A month ago I got an invitation from the local chapter of Startup Grind to speak about 356labs, my story and the presentation world. It was a long, but incredibly interesting and more importantly honest conversation.
You know Simon Sinek from his “Start With Why” TED talk, right? If not, please stop everything. Stop reading this blog post and watch this.
I try to consume everything that Simon Sinek produces and probably that is the reason I saw the video above and stayed up until late in the evening one day to watch and then reflect on what he said.
Stop here for now and watch the whole video. Please. Yes, it will take you 1 hour, but I promise you – it’s worth your time.
Welcome back. Now you may be wondering why I am writing this blog post? The answer is very selfish – because I want to keep myself publicly accountable. This way I won’t have any excuses in front of myself and in front of you to not do what I learned from this video. Here are the 2 “accountability lists” I prepared for myself:
The personal one:
The ones for 356labs:
That’s it. It’s public. Now I have no excuses.
Did you watch the video? What do you think?
No, this is not one of the post on what I am learning as I am growing my company 356labs. However, it’s related to it.
Together with the designer who works with me in 356labs on “everything creative”, as I like to call it, we were recently talking about some of things we were doing and some of the things that we were thinking about doing, but seemed a bit impossible. At first…
And then I shared with her that… if I think about it, everything that allowed 356labs to still be here and get so much traction in it’s first year (8th of September, people!) is because I was asking myself one very simple question:
I just don’t know why not…
Turns out, when you ask yourself this question, you end up trying and doing the first step in regards to the thing you are questioning.
Turns out, when you make the first step to the thing you desire to accomplish, you actually do accomplish it.
So. What are you waiting for? Just ask yourself why not.
Believing that having English-only online presence is more than enough.
This one hurts me so much to share, but I need to.
Before I started 356labs, I was an IT consultant(and a lot of other things which does not matter in the context of this post) who was fortunate enough to speak in more than 20+ countries. And to put things in perspective, I did this before I got 25.
One of the reasons why I was able to speak at the most important events in my world was because of my personal brand. I really care about my online presence and I seriously believe I know how to manage it on a pretty decent level.
That being said, an important point here is that, all of my online identities were in English. And I live in a non English speaking country.
So, you probably guessed it right — when I launched 356labs, everything was in English. Pay close attention to the next sentence, though. We are selling our services to both our local, Bulgarian market and the global one. However, in my mind, there was not even a thought that I am doing a mistake in regards to the local market.
I was constantly telling myself:
If they want to work with us, they will find us through our website(which was in English).
Bad, bad, bad. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
It turned out, they won’t find us through our website because when they search for our services, the decision makers in Bulgaria were not typing in English. Guess what? Because of that, we were not showing up in their Google search results! How cool is that, right?
At the moment I found out about that (by a customer… as you can imagine), I immediately changed my view (even though I didn’t want to and even though I thought that this is their problem and not ours back then!). I started a process of translating our web site and if you go to 356labs.com today, you will see that at the top right corner there is a Bulgarian flag too. We are still not 100% ready with the translation (especially the blog articles — 200+), but we will soon be.
My lesson for you here — don’t be romantic. Just because something worked for you before, doesn’t mean is the best option for your business case now. Reverse engineer the market and act based on that. Yes, you may need to put a lot more work, but… if you want to have a business, there’s a price coming with it.
P.S. That same “language problem” happened with our Facebook Ad campaigns too. Made our creatives and campaigns in Bulgarian — boom. Results.
I can’t summarize this one in 1 sentence, so please read. It’s an important and an interesting one. That’s why it’s number 10.
When I started 356labs, it was clear to me that we were going to offer both company trainings and opened trainings in which individual people who want to learn more about the world of presenting would enroll. That’s what we did and that’s what we continue to do. Let me tell you a story about our first opened course, though, because I believe it’s a good lesson of what a founder of a company must be ready for.
See, we do not have our own training room yet. We rent such. And so I rented one of the most creative places in Sofia, Bulgaria for our first opened course. At the end of the day our we were teaching storytelling & presentation design. The place needed to be… special. I didn’t want a hotel room.So far so good. I rented the place(meaning, I paid for it — that’s important and you will see why) and a day before the event I went there to set up everything.
I walked in that place and it was… gosh, it looked ugly. Everything was covered in dust — chairs, tables, everything. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. The trash cans were not cleaned. Yes, including the one in the toilet.
That’s not what I paid for, I said to myself! Problem was there was no time to go and complain to the host. The course was starting tomorrow morning! I needed to do something myself because one of the things about our trainings is that I want us to deliver an experience. An incredible experience to our students. That means that not only the content and our materials must be top level, but every single other thing should be too — the venue, the food, the organization, the communication prior the event, everything.
On the next day the training went incredibly well. Many of the people who came and paid for the event are now coming to every single one of our events and recommend us to others. So to all of you founders, co-founders and all of you who truly care about your customers — get ready to do things you have never ever thought you would if you really and I mean really, want to deliver incredible experiences.
P.S. After this training, we gave this room another chance and hosted another course there. We were faced with the same and that was the last time we rented it. We now moved to a new place which is a true state of art. The place that I was looking for from the start of 356labs…