My parents think my startup is stupid.

Pretty much every time I do a talk to a young audience I get asked,

“How did your parents deal with you wanting to start a startup. I’m torn between going into industry vs. starting a startup.”

Okay so I broke the news to my parents that
1. I’m not going into science or a corporate job
2. I’m getting married

I’m not sure which one they were more shocked at but I figured it was easier to tell them both at the same time.

My dad was horrified at the fact that I was going to use my first class honours in Natural Sciences from UCL to go and start a fashion company. To give you some perspective, he’s a chemical engineer and Asian. That means you either go into a stable job or you go into further studies in some sort of STEM area. Starting a fashion company is not on the spectrum, AT ALL. He thought it was just a phase, he kept saying “this is great experience for the big companies.”

Then to tell him I want to get married to no not an engineer or a doctor was also interesting…

Regardless, it took some time for my parents to come round and now they are my biggest cheerleaders and I’m pretty sure my husband is the favourite son in law (I have 2 older sisters).

Once those that doubt what you are doing see your sheer dedication and conviction in your decision they can’t help but cheer you on. In the meantime. Build your support system of people who get it. Support systems are so so so important.

If you’re going to go work first it’s not a bad idea.

I have worked a lot prior to my internship. Not in industry, but I felt like I had built a solid foundation of skills and work exp to move forward. But, for the love of God if your want to work first to get experience please do it in something relevant. I don’t understand when people say I want to start startup x and then go and work in any job that comes their way. If it’s work experience you’re after starting a startup will give you that.

Starting a startup is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, week on week I’ve had to rise to the challenge of making this work. It’s hard. Really hard. Don’t forget to build your resilience too.

You have to make hard decisions

This is the thing. This will be the first of many hard decisions you will make on the journey of starting a startup. In hindsight, it’s one of the easiest ones I’ve made. It’s not a bed of roses once you make the leap. Well, it is, a bed of roses with lots and lots and LOTS of thorns.

What if my startup fails

It is inevitable that you will meet hundreds of new people once you start this path. Every person you meet can probably open a door for your startup or for your career.

You can’t be scared. You just can’t.

You don’t just close down your startup and fall into a black hole. The entrepreneurial community is one of the most supportive and caring communities you will ever come into. Rest assured there is light at the end of the black hole, you will find a job through your new found network or you now have tons of experience to take to show a company. Time and time again I come across ex-founders who have done just this.

Work on it part time

People often will give the advice of “work on it on the side.” It really depends on your character and personality. I found it really difficult and I was in a three day a week job. For me I just had to take the plunge and give it my all and I found that I made more progress in the two months I had left my job then the 9 months working on it part time. Head space is a real thing and that’s what I finally got.

If you want to work on it part time talk to someone who has done it successfully to understand how you can create the most value in that time.

To end, no matter what you decide to do, always be driven by your hopes, not your fears.