Learnings from YOMO
Lifehack venture, YOMO, has decided to move on. Alex and Michael are making the decision to close shop for the foreseeable future to pursue other opportunities. Before they leave we wanted to gather some of their key learnings in developing a wellbeing-centric business in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Here’s a few words from the founders…
We’re putting YOMO on hold for now. We’ve had our highs and lows. Gone through – Lifehack’s Social Innovation Lab and Inspiring Stories – Live the Dream : Social Enterprise Accelerator. We’ve worked late nights while at times having full time jobs. We’ve learnt so much over this past year and we’d like to share what we’ve learnt so others can learn from our mistakes.
Make communication and people a priority
Prioritise communication over work. Make time to check in with the team. Set up regular meeting just to make sure everyone is on the same page and is OK with how everything is currently and the direction the company is going in.
Team Team Team
Working on your own can be difficult. Finding someone who shares the same passion shouldn’t be overlooked. Having a team that is dedicated to building the pathway ahead for your startup can spread the workload to divide and conquer to cover more ground. Building a team creates an environment of how you function together. With YOMO we developed culture of openness, transparency and authenticity, we were able to be ourselves, bounce ideas off each other and be critical when needed. Best of all we could celebrate the good times together.
Raise any issues you have and listen to your gut
If something doesn’t feel right and you can’t explain it, voice that to your team. Do you feel uneasy about the task you’re working on but can’t put your finger on exactly what it is? Express that, you might find everyone on the team has that same feeling. Rich Bartlett has a lot on listening to your tummy here, it’s a long, but worthwhile read. – https://medium.com/enspiral-tales/how-to-do-anything-in-3-hard-steps-c9cc4d271826
Building the vision together
Developing your vision for how you think change will happen, stems from the problem you are trying to solve. It’s important that your team and supporters are actively involved in building the vision pathway forward as this builds a sense of ownership amongst the team.
Resources to Survive
Embarking on a journey of creating a startup requires a large amount of time, energy, resources, commitment and money. While creating YOMO we focussed our energy full-time on building the foundations of YOMO and trying to establish a working business model to be sustainable in the future. This proved to be difficult at times, there is a fine balance of earning a living and bootstrapping a startup, being full time on a startup is mentally draining and not sustainable. Be sure you’re equipped with the resources you need or have a plan when you start your big journey.
Identify best practice – Who is on fire in this space!
Everything is inspired by something else and remixed – Why reinvent the wheel? Identify who are the leaders in the field you are pursuing. What makes them the best in this field? What is their unique value point and what is your unique value point? and how can you connect with these people? This can save you time,energy,money and potentially create a partnership.
Your users know best, not you
Identify who are you trying to solve the problem for and develop an understanding for these individuals by getting to know their lived experiences. By keeping the user at the center of your startup allows you to create a product or service that will be of value and desirable to them.
Set an expiry date
Draw a line in the sand by setting an expiry date. For an example – in one year’s time we would have secured seed funding and have a early stage prototype. This expiry date implies a different energy to your thinking and helps give the team motivation to succeed in that time frame or call it a day.
Storytell – all the time
Talk to as many people as possible about your startup, everyone has a slightly different perspective and lived experience which can help shape your startup. Being able to communicate the purpose of your startup in a small and concise sound bite could be all the difference from you getting the support you need, potential funding or critical feedback. It also creates an invitation for people to get involved.
Capture your learnings for reflection
During the flurry of building a startup, your learnings can be stored in your mind and eventually lost if not documented well. Having a quick and simple way to capture your new findings and failures is a great way to reflect on different stages of your startup but more importantly help with making decisions when it comes to the crunch, we found that we did three full loops without solid documentation to help us make progress forward.
Create time for experts & mentors
People often want to be involved in some shape or form with your startup, we made the mistake by not creating enough time for experts or mentors because we felt we weren’t ready. You will never be completely ready, by not creating space for expert input an opportunity or shortcut can be lost.
Finally, Have a blast while building the thing!
Often we want to just get to a certain milestone or finish building the prototype already. Diving into the unknown and embracing the journey is all part of the experience, whether it’s a success or not – it’s all in good learning!