Self-Starter Stories: From sending potatoes in the post to advocating HEMP.
This week's Self-Starter Story features Adrian Nantchev, founder of WeWantHemp, a startup based in Wolverhampton.
Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: I started potato in the post in Sept 2015 after hearing about a very similar business idea in the States and I thought I could do that in the UK, and better. It was my second business, and had its challenges, one of which was the concept itself, but I got a lot of press attention, I learned a lot, and the majority of my disempowering beliefs were destroyed.
I had previously had an idea to start a business related to HEMP, however at the time, my vision for it was at a much grander in scale. So the idea was put aside due to not knowing where to start and then after Potato in the post, I realised I'd accumulated a range of skills that would enable me to pursue the HEMP idea. After realising I was ready, I took the first step and defined the vision for the business. The why: Championing the use of HEMP and bringing it into the mainstream conscious.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Establishing a colony in the marketplace, so as to get the first sale and then establishing consistent traffic and sales every day. From there, it's much easier to start forecasting numbers based on activity.
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: I was on an animation course a few years ago when the teacher said something about 'hoping you get a 6 month contract', 'hoping someone hires you'.. that kind of thing. I thought: "Why on earth would I hope someone hires me, when I can start my own business and do things MY way?"
What did you learn from your worst boss?: You have got to be approachable and work in the trenches with the troops sometimes. When I eventually hire people, I will not be asking them to do anything that I haven't done myself before.
What is your favourite business book and why?: A book called: 'Start with WHY', by Simon Sinek. It taught me that every business has to have a bigger vision or purpose than making money. In the case of my HEMP business this made sense because I started it with a vision of championing the use of hemp and bringing it into the mainstream conscious. HEMP is a very under-utilised product because of the stigma it has with its cannabis 'cousin' and because people don't understand it.
But HEMP has many positive attributes and benefits such as; a higher yield in paper production, Hemp seeds can be turned into butter, milk, protein powder, finishing oil, soap, and also clothing. HEMP is a lot more durable than cotton and other materials, its easier to grow and harvest and can be used for all sorts of products.
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: For now I do everything myself, I'm focusing on a few products at a time, until we gain some traction. The next step would be publishing research and creating a lot of content with the objective of educating the masses on how HEMP can benefit their lives.
What is your productivity secret?: Making lists and having SMART goals that keep me accountable.
How do you market your business?: We created a website with the objective of not just selling HEMP products but also informing and educating the curious. There is an existing community of HEMP lovers who we plan to collaborate with to raise awareness of our brand and products.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Start something simple and small. Research as much as you can in 2 weeks.
You need to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. Of course you could take 6 months, but then you'll be losing time. Dedicate a short space of time, just for research and learning, then maintain your learning over time.
The knowledge compounds over time.
The second thing I'd say is, project yourself into the future, when you're 40 years old, or 60, or 80. If you continue the trajectory you're on right now, are you happy with what your projected life looks like in the future? If not, then start a business or do what you love. You can do anything in life, so long as you are happy and competent.
To follow Adrian's journey, you can do so via his social media channels and website linked below.
Adrian Nanchev has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story.
Voting for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017 will take place in November 2017 so make sure you get your entry submitted to qualify.