“Get out of your own head and into the real world,” says Barbara, of the need for startups to constantly adjust their approach to doing business. She believes that startup founders are generally encouraged to tell their stories, but the fundamental need is to know what the market wants – for which empathetic listening is key. “Keep your eyes and ears open, get out of your own head and into the real world”, says Barbara, of the need to keep a finger constantly on the pulse of the market.
Coming in as relative outsiders proved advantageous in this respect, as Barbara and James had a lot of misconceptions about marketing and advertising prior to launching Shutta. They were surprised to find that metrics to calculate return on marketing investment were relatively unscientific. Barbara’s prior experience was in business administration and her co-founder, James is a coder – so they saw in this an opportunity to develop something new and measurable.
Organisational culture is another important facet in promoting innovation. At Shutta, everyone is encouraged to share their opinion, because, as Barbara says, 15 people brainstorming a solution is far better than a single leader dictating their views. In this regard, she also believes it is important to maintain open communication with the team. “It is very easy to be open when everything is up, but likewise, it is important to communicate when things are down,” says Barbara. This fosters trust and shared purpose in the organisation and allows every member of the team to share their ideas freely.
Reaching out and forging connections with the ecosystem is another critical aspect of growth. Attending relevant conferences, connecting with the right mentors and advisers as well as people that had been there before, learning from their mistakes are great starting points. Thereafter, she advises fellow entrepreneurs to put their heads down and forge ahead, to avoid drifting from one idea to another.