Lessons learned from working with start-up founders 

Joe Gillam
Founder - Design

One of the best, if not the best, thing about my job is meeting founders and understanding the culture of their business over a compressed period of time. 

I have been lucky enough to see big companies like Red Bull and Bumble up close, but since starting Soul Spaces, there are two fast-growing businesses we have designed workspaces for that stand out: Modern Synthesis and Little Moons

If you can’t learn from the people you are spending time with then you are spending time with the wrong people, it would be rude of me not to share what I’ve found first hand. 

“Get it done” 

In a recent interview, Obama said that a skill people often undervalue is the ability to “get it done.” I suppose I would term this as execution. 

There are so many people who have ideas. Ideas are great, but they’re also absolutely meaningless without a plan for how to execute them.

From my experiences with the successful founders of Modern Synthesis and Little Moons, there is a culture of execution. Knowing how to get it done and not resting until it’s so. They instill a ‘practical thinking’ side to the businesses that enables execution at a prolific rate. 

“Think big” 

I am guilty at times of thinking too small, narrowing my ambition to avoid disappointment. The guys at Little Moons and Modern Synthesis are the complete opposite. Whenever I catch myself thinking in this way, I check myself and think back to both businesses. 

Focusing on the glass ceiling is a sure fire way of hitting it. These guys have an ambition that is bigger than themselves. Scaling on a global level. Even reaching number 1 in the world. That big picture thinking makes the vision easy for people to buy into and creates a team who are thinking big too. 

Alongside the ability to execute on a practical level, you need a clear big picture that is painted out and understood at every level of the business.

I have to gut check myself at times and ensure my team has this. 

“Love what you do” 

I can honestly say the founders of both businesses love what they do and the challenges that come with it. 

Both companies were born as passion projects with a commercial edge and I think that mix allows an organisation to take a jump from good to great. 

If I’m ever having a down day, I remind myself that I love this and how terrible it would be to do something that I didn’t love. Working with both of these businesses ignited my passion for what I do again. If there’s no passion, there’s no point!