There is a key to being successful in London, and it is deceptively simple.
I understand why people love London. I might soon be one of them.
The biggest paradox of this city is that; it is at the same time, very welcoming and very challenging. It is welcoming because it is a city of many different tastes, cultures, people, businesses and dreams. This multicultural, inclusive, diverse atmosphere helps you feel right at home just after a few years (or even months). Whoever you are or whatever you do, you can find your niche. If your dream is to become a comedian, you can do that. If your dream is to build a business, you can do that, too. Whatever path you choose, if you make it, the rewards are plenty.
However, it is challenging to build a successful business, startup, personal brand or a following, mainly because of the fact that it is a mature market. What I mean by that is, for many of the services or products that you may initially plan to offer, there are already established competitors. Low hanging fruits are taken. To make it, you have to create value. This is the “hack” to make it in London and be a successful person or create a successful brand.
To make it in London, being an opportunist doesn’t cut it. You have to be a value creator. Low hanging fruits are taken. You have to think long term and contribute to the society or business to get your share of it.
It is not the best place for opportunists, but a great place for value creators. The biggest difference between the two: opportunists think and act to maximize value in the short-term, whereas the value creators think in the long-term. One relies on cunning; the other relies on hardwork, creativity, determination and passion. The story of Kounteq.com is an example of value creation.
I love working as a mentor for startups, and I do that either voluntarily or for a symbolic fee most of the time. My catch is this: When I work with a startup as a mentor, I become a part of their extended team, I pitch in the key decisions, learn from the successes and failures of that business. So I get to learn, vicariously, from the experience of 3, 4, 5 startups within a short time. I believe this helps me grow tremendously. Building a strong business is like a great puzzle begging to be solved to me. I love being a part of it. That is why I am one of the mentors of Launch22.co.uk, an incubation center in East London. That is also, where I met Mohamedali Walji (Mo) the founder of Kounteq.
Both his story and how Kounteq came to be are fascinating. Upon meeting him, I wanted to host him in the budding Startups Sessions by CommonWisdom podcast series.
Podcast #1: How to Create a Successful Startup That Solves a Problem, the case of Kounteq
The first one of these were dedicated to understanding what Kounteq does as a Fintech Startup, why is it succesful as a business, how it creates value and why is it growing well. Listen to the first podcast below.
-What problem Kounteq solves and the value it provides,
-What it takes to build a successful business in London,
-Role of application ecosystems in finance and accounting,
-Competitive advantages and knowing the customer,
-Disruption and growing a business by truly understanding technology.
Podcast #2: Using the Personal as a Source of Power and Determination
Excluding those who have already have built a few financially successful business; for almost all entrepreneurs, building a business is personal.
It has to be personal. Otherwise it doesn’t work. The simple reason for that is the know-how, interests, skills and the passions of the entrepreneur are the biggest resource used to build the company. Before there are employees, investors, products; there is the entrepreneur. If the business you are building is out of touch with who you are, it usually means you have lost all your competitive advantage.
That’s why I decided to dedicate the second podcast recording to the personal story of Mo, rather than the business. As you’ll find out, it turns out, Mo is no exception. His personal story is the biggest fuel of Kounteq’s success and growth.
-Making it in London
-Gaining strength from what life throws at you
-Quality of life
-Challenges of Entrepreneurship
-Building a startup in B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) domains
-Finding a problem to solve
-And maybe most importantly, appreciation of what you have.
My Personal Takeaways
Appreciation of what you already have is a great motivator. Visualize the success you wish to see in the future. Create value rather than seeking the low hanging fruits. Don’t be an opportunist, be a value creator. Remember that grit, hard work, determination and your core interests are your biggest competitive advantages.