I decided to take some time away from my desk and take scout out in the heart of Braamfontein… seeking some inspiration perhaps. Five months in, running my business fulltime this keeps me rational between the hardships of being an agency and not just a freelance designer.
I think there are so many things to learn from the people who are starting up as much as there is to learn from the guru’s who have been in business and have years of entrepreneurial experience. I believe in sharing my experiences on this journey to help other people within the same situation of starting up, this will also be a good paper trail to look back a few years from as to what the foot print looks like over the years.
So what are the lessons learned so far?, here are 7 Lessons from Staring up my Design Agency.
The Business Plan is wrong.
I have been working on the business model for Blackfruitpixel for the past two years and have only started implementing it 6 months ago. Half a year in already see a lot of things that I was sure will work starting to have a paten of realistic reasons why they will not work.
At the size and level of where the company is some of the items in the plan cannot be implemented and are not realistic to implement now. I have also been reading a book, “How Google works” that echoes this fact that the plan is always wrong and their business is ran on questions and not answers. This has proven to be true and the reality of the evolving world of many startups today, we need to keep asking the right questions and evolving our plan to adapt to new people, business and technology trends.
Have passion and drive yourself.
The idea of starting up a business is exhilarating but the execution is extremely demanding and can get stressful. Often a question I ask myself when things get hard and many other people do as well is; “is it worth it?” if the answer is “Yes” then like myself you must really be passionate about what you are doing and there is deep meaning that resonates. You Choose to do it despite the hardships, insecurities and unanswered questions.
If you do not have passion the answer will usually be “no” or “…”. You will start realizing that this is not for you, don’t set yourself up for failure, don’t become and entrepreneur just for doing it or money. Find your passion, do what you love and would not mind waking up in the morning and doing it even if you were not getting paid. Let your passion for what you do drive you to keep going and succeed.
Networking is key
Most of the projects that I have been getting has been from referrals, friends and professionals within my network. I’ve developed very little interest of blackfruitpixel online, taking us back to the first point “The plan is always wrong”. In my senses and vision of the company I had envisioned the brand to grow and a much rapid rate online unlike the other way around, so yea word of mouth is key.
This has become my focus and area of growth as an entrepreneur and I see this as the most vital realization and something that will have a huge impact on the growth of my start up. If people do not know you they are not willing to do business with you… you have to be better than what you tell your self, to win brand trust. You cannot do it alone and you do not have to.
Related : 4 Networking tips for introverts
Do not celebrate your successes too early
It’s not the first time you here this but I guess a lot of people fall into this including myself, when we get our first few clients and taste success. I had a blast of excitement and motivation from how the few projects I had carried on to blackfruitpixel when I started. The cash flow being brought in is good enough to keep covering the cost of doing business.
BUT the reality started kicking in and the reality is, you need to have a consistent flow of the right new clients to keep business going, prospects and new accounts take time and money to close and this has been the most difficult part thus far. Which brings us to the next lesson Learnt.
Save costs and use resources wisely.
It is very tempting to use money and other resources such as the internet and telephone unnecessarily if you have them in abundance. You need to be able to save cash and resources for the rough patches in business so that you can keep doing business at all times and close off new accounts. You cannot make money if you do not have money, it is crucial that you always have cash flow for daily business transactions like transport, meetings and other costs of doing business.
Using resources wisely for me means return on investment. If you are paying an internet bill, software, cellphone bill, storage space etc. Make sure you use your resources wisely and to full capacity without wasting any money. It is crucial to look at using your resources in a responsible way, tracking usage allows you to see how much of specific resources you need and this can help you save costs by not spending extra on resources you end up wasting just because you have them.
Be flexible to make a pivot.
There is always a turning point in any business and the overconfidence really kills a lot of opportunity to learn and grow, remember “Run your business on questions not answers” I fond that once I start to run things with the “I know how this works” attitude, not only did I start drifting out of focus and felt frustrated when this don’t go my way, but I was also not leaving room for growth and looking at things in a different perspective.
Realizing this has helped me to listen more, ask more questions on who are my real clients, how can I streamline getting new accounts and the right people to work with. How I connect and relate to other creative, entrepreneurs and businesses around has been strongly influenced my perspective of business.
Being busy is not necessarily being productive.
Being the boss, warring all the hats and executing daily creative and business roles blurred my vision of what it was I was working toward at the end of the day in the first few weeks until I realized I was very busy but did not get much done. Looking at the brighter side I learned a lot about the value of my time and choosing to use it wisely by doing the things that count. I dropped the projects I had accumulated in my freelance career that were taking a lot of time and money not justifying the return of investment due to the quality of work and the money I was getting at the end of the day. I started investing more of my time in growing by business acumen and finding new ways to connect work and grow personally to be more productive and influential in what I do and the peoples lives I touch everyday.
Focus on the right tasks that help you move a step close to your goal everyday one step at a time set your goals and do not let being busy get you off track.
Change is inevitable, be humble and stay hungry to seek new opportunities in everything you do and of course do what you love with a deep focus on why you are doing all this. I would like to here how your journey has been and if there are any similarities within our experiences and how you keep yourself inspired.