We made it (to launch)! Here are 5 things we learnt along the way

by Rob Arnott November 29, 2015

When, back in June, we committed to launching Okapi Home on 17th November we promised to keep you updated on our progress in the hope that it might prove useful to others. Since then, time has simply evaporated but we wanted to keep our word so, a little belatedly, here is what we’ve learnt over the past few months.

1) Set yourself a target (and stick to it)

In our very first blog post on 30th June we committed to launching this business in 140 days. From that day on we had a firm target, a reason to make decisions rather than delay. In short, it provided us with momentum. We knew that we wouldn’t be ready in November but felt it better to start gathering real customer feedback rather than simply sitting in a dark room wondering what people might think when we did finally launch. As Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn says, “if you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” In short, if you wait for that ‘perfect’ moment to launch, it may never come, so surely it’s better to get on with it and be prepared to adapt based on what people say. 

2) Things will go wrong. Just accept it and move on

It is stressful and deflating when things go wrong, but every challenge you overcome will strengthen your business in the long term. For us, the biggest bump in the road was when we discovered a major technical flaw in our website just 6 days before launch. Sure, we had a bit of a meltdown at first but then, after a few late nights and the help of a developer on Fiverr (more on this in a sec) we managed to turn things around.

Ugandan Basket Weaver

3) They say patience is a virtue. It’s true!

Ask people who know me and they will tell you I am not a particularly patient person, especially when it comes to technology. Over the past 6 months I’ve had to learn the art of patience. As a business we have no external investment so we’ve had to learn to do things ourselves. Although you don’t need to be a computer whizz to set up an online business these days we’ve still spent much of the past 6 months battling with Squarespace, Photoshop, Facebook Advertising and much more. When time is limited the last thing you want to do is spend hours working out how to do relatively simple stuff on a new platform. However, for the longevity of our business we are convinced that this time investment will prove invaluable. 

4) Help is at hand

Ok, from time to time we’ve hit the SOS button and called for help. Our first port of call in these situations has usually been friends or the online marketplaceFiverr. We’ve used Fiverr for graphic design, the tricky bits of our web build and a few bits and bobs on Photoshop. It’s quick, affordable and, as long as you spend a few minutes reading reviews, a painless experience. There is no need to spend big money on an agency, just pick and choose what you need help with, spend a few quid and you’ll most likely have what you need within 24 hours. Simple.

Ugandan Cow Horn Artisan

5) Brace yourself for the wobble

It’s inevitable. You will have that crisis of confidence moment, commonly known as ‘the wobble’. To get you through such moments, make sure you have people around you who can offer encouragement or a wise word of advice. It may even be worthwhile finding someone (or a small group) to hold you accountable and keep you on track. However you use them, I can promise these people will be an invaluable part of your journey.

So there you have it, five things we’ve learnt in the past few months. We’ll continue to share our experiences as we move into the next phase of our startup journey so why not sign up to our newsletter and keep up to date. You’ll also receive discounts and offers to use in our shop, so what’s not to love?!

Rob Arnott
Rob Arnott