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Advice I'd Like to Give My Younger Self

Wed, 18 November 2015

Shell LiveWIRE alumni contribute to this fourth blog of a special Shell LiveWIRE Global Entrepreneurship Week series celebrating innovation and using it to take your business idea and 'Make it Happen!'
Starting up in business can feel like a daunting task, and the fear of failure can be paralysing, but there has never been more support available to those who are willing to take the leap – the start-up community is rife with like-minded entrepreneurs who can provide guidance, support and access to networks. In that spirit, we asked some of our award-winning alumni to share with us some of the advice and insights they would like to give to their younger selves. We hope these tips give you the information and inspiration you need to take your business idea and make it happen.
Giles Mitchell, Co-founder of the Office Pantry:
  • Talk to as many people as possible and hold nothing back. Your business will succeed (or fail) on your execution, and more often than not will benefit from serendipitous interactions and help from others. 
  • Set yourself one outrageous challenge every week. Nine weeks out of 10 you won't achieve it, but when you do, your business takes a big leap forward in the early days.
  • Never, ever give up. Ever. Just don't. If you have the desire to run your own business, don't quit after 10 weeks. It's the rest of your life we're talking about here, and no one has ever achieved all of their hopes and dreams without some knock backs along the way.
Find out more about Office Pantry – they are on a mission to keep UK workers well stocked with delicious British-made snacks!
Cally Russell, CEO of Mallzee:
  • Advice I would like to give my younger self - don’t be afraid of what ‘might’ happen. Make the big decisions and push yourself out there in the process. We would be a year or more in front of where we are just now if we took this decision.
Find out more about Mallzee, often described as ‘Tinder for fashion’, an app that allows users to shop over 100 retailers, create personal feeds and keep up to date with the hottest trends!
Hermione Taylor, Founding Director and CEO of Do Nation:
  • Find a co-founder, or a few co-founders. I was given this advice plenty of times as I started Do Nation, and I listened - but it’s easier said than done. Given Do Nation is a tech start-up, I knew that it’d help to have a technical co-founder. But I didn’t know a single web developer, and I had no idea where to start looking. I went to all sorts of meet-ups for developers, and felt like a floundering fish out of water, so decided to battle on solo. As a result it took me four years to get to where we are now, with a solid team and a great CTO. My advice to my younger self would be to persevere in the hunt for a co-founder - it may delay things in the short term, but it’ll speed them up in the long term. And instead of looking in skills-based networks (where I was guaranteed to feel out of place), I’d tell myself to spend my time working within interest-based networks. That way you are far more likely to find someone whose interests and vision align with yours. 
Find out more about Do Nation, the pledging platform that helps people adopt new behaviours that help to create a happier, healthier, more sustainable world!
Jules Quinn, Founder of The *TeaShed:
Jules Quinn
Find out more about The *TeaShed or check out their fantastic range of teas the next time you are in John Lewis, or in any of the business’s other 150 UK suppliers! 
Stephanie Ann Woolven, Founder of StephieAnn Design:
  • If I were to go back to the start of StephieAnn I would tell myself to celebrate every moment, relax, enjoy, and not to be too hard on myself when certain aspects go wrong.
Find out more about StephieAnn Design, luxury lingerie for women who appreciate culture and couture.

Jonathan Akass, Director and Head of Operations at DividaBill:
  • Find great people to start with, and keep building a team around what you need.
  • Never stop talking to people who you think would be interested in your product, even if it’s just an idea. People like helping!
  • There are so many things available all over the country that provide services to start ups for free or very cheap. Go find ones near you and use them
  • Never think lack of funds are a reason not to start. There are all kinds of ways of getting enough resources to start a business.
Find out more about DividaBill, the business that offers students an easy way to split shared accommodation bills such as gas and electricity, water, internet, TV license.

Baran Ceylan, Founder of Wordme:
When you set up your business, there are so many things you could be doing, opportunities you spot, areas to push. However, it's so easy to get distracted from your main goal and what will really add value – you end up running around doing everything and being inefficient.
Three things I learnt, and recently was advised from a UK General Manager of one of the biggest FMCGs is to look at:
  • What tasks will add to your legacy or end goal
  • What tasks will build or maintain important relationships - such as favours
  • What tasks will add to your development and help you learn
I had known this before, it would of taking me half the time to do things and save more energy and time to push for my end goal.
Find out more about Wordme, a fresh young brand with a goal to change the way we think about stationery and greetings cards!

Ben Smith, Founder of Frumtious:
Ben Smith
Find out more about Frumtious, a health-conscious natural food company!
Sheeza Ahmad, Founder of HelpingB
  • For the longest time, I thought I was too young to start a company, which is why I wasted a lot of valuable time and resources on courses, webinars, and ‘the best B-Schools’. I also spent hours on end reading business articles to understand how to start a start-up. Don't get me wrong, some of the content is really valuable, but eventually I realised that business is better learnt by building and doing, rather than reading theoretical work. It sounds like common sense but it all comes down to confidence – if I had told my younger self that all it takes to start a business is trying, implementing and creating something valuable that others want, I would have started a business much sooner.
  • Age is only a number. What you need to focus on is seeking opportunities to push you to think creatively so that you can start solving problems on your own from an earlier age rather than depending on others to deliver results. Running a start-up is a long journey but a worthwhile one; just remember to celebrate your successes, learn from your failures and have the courage to get back up and try again.
HelpingB is an award-winning crowdfunding platform for businesses that are socially, environmentally and/or economically conscious.

If you are looking for further help and support to get your business idea off the ground, you can get a wealth of information in the Shell LiveWIRE Business Library, interact with other start-ups and business advisors in our Discussion Forum, or apply for a Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award and have a chance at winning £5,000 to get your idea off the ground.
Best of luck!


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