Business in the time of Corona: learnings from my first 6 months of Shiageto that might help
Do you know the tale from Greek mythology about Sisyphus?
A king of Corinth, he was punished by the gods for his trickery and general evil by having to roll a boulder up a hill in Hades forever - every time he reached the top, the boulder would roll back to the bottom and he would have to start again.
Now, I'm not saying that I've been evil but I often think trying to build a business from scratch is very similar to the task set out for Sisyphus.
It's been 6 months since I launched my first startup (Shiageto Consulting) and what a Sisyphean task it has been; trying to win work, build a brand, look after all the operations, etc. is not easy and is never ending. Just when I feel I have a hang of it, some other challenge comes along and sends the boulder back down the hill...
In the last month, the biggest challenge of all came along and not only did it send the boulder hurtling down the hill, it sent it crashing all the way back to the start. What am I talking about? Covid19, the pandemic, of course. This once in a generation event has sucked all life out of my fledgling business as my small portfolio of clients, that I had won and was beginning to get repeat business from, were decimated and all paid work evaporated (whilst my business costs haven't been unfortunately). Add to that the fact that my business is too new to be eligible for any government support and it was a massive slap to the face to say the least.
In many ways I wanted to cry and admit defeat (I often wonder if that was an option for Sisyphus) but that is not in my nature and I've always firmly believed that a mark of a person is not how they handle the good times but what they do in the face of tough times (it must be all those heroic novels I read as a kid).
So, picking myself up and dusting myself off, I go again. Step-by-step I'm back to the drawing board of trying to find new clients, come up with a proposition that resonates with them, win new pieces of work and deliver them so that hopefully the good times can roll once more.
I'd heard all this talk of that the pandemic has changed the rules of the game (as though I'm no longer rolling a boulder up a hill, instead my Sisyphean task is to swim a never-ending ocean dragging a iron girder) so I was prepared for new challenges but I have to say that isn't the case.
In my experience so far, all the pandemic has done is amplify the challenges I already had. Where once it was difficult to get the attention of new prospects, now it is even more difficult; where as before getting clients to pay for services was tough, now it is much tougher; before I had a fair amount of working from home and now that's the default setting. To put it another way the boulder is still a boulder, just bigger, and the hill is still a hill, just steeper.
This simple fact inspires me that cracking this is not beyond me, I have the knowledge at my disposal, all I have to do is double-down on all the things I've learnt to navigate this task from my first 6 months.
As such, and as a person who firmly believes that we should all 'stand on the shoulders of giants', I
want to share what my key takeaways from my first 6 months of launching a start up have been as I really think that there are so many corollaries with what we are all going through now that hopefully there will be some benefit for you all.
With that in mind, in my next couple of blogs and vlogs I'll be sharing my 8 key learnings from 6 months of launching a start up; these will cover:
the struggles of getting my offering right,
the struggles of getting people's attention,
dealing with immense highs and lows,
being swamped with too many things,
being ghosted and bread-crumbed,
working predominantly on my own,
the level of interest people have in my story,
having to make life decisions again rather than outsourcing these to others
I hope you enjoy and join me for the recap :)