It was great connecting with some new and familiar faces at the Hers and His WCAN event on 13th February 2019. The discussion was open and engaging and it was fabulous to be in a room with young women and men who are eager to start their own businesses. If you weren’t at the event, Afrocenchix is a hair brand I started with with my co-founder Rachael where we formulate natural products for Afro and curly hair. We didn’t have networks like WCAN when we started so I’m super passionate about passing on what I have learned to budding entrepreneurs.
There were a lot of great questions asked about entrepreneurship so I’ve penned my three top tips, based on questions asked at the event, which can help you on your journey towards being your own boss!
1.Test waters with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
A minimal viable product is a stripped back version of the final product with the aim to garner traction (interest) from prospective customers. The point of an MVP is to get your product to market as soon as possible so you can get feedback from customers and improve your final product before officially launching. Our MVP was a hair oil and one page website which simply had our name and a contact email. When I started Afrocenchix, I didn’t know of any startup vocabulary so didn’t know that fiddling with ingredients in our university hall’s kitchen was building an MVP. We fell into business by trying to find a solution to the hair problems we were experiencing and realised many black women had the same issues. We unintentionally ended up testing our MVP at markets, where we gathered data on which products customers wanted . Sometimes people get caught up in perfecting their product before taking it to customers for feedback but the best way to test your MVP would be to do like Phil Knight from Nike says and…Just Do It. If you want more help, we found this blog on MVPs really helpful.
2.Mentors May Not Be what You Think
Mentors can be great but they can also waste of time if you’re paired with the wrong person or you reach out at the wrong time. In my opinion, a mentor isn’t needed to start and/or run a successful business but if you really want one, it’s best to actively start working on an idea and have gained traction before reaching out. That way, you know where you need help and how a mentor can be useful. Basically, you should already be killing it before you get a mentor! Also, don’t forget peer to peer mentoring. I cannot stress the impact of having a network of fellow entrepreneurs. Networks like YSYS are great if you’re new to the start up scene.
Also, don’t forget books, blogs and podcasts can give you access to virtual mentors at the click of a button. We really enjoy Myleik’s podcast and find How I Built This and Masters of Scale podcasts super helpful.
3. Don’t do it alone
Co-Founding with a friend can be a great way to launch your business. Having someone you can make important decisions with and bounce ideas off makes the building process easier. Someone who understands your experience and shares the same vision is a true blessing. Disagreements are natural and should be expected so it’s important to have great communication with your co-founder to make sure you’re on the same page.
Those are my top three tips on getting a business up and running. If you’d like to hear more about the Afrocenchix story and follow our journey please contact us. Also I would love you to join our tribe via our newsletter so please do sign up! We send useful things like free product offers and job opportunities plus we’ll reward you with free delivery on your first order!
You can catch more of my musings on Twitter @JoyMateSpeaks
Author: Joycelyn - Co-founder of Afrocenchix