Laundrapp co-founder: My 10 biggest lessons

Serial entrepreneur Ed Relf has expanded on-demand laundry service Laundrapp into 100 towns and cities across the country. But he's made plenty of mistakes along the way. Here's what he learned from them.

by Ed Relf
Last Updated: 06 Dec 2017
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Down to business

1. Be honest about your weaknesses

Don’t just focus on your strengths. When launching a business and hiring new staff, it’s important to embrace both your strengths and weaknesses. Teaming up with your friends might seem tempting but, if it’s the easy option, don’t go for it. Instead, scout and recruit staff that will challenge you and complement your weaknesses.

2. Set big hairy audacious goals

Leave the thought of mediocrity behind and create a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ (BHAG), one that will push your company to achieve greatness. Use it as a rallying cry for the business and focus all your efforts and energy on achieving it. A great BHAG will cause your team to stretch beyond the norm. If your team becomes too large in the process, then break them down into cross-functional groups and assign each of them with their own BHAG. The aim of this goal is to move quickly, as if you’re being chased down an alleyway by Rottweilers.

3. Put customers at the top of your organisational chart

In this digital age, it’s important to keep your customers happy and get your service right, especially with the high usage of social media and review platforms such as TrustPilot and Yelp. Treat your unhappy customers carefully; they will act as your greatest source of learning. While they don’t expect you to be perfect, they do expect you to take their feedback into consideration and fix things when they go wrong.

4. Don’t be entirely data focused

While data might be useful, don’t allow it to determine every decision you make as it could lead to inaction. Think of how you can best validate your idea with the simplest form of minimum viable product. Don’t focus on meaningless figures such as downloads and registrations. Instead, focus on retention metrics such as engagement, cost per acquired customer (CAC) and lifetime value (LTV) as they’re key to taking your business forward. Having an adaptive nature will enable you to test and use the reaction of your customers to keep making changes accordingly.

5. Trust your gut

Even as an entrepreneur, don’t make every decision based on logic. A study from Alberta School of Business found that trusting your gut leads you to make decisions that ultimately help in achieving long-term goals. So, let your competitors be constrained by data, and trust your natural instinct and go with the flow.

6. Celebrate your failures

While you shouldn’t be aiming for failure, you shouldn’t be afraid of it either. Instead, celebrate failures, as the recipe for success is in their value. It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand pitfalls, learn from their mistakes and be honest and realistic about the process. In doing so, you and your businesses will become stronger. It’s important to emphasise, however, that having a tolerance for failure is no excuse for recklessness.

7. Act efficiently

As mentioned before, failure is bound to be a part of your entrepreneurial journey. Did you know that 90% of what you do will fail?  However, once you find the 10% that works for you and your company, embrace and scale it quickly.

8. Push yourself like you’ve never pushed before

Travelling on the spirally road of an entrepreneur, you’re bound to hit brick walls, which means you’re going to have to stretch yourself to overcome these hurdles and take your business further. Remember, when launching a business venture, you’ve chosen to quit the 9-5 routine and to invest in your idea so you need to push yourself 110%.

9. Make decisions quickly

When faced with tough business decisions, don’t waste time pondering on a flawless solution. It’s better to make a good decision quickly than a great decision slowly.

10. It’s not about the idea, it’s about the execution 

I whole-heartedly agree with Steve Jobs when it comes to the big debate around idea verses execution:  ‘To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.’ In the end, it all comes down to the ability to execute ideas with the support of experienced team members.