Some of you may know, before starting Kakadu Plum Co. I ran I tech business with my husband. Technically speaking, I am still in this 'startup' world... but know of a different kind.
My experience started when I experienced a common headache/experience/ understanding of networking effectively at events and conferences. What if there was a way that people could meet the right people at events and make better business opportunities effortlessly? And so we began.
I found a technical guru that could help me on my journey. ✔️ I hired designers to design the app. ✔️ I talked to the right people in the industry. ✔️ I learnt about the lean method. ✔️ I started to build a network. ✔️ I did all the right things, or at least so I thought. But one thing was missing; technical skills. I couldn’t string an html-coded phrase together for the life of me. And when I did a course on what guaranteed me to “know how to code”… ha! The reality was much different – there are no shortcuts.
It was a constant uphill battle. It was a constant struggle. When one technical achievement was made, another challenge occurred. When one milestone was made, another error was discovered. OK yes, this is par for the course in the tech startup world, but when the challenges are overriding the achievements and milestones day in and day out, something has to be questioned.
The biggest turning point was when our ‘team’ changed, and LinkedIn decided to change its API permissions – we were cactus.
Truth is, without these turning points, I may not have reached the decision as quickly. Without these turning points, I may still be struggling up that hill. Without these turning points, I may have continued to miss precious moments with my young children. As many of us have heard one of Silicon Valley’s most striking mantras time and time again, ‘if you have to fail, fail fast. And there is nothing wrong with that.’ Those words still ring true today.
So what are my other lessons learnt?
Always give something a go
I have absolutely no regrets. I am forever saying to myself (and others) that without this experience, Kakadu Plum Co. would not exist and I would never have begun my mission celebrating a greater cause. But know what you are getting yourself into before you get too deeply involved. Cross your t’s and dot your i’s… all of them.
You have to be better than everyone else
There are incredible new companies emerging every week. Incredible. As Richard Branson says “ensure you have a product that is much, much better than your competitor”. We didn’t.
Embrace the challenges but don’t let them drain you
We all need the challenges to drive us, lead us and motivate us, but don’t let the challenges be the dominating factor in your business. If they are, start to question what is going on?
Don’t be scared to fail
There is too much negativity around failure. Experimenting is not failure and certainly not final. Guaranteed, some of the best companies around did not exist before a previous ‘failure’ from one of the co-founders. Today, I live by my own quote that "there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just proving a hypothesis wrong."
Don’t forget about the bigger picture
When my company started to consume my marriage and my time away from my family, I had to stop, reflect and listen. Don’t ever think that such sacrifices need to be made. Life is short. Do what you love, absolutely, but don’t forget about your bigger picture.
Accepting defeat is not easy. It is damn hard! Finding the strength to move on, and be excited about moving on, is even harder. It might be cliche, but as one door closes another opens. Kakadu Plum Co. is built on this experience and giving myself the permission to embrace something new, exciting and meaningful. What it has become today is something I couldn't have imagined. Give it a go.