I have known the Coffee Republic story and the Skinny Candy concept but had never linked the founder entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi with her entrepreneurial story and her recent social enterprise. Change Please trains homeless people to run coffee carts. Sahar was the feature speaker at Sage Summit in London, she is a bestselling author on entrepreneurship and in 2012 awarded an OBE.
Sahar Hashemi OBE shared her entrepreneurial wisdom with the audience of business builders. Stating words like disruption are quite intimidating, no matter how big your company might be, acting like a start-up entrepreneur, is something entrepreneurs forget to do as the business grows.
Steve Blank in his Harvard Business Review article, Why the Lean Start-up Changes Everything supports Sahar’s view with “Start-ups are not smaller versions of large companies. The ones that ultimately succeed go quickly from failure to failure, all the while adapting, iterating on, and improving their initial ideas as they continually learn from customers.”
Sahar Offers 6 Habits to Maintain the Start-up Entrepreneurial Mindset.
- Delight Your Customers
It is all about your customers and seeing your business from your customer’s perspective. Sahar said, “never think about your product but think of delighting your customers, then disruption and innovation becomes a side effect of delighting your customers.”
- Get Out of the Office
Do not get stuck in the paperwork because the world of your customer has transformed completely. If you do not get out of the office you are not seeing what is going on and you are not in-sync with your customer
- Be Clueless
Sahar said she was clueless when she started her business and she thought it was a disadvantage but then realised it is the biggest advantage. You are not contaminated by how things are or stuck in this is how we do things. It is important to adopt that outsider mentality, be like a big kid again and ask the obvious questions like “why do we do that?”
- Experiment and Bootstrap
Be extremely resourceful and try new things. Do not get hung-up on perfection, innovation is about being willing to make a fool of yourself, you must allow yourself that grace.
- Give Yourself the Licence to Fail
The start-up entrepreneur mentality allows for mistakes, you are not that scared of failure, but when you are in a bigger business you are more terrified of failure. Sahar said, “the problem is, the only way to avoid failure is to do nothing, doing nothing in this crazy world it not an option.”
- Be 100% yourself
“You can be yourself as a start-up but as you grow, you become corporate and act like an automaton (a self-operating machine),” said Sahar. The great news is automaton do not innovate, they cannot think like their customers or have empathy with their customers. Uniformity does not bring creativity but diversity does. It is all about being 100% yourself, head, heart and soul at work and having fun while you are doing it. Genuinely being who you are and connecting with why you are in your business.
I would add to Sahar’s list of habits Purpose, meaning in life and work is becoming more important that money and wealth for entrepreneurs. Making a meaning contribution is critical in maintaining personal motivation and important to inspire others to support your aspirations.
Sahar is ultimately relatable to all business builders, stating you must be out of your comfort zone because you find problems and create solutions, and then can innovate and disrupt. The rapidly changing world brings with it many challenges but adopting these 6 habits and maintaining your start-up entrepreneur mindset will create opportunities. If you take the leap said Sahar “I guarantee the net will always be there for you.”
Watch the Recording.