How many of us are searching for meaning in our jobs, in our lives? This is part of the reason why many entrepreneurs go for it! Starting a business is a unique journey, a bit like a marathon, with many obstacles along the way. To celebrate world entrepreneur week, we wanted to share some insights from our founder, Julien Clouet. Those who choose to start their own business can find themselves questioning everything. In a series of articles, our CEO will look back on LittleBIG Connection’s beginnings and share key advice and best practices for those who wish to take up the challenge.
Julien, can you tell us where you got the idea for LittleBIG Connection?
For 10 years, I had been working with major integrators and SMEs in consulting. After starting my own company, Evolis Consulting, in 2006, I realized that the consulting market could and should become more flexible to move towards a more equitable and sustainable model. Evolis Consulting had become outdated and to maintain it alongside an innovative project like LBC wasn’t viable. So, I left my company, sold it and started a new project. With the profit we made when we sold Evolis, we were able to invest in LittleBIG Connection, which was born through market observation. LittleBIG Connection is therefore not my first entrepreneurial experience. When we started the business, the market was not ready, and we took a huge risk. In the beginning, we really had to evangelize about the benefits of switching to a platform. It wasn’t easy!
Do you think entrepreneurial spirit is innate?
There are aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere. Many people dream of starting their own business, but few really feel a deep need to do so . Plenty want to start their own business but never end up taking the leap… For me it was like a switch flicked in my head. I just decided to go for it!
My number one tip is: don’t wait around for other people.
At the start, you have to be self-reliant and to go into “warrior mode”. Back in the day when I was an employee, I had it good. I managed a team of about 300 people, but I really wanted to do my own thing.
Being an entrepreneur means harboring a strong desire!
You have this desire to make something happen. Not doing so eats away at you every day.
How do you know if your idea is good enough to start a business?
I have always gone into a profession that I knew and liked. That’s why with LBC, I knew it was a good fit for the market. If you have a business model and feedback that you have been able to test, you have an advantage; you are able to take a step back. If you have also managed to identify people’s daily frustrations, that’s another sign that your idea is good. Once you have your idea, you have to be able to start from scratch, challenge everything and think for yourself. With your own vision, your own biases and above all, the ability to question your own decisions. All of this is essential.
When you start out, you have to be able to shake things up, to challenge everything.
Being well-informed and inquisitive about your market will often allow you to transform an idea into tangible success.
Once you are happy with your idea, how do you try it out?
You obviously need to test the market and do your research. It’s also a good idea to make a solid business plan, a business model with your concept, your approach to the market. You also have to have a foolproof way of generating money and set a date. If all these steps are OK and you still want to start something, all that’s left is to put on your game face and go! It’s also important that everything links up properly; financing, management. Think about your location and how easy it is to start a business. If you have the chance to go for it but something is holding you back, cut the safety line and don’t look back! At the end of the day, if you are inside your comfort zone, you will never be able to see your ideas clearly or get your dream project going.
Starting off – is it better to be alone?
I wasn’t alone when I started LittleBIG Connection. Paul Vieira was with me. I knew him well and we had previously worked together. He was ready to drop everything to start LBC with me. He stayed for a year and a half, while the Beta version of the platform was ongoing, then he left the project for good. I was on my own for the two other businesses I started. It’s good to share your problems sometimes and you can’t necessarily do this with your . You can’t tell them everything. If there are several of you heading a company, this can prove to be a real driving force, there is strength in numbers when it comes to obstacles arising on an entrepreneur’s path.
How can you finance your project?
In terms of funding, it all depends on what you want to do. But remember that you shouldn’t start your own business hoping to get rich. You have to be ready to manage on very little, try, fail, learn and… start again!
To fund your project, you could use:
- Unemployment benefit or Jobseekers’ Allowance (this will vary from country to country),
- Personal savings.
- Subsidies e.g. special funds from your government allocated to entrepreneurs
As an entrepreneur, you should remember that all money is good money. You should learn never to waste it.
You must have a business model before you start trying to raise funds. It’s important to test the market and choose carefully; be reasonable and don’t go for something unrealistic. You have to be realistic with your business model.
How did the first months of LittleBIG Connection play out?
Honestly, we worked in a bit of an old-fashioned way for the first 6 months. We connected clients and experts without any form of . We earned a commission similar to the . We did everything by email or phone. That generated a small revenue for us, enough to go on to develop our platform. You really get creative when you need to! What’s more, when time constraints force you to get creative, you accept things, you accept different challenges.
For example, in the beginning, a client requested the translation of a technical document. We weren’t specialized in the field yet we went to look for people who had the expertise. We found them, and this is what allowed us to make money which we reinvested into LBC.
How to recruit talented people who will work with you along the way?
When you start out and you need to grow your team, you need to find people who believe in your story, your vision.
The idea of telling a story is being taken more and more seriously by companies. Today, an entrepreneur is someone who wants to give meaning and value to their daily actions. You need to want to set up and showcase your project and that is precisely what people buy. They buy your product/service but most of all, your story. This story starts to take shape at the beginning. You have to want to give your work meaning, to talk about the why. You have to shout your story from the rooftops. In recruitment, there aren’t many ways of finding the right people. If you’re not able to draw someone to your story and really wow them within a half-hour, it will difficult to share your adventure with them. Your story is key to attracting the best people.
Thank you for time, Julien! Next : How to start a business and overcome challenges! If you want to learn more about LittleBIG Connection or become a member of the LittleBIG Community, join us on the platform!
During Global Entrepreneurship Week, we talked to our CEO about the launch phase of a project. As we know, starting an entrepreneurial adventure for the first time can be quite scary. Today,…
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