HomeKnow-How5 tips for surviving your startup's first year

5 tips for surviving your startup’s first year

A stat often wheeled out when discussing entrepreneurship is that, in the UK at least, 9 out of 10 businesses fail – 10% fail in the first year, 60% within the first three. Voi celebrates its third birthday this summer and we’ve avoided the first-year demise, thankfully, and we’re on track to beat the 60% statistic.

So how do you buck the trend and become the one in ten?

Have passion and purpose

To turn an idea into a reality you need to find a market fit and you need to find your fit.

It’s clichéd to say “do what you love”, but if it’s not what you love, how will your staff and customers love it? How will it make your staff and customers happy? Indifference and apathy are as contagious as passion and enthusiasm.

The most successful businesses additionally make real change. They have purpose. Whether it’s to people’s lives, to industry, to society or even the planet. Voi’s wider mission to reinvent urban travel; to affect real change in the way people work and live, to free them from noise and congestion, to cut emissions and move us towards a more sustainable future.

Build a legacy

Purpose and passion is what drives the direction of your idea in the short-term, but it’s your legacy that will see it last long-term.

I want our legacy to be that we helped save our planet. We stopped smog choking our children. We helped save the lives of millions of people from pollution. We empowered sections of society that have been left behind by expensive transport options by providing them all the opportunities that come from an affordable, inclusive one.

Surround yourself with people better than you

Almost on par with how important it is to establish a purpose is to surround yourself with people who share your passion for it. Ideally people who are much better at it than you.

Ask questions. Ask for feedback. Absorb everything. This will not only help you better understand and define your purpose, but it will help you create a network of like-minded people. Then, when you’re in a position to expand, hire these like-minded people and build a diverse team of voices.

The idea for Voi came while running Guestit, and from the thousands of requests from guests who’d ask for advice on how to best get around town. I didn’t have a background in micro-mobility – my background was in business, analytics and hospitality – but I didn’t need to. I surrounded myself with people and investors who knew what I didn’t. Your success as a whole is intrinsically tied to the success of individual members.

Your idea doesn’t need to be new, you just need to do it better than anyone else

Very often entrepreneurs look for gaps in markets but instead of concentrating on finding a niche, concentrate on making sure your approach is the best it can be.

If you have a fully formed mission statement, tied in to your purpose, this will be easier to manage and maintain. Every decision your make should be centred around achieving our purpose, and this doggedness to your original mission will help you to become the best.

Be resilient and don’t get complacent 

It’s easy to stand from a position of market leadership and talk about resilience but it took a lot of challenges to get to this stage. Being an entrepreneur is about accepting that failures are as much part of the process as successes.

This is where purpose and legacy come in. If you’re focused on a goal that’s bigger than yourself, you should never feel comfortable resting on your laurels. You should be striving for the next innovation for your customers. For instance our latest initiative is working with charities and campaigners for blind people on ways we can introduce sound to make e-scooters even more safe.

Overall, when you’re thinking about turning an idea into reality, you need to think about turning a purpose into a legacy. Only then can you beat the statistics and become the one in ten.

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Fredrik Hjelm
Fredrik Hjelm
Fredrik Hjelm co-founded Voi Technology in 2018 with a vision of improving the way people move around congested urban centres by offering fleets of electric scooters as a cleaner, affordable and exhilarating alternative to cars.

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