5 things we've learnt in our first year of starting up: Athena Tuition
Wesley Sanders is the founder of Athena Tuition, an online private tuition agency that provides a premium service for students at every level. Wesley has now been running his business for over a year, so we thought we'd catch up from last time and get the top things he's learned since starting up. Five nuggets of business wisdom coming up!
1. Work really hard - put lots of hours in
This is straightforward advice and not always easy, but basically you’ll be much further ahead if you do double the work someone else has done. This can be tough, and you should never be afraid to take a break from work. But working really hard accelerates all of the points I make below, and so this is the best advice I could give anyone.
2. With your first customers, don’t worry that you’re not making much money
You might even be losing money - but provide a really great product or service to them, and realise that your first happy customers are hugely useful to get the word out. Happy customers are like salespeople for your company: they tell people about you for free if they’re happy! Who wouldn’t want a free sales team? And the difference between them being merely satisfied, and actually happy can be quite small - perhaps only one nice gesture. For example, when we started every student needing tutoring had to be found through active marketing, but now we get a growing stream of referrals looking for a tutor for themselves or their child - all because we made sure to do a great job for our first clients!
3. Try a lot of things
You’ll inevitably make a lot of wrong turnings when starting out (and they might cost quite a bit!), but these all teach you something. It’s better to test something out and realise it doesn’t work than not try it and still wonder. You might miss an incredible opportunity!
4. Double down on things that work
For example, we tried about five different methods of advertising for our Tutoring agency, and one in particular has been really effective. After learning this we really focused on it, and it now brings us more clients than any other source.
5. Once you’ve got your basic structure set up, it’s about making constant incremental improvements in everything
Initially when you start, you’ve got everything to set up and everything to learn. But fairly soon you learn what the core parts of the business are, and when the basic structure is set up it’s all about just making improvements to everything continually. Your processes will become more efficient over time as you constantly improve and tweak everything!