Running the The People Experience Hub as a start up business has been an incredible learning experience. Here are some of the lessons we've learned.
by Nick Court, CEO & Founder
We have been reflecting on our lessons learned from being a start-up in the HR and People technology space. Here are ten that we''d like to share.
Network…hard Networking is so vital to any business, you’ll meet amazing people and see what they are doing and what stops them doing a great job. They, in turn, will get to know who you are and what you do to make the world of work a better place for people. You’ll see other companies too, including other start up businesses, and get to understand what mistakes they made and how they overcame them (or didn’t) And having conversations will undoubtedly lead to new ways of thinking and maybe even some fab new clients!
Understand the time between the initial conversation and the cash in the bank Be prepared to have long lead times, the time from initial conversation to deployment to payment can be quite long. Be prepared for your cash flow to take a hit and think about how you’ll manage this. You may want to think about getting investment to give you strong cashflow, support from your bank or from friends and family. Remember, cash is king! Spend your money like it is the last money you have – what is the return on the spend and will it grow into doing business better or winning more work?
Be prepared to step up and step back Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. In the early days of a start up business you''re working in a small team and the role you take will need to be pretty fluid. You don’t have time for ego or hierarchy in the business if you want to be agile and add real value to your clients. Our approach is that the right person has to be in the right place, and job titles don''t really matter. Be there for each other to deliver and delight!
Get a fabulous accountant Sounds obvious? The number of times we have heard people tell us accountant horror stories: - They charge the world - They only do transactional work - They only provide advice when you ask for it - It was crucial for us that we had someone we could trust to let us know if we were making bonkers decisions as well as to file accounts and compliance. We work with our accountant Sophie, and her advice is terrific, timely and most importantly given in a way we understand.
Pay your debts As you travel through your start-up journey, you will get some great advice, some fantastic leads and some fab feedback on what you are doing. Remember to pay your debts, take the time to say thank you, share new discoveries, learnings and insights, repay that coffee and listen when someone else needs an ear. We have seen people who will take every lead you pass them but not answer the phone when you have a question and also the complete flip side of that, and people who are always thinking of you (and of others) and are ready to help out. It is a two-way street. (Also pay your cash debts too)
Time on the business vs in the business It is so easy to spend all of your time working on projects and consultancy that you forget to spend time working on your own business. Make that time! Social media, accounts, filing, developing the brand, meeting people, thinking, sitting back and taking it all in are all things that won’t happen if you are hell for leather non stop working. But it all needs to be done, so you will end up working evenings and weekends, and you just won’t enjoy it.
Collaborate There are so many brilliant companies and people out there doing great stuff, so join in! The opportunity to work in industries or specialisms that you would have never worked in is massive when you collaborate, you can bring your skills to the table and do stuff you would never have if you only worked in your own area. Soon you will build up a network of people you trust and when a client wants you to deliver work that has an element outside of your comfort zone – collaborate! Winners all round!
Networking is not enough – you also need to DO At The People Experience Hub, we love networking, but while it is fantastic on its own, it is not enough. You need to be an active networker, not a passive one, not participating is not an option! But more than this you need to deliver, on your promises, on your contract, on your values and for the benefit of your client – No matter how well you network your reputation needs to be awesome! A large part of our clients has come to us because they were referred by people who said: “They will do a great job for you.”
Remember to love what you do and take time to enjoy it We’ve been privileged to work with some fantastic businesses and some fabulous people on our journey. And what keeps you getting up and doing a terrible commute, London in the rain, 5-hour traffic jams coming home from Manchester and more is that ultimately it is your business and you love it! Remember that part of loving what you do is taking the time to enjoy it, switch off and chill out. Your wellbeing and your colleague’s wellbeing is vital, so look after each other.
Develop a culture and environment where it''s safe to make mistakes You will make mistakes! You will try not to – but you will. Good now that you know this you can be prepared, there will be small ones, medium-sized ones and massive clangers that make you want to crawl under the duvet and not come out! Don’t let these mistakes define you, put right what you need to, ask for help and learn. And share – other people will be walking a similar road to you, maybe a few helpful signs ‘Watch out for this pothole!’ or ‘Beware of the <>’ Every day is a school day. Is that it? Nope, there are loads of other lessons we have learned as a start up business and lots we can share (and we will), but a list of 10 is enough for anyone to take in! Find out more about The People Experience Hub on our website Or get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org