Jamie Shankland: What’s it really like running a startup?

Jamie Shankland
Jamie Shankland

Jamie Shankland is the founder of a tech startup called Just Venue, and has been involved in a number of different startups. From Clothing to IT managed service companies, computer repair shops, hosting companies, SafeZone a fully pressurised habitat system for the Oil and Gas Industry.

You would think by my 5th or 6th startup I would now be well on my way to understanding what it is like running a startup. But, each time I start on another idea the realisation sets in that every startup is different and you’re basically starting over again. What worked in your last startup is not working in this one or things are moving on so quickly that you can’t always keep up with technology — you have to be agile and go into each business with a different approach.

What’s working for the Oil and Gas business is not working for the venue booking business and what works for both of them would not work for other businesses.

Things I have learnt this time around from Just Venue.

  1. Never take on friends or family — The biggest lesson definitely this time around is never take on staff members who have a close affiliation with other staff members. As it could leave you in a position where if one of them walks out. They all walk out.
  2. Surround yourself with people who can help. I am very fortunate to have met some great people along the way who can help and support me if I need a friend on the other side or have taken time out their day to meet with me (and not even charge me for the privilege). I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with likes of Shaf RasulChris Van der KyulGuy MitchellBig Chris MartinSimon Hannah and Mike Convey. The list goes on…. Each one of the above along with the many dedicated hosts has all supported me in one-way shape or form over the last few years. Who have all equally with or without knowing it helped me shape my business in some way.
  3. Have friends and family close by for support. Being on a startup is a lonely road — you’ll have no one to talk to when you’re still working alone and when it is all going wrong, you need someone to turn to. The one person who will always stick by you is your friends and family.
  4. Find great people. A business is built on the back of great people. I’m going to personally give a shout out to Robert Henderson. Robert came into the business when times we’re gloom. We had lost a few staff members and Robert came in regardless of the situation and has proven to be a great asset and member to have on my team.
  5. Never give up. It’s going to be tough. Trust me. You will have days where you don’t know how you can go on. It’s just an impossible mountain to climb and nothing is going your way. It’s resilience that keeps you going.
  6. Sell a kidney — Just kidding. But seriously beg and borrow everything you can to get the business off the ground. Cash is king and cash flow is even more important. There are going to be times you’re looking at the company’s bank and thinking — How am I going to pay the bills?But it always seems to work out and those who survive are the ones who are smart about it.
  7. Have Fun — You’re going to be in a startup for the next 3–5 years, maybe even longer. You’ve got to love it. You have to get up in the morning and be genuinely excited about the day and what you’re going to achieve. There are days when I go to bed and I think to myself, I cannot wait until tomorrow as you’re maybe completing a milestone.
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