Learning to Listen

Being a good listener is one of the most important attributes you can have as an entrepreneur.  You need to heed some (but definitely not all) of the advice given to you by advisors/mentors/investors, as well as take on feedback from your customers and users.  It is also essential to listen to some of the ideas your team and employees come up with – if you don’t listen properly, you will regret it days/weeks/months down the line when things begin to unravel beneath your feet.

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Influencing People

I have heard the phrase “knowledge is power” (“scientia potentia est” is the original phrase coined in Latin) regularly used throughout my life – at university, in the workplace and even in Hollywood movies.  Never, though, have I felt this phrase to be more appropriate than when applied to behavioural & leadership psychology (or influencing people).

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[VI] My Resignation – What I Learned

Having secured a NEF placement (see [V] The Matchmaking Process), it was now time for me to formally hand in my resignation to my line manager and team lead.

Up until this point, I hadn’t formally resigned because my place on the NEF programme had not yet been guaranteed (I outline in [IV] The NEF Application Process that, should you go the host company route, you need to have both an offer from NEF and an offer from a host company before you get admitted).

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Resilience & Mental Health

Working in (or running) an early-stage startup can be one of the most volatile experiences of your life.  The mixture of monumental highs assuming that you’re somewhere on the right path combined with depressing lows is quite unique in a career/lifestyle.  There will be times where you question your self-belief and wonder why you are doing what you are doing.  Your resilience is an important factor in helping you bounce back, so it is good to have an understanding of what helps keep you strong.

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[IV] The NEF Application Process

In Chapter 3, we explored the process I used to help make the “career change”/transition from engineer to entrepreneur.  This was:

  1. Identifying the skills that I felt I needed in order to work in start-ups/become an entrepreneur – Web development; digital marketing; graphic design to name a few
  2. Acquiring as many of these skills as I could in my spare time* – I built a tech blog (Tech-Boffin.com – now defunct) and a simple, personal landing page (cipavlou.com); had a play with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools for these sites; went through online tutorials on Inkscape (and created a logo for Tech-Boffin.com)
  3. Continually research the entrepreneurship ecosystem – Speaking with friends, reading about opportunities, etc

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[III] Preparing to Quit

Having spent a while thinking about this, I had decided that my immediate future lay in the world of start-ups and entrepreneurship.  There were two key things that I thought I lacked:

  • A great business idea – I wanted to solve a big problem and have a positive impact
  • A great support network – I would need co-founders, help with inevitable issues, and excellent employees

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