I was in Beirut, Lebanon last week attending the Banque Du Liban Accelerate conference. It’s the biggest tech conference in the Mediterranean with 24,000 attendees. This year Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was the keynote speaker. But that’s not why I went there — I was there to mentor the startups at HealthTech Hackathon (organized by Garage48) and give a presentation on 10 awesome things about entrepreneurship.
Building Testlio has been a journey, and it isn’t as shiny as everyone thinks. Building a company is extremely hard and it requires a lot of patience.
Resistance is a constant.
You get beaten down consistently by different challenges, but you have to remain focused, keep going, and not give up. It’s important to not become an entrepreneur just for the sake of it (pretty common these days), but to actually solve a real problem.
Luckily, there are some really awesome things that make this journey worthwhile.
1. You constantly prove people wrong
When I started, I approached another successful entrepreneur out of my network and told him about the idea of Testlio. He told me that he could not help us and he thinks it isn’t a good idea, because there’s already a company out there doing the same thing and they are about 300 people strong and have been selected as one of the fastest growing companies by Forbes.
Well, believe me, most ideas are not unique anymore, but if you find your niche and validate this with your potential customers, it’s worth pushing forward.
2. You meet a lot of people
Be ready to interact and communicate!
With Testlio I’ve met some really great and inspiring people over the course of 4 years — starting from the Angelhack, Techstars, various meetups or investors. It will be a lot, but don’t get overwhelmed. You never know where some connections might take you. For example one of our earliest advisors at Testlio connected us with out latest Series A investor.
We knew them for 1.5 years until we made a deal to build Testlio together. Be nice and positive. You never know where those connections might take you.
3. You see the world
If you’re lucky, you will travel like crazy. From meeting so many different people and experiencing different cultures, I’ve become a stronger and better leader. I’ve learned that there is never one right answer.
You always have to consider the dynamics and details of every situation. Building our global community of testers has taught me that I can’t expect everyone to be like me or think like me. Everyone is different with their own strengths and weaknesses. If you can use these to your advantage, that’s great. The more you see, the more you can relate — and solve problems based on context.
4. You find a way to live with fear
Every day you learn something new. And for me the new is unknown, and the unknown is one of the scariest things I do know. But once you go and do whatever you don’t know about, you are already awesome. Really.
I’m so afraid of public speaking.
Every time when I have to go on the stage I ask myself: Why did I do this to myself again?! But once I do it, I’m happy that I did, because I learned something from it. My way to live with fear is to just do it.
5. You work on something you love
Testlio was born out of my frustration as a tester. That made me very passionate about the problems that I started solving. I love testing and I want to help as many testers as possible all over the world to create meaningful careers. That is just something to wake up for. Every. Single. Day.
6. You realize that there are no limits
Over the course of 4 years that I’ve been building Testlio I’ve learned one thing : everything is possible! When I was at the beginning of starting this company, I cried a lot over little things, but now I see that if I work hard and smart, I can do anything.
7. You make people happy
Whether it’s a positive message from your team member, a tester in the community, or a customer , receiving encouraging words just keeps you going! In terms of our product we have a long way to go and I wish we could build all the things that I have in my mind — today.
But it’s so rewarding to receive feedback on what you’ve already achieved, when you’ve made someone’s lives easier or more productive, or helped someone save or earn money.
8. You see opportunities in every problem
From time to time, I get someone complaining about our product. It’s super frustrating and it makes me sad. We have weekly All Hands meetings with the team, where we share our highs, lows and big rocks for next week. During a recent meeting (when I was still mentally processing a big complaint), I couldn’t share any lows, because in my mind, every setback and challenge is an opportunity for me. And the more opportunities you have, the better!
9. You can give back to the community
I think this is actually my favorite of all and this applies to anyone who is building their career or building their own companies. If you really do something you love and are successful at it, you can share your story and learnings and inspire other people to do the same.
A lot of startups have been reaching out to me to tell them about my experience at Techstars or with raising funds for our company. Even though I’m extremely busy , helping people is always something that I make time for.
10. You win
Whether you succeed or not — you’ve won! If you end up failing at least you can be proud that you took the chance. There’s no trying, only doing. Just don’t give up — never, ever.
While writing this I thought that this could actually apply to anyone with a dream and it’s not just entrepreneurs or people who start building a company. It applies to anyone who has a dream to achieve something in their lives. At the end of the day you are the CEO of your life. Do something that makes you happy. You have nothing to lose. Just think — I can. I will. :)