If you typed “coworking space Luxembourg” into Google search, you probably found the name of our company: Deskover. We opened this company while having full time, quite demanding jobs. This blog post wants to encourage all those brilliant people out there who have a crazy idea and who think they cannot do it, to actually start doing it.
In this article we look at 5 phases that we had to go through from starting working on the idea until the opening of the company.
1. From "idea" contemplation to "action"
Let’s start from the very beginning . You have an idea and you start thinking about the fact that you could actually do something about it. You speak to your friends about it, you dream about it and you imagine yourself becoming your own boss.
Well, let's be honest. With how many people did you have a similar conversation?
Friends, colleagues, acquaintances. Most of them, with a regular job, a typical 9 to 5 - people who need to pay rent or a loan, and who must avoid starving to death. Usually incredibly smart and brilliant people.
And it goes like this:
"I had this crazy idea - one day I'll actually start working on it and I could become a millionaire!"
There are two parts of this sentence that are a red flag to me.
The first one is:"one day".
When I hear this, I normally answer "when is that?". It usually upsets people a bit ... 'cause they have no clue - it is just an idea in their mind, and they are far from thinking about when to truly start with it. Most of the times they know that they will never start, they just enjoy basking in the idea contemplation.
The second part is : "I could become a millionaire!".
This shows a clear misconception of the work that has to be done to reach even a portion of that possible (and very unlikely) success. Most of the times, when the dream is linked to money and not to an ideal rooted in the founders' mind, startups tend to fail (for info - they tend to fail in general!)
Now, that's a picture of the ocean. You might be wondering why the hell is that there, but bear with me. Just acknowledge for a moment how big the ocean is... and keep reading...
"I had this crazy idea - one day I'll actually start working on it and I could become a millionaire!"
So. If you have an idea and you go around using this sentence, stop for a minute.
As we say in Italy, "between saying and doing, there's a sea" ("Tra il dire e il fare, c'è di mezzo il mare"), and ask yourself: "do I really wanna start swimming?".
Between saying and doing, there's a sea ("Tra il dire e il fare, c'è di mezzo il mare")
If the answer is yes, then replace that "one day" with a clear date. Replace that "I could become a millionaire" with "I will do X and Y to start working on the feasibility of this idea, and I'll see how it goes".
The first step is to start doing.
But now you're probably thinking:
"Well, I have no idea. What should I do?"
and it is 100% normal.
But guess what: the first step of your "doing-plan", the first thing that you're going to do, is to figure out what needs to be done next!
So you have finally found the motivation to start working on this crazy project of yours.
One very important thing that I want to highlight is that at this stage you don't need to worry about your full time job. Keep it - bring the bread home - it is way too early to make any judgement about that or to even start worrying about it.
What you need to do now is to discover what the next steps of your journey are.
You are not signing any contract with the devil, you're free to end the journey whenever you feel, IF you feel like it.
During this phase it is very typical to feel lost: "I don't know what to do", "I have no idea about business creation, let alone business management".
Yes, that is true. But YOU.CAN.LEARN.
I co-founded Deskover with my brother and we both studied engineering. Guess what... we didn't know anything about business, finance or startups. ZERO. Nada de nada. But we were ready to learn. Of course if you studied entrepreneurship you'll have an advantage, but what I want to say is that the fact that TODAY you do not know how to do something, should not stop you from learning how to do it and start doing it from TOMORROW (- and for those things you cannot learn, find the right person that can do that for/with you!).
Embrace the feeling and let it be the fuel of your motivation to find answers.
Now, letting the philosophical thinking aside, here's some practical hints:
Yeah this is quite useless but I'll put it anyway: use our best friend GOOGLE. Make research. Learn.
Here's a more useful tip: on the web, don't look for "how to create my startup" - it might direct you to more generic content. Look for "what to do BEFORE launching my startup"...things like "how to validate my business idea" or "how to build an MVP".
Look for programmes that are designed to support entrepreneurs from the idea phase through to business launch. In Luxembourg, one of these programs is given by Nyuko.
Now that you figured out (more or less :D) your next steps, it is time to stop again for a minute, and before going into the real action, take an aware decision.
3. Go/No go decision
Time to evaluate the situation.
Let's remind ourselves that you still have your full time job. This means that you go to work from 9 to 5 (in the best case scenario! :D) every day for five days of the week. You are not left with much.
This is going to take time. Effort. Dedication.
It is going to take most of your evenings after work, lots of weekends. You can forget about Netflix for a while. You'll have to say "no" to your friends and in general make some sacrifices.
