O2 has a good reputation for supporting aspiring entrepreneurs – their startup incubator Wayra invests thousands of pounds and hours of support into helping people realise their dreams of running their own business. And now O2 has joined forces with Founders4Schools to inspire young people to consider running their own business as a viable alternative to working for someone else when they leave education.
“It just makes the whole learning in a classroom more relatable,” Rajal Pitroda, general manager at Founders4Schools says. “You get the stories of the people who have been there and come back to talk to students, I think it’s very inspiring and motivating.”
“Entrepreneurship isn’t just about having a job, it’s about creating jobs and it’s about building something: a career, a company, a community,” she adds. “You can do things you love around things that you’re passionate about and that are important to you. The days of relegating ourselves to the job that we don’t like are over. You don’t have to make those choices anymore.”
We had a chat with Zoe Peden, founder of Insane Logic, who is a Wayra alumni and also visits schools with Founders4Schools to find out what lessons she wishes she’d learn before she started her business.
You will spend a lot of time with lawyers
“You need to learn very quickly about legal terms as you’ll spend a lot of time with lawyers,” Zoe says. “You definitely spend a lot of time and paying a lot of money and not understanding a lot of it. And if they take the time to explain it to you, they’ll charge you more.”
So it’s definitely worth getting your head around things like licenses, service agreements, employment contracts, and investment agreements so that you don’t end up spending weeks on end with your lawyers and paying them a hefty sum for the privilege.
You will make mistakes
“Every week I think there’s something that you wish you hadn’t done,” Zoe admits. “But you just correct it and move on as quickly as you can and work with it. I stayed in my back bedroom for the first two years because I didn’t really know about investment or brand so I was quite slow to get my business off the ground so I wish I’d done that quicker and been brave enough to go to London and get advice quicker.”
But really, your dreams of running a business are not going to fall apart just because you make a few mistakes. “It’s fine, you’re making mistakes all the time. So long as you pick yourself up and learn from it and keep moving forward,” she says.
You’ll need to be a good storyteller
It’s essential that you can deliver a good pitch if you want to run a successful business. “You’re going to have to tell your story again and again about your idea,” Zoe says. “Always start with what the problem is that you’re trying to solve and then how big that problem is and how your idea solves it. Try to become a really good storyteller and it’s really good if you’ve got personal experience of the problem so that you can put it into context.”
So get developing your confidence and learn from some of the best storytellers around on how to deliver a brilliant presentation.
You can learn lots from others
One of the best ways of improving yourself and your business is by having a look at what others are doing successfully. “Get out in front of people, go to some pitching competitions and get some practice,” advises Zoe. “Make a fool of yourself at the beginning and watch the people that do really well and learn from them.”
That’s exactly what she did! “I’d never pitched before and I knew I had to learn so I went through a few pitch nights and the ones who won the competitions I looked at what they had and how they did it and why they were popular. And then I copied them!”
You’ll always be doing new things
As an entrepreneur you’ll probably find yourself in a lot of situations where you’re not really sure of what to say or what to do. That’s why it’s great to find someone else who’s willing to help you and show you the ropes a little bit.
“I’ve always had a mentor,” Zoe says. “I’m still doing things for the first time and I have no idea about some things – and everyone expects you to know. It’s good to have a mentor because they’ve been through it lots of times before. It’s really important.”
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