Starting a Business from Scratch: Challenges Faced and How to Overcome Them

It’s hard running a start-up, it is all consuming, but it is also the most fun that you can possibly have. In order to be in charge of a start-up, you have to be prepared for any direction it may go and remain focused while going over every hurdle. You need to truly believe in your idea or innovation. If a business idea has a lot of earning potential but you do not love it, then you will never feel truly invested and it will never reach its maximum potential. If it is something that you love and you see the earning potential that others don’t see yet, your passion is what will sell it.

I never thought that I would start my own business. I saw a future in the corporate world working for big companies, doing big deals, and earning big pay cheques. At the start of my career, I worked for a small business of around 30-40 people which I have always said (and believed) was the best experience to shape me and allowed me to succeed in my field. Small businesses are agile, intense, flexible, and much more exciting than big tanker corporates; this is what pushed me to take the leap and start my own company.

  1. The Idea

The foundation of Hello Soda was as much of a shock to me as it was to anyone else.  Looking back, what pushed me over the edge was my frustration.

It seemed obvious to me that, after the credit crunch, the world had changed. Credit data hadn’t evolved since the late 70s to early 80s, yet the way we interacted with businesses had changed totally. We no longer did business face-to-face, everything was through apps or the internet which meant that companies lost touch with their customers and they no longer understood them as individuals.

I wanted corporations to take into account what really matters. Time and time again I saw people being given loans that they should not have been granted while other people were being rejected for loans that they needed and should have had (read also this post on business credit cards). This wasn’t because businesses were trying to be unreasonable but because necessary information (our likes, dislikes, spending habits, etc.) were not available through traditional data bureaus. However, this data was available through other sources and, while businesses had advanced to use social media to communicate with customers, none had begun to use social data to understand their customers and utilise it to their advantage.

Then came the idea; I had this revelation and I wanted to act on it. It was something I felt truly passionate about and something that I knew was important; to utilise social data for business decisions.

The first challenge arose when I realised that big companies, like the one I was in, were too happy with the current status quo and familiarity to implement such a large change. I realised that I couldn’t put my idea into practice and stay in the big corporation, I had to leave.

III.                Leaving the Big Corporation

The first thing I did was to look for smaller businesses who were more flexible and creative to help consumers. I couldn’t find any. My frustration grew so I decided that this was the test – “do I have the conviction to do it myself?” I spoke to a number of people and found that a couple of my colleagues shared my frustrations so, following 18 months of dreaming, we decided that we would take the jump together and start our own business.

What I learnt from this experience is that people get excited easily but they are mostly very scared of change; from investors, to team members and even co-founders, there was a huge amount of procrastination and one day it came down to two of us deciding that we had to do it and just see if others would join along the way. We found that, once our momentum began, others jumped on board. We were able to find investors who were willing to support us to establish a small team of four people, but our next challenge was to convince very bright, driven individuals to join our journey when there was no guarantee that payroll could be met at the end of the month.

In my view, this is when it comes down to your belief in what you are doing, and communicating that belief.  If you do not believe in the project, no-one else will; if you don’t take more of a risk than everyone else, no one will follow your lead. You have to be the one to set an example. One of the principles I live by is: I get paid less and I get paid last. As the leader of a start-up business, you have a responsibility to the team, and to the shareholders, to prove that they did the right thing by investing in you and your idea.

This is a sample taken from the chapter Starting a Business from Scratch: Challenges Faced and How to Overcome Them published in the book, Every Entrepreneurs Guide: Running Your Own Business.  Click here to read the rest of the chapter by picking up your copy.

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