So here's a list of questions to ask yourself before jumping into it:
Am I going to have time for this?
Am I willing to sacrifice certain things of my life for this?
Are my business partners on the same page as me?
Will I be willing to invest my money into this at a certain moment?
Is this going to negatively impact my life?
Think about these questions, and when and if you're ready, go for it.
If you realize that you're not ready, or simply you do not want to go through all that effort while working full time, then you have two options:
either you choose the "No go"-Option (and there is really nothing wrong with that - it might actually open your eyes on the positive aspects of your current job!)
Or you decide to quit your job and focus exclusively on this project. In my humble opinion, this phase is still too much of an early phase to make such a bet, but this really depends on your personal financial situation. Lots of people have an extra income, a spouse's income or some other kind of help. If you have unemployment benefits, then you're in the situation in which you do not have to take a decision and you are also financially covered, so just go for it!
I do not believe in the "you can do anything if you only wish enough for it", otherwise - believe me - I would have been a mix between Megan Fox and Marie Curie since a while, but I am far from having the body of the first and the brain of the second.
This to say that no matter how much we like the idea and how much we wish for it to become true, a LOT of work has to be done. And the real question is not "do you really want that?", but it should be "do you really want to work hard to have that?". Or, as Britney Spears would put it: "you better work,b**ch" :D.
The real question is not "do you really want that?" but it should be "do you really want to work hard to have that?".
Take your decision, and go with it!
Welcome to the first step of your entrepreneurial adventure. During this phase, you'll have to be open minded and ready to have your idea broken in 100 little pieces and rebuilt in a completely different way.
If you are too proud to let go, then don't bother.
If you're open minded enough, get ready to have fun.
I don't want to use this blog to present the steps that you'll go through - others will help you on that (again, have a look at the programs at Nyuko!).
Rather, I'd like to share three practical hints for this phase as well:
PLAN. If you don't put in your calendar (and in your own head!) that a certain number of times per week you will have to work on this, you'll end up on the couch, exhausted from work, thinking you'll do it another time. But to the question above you answered that you were ready to make time for this. SO DO IT. How does your agenda look like? You have tennis on Tuesday and Thursday? Fine. Mondays and Wednesdays after work you'll work on the project. Put that time in your calendar and follow it. Diligence is more important than motivation.
ASK FOR SUPPORT. And I am not talking about money. I am talking about support from friends and loved ones. They need to be aware that this is important to you. Once they are aware, they will try to help, they will avoid yelling at you for not going out as before. If you have kids, make sure to balance the parenting with your partner. Same for the house chores. Your most important people need to be on your side. And if you need a place where to work on your project, you can always use our locations (coworking spaces . and more)
DO NOT EXAGGERATE In other blogs, you might find recommendations like "there will be time to sleep once you're dead". But here, not at all. The exact opposite. There is no reason to make yourself exhausted by having sleepless nights and by working at any possible time. A normal human being (who does not use drugs to help :D) cannot function like that. It is important to be diligent, but to not overdo it. And you'll risk to screw up both the project itself and your current job. I really care about passing this message: you can be an entrepreneur without being a crazy person who wakes up at 4am and does jogging and yoga before 5am. In my humble opinion (humble but strong!) that is total bullshit. (for more about this, read this book!)
In other blogs, you might find recommendations like "there will be time to sleep once you're dead". But here, not at all. The exact opposite.
If at the end of this phase you have a validated business idea and a valuable MVP, you might be ready to open a company!
5. From "Action" to "Even more Action"
Congrats, you made it here! And you are still "bringing bread home" -
Now, instead of listing all the questions to ask yourself before suddenly finding yourself in front of the notary signing the Article of Association, I want to highlight here two aspects linked to the fact that you might still be working as an employee:
make sure there is no conflict of interest with your current employer (this is very important and in my case I had to formally ask for permission).
Be transparent with your team and your managers about what you are doing. They are going to appreciate your honesty and they will support you - your effort on the project should NOT influence your performance at work though! Be very careful about this!
Of course both points above imply that your idea is not linked to what you are doing at work. If that is not the case, then this is not applicable -
Remember the certain companies might have clauses in the contract that explicitly prohibit to start a business related to what you are doing, at least for a certain amount of time.
Hopefully this blog made you optimistic about the fact that you don't need to quit your job right away to start working on an idea and open a company.
I strongly believe so many brilliant people working as employees have ideas that could change the world, but they keep themselves from working on them cause they believe it is not possible for them to implement them and they don't have the means to live without a job. I really hope this will change. But as I said above, the wish itself won't be enough, so...
... "we better work, b**ch".