We recently hosted an event for high-growth businesses, where 14 companies connected with a group of recent graduates looking for jobs in some of London’s most innovative workplaces. During the evening, a number of inspirational entrepreneurs answered questions from the graduates. Here are some of the insights they shared:
What’s the difference between a start-up and a high-growth business?
There’s a huge difference. In the first three months of a start-up you have long days, very little sleep, you do everything yourself, you hustle to see customers and feel disappointment every day. Then you get your first customer. Then you get to the stage where you’re not doing everything yourself any more - the business becomes more analytical and process-driven.
With a start-up, you’re constantly asking: is it working? Are people using it? Why are they using it or not using it? Then you enter a high-growth stage and the people you want around you are not necessarily the same people you needed during the start-up phase.
What do you like about working in a high-growth business?
You have a lot of autonomy and feel a sense of ownership - there’s nowhere to hide so you need to be accountable. You have the chance to build things which you might know nothing about before you start working on them. It’s also non-linear - it’s not about earning a certain salary in a certain number of years’ time.
What have been your favourite moments?
Being able to implement an idea, feeling as if you’re doing something meaningful, creating employment and getting people management responsibility very early in your career.
What have been the greatest challenges?
Work is so all-encompassing that it’s hard to have a life outside it (especially if you have emails coming in at 11pm). What you do is never enough - you can always do more. You feel more personally invested in the work because you’re closer to it - there’s less structure, less clearly defined progression and so much variety in your day to day role. You need to monitor things constantly, you don’t get monthly reports on what happened where.
How do you use people to get the most from their time?
Always start with why: why am I doing this? Is it the best use for my time? Hiring is crucial to getting this right, so it’s important to invest in it.
What are the top things you look for when hiring?
Candidates need to have enthusiasm, as well as innate ability and drive. They should believe in the mission, understand what the role is and have a willingness to learn. It’s also important for them to ask interesting questions and write the cover letter to the right person.
Which books would you recommend to any budding entrepreneurs?
The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
Mindful Work: How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out by David Gelles
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity by David Allen
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
With thanks to our panellists, Jason Connor from AlphaSights, James Eder from Causr, James Harford-Tyrer from Cudoni, Armin Kammerlander from Sideways 6 and Sascha Woelk from Urban Massage.
Highlights from Ignite
Here are some of the highlights from Ignite: