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The sofa series: fireside wisdom from the next generation of entrepreneurs

Ryan Welmans

Posted on: February 21, 2020

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Category: Thought Leadership

The Sofa Series: Fireside wisdom from the next generation of entrepreneurs

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Confucius once said that if you choose a job that you like, you will never have to work a day in your life.

Well, I guess there weren’t that many startups around in his time.

Founders of businesses are passionate about what they do, but I doubt you can find one who says they didn’t feel like they were working their socks off.

Which may be why so many wear sandals to the office…

Baby it’s cold outside

Let’s face it: it’s not all fun, fun, fun.

Every startup founder has felt it – so don’t worry, you are definitely not alone.

But it’s hard to shake that sense that you are. That you’re out there on a limb that feels like it’s going to snap at any moment or forging a path through a blizzard of hail, snow and a bitterly icy wind.

Yes, to be honest, underneath the confident bravado we all feel more than a little scared.

This cold sense of dread hits each and every one of us at some point on our business journey.

But it’s warm in here

That’s why our team at SoPro has decided to create the hot house of learning and knowledge sharing that is the warm and comfy Sofa Series.

Come on in and get cosy.

Joining you will be hundreds of other startup founders and entrepreneurs talking about how they overcame their fears and realised their dreams.

Yes, there’s a few inspirational quotes, but there’s also practical advice on leadership, bootstrapping, finding your blue ocean, lessons learned, mistakes to avoid, gaining funding and much, much more.

The leaders and entrepreneurs who have sat upon our sofa and passed on their insight are all people like you. They started from scratch, they’ve trailblazed and they’ve looked around and suddenly felt lost, overcome and shit-scared that they’d never pull this off.

But they did – and you can learn from their experience.

To help you find the inspiration you need the Sofa Series is divided into topics and categories – you can get straight to the salve of the learning and start to apply it to your pain points immediately.

Head over into the warmth immediately. Einstein told us that the only source of knowledge is experience. What he forgot to mention is that the experience of others is often even more important than our own. Yet for some reason we sometimes feel resistant to embrace it.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Douglas Adams

Don’t be disinclined. We’re all in this together – let’s learn from each other.

Here’s a few of my favourite pearls of wisdom to share from those chats on the sofa.

Customers don’t want to move around – they actually want to stay with you – so give them reasons to want to be loyal! 

Amanda Fone, CEO, F1 Recruitment Ltd

It’s beneficial for you to fail, but please fail fast.

Imitation is more important than innovation. Imitate best practices first and then do your magic and improve then validate one thing at a time.

Get a co-founder with similar values but very different skills, and work closely together, don’t be the lone wolf.

Stefan Durina, CEO, Turbado

The customers time is the their most valuable asset. Consider that they not only want everything fast, but they want to order fast and conveniently. Nobody has time these days to waste, it’s not all about price. This is how Amazon have managed to quickly dominate the entire market by reducing the time a consumer spends from going from the awareness stage to having the product physically in their hands.

Reduce the time it takes for the entire customer journey and you will have happy, repeating customers. Customers don’t want dramas and neither should suppliers.

Chris Horridge, Director, Expert Electrical Supplies Ltd

The most single and important thing a company must understand about its customers is that the staff are more important than them!

Happy staff = happy customers.

Simon Bennett, Co Owner & Director, WOOP Cover 

1. Lead by example

It’s crucial that your team knows that you would never ask them to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.

2. Trust your team

If your team know you trust them, it helps them build confidence, accountability and pride in their work.

3. Give them as much autonomy as possible

No-one appreciates a leader who micromanages: give your team members true ownership of their projects and be there to support them when needed.

Diane Perlman, CMO, Blis

1. Grit

The startup journey is normally longer than most people imagine and likely more perilous. You will be knocked down more times than you think and it takes grit to keep on getting back up.

2. Strong opinions, weakly held

Indecision costs both money and time but you often lack data to inform your direction of travel. How to balance this? Be committed but validate along the way.

3. Humility

You will be wrong. And, if you are never wrong, you are not experimenting enough. Accept that the market and others will know more than you.

Adam Edgell-Bush, CoFounder, Homyze

Not all money is equal: the experience and motivations of your investors have additional value or cost.

Ian Yates, Chief Technology Officer & Founder, Neo Capital Ventures

Once you get in front of a prospect, I find being small allows you to be agile, flex the solution to the client, often using higher level experts than the big player would engage and showing the client they would be important to you and get real attention.

We often win against the major carriers/brands in tenders and we have great retention and much high customer satisfaction.

So first make sure you have great service delivered by happy motivated staff, this will make you stand out against larger players.

Russell Horton, CEO, FluidOne

1. How long everything takes. You may have some very good ideas in your head, which you think are easy but translating them into the world takes time and patience.

2. Not to think about investment until you have traction.

3. Your time is your most precious commodity, even more important than money. I now have a simple rule: ‘Does this time investment get me closer to my business goals?’

Dominic Maxwell, Co-Founder, TellJO

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