One of the things I like about The Exponential Agency is not only do we get to work with great clients on challenging projects as a group but also we are dedicated to helping others and ‘giving back’.  This includes being involved in The Spring Board Trust,  as an AUT Auteur Advisory and Ice House mentor, hosting CMO dinner (I have discussed this before here and here) and our monthly startup breakfasts.

I have just come back from the first of this year’s start up breakfast and am just fizzing with excitement on how much progress the team have made on their businesses.  I set up the breakfast to help a small group of Entrepreneurs to get together to

  • Share our experiences
  • Pass on expertise/learnings and watch outs
  • Create some accountability
  • Identify key challenges and solutions

All of the team are making great progress and there are three in particular that I would like to call out as they made significant progress over the break:

  • Eddie: launched his business offering electronic bike tours and rentals powertothepedal.com/ in Auckland.  His customer base is growing with great reviews on Trip Advisor.  He was recently featured in the NZ Herald.
  • Karen has been trading a bit longer than Eddie plantandpot.nz/ . She also got some positive press in December and was featured in Your Home and Garden. She has come back fired up and we are making plans to triple the size of her business this year.
  • Darrin, left corporate life last year to become a financial advisor at Right Way. He had a three-year plan to set up his business, build his client base and relocate to Wanaka.  Over the Christmas break, he realised that there wasn’t a need to wait three years because he can do this now. He has relocated to Wanaka continuing to grow his business.

As this was the first breakfast meeting of the year I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the biggest learnings from last year.  While this isn’t meant to be a definitive guide to starting a new business there are some great insights and in their words, raw and unfiltered.  They are just too good not to share:

The Big Stuff

  • Spend time answering Kursten’s deep questions like
    • “what does success look like”,
    • “if you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: ‘Why can’t you do this in 6 months?” (I stole this question from the somewhat controversial Peter Thiel and BTW Darrin smashed this one)
    • “Why are you resisting moving forward and taking the next step”
  • Having a forum like this is great for stepping back from the detail, thinking about the bigger picture and getting broader perspectives.

The Doing

  • Focus on the big things. They will take you forward faster.
  • Things often take longer than you think and it can be more difficult than you expected.
  • Starting a new business is like battling a hydra, every completed task is replaced with two more.
  • It’s hard to be consistent.
  • Start the website development immediately after doing initial concept testing, rather than deferring.  Do not assume it will be straightforward because, you know, the Internet is easy nowadays…
  • Have clearer expectations around how long things would take (in elapsed time), and just to reinforce this point,
  • Be more honest about how much time you have available and when.

Growing your business

  • Relentlessly focus on the pipeline (or sales and marketing) – ‘build it and they will come’ is only in the movies
  • Marketing 101 and points of difference are key to stand apart and add value.
  • As hard as it is getting to launch, it is really only the beginning and the drive and focus must turn to establishing and retaining customers.

It has been great to be a small part of the success of this talented group and I can’t wait until next month’s breakfast to see how much further they have progressed.




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