And more Advice from Mona Bijoor, Founder of JOOR, Startup Advisor, Angel Investor, Partner at Kings Circle Capital, and Author of Startups and Downs. JOOR is the leading marketplace for wholesale and connects brands and buyers globally, allowing them to transact online. JOOR's platform has netted $23 billion in gross merchandise volume.
1. Don't wait to develop your mental talk tracks!
And, develop them before bad things happen. When you are building a business, you have 40 bad days, and then you have one good day. That one good day saves you for the next 40. Early on in my founder journey, I felt like I was in victim mode all of the time. What I learned is that I want to be in front of my life, not chasing behind it. As a first-time founder, you aren't always prepared in terms of what is going to happen next. There are lots of surprises. What I have now done is to develop mental tracks to handle different situations.
When I am dealing with ambiguity, I embrace it rather than get down on myself for not knowing how to handle the situation. I say to myself if the solution was clear, then it would be effortless for other people to figure out. I tell myself that I am not going to be one of those people who give up. I will figure out the road map for moving forward.
When dealing with fear, I have figured out how to cope and be galvanized in those situations. I look at fear as a beacon, meaning that the universe is saying run towards that thing that scares you because that is where your growth is going to be. You raise a ton of money, and then you have to spend it. There is fear inherent in that. There is scariness in landing your first client but also in making sure that you keep that client. Or doing things that have never been done before, like launching a new feature or changing the way you configure your sales team.
The other mental talk track that I developed is how to maintain your focus and continuously renew your inspiration. There you have to remind yourself why you are working on this problem. Why do you get out of bed every morning? Why are you solving this pain point? Staying true to that North Star is essential. What I have found is that having constant reminders in your office around that North Star is helpful. Making sure you have visual reminders of why you are doing the work that you are doing because that is where you will find happiness, providing a service for others and seeing how you are growing yourself.
2. Don't play the short game.
Make sure you are developing the long game and then work backward when it comes to designing your strategy. Your vision takes seven to ten years to realize, especially when it comes to building a business. You need two or three approaches to help you get to that vision. Your first strategy could take one to three years; the second could take four to six years. And, your last strategy could get you to your vision. The vision and strategy generally don't change. It is the tactics, all the levers that you pull underneath, that changes all the time. What I find is that founders focus on the tactics, and they don't spend enough time thinking about that ten-year vision. You can be super passionate about the idea, but you need to be non-emotional about your tactics.
3. Create your Brand Book from the start.
Don't wait to develop your team culture. It was year six when I hired a Head of People for Joor, and I won't make that mistake again. It is essential to shape your culture early on, and I advise founders to create a brand book. The brand book is about the company's DNA. It has your vision and strategy, and the tactics you are employing to hit those strategies. It also has your brand promise, your brand voice, your customer promise, your competitive advantage, and the moat that you are building around your business. That brand book should be on the desk of every new hire. The content of that book will help you keep the team culture.