10 (ish) lessons learned from a failed corporate start-up ๐Ÿ˜’

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to work on a corporate start-up. It has been a great experience with a team that I’ll never forget and I am very thankful for the opportunity ๐Ÿ™

My branded hoodie will accompany me as a reminder of what to do and not do if I ever get the chance again ๐Ÿ’š

Here are some of the things to do and avoid if you are treading the same path.

Some of these tips we did do and some of them we ignored despite being advised by successful wise ๐Ÿง™โ€โ™‚๏ธ start-up founders who had done it before and won๐Ÿ†
You know who you are thank you ๐Ÿ‘

  1. Have a strong founding leader whom the team back and believe in ๐Ÿ’ช
    They must be with you from day one as they need to be invested in the project and know everything about it living and breathing the brand and its proposition.
  2. Get your own PnL and budget under your control ๐Ÿค‘
    This shows trust and commitment from your mothership business from the beginning. Otherwise, you are open to interference and risk becoming an experiment, not a serious business.
  3. Get the hell out of the corporate office! You will find it very hard to build a team identity, attract talent and get rid of the corporate shackles if you are turning up to the same office as before ๐Ÿ˜ด
    Nothing will feel different, you will act the same, dress the same and create the same culture. Plus it feels like you’re working in a Zoo as the rest of the business walk by and look in at you! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿผ๐Ÿฆ“
  4. Keep the board informed every 2-3 months whether you are invited or not.
    Any more than this and they will interfere too much.
    Any less and they will lose touch and not understand the value you are creating or what your USP is.
    This is more dangerous than them interfering โ˜ ๏ธ
  5. Build your identity together as a team. This goes from buying and assembling desks, painting the office, designing and ordering your own merchandise ๐Ÿค—
    Involve everyone and get them all to own, create and contribute something towards your brand.
  6. Go out a whenever you can and if your team drink have some drinks too! ๐Ÿคช
    This is honestly the best and cheapest way to build team cohesion and relationships. It gives you that common ground outside of the office and gets peoples guards down.
    It pains me to admit it but there is no better way to get to know each other ๐Ÿปย 
    6b)ย Location, therefore, needs to be in the city centre so you have good access to bars and restaurants where peops can leave their cars behind.
  7. Don’t over commit. You need to keep contracts to a minimum.
    The mothership could shut you down at any moment and withhold your next round of funding if you miss key milestones ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
    So keep your cost exposure low and stick to project-based agreements or 6month terms with “termination of convenience” clauses ๐Ÿง
  8. Keep it local. Get your local business community in the know and involved.
    Host events ๐ŸŽ‰ and invite them.
    You are a big corporate masquerading as a strat-up so they will probably be interested to hear what you have to say.
    Use their services too as you will be needing their advice and support at some point very soon.
    So build and own a business network ๐Ÿค
  9. Collaborate then dissipate. Make sure you and your whole team including suppliers such as developers and UX co-locate in the same office for around 3 days per week. Then on Fridays free the team to give them the space, trust and freedom to work how and where they want to get ๐Ÿ’ฉ done.
  10. Don’t commit to an exact launch date โฐ
    Sure you need the pressure of a deadline but keep it general such as a month or week commencing X.
    All a specified date does is make you compromise on your MVP and launch something that is not ready.
    Finally.ย 10b)ย Rethink what go live actually means and break it into tiny increments to take the pressure off and give you more events to celebrate (remember rule 6). For example, you can split it into 5 stages over a month or longer.

Stage 1; Test launch. in this phase, you run a dummy customer through your experience to see if the front and backend work together ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ”ฌ

Stage 2; Web launch. Simply send your website and social estate live but do no marketing. Don’t worry the internet is a big place and no-one will know you are there. This allows you to index your site and play with social media ๐ŸŒ

Stage 3; Brand launch. Now start generating some traffic with some organic social posts and get your team to share it with their own networks. ๐Ÿ–ง

Stage 4; Superfriendlies. Get your colleagues, friends and family to go through the experience so you can get direct feedback, test and learn and most importantly have a friendly customer to deal with if anything goes wrong ๐Ÿ˜Š

Stage 5; Market launch. The main event you are open for business to your intended audience ๐Ÿคฉ

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