Location of writing: Hipster Café, Amsterdam. Let me clarify I said café, not coffee shop, café. There is a difference, I need to actually finish this thing.
(PS, for those of you wondering , yes, sometimes the blog is a little bit delayed and the ‘location of writing’ may be a few days earlier – I do appreciate you are keeping an eye on me though, lovely people!)
Travel plans this week: Had a nice week back in Paris, Belgium and now in Amsterdam. Explored the new ‘trendy’ areas of Amsterdam Noord on bikes, and also managed to get some work done at hipster cafes in between. Now heading back down south to Spain and France to get some surfing in.
Each morning, I have been trying to ask myself the question “if I had to launch tomorrow, what would be the most important thing to get done today” to prioritise the tasks from crucial, to potentially just time-wasting and ultimately not necessary.
Prepare for the classic “seen”, but no reply. It’s normal.
If you really want to make the business happen, you need to leave some dignity at the door
In creating any business, or even any venture in general, there comes a point where you realise you simply cannot do everything yourself.
You go online and get a few quotes to see the cost to get professional assistance, and realise your budget has been blown completely. What do you do? Pack it in?
Well, actually, many people at this point will in fact give up. They will take a simple excuse like ‘I needed a lawyer to draft the company registration and I just couldn’t afford that so I’ll wait till I have more money behind me.”
Remember – you will always be needing more money, more time, and more expertise – the time is never perfect.
So then, what do you do?
Believe it or not, there are almost always cheap solutions to get through these tasks which you simply cannot do yourself. In the start-up world, it is generally referred to as ‘bootstrapping’, however I think it can often be simplified further – friends.
An average person will be surrounded by people from all different walks of life. At first glance, the expertise and skills of these people may not seem relevant. But as soon as you realise you need help, you will start to really recognise how valuable the skills these people have is.
Thus, your friends open the door to a whole range of free resources to take advantage of, which I have decided to now refer to as ‘Friendsources’.
So the time has come – start pestering them for help. Here, you may lose dignity, you may put friends in a uncomfortable situation where they feel so awkward saying no that they simply don’t respond at all. Some may blatantly refuse for a number of reasons (and there is nothing wrong with that). But the point is you need to try and at least ask.
For me, in the business creation thus far, my friend pestering started from step one. As I am setting the business up on the road so to speak, I have been mailing samples to friends and family all around the world. They have been receiving, testing, and even photographing the products for me.
What do they get?
Well, aside form maybe some free products, nothing. They are genuinely doing it because they are great people. Of course, if they ever needed a favour, some business help, or anything else, I would be front and centre to return start earning some good karma myself. But for the most part, people are generous and actually enjoy helping.
- Legal advice – This won’t be official legal advice, but can simply be a friend who is a lawyer, or even a student, giving you an opinion and pointing you in the right direction. Sometimes these tiny bits of advice can save you lots of time in setting up something which may not have been necessary whatsoever
- Photography (including having friends become models, some love it, some definitely do not)
- Professional videos
- Website fixes
- Promotion – asking all of your friends to share your links or spread a message is really, really worthwhile. This can be one of the hardest things to do because you really do feel like your scratching the bottom of the jar by messaging people out of the blue and asking them to share something which they probably don’t want to, but it is worth it – every bit of exposure really does count. Just make sure that when someone does help out, recognise it, and be ready to throw a favour back their way when the wind changes.
Just ask. Worst case scenario, they say no.
This is one of the many difficult aspects of entrepreneurial ventures – you need to be prepared to ask for things, and you need to be prepared to handle the rejection when it occurs, and it will.
If you still cannot find the help, where do you go
Thank god for the good old interweb. There are now endless resources online which allow you to connect directly with professionals and experts in all different fields to get your job done quickly, cheaply, and usually, really well.
For example, Freelancer.com is easy, risk free, and cheap (like less than $5). Check out how it works here.
Well that’s it for today. Time to keep on keeping on. A few hiccups have slowed down launch for Charlie Spike, but hopefully just a few days away from going live!