In this blog, I will share with you what this year has taught us. The difficulties that we have faced, the mistakes we have made and the experience we gained from these challenges; carrying these with us into our second year. Even though we have had set backs make no mistake we are still moving up and flying just as high as Ace our resident super dog.
To start, the first year was a tale of two halves - the initial thrill of setting up a business we had dreamed of - the sense of being free to grow and knowing that we had been brave enough to take this leap in the dark. We were lucky to have backing from both investors and some great clients at a very early stage, which helped to jump start the engine of Soultek. Even though this was a great advantage, by moving so fast we missed some of the basics which we addressed in the second half of the year to create a solid base to move on from into year two.
The first lesson that we learned was that even with an inspiring and compelling vision - we had to set up a solid foundation for the business model. Know your numbers, surround yourself with the right people, make sure you have an enthralling vision and know why you have created this business and what the goals and direction are to enable you to deliver this - finally make sure that everyone in your team knows and agrees with both the vision and the direction - this is vital!
The next lesson is to be adaptable and able to change quickly. Constantly reassess what is working and what your customers are saying - staying ahead of the changes in the sector are vital to make sure that the business is meeting what the market wants. Feedback in this first year is crucial. It might not always be what you want to hear but being able to listen and learn is critical to growth. Move on and change when what you think is a great idea doesn't gain the traction and turns out to be a total disaster, don’t wallow and beat yourself up; instead keep moving forward - never back.
This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. Focus! Everything is new, it’s overwhelming! Like a kid in a candy store you’ll want to say yes to everything! Entrepreneurs are by nature magpies – moving on to the next shiny opportunity. When you add to this the fact that you’re worried that if you do turn down business, it will lead to a trip to debtors’ prison, you suddenly find that you have no time to do anything properly. This makes it hard to break the mould and you go back to old comfort zones. You can’t always do everything for everyone; you realise that when it’s your business. You have a value on your time and it is important that you don’t waste it. Set your goals, boundaries, be efficient and save time with repeatable process when you can.
A critical thing that ESpark has taught us is that it’s vital to continue to work on your business and not be caught up in it. Identify what brings in the income and set priorities based on these. Procrastination is a deadly infection for new a business, especially when you have to divert yourself onto non-revenue generating tasks (trust me this will happen – VAT returns anyone?). Avoid this if possible, but if it needs doing do it! And do it fast! So that you can move onto revenue generating activities.
Even with the need to have a tough skin and be able to take negative comments, you have to remember to be kind to yourself. Success is subjective and will change for each individual person and business. I am delighted that we have overachieved this year and hit 148% of our target. However, a massive learning curve for us has been the realisation that even though this is outstanding for us, it could be awful or unbelievably brilliant to others, and it doesn’t matter!
Why? Because this is OUR journey.
It’s the experience that our customers and the people we interact with which is important. It’s about being true to ourselves and to the reason that SoulTek was founded in the first place. We won’t and don’t always get everything right, but these experiences have helped shape the business and allow us to get better at what we do! We don’t make excuses or blame circumstance, but neither do we beat ourselves up. We fall so that we can learn to pick ourselves up stronger and better than before! It’s cool to be kind to yourself and to others.
Finally - The Fear Factor. Fear of failure. Fear of turning down business. Fear of not delivering on the business you optimistically said yes to. Fear that you are insane to attempt this. Fear that you won’t be noticed, that you’re not as good as you should be. Fear that you’ll let everyone who is supporting you down. The list is endless and after a year of experiencing these I can assure you that fear is fine! We have discovered here at SoulTek that we are stronger than we could’ve ever known before embarking upon this leap in the dark. We have conquered our fears and realised that the monsters in the dark are not as scary as you think.
So with a year under our belt I can safely say that “we are Entrepreneurs"! We are creating jobs here in Scotland. We have amazing clients who have supported and helped us throughout. We are growing and have new, exciting and innovative products to launch this year that we believe will be game changers in our sector.
The first year is the toughest! You will fall down, but so long as you keep picking yourself up you’ll survive and thrive. Here’s to another year for Soultek! And another year of Ace the Super Dog flying higher than ever!