The path to entrepreneurship is never straight forward. The majority of self-started businesses are often created unintentionally by finding gaps in the market or problems with existing services and processes. Whilst working as a teacher, this is exactly how I came up with the idea of our first solution, Show My Homework.
From the start, I was clear on how this solution could work to solve the problem teachers have with setting and managing homework. I also had an idea of the resources needed to build it. What I was not prepared for was knowing what to do when it became time to grow.
I picked up some great lessons along the way, which I think are valuable to share with aspiring start-up owners:
- Create a predictable revenue business model
You will already know that the product you create should solve a real problem to be successful. Another important factor is ensuring your product has a predictable revenue model. The more you understand where and when money is going to come in, as well as whether cash flow will be impacted by seasonal shifts, the better you can forecast growth and avoid issues. Visibility over revenues is critical when pitching for investment.
- Learn how to generate an insatiable appetite for your product
Having a good product that addresses a specific problem means your customer is going to love it when they get it in their hands. But product spec and features alone will not bring you those lasting sales volumes. Founders have the advantage of being able to create a sales pitch around their passion and personal experience. Use it as the foundation of your brand. And once it is tried and tested, teach it to the team to enable them to sell and keep true to your vision.
- Provide exceptional customer service and support
Your business will fail in today’s world if you give poor customer support. If you want your customers to keep coming, you need to show them you care. Treat them well and use forums like social media to listen to them, be responsive and appreciative. As you grow, consider how your customer service function can add value to your services to drive more stickiness. Word of mouth and recommendations are one of the greatest ways to scale in the early stages of your business. Happy customers make for the best salespeople. Empower them!
- Don’t be afraid to turn the team
As your company scales the requirements of your team are likely to change to meet the demands of your changing business landscape. During such periods don’t be afraid to let go of the people who aren’t willing to grow or have served their purpose. Be grateful for their contributions, but ultimately recognise the needs of the business and don’t be afraid to shift the shape of the team to accommodate these needs.
- Trust your gut when hiring
There was a period of time where I didn’t follow my gut and chose to hire based on credentials (previous employer etc). As talented as someone may be, they don’t always fit in with your vision and team, and instead of bringing value, they can bring upset. Today, I trust my gut and validate hiring calls with those close to me that have.a deep understanding of our culture, climate and business.
- Invest in processes and technology vs processes and new hires
As you expand it might seem right to accommodate for customer demand by making new hires. However, before doing so, analyse current processes to see if there are any opportunities for automation, and then begin exploring different types of technology that can help streamline processes. This approach will be quicker, more cost-effective, and have guaranteed longevity.
- Don’t be afraid to fail
This may seem cliché and has definitely been said before but I can’t say it enough; don’t be afraid to try something new and for it to fail or to stop an idea that you can see isn’t going to work out before it’s run its course. Every mistake or bad idea you have is a learning curve and trying new things is the only way you’re going to progress.
By Naimish Gohil, Founder and CEO of Satchel
ABOUT NAIMISH GOHIL
Naimish is an award-winning entrepreneur and in 2018 was named one of the Edtech 50 – a group of individuals recognised as the best of the UK’s edtech industry leaders. His passion and dedication to the education technology sector is also demonstrated by the range of industry talks and events he is invited to speak at, where he can be seen sharing his learnings and experiences.
Satchel began in the classroom, built by then Assistant Headteacher and now CEO, Naimish Gohil. Driven by the desire to reduce teacher workload and bring together teachers, students and parents Naimish started building tools that unlock teachers’ superpowers and unite all parties in the teaching & learning process.
Today, over 1600 schools use Satchel products, with a third of all UK secondary schools using Satchel One to access flagship software, Show My Homework.
Their team, based near the Olympic Park in London, are on a mission to help teachers and students realise their potential through the use of edtech software designed to meet their exact needs, solving a real problem, never replacing the skills and talent they already possess.
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.