Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. It feels like the definition of ‘making it’ changes every other day, with many individuals gladly sacrificing the 9–5 grind or their studies for a chance at becoming their own boss.
While the experience can be wild and rewarding for those who triumph, starting a business is a lot harder than most people think – especially given the fact that 90 per cent of startups fail.
Rebecca Klodinsky knows just how hard it can be. As the founder of multi-million dollar brand IIXIIST, Rebecca created her then side-hustle nine years ago on her bedroom floor after realising there was a gap in the market for high-quality, affordable swimwear.
It was before Instagram took-off, before influencers, before AfterPay – customers were going to a physical store and putting a swimsuit on layby. Within a year, her brand was a household name and soon after transformed into a $7million a year global powerhouse, worn by the likes of the Kardashians, Jenners, Hailey Bieber and more.
While uncovering how to stand-out in a sea of the same, Rebecca has also grown with her brand – and she’s learned what to do when life happens the hard way. She’s also learned why cohabitation agreements and prenups should be every female entrepreneur’s biggest asset, and what the warning signs are that your business model needs to change.
We can’t think of many people more equipped to share their tips on successful startups and the things no one warns you about.
Get comfortable with finances
Every good startup should always be aware of its financial situation, but you’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs have no clue. As a result, they can’t easily predict they are about to slam into a brick wall. There needs to be thorough reporting and KPIs that are studied closely each week to understand how much you’re spending, earning and retaining versus your goals. You can’t manage what you are not measuring, so make sure you get your key reporting metrics identified and tracked.
Do everything & don’t worry about the noise
When you first start your business, no meeting or opportunity is too small. Think of them like leads with the opportunity to generate new partnerships and marketing initiatives – there is no roof on a slam dunk. In the same breath, don’t get sucked into the noise and hype you see about other startups – focus on building your business so you can be the one left standing.
Dropping out doesn’t make you the next Steve Jobs
Yes, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were dropouts – but that doesn’t mean you should be too. So many aspiring entrepreneurs think if they remove the suffocating shackles of education they too could create the next ‘big thing’, but the truth is, Jobs and Gates were rare exceptions. You will never know enough. You will always be forced to make a decision without fully understanding what is coming. As a founder, that is just something you have to get comfortable with. Making sure you’re always exercising your learning muscle will better equip you to make sound decisions.
When love and money mix
Women continue to shine in all facets of business, cracking the proverbial glass ceiling once and for all, but unfortunately there is still little talk about making sure your personal finances are safe should the unexpected happen. Be sure to set the rules from the get-go with a cohabitation or prenuptial agreement and be sure both sides are crystal clear on expenses and who will be contributing to what. If you can’t talk to your partner about these things openly at the beginning of a relationship, there are bigger issues at play.
Always be adaptable
Any startup that says it’s immune to changes in the market is setting itself up for failure. External market forces ultimately dictate how your startup will fare against changing trends and competitors in the industry. If a startup doesn’t truly understand or disregards what is happening outside of its own office, it is doomed to fail. For a startup to truly reach success, it may have to pivot several times until it finds the right mix of product-market fit.
You won’t get rich — at least not right away
If your business starts to grow and become successful, it feels fantastic – you’re seeing money roll in with those dollar sign eyes. While it’s tempting to reward yourself for all of your hard work, the reality is you should be feeding and growing your business with the money it brings in – not treating your business like your personal piggy bank. Good bootstrapping builds a long-term profitable business.