Lessons to Learn From Startups


Lessons to Learn from Startups

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I’ve always found that the first step of overcoming fear is figuring out exactly what you’re afraid of.

– Richard Branson

A couple of weeks ago, we interviewed Shamma Raghib (@SDstartupdiary), Innovation Manager at Startups.be and Co-Organiser of Startup Weekend Leuven (if you’d like to know how she came to organise Startup Weekends, you can chek out this video).

As you can imagine, we talked about startups quite a bit. One thing she mentioned, is that an individual can learn a thing or two from the way a startup functions. Here are the two main advices she gave us:

1. Take failure as a learning experience

2. Network, network, network

Watch the interview to know more:

Later after this interview, we thought about a few other things that could be added to this list, which I shall now share with you:

Feedback is key

A startup is always on the lookout for feedback and criticism, be they positive or negative. Because it’s only when you know what’s good and what’s bad, what works and what doesn’t in your product or service that you can improve it, by strengthening your weaknesses and capitalising on your strengths.

However, a startup never focuses on one bad comment. Not everyone can be pleased, there will always be a disgruntled customer somewhere, and focusing on what that one person is saying is far from efficient. Instead, a company only starts taking a bad comment into account once there is a pattern. Say, if 5 out of every 30 people complain about how unfriendly your help desk is, there is most probably be a problem somewhere.

Apply this to yourself, and you find yourself well on the path of self-improvement. Accept feedback, take criticism, and if several people have the same comment to make about you, then there is probably something that you should consider changing about your attitude, approach or behaviour.

It doesn’t have to be perfect

A startup never tries to have the perfect product or service from the beginning; founders know very well that that’s impossible. Instead, the path looks a little more like this:

Start with a prototype. Test it. Does it work? No. Find another idea. Prototype it. Test it. It works this time, great! Have people try it out and give feedback. Tweak a few things. Re-test it. It still works. More positive comments. This is great! Start selling it. Add new features. It breaks. Drink too much coffee. Fix it. Re-test it. It works! People hate the new features. Start hating yourself. Pick yourself up. Re-think the features. Build the damn thing. Test it. Sell it. Better now. And so on and so forth.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. And neither do you. We are all human, we are all flawed. We all make small mistakes and fabulous blunders, what’s important is to acknowledge them, fix them if you can, and move on. Attention to details is important (some say the devil lies in them), but it’s important to not get completely sucked into them. Accept that perfection is unattainable while still striving to get as close to it as possible.

What other lessons can you think of, that we haven’t mentioned?

Tell us in the comments below!