We had a nice guest article on a UK entrepreneurship site at the beginning of this week. The learnings we shared with the readers were the following
Founding a start-up like PAYMILL is both a challenge every day as well as an incredibly exciting journey. Fundamentally, there are three key learnings we would like to share with you: People matter, love what you do and act don’t react.
1. People matter
Founding a start-up is an emotional rollercoaster – one day you think you are working on the greatest solution to solve a significant problem and another day you realize how hard it actually is and how many challenges you are facing to finally create a profitable business. The people you are working with really make the difference. Make sure you work with smart, driven and passionate people who compliment your own strengths and keep you going, even in tough times. Founding a company is hard – if you don’t have people around you who inspire and encourage you it is even harder. Push yourself beyond your boundaries and out of your comfort zone as often as possible, only then you will grow – both personally as well as the business.
In terms of team we try to hire slowly and look both for a cultural fit as well as for people with different skills that complement each other. There are three core capabilities we are looking for in people. Firstly, they need to be driven by passion. Secondly, you need people with analytical skills. Thirdly, people skills are crucial – in the end it all comes down to human beings and you need to be able to deal with them and influence them. We do not settle with second best and always strive for the best solution. Diversity matters to us – PAYMILL’s team members have different functional backgrounds – for example engineering, business, psychology and come from different countries like Germany, France, UK, Poland, Pakistan, Portugal or Brazil.
2. Love what you do
Concerning the business model it is all about scalability and the speed of execution. PAYMILL has been founded in June 2012, launched in Germany in August and expanded to 34 countries across Europe in November. This fast execution is only possible with the right people and with tremendous passion for the product. You just can’t give everything it takes for a product you do not believe in.
Our purpose at PAYMILL is to make others more successful, to build the economic infrastructure for the web across Europe and beyond. We are highly passionate about the product, solving the customers’ problems and making the payment experience as easy and frictionless as possible. Being passionate about it means to fully understand our product, understand our philosophy of making business and buy in the targets we want to achieve.
3. Act don’t react
Timing matters a lot to achieve the right product-market fit and to take advantage of the given window of opportunity. So move fast, stay focused and most importantly do not get puzzled too much with stuff you can manage at a later stage! In the very beginning it is all about building and selling! You have to constantly navigate in unknown waters, take risks and frequently change, iterate and redefine your product and go to market approach. Proactively approach and listen carefully to your customers – fully understand their needs and consistently translate the feedback in product improvements. Not all, but most will appreciate it and will give the most valuable feedback you can imagine.
Nevertheless, this kind of fast environment will force you to make tough calls and decisions. As unpleasant the decision might be, the hard it might be for you personally, rather make the decision now then tomorrow. Carrying those kind decisions around with you distracts you and finally your team from what is important. In the worst case, it might even impact other decisions you have to make in a negative way. Again, act – don’t react!