With over 18 years in business, how hard could it be to do a startup?

At the outset I found working with developers frustrating and hated it. It was a true clash of cultures.

The experience to date has been both challenging but hugely rewarding. This blog shares some of my experiences and observations from going from professional advisor to startup covering:

My background

To put this blog into context, it is important to understand by background. Since leaving university, I have spent 18 years working for KPMG. I have been lucky enough to work in a number of countries and across a range of different product services. I launched IntroStream in 2017 to help businesses connect with technology solution providers in a more efficient way.

100% vs getting it out

As a professional advisor, brand and quality of delivery are paramount. Everything needs to be 100% correct before going out the door. If you apply this to a startup, you will likely failure.

At the outset of the IntroStream journey, I wanted everything to be 100% correct as this is what I was used to. I soon learnt this is not how to create a startup. It is all about getting a pilot out so you can test your idea and concept. There will always be improvements to make to any technology platform but these improvements are better if they are based on user and customer feedback.

Whilst ensuring everything is 100% correct has its merits, it does take time. Most startups don’t have the luxury of time and it is all agility and about getting a product to market quickly.

The jargon

It is often said the developers and professional advisor world don’t understand each other. This could be down to Jargon as it did take me a few weeks to get used to some of the terms. In a lot of cases it is just jargon as both advisors and developers do similar things but use a different term. You just need to get used to it, for example:

Developers use SLACK time, advisors use REVIEW time Developers use SPRINT, advisors just plan to complete phases of work in a set timeframe

Network Power

This is not about network servers or the cloud!

Whilst we had a good business idea, without the support from the Manchester Technology community we would never have created the successful platform we have today. I feel that many people in business have a superficial network which is flaky when challenged. Building a strong network takes years and a significant investment of time. I have always believed in helping anyone who asked for help as it was the right thing to do. This has been from mentoring, coaching, providing introductions or investment. I never asked for anything in return. My network is now proving far more valuable than my professional or academic qualifications.

How my network has helped with IntroStream is proof that everyone in business should spend time investing and building a strong network. You never know what help or contacts you may need in the future.

All about the team

Having the right team is something both startups and the professional advisor community share.

At the outset I was frustrated and hated working with developers. It was a true clash of cultures. Over the weeks, we learnt to work together effectively leveraging the skill sets of each individual. We often had heated debates and disagreements but looking back it was at these times that we developed the best ideas.

Low cost and agile

The startup world is about agility and speed to market. I have been amazed at the number of free and low-cost resources you can access. I could never access these resources while working for a large professional services firm as you need to follow internal processes and brand guidelines.

From video recording to blogging there are so many people who can help. Fiverr and Twine are great resources for finding freelancers as are Facebook networks. Canva, Trello, Pixabay and Slack are just some of the tools that have helped our journey. Having a startup does also give you discounted access to networks such as the Institute of Directors with their £99 startup offer.

Prior to having a startup I had no idea these resources existed. It has been incredible learning what is available and the value they can add to both startups and more mature businesses.

Is it worth it?

Creating a startup has been much harder than I expected but has been hugely rewarding and I have learnt so much. I am so glad I took the plunge as it has made me a better business person.