It’s first thing on a Monday morning. Our internet is temporarily down at the office so nothing can get off the ground right? Not exactly… Not at all actually.
I’ve been putting off writing this blog for a week or two now due to the ‘busyness’ of day to day tasks: Scouting for new young entrepreneurs to partner with; prepping for AGM and funder presentations and researching new incubation models – there is always a new model to research!
New Ventures Studio has been incubating businesses in our own capacity for the past two years now (with mixed success). This month, we brought in a management consultant to provide extra hands on deck to (i) relook at our model, and (ii) stimulate movement with our Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR’s) towards the year’s end.
So with the apparent oxygen of any modern working space (internet) in short supply this morning (I read and replied to new emails through my phone), I am using this offline opportunity to write down some recent reflections:
“Who are you? Who are you really?” Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths. Take the time to ask yourself (and your business) these questions. Reflect. Take stock of where you are. Listen to your customers. Revisit your vision and mission! Sound simple enough? It is simple! It is also fundamental to being PRO-active instead of RE-active.
What are the main thoughts that come to mind in your pause? When you peel back the layers, what is left behind? Are you where you thought you would be? Are you operating for the same reasons now as when you started?
With some businesses losing momentum over the last quarter (winter is always tough for a new business in Cape Town), we are currently re-exploring the ways to increase sales in each of our businesses as we head towards the end of the year.
Block some time for a rethink, bring a coffee machine and have a team lunch. Tackle a defined set of questions with a beginner’s mind-set and have fun with it!
As part of this process, NVS recently facilitated some “Design Sprints” with our current cohort of entrepreneurs. The aim was to relook at specific issues by asking ourselves “What do we know? What do we not know? What do we need to know?”
Most start-ups know that they don’t have all the answers, so they rush to launch things and see how they perform in the real world. This is a very high fidelity way to answer questions, but it is hard and can be slow. Also, it’s difficult to “un-launch” a feature or product, especially once you have people using it. The benefit of being in an incubator is to bounce ideas off each other and check-in that all is on track, or iterate if it’s not.
Real-world results are rarely as clear as you hope. In addition, there is always the temptation to move on to the next shiny object instead of diligently iterating on the original idea.
The point of these brainstorming sessions is to be as creative as possible, avoid saying “no” by rather building on other people’s ideas as much as possible. Focus on the topic and stick to that framework. If you identify ‘sales’ as a key focus area: prepare with as much real data available, unpack that topic and workshop to come up with 3 or 4 key focus points. Remember to assign metrics, then sprint out and deploy them!
That’s all for now, the internet service provider guy is here with the magic backpack that ought to bring us back online!