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Swyft's Co-Founder: 8 Learnings from Setting Up a Business

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Ed Hawes
how to set up a business

To celebrate World Entrepreneur Day we sat down with our Co-Founder, Keiran Hewkin, to learn about his eight takeaways from running and setting up Swyft

Over to Keiran: 

Stay in the game. 

Surviving is success. But to be successful tomorrow, you first have to get to tomorrow. One of my favourite quotes is from the legendary Fangio: “to finish first, one must first finish”. 

It is tough to start a business and everyone tends to focus on the glamorous wins. But 99% of the time, especially early on, survival is the first, second and third priority.

Be adaptable. 

What worked yesterday might not work today, and what you wanted to do today might not happen. That is OK. Be flexible on the micro tasks and moments and be very clear about the long term goals. Accept that these may be in conflict with each other – that is also OK. See first rule if in doubt.

All problems are your problem. 

This one is more true if you have a larger team, you hire great people to solve hard things better than you can. If they come to you with an issue they cannot fix it is probably going to naturally be a tough one, often with no “good” solution, you will just have to pick the least bad decision and hope you are right.

Everyday is a school day. 

No one really knows what they are doing from day one. Almost all business success stories are told with a winding narrative that pieces each step together neatly. 

That's because survivor’s bias is true in story’s as well as products. The 50 failed steps don’t often make the book, they certainly don’t form the chapters of it. Be wary of any fixed long term plan.

It doesn’t get easier.

It doesn’t get easier, you just get better at dealing with it. If it does get easier then I haven’t found that point yet, which might say more about me than the general business ecosystem. 

Unless you are operating in a government formed monopoly, or have a product so ahead of its time it sells itself, you are likely part of a competitive industry full of smart people trying to put you out of business. That doesn’t change, and expecting it to will be miserable. Best to embrace it and get to it.

Go for it. 

Don’t wait for the ideal time, there isn’t one. Those that you trust will not be able to tell you when to do it. They can support you, but at the end of the day, you are the decision maker.

Be a good student. 

Even if you are trying to disrupt an industry, have the humility to be a student of the sector. 

Learn what has been done before; don’t assume that if it’s been done a certain way that it is wrong or worthless. The sector was built by good people, over many years of effort – the sector was also built to meet market demands. Make time to understand how and why.  

And then, go right ahead and rip it up anyway.

Enjoy it. 

Take time to celebrate the wins. The highs are really high and lows really low, just make sure you stop and enjoy the good parts.

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