How time flies! It’s been a year since I founded People Mentality Inc!
Throughout this year, running it has been a roller coaster ride but one that was extremely enriching. I was glad to have had the great support of many on this journey thus far that has led to the numerous success that I achieved in this short time frame – 6 HR consultancy projects and over 30 speaking gigs sounds pretty amazing to me!
That said, there were many important lessons that I picked up along the way and of which, I thought I’ll love to share 8 of them that many of you may find useful regardless of where you are working at. Here we go.
1) Entrepreneurship is not all about being cool and glamourous
Many may think that it’s really cool that I started my own employer branding agency. They saw how I was closing deals, speaking on international stage and getting the media attention so naturally, they thought that it was all about the glamour. But guess what, behind the scenes, it’s all sweat and tears.
While the success is great, I never once took it for granted because every single bit of it was hard earned. There were times at the very beginning where I was just aimlessly looking for opportunities. There were times where I had no income and really just had to bite the bullet and press on with the belief that the next month would be better.
Of course, it came with a great satisfaction when you build up something that you believe in. That said, it really isn’t for everyone.
2) Partnership is important but not every partner is a true partner
I’ve always advocated the importance of building an ecosystem of partners in order to thrive in today’s business environment. Question is, should you accept just any partner? Are all partners good?
You’ll realize along the way that not all “partners” have the same intention to well, partner you. The real partners are those who have a clear intent to create a win-win situation and grow the pie together with you rather than simply leverage off your network and disappear when you need them. It may be difficult to assess at the start but seriously, time will tell.
3) Trust has to be earned and it works both ways
I fell into the trap of being too trusting early on because I sincerely believed that no one is born evil and has a malicious intention right from the beginning. I recalled how I trusted an associate without signing any formal agreement and that cost me a $30k deal. Ouch!
It was a painful lesson indeed but guess what, it was a good wakeup call that I needed especially in the business world. As much as you want to be nice and trusting, it’s also important to give the trust to the right people. People need to earn the trust and likewise, you have to do the same to win that from your partners and clients while not expecting it to happen right from day one. In the business world, signing formal agreements to safeguard yourself is key and that doesn’t mean that you do not trust the other party when you do so. Some times, it is better to lay things out upfront and get it out of the way so that you can focus on what is truly important.
4) Always start with the intention to add value
It’s easy to succumb to the pressure of selling your services to ensure financial sustainability. But to ensure that clients want to engage you, you need to start by having the right intention – to add value!
When you start with the right frame of mind, you will think from the client’s point of view and guess what, they can tell! It will further affirm their decision to engage you and in the longer term, you stand a higher chance of locking in a good customer that believes in you. Even if they are unable to engage you further, you know that chances are they would be willing to also refer you to their contacts because of the great work that you have done.
It all starts with wanting to deliver value rather than just a service!
5) A strong support network is what helps grow your business
Especially for a young startup or entrepreneur, there are many things to worry about and pick up on the growth journey. That means, with your limited time and resources, you cannot do it all. The way to go around it? Build a team!
When I say build a team, it doesn’t necessarily always mean that you have to hire. Given an entrepreneur who’s in the bootstrapping phase, hiring might not always make sense. That said, you can always build up a team of partners and advisors where in my case, I call them the HR Avengers.
With the various strengths and resources that each group has, it will help you build an ecosystem where you can leverage on one another to grow everyone’s business collectively. When everyone feels like they are winning, that’s where the real victory takes place and becomes sustainable in the longer run.
6) Never forget who helped you get to where you are
Success doesn’t happen because you are awesome. It happens because you have great people around you to make you awesome and in the process, you make others great.
There will be people who made a difference in small and big ways along the way to bring you to where you want to. I always believed in not only remembering those who are there when you are doing well, but more importantly, those who stood by you regardless of how broken or down you are. This includes friends, family, mentors, partners, clients etc.
To me, it’s always critical to be appreciative of these people because they are hard to come by. These are folks who have been there and probably will still be there for you when you need them. Don’t forget to find ways to be there for them and for others who might need your support. You never know how a little help can go a really long way for somebody.
7) Be sincere about giving but strategic at the same time
You receive a lot more when you give. It’s true, and that mindset has helped me and my business grow for the past 1 year.
That said, giving needs to be strategic as well. What I mean is not that you only choose to help others when it’s beneficial to you. Instead, it’s really more about managing your time, energy and resources on hand.
As much as you would like to help every single one and meet every person that connects with you, is it really practical and feasible? The answer is really no. I tried doing that at the very start of the journey and got so tied up with various requests that it deviated me from my core activities.
It is therefore important to know what you can and cannot do. With a good intention, people will appreciate your thoughts even if you are eventually unable to help them directly. Just be honest about it and mindful of your own needs while doing your best to give. You are not god and don’t have to be one. Do your best and always have a positive intention. That matters more.
8) Pacing yourself ensures sustainability
Many startup founders take pride in the hustle. It’s always hustle and more hustle. The long hours and lack of sleep always appear to be a badge of honour, isn’t it?
At the very beginning of my journey, I took that same approach as well. Working through the night and even on weekends only to fall sick and be out of action for days! That’s when it struck me that it’s really more about the pacing rather than hustling.
Working hard is a basic expectation. But what’s more important is your health! You need to understand how you are coping and adjust accordingly. At the end of the day, your health and energy level is what helps you grow and sustain your dreams. Failing which, it will be just a quick moment of glory and it pretty much ends as soon as it starts.
It’s been a great first year thus far and building on that momentum with the lessons learned, I’m sure year 2 will be even more awesome.
Stay tuned for more!