[Photo by Batega]
A fortnight or so after the official launch of Not From Concentrate, there’s a small window of opportunity – perhaps more of a porthole – to braindump and share some of the experiences that we’ve encountered during the pre-public launch phase of this humble-but-aiming-high start-up.
So, in no particular order, here go-go-goes:
GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
When your kitchen table is your new workstation, there’s a fine and delicate line between productivity and popping on a white wash, and unless you have a separate wing in your house there’s a good chance that domestic drudgery will seriously interfere with your best intentions.
Discipline is the key, as any seasoned freelancer or home-worker will tell you, but if you haven’t got the focus of a blinkered Derby winner or are weak-willed when it comes to Jeremy Kyle or Car Booty, creating a simple commute will help to bring more purpose to your ‘working’ day.
That’s obviously going to be easier if you’re in a sprawling metropolis like London with coffee shops, libraries and other wi-fied public places aplenty, but we’ve met up with people who’ve been going round to friends’ and family members’ houses and worked out of there – anything to separate work from homelife.
SHARE AN OFFICE
If you can possibly afford it – especially as you head towards an all-important launch – do think about taking deskspace in a shared office. We did just that and without doubt it’s been the best move. Check out the small ads, look in office windows or search online for the new companies – e.g. deskspacegenie.co.uk and sharemyspace.co.uk – that have sprung up offering individuals or small teams practical spaces at incredibly reasonable prices and often inclusive of business rates, service charges, electricity and internet access.
Off the back of our move, we’ve met some amazing people from different industries who have given us so much support, advice, opened up opportunities in brand new networks and have just been there to listen.
CONSTANTLY REVISE YOUR BUSINESS PLAN
What we set out to achieve at the outset bears practically no resemblance to the finished article, due to a constant rejigging of our business plan and the driving force behind our model – to make the business sustainable without core reliance on investors, banks or other funding bodies.
Many revenue streams have been discussed and then dismissed or deliberately parked for development down the line. And what we’ve found is that during all these revisions – official or informal – more and more ideas come through the process for further exploration.
KEEP THE FAITH
For a first-to-market proposition like Not From Concentrate, where the key to our success is going to be a change of mindset for both sides of the equation – the general public and the established industry – the positioning has to be bold, brave and approached with both feet. Having worked with undeniably, yet undiscovered, talented people over the years, we’ve had to grab the bull by the horns and pull together a proposition that remains solidly commited to the cause.
Of course, doubts have dogged the evolution of this business model – they will do for any start up – but each time we’ve felt we’re on a sticky wicket, we’ve had the courage of our convictions to bat them into the outfield. Here’s hoping that we don’t get stumped – and here endeth the brief – and dangerously uninformed – cricketing metaphor.
DON’T RELY ON FRIENDS…
Despite the best intentions of your nearest and dearest, their time and resources are just as precious as your own, and whilst mates’ rates offer the best value in monetary terms, relying on them can seriously affect the progress of your start up.
What might appear to be the most simplest of asks – a simple retweet or a quick read-through – can slip off the most ardent supporter’s radar so it’s best to treat every task as a paid-for component, with some sort of business transaction that suits both parties, returned favours, in kind services or in hard cash. [Caveat: DO give them a hard time if they’ve been particularly rubbish…]
…MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Use the ubiquitous social – and real life – networks to make more business-focused relationships. Follow and connect to people who truly understand the value of networks, who want to have two-way dialogues, who could be interested in your business for possible partnerships or as prospective paying customers.
Try and block out chunks of time to focus on and engage with your social media staples like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – trying hard not to get sucked into tagged photos, celebrity Twitpics, scurrilous rumour-mongering and too-good-to-be-true offers – whilst proactively searching for new networks in obvious and more tangential corners of t’internet and elsewhere.
Quick heads-up for anyone London-based: a fantastic way to connect to real-life networks is by getting on down to the Business & IP centre at the British Library.
SLEEP IS A LUXURY
Say goodbye to restful, salaried sleep and hello to restless, wondering-where-the-money’s-coming-from forty winks. It goes with the territory unfortunately but you’ll definitely enjoy the Brave New World that unfolds in front of you.
Signing off for now with a gem of a quote to take with you:
“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it. ~ Roy Ash, co-founder of Litton Industries.