At this time last week, I was ensconced in a consulting room in the KPMG offices at Canary Wharf. #StartUp2017, organised by Enterprise Nation, was underway and in the KPMG and HSBC buildings, approximately 1,500 people were trying to get more insight and motivation on how to build their own business. There was an impressive line up of speakers throughout the day plus the opportunity to book time with an advisor. I was one of those advisors.
At this point in time, I didn't realise just how peaceful my part of StartUp 2017 was! KPMG has multiple meeting rooms and the only people coming my way were those coming to see myself or one of the other advisors in our area.
The event officially started at 10:00, so when I arrived just before 9:00 - it was still pretty quiet, busy, but to my eyes, quite calm. There were lots of groups of volunteers - all clad in teal t-shirts - being briefed by Enterprise Nation staff wearing bright orange t-shirts. Once I was given my badge, I was sent up to the first floor to meet the lovely Lorna and her team of volunteers. As I disappeared into my room before the official start and spent some time doing the normal tech battle.
At 10:00 my first appointment arrived. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect but Donna was full of energy and enthusiasm. We sent the KPMG tech guy away when he returned part way through our meeting and focussed on how Donna could make the most of a contract she had just been awarded and how to look forward not just spending her time and energy on the current contract. As Donna headed off, the next person was brought through and I was on to my next entrepreneur.
One person was starting an on-line magazine and had already secured 2 fairly major brands as advertisers but wasn't sure on how to build on it. We had an interesting discussion and one of the key things from this conversation was the importance of being visible and also patience!
When lunch arrived, I headed out to Lorna and her team - the area was packed! I'd been protected from all the hustle and bustle in my little oasis. I went to find the street vendors who had pitched up on the 13th floor to get my lunch before everyone else had the same idea. What a difference from when I first arrived. People everywhere - moving about, in rooms listening to talks, at doors listening to talks, sitting and talking. A real buzz was all around me.
As I only had a short break, I quickly headed back to my oasis and discovered someone already waiting for me and so the afternoon began!
I absolutely loved hearing what people were doing, the challenges facing them, the different ideas they have and the energy to get it going. Interior design online magazine, a Chinese flashcard app, a travel idea, media, design & build, political software and so much more.
With one pair, we spoke about quite a number of things including how to reduce their time to market from 1-2 years, to 3-6 months. There's work to be done to make sure it's viable, but it offers a lot more opportunities and will maintain the interest they have already gained if they can manage it.
In another consultation, we spoke about testing the market with a proof of concept to see how it worked, establish processes and more before speaking to potential investors to expand and improve the offer.
Through the day, a few things became clear to me.
Awareness - it may sound obvious but making people aware of what you have to offer and building their trust with you is critical. Social media is a great way and works for many businesses but face to face is very important as well.
Legalities - really think about your legal responsibilities within the service you are providing and also when working with others outside of a business agreement. If necessary get legal advice. A number of networking groups and organisations also provide legal templates and advice which can, added to other benefits make the membership great value.
Moral Responsibility - on top of the legal responsibility, you also need to consider what level of risk you are willing to take morally when people are putting their trust in you. This is for your peace of mind!
Personas/Avatars - know your customer
Prioritise - There is so much to do, but really you can only do so much you can take on.
These can sound obvious but in the excitement and stress of your business, they can be easy to overlook.
I had a great day and can't wait till next year! I'll leave you with one final thought from the #StartUp 2017 team: