I was 19 when I founded my first company. That might sound early, but my international background – along with moving around a lot while I was growing up – had taught me the importance of being able to adapt to new languages and cultures from a young age, as well as really toughening me up along the way.
So I thought, why wait?
I decided early on in my life that I had to carve my own path and build an identity that would allow me to adapt new surroundings, which has played an integral part to building my business nous. It’s a path I would urge more young people to consider.
Fearlessness is the one characteristic young people possess in abundance. And we had to be fearless when we first envisaged our fitness company TruBe (available on the app store here), as we knew we were launching a new business what was an already saturated market – the global wellness industry grew 10.6 per cent between 2013 and 2015 when we started out. But despite our numerous competitors, we felt that the consumer wanted more options in terms of access to fitness.
I saw a gap in the market for a product that made an active lifestyle both convenient and accessible in order to work around the busy lifestyle that so many of us lead. It was important for TruBe to offer a new freedom of choice – how, when and where you want to work out – but it was by no means an instant miracle.
Listen, learn, and adapt
My experience proved to me beyond any doubt that being a problem-solver is central to every aspect of business with a startup. I quickly learned that adaptability – another advantage millennials have over their older rivals – was key to our survival and development as a company.
Listening to our customers was essential to improving our product, and as a petite company, with a young and creative team, we are able to be incredibly nimble in this respect.
Keeping an eye on the consumer’s response is crucial to the development of all companies, and we are constantly analysing our customers’ behaviour in order to improve the platform.
When we first launched – after months of hard work – we didn’t get as many bookings coming through as we expected. I was forced to reconsider our business model and introduced session bundles as a direct response to our clients’ needs. TruBe now has several thousand bookings a month.
Our ability to recognise when we needed to change and respond dynamically is what allows us to survive and to thrive in such a crowded app space. We had to tackle the challenges in a way that was unique to our business, and that responsiveness comes from knowing ourselves and our clients inside out.
Failure is not the enemy
Launching a startup is always a very creative and technically demanding process, but it gives you the chance to be fully hands-on from conception to reality.
Building your vision from scratch inevitably involves a number of hurdles and challenges, and it won’t always work out. It really comes down to your mentality: if you can stay focused and push past the aches and pains (just like at the gym), you’re far more likely to succeed.
My advice to young entrepreneurs would be to realise that the enemy of success is not failure. Failure teaches us some of our most valuable lessons in life. It’s also really important to ignore the voice of doubt in your head and look at the bigger picture.
Step back, remove yourself from the smaller details and take a longer term view of the challenges you’re presented with.
And don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re too young or inexperienced to launch your own business.