Six lessons from six months of startup life

Everyone knows it’s important to make time for self-reflection but how many of us actually do it?

 

Steve Jobs did – every evening as he wrote his ‘to-do’ list, but for the rest of us mere mortals, self-reflection probably happens sporadically, if at all.

 

Given our company Spotcap just hit its first major milestone -six months of operations – we took some time to reflect on what we’ve learned.

 

Here are the six most important lessons we have gained in the past six months:

 

Listen to your customers

 

Your customers have a lot to say, but are you listening?

 

These days, there are so many ways to gather feedback. You can use customer surveys, social media polls or social listening tools, but we’ve found one-to-one communication works best.

 

We chat to customers on the phone, by email and through our Social Response program, a custom designed live chat function, which has been well received by our customers.

 

Become the industry

 

There is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, particularly in emerging industries, to find a niche and make it their own.

 

Adviser Ratings just named Chris Brycki, CEO and Founder of Stockspot, as a financial planning influencer, alongside heavyweights including Paul Clitheroe, Alan Kohler and Sally Loane. Not a bad effort for an entrepreneur with a two year old business.

 

How did he do it? Brycki has a great network, a strong point of view and great relationships with the media but above all, he is present and has a voice in almost every relevant debate.

 

Seek out opportunities to collaborate

 

Collaborations, integrations and partnerships are key, particularly for startups in emerging industries like fintech.

 

Fintechs are building great products and services to meet consumer and business needs but many lack scale and distribution capabilities.

 

We’re working on this though, by seeking opportunities to leverage the distribution channels of established brands. Last week, Spotcap became the first alternative fintech lender to integrate with every single accounting software provider in the country.

 

Don’t be afraid to pivot

 

Even with extensive research and testing, it can be difficult to pre-empt how customers will respond to a product or service. Therefore, a startup should be prepared to change almost everything in the first six months.

 

For example, our customers told us they wanted more choice, flexibility and scale so last week we increased our maximum loan amount from $100,000 to $250,000 and began to offer longer term loans of up to 12 months.

 

Without a strong team, with the skills to make changes to our platform, we wouldn’t have been able to respond to changing customer demands.

 

Hire great people 

 

In a big organisation, a bad hire can make the office uncomfortable, but in a startup, a bad hire can bring you down.

 

Be clear about what you want and be sure to ask the right questions. Behavioural questions such as “what made you the angriest at work this month?” can provide valuable insight into the personality of a potential candidate.

 

Keep moving forward

 

More than 100 years ago a Danish philosopher said “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward”.

 

It’s important to take the time to reflect on your actions, mishaps and strategies but keep your gaze firmly set on where you’re going.

 

Lachlan Heussler is the managing director of Spotcap Australia

 

 

Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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