It´s easy to have ideas, dreams and even design business concepts – but it´s definitely not easy to quit your day job, start a company and start living entrepreneur-life. Entrepreneurs life is filled with excitement but also, they live in constant uncertainty and lack of resources. On top of that, when you are married with work, you might feel a bit lonely sometimes, but it doesn´t have to be that way!
Future Female and Fondia wanted to make female startup entrepreneurs’ life a bit easier by building a co-mentoring program. The idea is offer mentoring and supporting network for two different level entrepreneur groups. First group is for early stage entrepreneurs who are still in the phase of developing their concept. Another mentoring group is for experienced entrepreneurs with few years of experience already. Tiina Zilliacus, serial entrepreneur, advisor and business angel will mentor the Experienced group (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiinazilliacus/) and Hanna Lilja, CEO and Founder of Momzie mentors the early stage group (https://www.linkedin.com/in/hanna-lilja-5065664/).
The first mentoring session was held in the end of August in the inspiring surroundings offered by Fondia. There was definitely excitement in the air or “pöhinä” as they say in Finnish startup scene. When everybody got their coffee and seats we were ready to start. In the first session we broke the ice, got to know each other a bit, heard Tiina’s and Hanna’s background stories and their lessons learned in a nutshell. Fondia’s Nea Welling kept insightful presentation about contracts, IPR and other important legal matters when starting your own business. There are lot of moving important pieces when starting a company but here are at least few things that were highlighted by our mentors.
It’s like getting married
From legal point of view there are several important things to think about and papers to fill before starting a company. The most important thing however is that if you have business partners, you should study your relationship between other partners really carefully. Having partners is like getting married, can you trust to those people? How they handle conflicts? What skills or competence are they bringing to the company or are they silent partners? Even though it´s not romantic to think about divorce before getting married but you never now what can happen so “prenup” aka shareholders’ agreement is a must. Always make a shareholders’ agreement and negotiate about rules, exits and conflicts beforehand, write everything down. And remember, your best friend may not be the best business partner.
You don´t know everything
To have a successful start for you company requires also network – the bigger the better. If you are a lonely rider and you have started your business alone, you can make it, but it´s easier if you don´t have to make all the mistakes by yourself. Networking is sometimes pain in the a** but it is one of the most valuable assets that you can have as entrepreneur. When you have professionals around you who you can talk to, ask advice, listen, talk and ask about their mistakes, it is like putting money to the bank. Tiina Zilliacus reminded that people usually like to talk and help – you just have to be brave enough to admit that you don’t know everything.
Think about money
You have a great application that will save the world? Great but what is your revenue model? There are of course exceptions, but usually companies need money to stay up and running. It is good to have optimism and dream that Facebook will buy your application in no-time, but the competition is hard. Remember that company will look more appealing for the buyers and investors if the revenue model is well-planned and the company has cash flow. Like Jerry Maguire said – show me the money!
Be brave, don´t be afraid of mistakes and just do it. Start-up’s lifespan is short and 90% of the companies disappear in their first years. It´s not always best thing to hold on something until the very end. Sometimes it´s better to give up if the concept doesn´t work and make a clean start from the beginning with better or updated business idea. Remember to test the idea!
Remember to commit, listen, share and give. It will make your entrepreneur-life easier and much more enjoyable.
Next time we will talk about money, revenue models and funding. Stay tuned!
Tiina’s group Advanced level Entrepreneurs
Paulina Piippo Joylla
Taina Haapamäki FLOU
Johanna Jussila Crescendo Consulting And Management Oy
Iiris Konttinen Steps Helsinki
Salla Lundelin Camp Norte
Sofia Pohls Finders Seekers
Johanna Sinkkonen Lumoa
Susanna Kankare Ägräs Distillery Oy
Hanna’s group: Early Stage Entrepreneurs
Minna Eerikäinen Unbranded Market
Cecilia Portnoj Lagom Health
Sabina Housh-Kaanela Arctic Forest Deli
Iida Miettinen Kamu Collective
Laura Aaltonen Cryptic Cargo
Annu Rantanen Bliss Helsinki