Start-ups, strangers and having a purpose
It’s coming up to a year since I started this venture at Sprout with my co-founders. Working with my colleagues, other entrepreneurs and business owners, I can genuinely say I have been inspired, motivated and incredibly fortunate to meet people who are making their ideas and passion come to life, through business. As I hear stories around how and why they started their ventures there are aspects that really resonate with me.
Going it alone
There is however one key difference I notice. One aspect of my journey that I have not been able to share with others – I joined a start-up with complete strangers!
Most entrepreneurs and business owners I’ve met have gone into partnerships with people they know well or they have worked with before. They have an established relationship based on trust, shared values and vision, and they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses before going into business together.
On reflection, I realise how unusual my experience was and at times find myself wondering, why did I do it? Particularly given that I had never considered myself a risk taker. I did have some fear around leaving my stable ‘employed’ status, but I didn’t really question ‘who’ I was entering into this business relationship with.
Clarity on getting it right
So, looking back I do ask myself, why did I do it - was it blind faith? Was it sheer luck that’s it’s been a natural fit (maybe a very small part!)?
I think it was clarity. I went into the initial conversation 100% clear on what was important to me over and above the opportunity its self. There were three things that really defined this:
Purpose – The business that I work with and what I do for them had to connect with my ‘why'. I love my job and I love that I get to meet people I wouldn’t come across in any other capacity. I get to hear stories, share ideas and be part of people’s business journeys. I knew from the core concept of the business idea that Sprout would connect with my ‘why’.
Integrity – I knew whoever I worked with had to have integrity and personal accountability. Did they say and do what they promised? Not having enough time to find this out for myself, I had to rely mostly on reputation. In our industry, it’s pretty phenomenal to go 10 years and have an unscathed, highly respected reputation, which was the case for my business partner.
Authenticity – I had to work with people who were real. If I could see who they were, how they think and how they operate to their values then I would trust in the relationship. I knew whatever hurdles might come and inevitable differences in opinion at times, we would always have a basis of genuine trust in each to do the right thing.
It’s important, whether it be a start-up or in a new role to look beyond the opportunity in isolation. Consider who you are, what makes you happy and what will make you proud to be part of.
I'll finish up with a recommendation; challenge and question the business you are in or the business partner you work with around purpose. The result will be the things that will build your foundation to being happy and productive in what you do.