d put down some selected ramblings on launching a business.
I’d run companies before but never my company. I found out quickly there is a chasm between the two. I had been warned by my wonderful friend Wendy that there is a big difference but sort of brushed it off. There is indeed a big difference. Huge. No guarantee of salary on the twenty-something of each month…and no-one to blame but yourself and no switching off…at all…even when you want to. The guilt when you sneak away to do something and the thinking, the endless thinking. And god I’ve become tight. How much does that cost?
But… the exhilaration of that first deal and delivery that you do, that your own company has done, and the client’s happiness afterwards is something to behold!
Double it & add a bit more
Anyway…the good news was that I thought I had enough money to do this properly. I had a reasonable amount squirreled away and the bank were prepared to lend me a bit more dosh so I thought I was pretty covered.
Lesson one: do a budget/P&L/cashflow and work out what you need. Then double it. Then add a bit more. Then check and see if you have any money in your kids’ savings accounts (thank god my wife isn’t on Linkedin). Cashflow kills – everyone says it but you have to be in it to believe it. People don’t pay you when they say they will. It’s not really their fault it’s just how it is. Actually, it is their fault – pay people on time please J. Fortunately, we’re over this now, but plan for it…(and sorry kids for still having to share a room).
This is going to come as a shock to people who know me. I can sometimes be a bit of an arse about getting something done properly. To the point of annoying absurdity. I get a bee in my bonnet and struggle to move on.
Quite early on I fortunately adopted Seth Godin’s mantra, ‘as close to perfect as necessary’ or CPN. This is a wonderful phrase. It changes as per the situation. I used to get annoyed with MVP – minimum viable product, as it seemed like a cop-out – a compromise. CPN is not that but just as it says – sometimes only near perfect will do…other times something else is just simply good enough!
Get a bloody good partner
Can a friendship last a business? I guess only time will tell but another trusted friend of mine told me that if you can find the right foil, two heads are better than one.
I didn’t start this business to be a one-person band. I love being around people and feeding off differing opinions and personalities. I wanted to grow a company. So, it was a no-brainer for me to find someone to share this experience with who had similar values. Someone I could trust, celebrate the wins with, share the problems with and keep me level. Sam has been that person I needed. A year in, apart from a minor huff by me during a low point, we’re still smiling – and still friends 🙂
Me, myself & I (plus next door’s new-born)
My earlier years saw me appreciate the early hours of the morning. I’m a night owl by habit but this all changed with children and responsibility – the fear of the next day took over and the off-switch developed. I have to force myself to go to bed at a decent hour but have got reasonably good at it.
Welcome 4am. Where have you been for years? (certainly after being asleep for a while) Bing…wide awake. Thinking…WHAT ARE YOU DOING – WHAT WERE YOU THINKING – YOU WASTE OF SPACE etc etc. Do I go and put some music on in the lounge, or just console myself that I’m not alone. Next door, lives someone with much more to think about – milk, burps and sleep and likely suffering far far worse. I have, however had some dark dark nights of self-loathing about what I am doing to my family.
It does however, make you much more appreciate the little legs that climb in next to you in the middle of the night – “had a nightmare Daddy” – and that is far more important than a business with no vowels.
Trust in me
I consider myself a decent listener. I love learning and will never stop, and my friends know where I am if they need to unburden.
There are a number of people whose opinions I really trust and I have leant on them for advice. There are also lots of other people who have offered contrasting advice. Some of this advice has taken me down cul-de-sacs that I wish I hadn’t been down…or chasing potential business which didn’t exist.
I knew that some of this was wasting my time but I did it anyway – not out of desperation but sometimes to please people who were trying to help.
My point is this: of course, listen and take advice – just be careful to compartmentalise it into whether it is primary to what you do or secondary. Will it open immediate doors to business or be a slow burn for other opportunities? Or nothing at all. You have backed yourself to do something based on sound business acumen, market knowledge, past experience and a small amount of gut feel. Trust your judgement – you are in the best place to know.
My unsung hero
I’m so proud of my wife. I think this needs another story (don’t groan). My wife is amazing. She teaches yoga and mindfulness to children at primary school. She is changing children’s lives for the better and receives daily communication from parents thanking her for the change and help she has given to their little ones. She has just started this over the past year, with the minimum of fuss, whilst I have been my best prima donna self about “just how important what I am doing is”. It really isn’t. Our family is. She holds it together and lets me procrastinate in my shed. Thanks Tabassum x
So. I’d like to say that I was tempted not to read this back at all before posting, but you would have known that was a lie.
Despite the current climate I’m so excited about the next few months, where we can take MVMNT and how we can contribute in some small way into a better working world & culture for all. We will continue to do what we do with a smile on our face and optimism in our hearts. The mantra doesn’t need to change – look after yourself and be nice to people.
Thank you to everyone who has given so much for us so far. You know who you are!
And for those who know me well – The journey is the reward.