Chapter 22: YOU run a startup for 12 months — I dare you!


Demos Demetriou

Chapter 22: YOU run a startup for 12 months — I dare you!

I think everyone should run a startup for 12 months. It should be similar to Jury Service in that if you are called up you have to do it, no excuses. People could be paid the same salary as they would have received in their employment, but they have to run a startup for 12 months. Don’t even ask me how I came up with this idea but even if it needs more thought (which it does) it’s not so much about the idea, but what lessons people could learn by taking on such a task.

Now I can hear you saying, “why the hell would I want to run a startup for 12 months”, “I’m not made that way and I have no experience”, or “I’ve always worked for someone and I’m happy that way”. That’s all well and good but the lessons of running a startup could change your perception on so many levels and improve you as a person. What’s that? “I’m perfect and I don’t need improving!”. Nobody is perfect and we should all be improving ourselves constantly so we can become a better version of ourselves.

No Experience?

If you’ve never had your own business, imagine what it feels like at the end of a month when you have to pay your team but the business simply doesn’t have the funds. It’s tough, you will lose sleep (and in my case, hair), but you learn a valuable lesson — to budget and plan, to try and stop that happening as much as you can. Do you get that lesson in your day job at the end of the month when you are paid for your service? I don’t think so.

What about if there is a conflict in your business or challenges you are finding really difficult to resolve; you need to find a solution when it’s your own thing. You can’t just register on Reed and find another business to run that doesn’t have the same challenges. That’s giving up and that’s something founders find really hard to do.

Imagine if you are growing a successful business and hiring quickly. I’m sure there are many employees that hire in their roles but when it’s your business can you hire the right people and motivate them the right way to think of it as their own business? I’m extremely lucky to have two members of our team who treat the Marlin App as their own venture. That’s partly to do with their own characters (which is why they were originally selected) and partly because of the way I have run this startup. I’m very proud to have Nargis and Steph part of our business and I know they are also proud to be part of that too, how many of you reading this though can say the same? Do you get the same feeling in your own jobs? If not, maybe by running a startup may change your perception, in fact I know it will change your perception.

Learn Loads

I really believe that running a startup can be a steep learning curve that could benefit individuals who’ve never done anything like it in so many ways. The way you think about people, money and success to name just a few. It will prove your own character, how you handle stress, what you do in difficult situations, how you reward your team after success. There are so many factors in running a startup and that’s what makes it difficult, but the lessons learnt are, in my opinion, priceless. They also determine how you deal with situations outside your business too. Some of these can be good and let’s face it some of them can be bad too. I was reading recently about how the Uber founder ran the company and quite frankly I’m surprised it survived long enough to get him out of the door.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sweetness and light but I really think the advantages of someone running a startup for 12 months could be one of the best things that could ever happen to them. I think it would make them look at their jobs differently and I think Employers would see their team differently and it would have such a positive impact on a team as a whole.

I’m passionate about building things. I don’t like it when things go wrong but also appreciate the lessons that I learn during that challenging period. I feel that what I have learnt in more than 20 years in business is not something I could have ever learnt in education or working for someone else. It’s why I think everybody could gain so much by doing it for a short period of their lives. It may even make a few entrepreneurs in the process, which is never a bad thing!

Until next time…