A Very Delayed Update – Three Lessons Learned from My Startup

The world is spinning extremely fast at the moment.

Although it has been my intention, I’ve not kept this corner of my life up to date in the last year and however much I’d like this to change I don’t think I can promise too much. But I thought that I’d have another stab at it to make sure I give myself some time of reflection in this crazy fast spinning startup world. This post will outline three learnings I’ve taken with me from my time working on Shift Swap.

In July last year I decided to leave the startup I had co-founded and worked with for one year and a half. The decision wasn’t easy and it was one that I continuously put on hold until I finally gathered my three co-founders and told them how I felt.

The truth was that the progress we had been making in the year we worked together was rather poor. With a solid foundation based on our customer development for Shift Swap* we were confident that the concept we developed solved a real problem.

we were confident that the concept we developed solved a real problem

But an idea is only as good as can be demonstrated through implementation, testing and proof of metrics. A stage we never reached as our technical co-founders didn’t commit to the idea. Lesson number one.

1. Get your co-founders onboard and motivated to deliver

(especially if they’re recruited after you started working on your idea).

Furthermore, the absence of product iterations should have been a warning sign early on. If promises continuously are broken (or if deadlines are continuously postponed) eventually someone has to step in and question why. Lesson number two.

2. Have courage to question and face the hard decisions.

In life we’re constantly faced with tough decisions and if you want to move your business forward you’ll have to have the courage to take difficult decisions. If that is firing your co-founder then that’s what you have to do. I was told several times before the importance of the team and the close relationship you commit to when starting a business with someone, I now actually know how true this is. Lesson number three.

3. Be prepared to “marry” your co-founder(s).

So even if it has taken me 8 months to write this update it might have been the time it has taken getting over the “breakup” from my startup. And it’s a decision I don’t regret taking, more a feeling of relief, gratefulness and excitement.

Relief because I made the difficult decision to leave. Gratefulness because of the valuable lessons that I’ve learned. And excitement, to the new endeavours that I would embark on moving forward.  Why I’ve not chosen to pursue my startup on my own is a story for another time – instead I cherish the experience and adding it to my story.

*Shift Swap was a mobile solution for retail chains to manage their flexible workforce and provide employees with more control of their working lives. Through our research we found evidence that this could reduce absence and staff turnover between 5-10%.


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