Ten lessons learnt from starting my own business.

A little insight from our founder.

By Jay Jackson

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A personal note from Phil.

It’s been 5 years since I began working on the original ideas behind Mother, so it felt an appropriate milestone to reflect on the 10 key lessons I’ve learnt from starting my own business. This list is by no means exhaustive and is merely based on my personal experience and learnings. In a way it’s a list of things I wished I could have told myself back when I started out so hopefully there are a few points that might prove useful to anyone else thinking of setting up their own business and joining the crazy but amazing world of entrepreneurialism.

Research. Research. Research.

It may sound obvious but putting in the hours before you actually start setting the business up will save you so many more hours further down the line. Being able to get a handle on the competitive and commercial landscape you are entering will only increase your chances of success before you start investing valuable time and capital.

Find a business partner.

This is much easier said than done, as each business and person is so unique. However, there’s a reason so many investment firms prefer business’s with more than just a single founder. Having someone with the same vested interest is invaluable, especially when it comes to the really big decisions. There are a million and one decisions to make and having two heads is always better than one. I personally didn’t have an equal founder but I did have some amazing people around me from the very beginning who were able to take on this function at various stages which has been hugely valuable.

Allow for things to take twice as long as you think.

Just like life, business is unpredictable. Even with the best planning and financing things will inevitably take longer than you think. Plan for this where possible, especially with your funding and run rate. It actually makes me laugh out loud when I think how unrealistic we were in the beginning with many timelines!

Set your limit.

Ask yourself, ‘How much time and money are you really willing to invest?' Once you start down a path and are personally and financially committed it’s very easy to let both escalate unless you have a hard limit in place. The uncertainty of starting something new can be pretty damn scary but on the flipside, it’s what makes things so interesting and exciting.

Know your numbers.

You don’t necessarily need to be a financial whizz but you have to be able to fully understand your cashflow and financial model as you ultimately live and die by your numbers. If it’s not your speciality then find someone whose it is. It will be the best money you spend.

How much time and money are you really willing to invest?

Ask. Listen. Learn.

There are so many people out there who can add huge value based on their past experiences. Find them, ask them questions and be willing to listen and learn what they have to say. People who have been there and done it before will have learnt many invaluable lessons that will save you time and money. One of the things that pleasantly surprises me each day is how willing most people are to offer help and advice. People have been incredibly kind to offer up their own time, for free, on multiple occasions and it’s really had a huge impact on Mother.

Keep it simple.

One of the hardest things we found with Mother was defining exactly what our business model was. There were so many different routes we could go down. We’ve worked hard to streamline and simplify the model as time has gone on, but in hindsight we could have done things a little differently. You definitely don’t always need to invent something totally new and quite often the best ideas are the simplest or just doing things slightly better than what’s already out there.

Start small. Think big.

Once you have a minimum viable product in place, start out with a very small and easy test case. Build up the data and market research to make any tweaks and changes that will inevitably need to take place. No matter how much research and planning you do, there is nothing more valuable than a live testing environment to perfect the end product. If the product and team is good enough then the big contracts will come but all in good time.

Take your time to hire well. Not just talented people but good people who will slot into your team seamlessly

Just do it!

Stop procrastinating! There comes a point when have to be decisive about whether you are in or out. There will always be hard decisions to make but if you’ve done the right due diligence then you can’t ask more than that. Make your choice and go for it.

Hard graft with a talented team.

Nothing worth having comes easily. Be prepared to put in the work and persevere. Even with the best idea in the world you need to put in the effort as things take time.

And it’s not just your own hard work. For any business to be a success you’ll need a talented team around you that you can trust and believe in. Take your time to hire well. Not just talented people but good people who will slot into your team seamlessly.

Mother is finally growing and it’s a hugely exciting time but it’s the result of a lot of grafting from the incredibly talented Mother family which I’m really grateful for. After all your business will only be as good as the people around you.