It doesn’t matter if you’re launching a Denver flower delivery company or a Silicon Valley software company. Startup lessons are universal. Launching Flower Bombers was no exception. Here are a few lessons from the trenches.
Expect to be wrong. Your pitch deck is beautiful, you’re excited about your life changing product or service and it’s finally go time. Bam, the stuff you did not think would go wrong, goes wrong. This is particularly challenging for entrepreneurs who by nature are optimistic people. Come on, you’re working endless hours for no pay, because you’re an eternal optimist and truly, your product or service is life changing. Taking on a mindset that it’s okay to be wrong and expecting to be wrong will get you to better solutions more quickly. More importantly, if you’re the founder or in a leadership position, you need to share this mindset with the full team and all stakeholders. No one likes to feel like a failure or that they aren’t contributing in a high quality way. Building a culture where it’s okay to be wrong and learn from mistakes means you’ll get to better outcomes more quickly.
Listen to your customer. Again, your pitch deck is beautiful, you’re excited about your life changing product or service and it’s finally go time. Not only is listening to your customer essential, but engaging with them in a meaningful, genuine way and truly listening to their feedback is what will set your company apart. In our transparent world where good and bad reviews travel out to the universe with the click of a few buttons, you need to get customers engaged in every aspect of your business early on. The sooner you “expect to be wrong” and let your customers influence the direction, the quicker you’ll build a compelling brand.
Hire with intention. We joke that we have the most pedigreed hourly team in Denver. We could have simply posted and hired people to do flower delivery. Instead, we were very intentional and particular about the qualities we wanted people to bring to help build Flower Bombers into a unique and special company. The brand experience is important to us and this is the team interfacing with the recipients of our beautiful flowers. We designed the positions as brand ambassadors, requiring people to have the ability to read people, think on their toes, problem solve, engage with people easily and be reliable. Plus, we like to work with smart people. We’ve also found one unique talent that each person possesses allowing them to contribute in more than one area. Being clear on how your workforce will impact the success of the business and being patient until you find the right people pays off every time.
Don’t alienate your friends and family. For those of you who have done a startup before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who are first timers, put the phone down, shut the laptop and focus on your spouse who’s been talking to you for at least 30 seconds and you’re just tuning in. Shut it all off and focus! Startup energy is invigorating and can be all consuming. Without the support of the main people in your life, it won’t end in a good place. Put down your phone, look people in the eye and be present. In our case, we have the bonus bringing home or sending flowers often. Sending flowers never hurts either!