“Talk with more experienced entrepreneurs and be proactive. Go to meetups and don’t be afraid to talk about and test your ideas.” Benjamin Touboul, Founder NUSApack
As a child, Benjamin had a plan. He would be an inventor. So he was disappointed to discover there were no ‘inventor’ jobs advertised at the local jobs center.
He was racking his brains for a vocation that would allow him to be creative. In the end that choice came down to becoming an engineer or going to business school. He decided that entrepreneurship was the only option and enrolled at business school in Toulouse.
The next question was whether to start a business straight after graduation, or get more experience (and funds) by working for others first.
“For me it was always the same dilemma: should I wait until I have more experience and money?”
“In the end, I decided motivation was one of the most important factors so I spent a year earning after studying to help pay for the launch of NUSApack, a social startup that creates and sells accessories for backpackers.”
NUSApack invests 5 percent of sales from each of its product support micro-entrepreneurs in underprivileged areas around the world.
For Benjamin, it’s about striking a balance between confidence and humility.
“A lot of things that have helped me to create my company have come from my internships. It’s a mistake to think you can create something from scratch with no experience without speaking to people with relevant industry experience.”
“You can avoid silly mistakes by speaking to people with relevant experience. It’s important to speak with experts. And it’s quite easy to find people with experience in a specific industry.”
“I knew I wanted to make backpack accessories so I found a friend who knew someone in the backpacking industry and he gave me a lot of insights.”
When it comes to getting started, it’s all about being proactive and not trying to do everything alone, he explains.
“A common mistake entrepreneurs make, especially where I’m from [France], is not sharing ideas because they’re afraid someone will steal them.”
“You can gain much more by sharing your ideas than you can potentially lose by people stealing your idea.”
One of the biggest misconceptions about entrepreneurship is the hours, he explains.
“In France, many people do 35 hours a week but I’ll often do 35 hours in three days. And I’m fine with that. I prefer to spend more time working on my own projects.”
“I’d say every job has disadvantages and drawbacks. Being an entrepreneur is not more complicated than being a doctor or a marketing director.”
But thinking that being your own boss is going to be a holiday is a mistake, he adds.
“There are advantages but it’s much more complicated. You do have a boss and that boss is yourself. And often you can be tough on yourself.”
“Sometimes you wake up and you aren’t sure what your priorities are for the day. Sometimes I think it would be good to have a boss.”
“I think you do have more freedom as an entrepreneur than you do as an employee but if you aren’t organized, or proactive then being your own boss can be tough.”
“If you don’t have objectives to reach it will be impossible to stay motivated. Instead of listing all the tasks I need to do, I try to make objectives. I need to finish this by Monday or Tuesday. So when you wake up in the morning and know exactly what to do. It’s the best way to keep your motivation and continue.”
“Creating a company is a long adventure and so it can be hard to stay motivated.”
But it’s not all bad. The highlights involve getting positive customer feedback, making an impact and helping entrepreneurs through the startup’s social impact arm.
When it comes to staying motivated, Benjamin suggests checking out coworking spaces.
“Starting a project in a coworking space is great. You have many different experts close by. And going to a startup weekend can also be a great way to test your concept.”
These spaces can also be great for finding experts in other areas.
“I found it particularly helpful speaking to developers in coworking spaces. Instead of spending hours in forums, I could find out answers in minutes.”
“It can be hard to take important decisions when you’re alone. So it’s good to have someone to check in with. At the moment, I’m doing everything by myself but it’s probably not the best solution.”
When it comes to making important decisions about your future, Benjamin thinks trial and error is the best way to go.
“You won’t know what job you should do until you try it. So you should prioritize experiences above all else.”
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