In July last year I almost had a revolt on my hands. I had just told my staff that we were going to launch a sister publication to SmartCompany on September 1.
“Five weeks??,” they squealed. “It’s impossible. You can’t build, design and launch a new publication in five weeks.”
“You can’t set targets, develop an advertising brief and get the sales team selling advertising partnerships in just five weeks.”
“You can’t find journalists who can write fantastic content, set up editorial systems and processes, devise marketing and SEO strategies and set up financial reporting systems in just five weeks.”
“You can’t register IP, develop a brand, trademarks and market position in five bloody weeks. You can’t get large companies to sign contracts in less than five weeks especially in a segment that really doesn’t exist.”
“It’s not like advertisers wander around saying they want to talk to start-ups.”
“Oh yes we can,” I told them. And my reasons were this. Firstly, the publication had been mulling around in my brain for four years.
When I started SmartCompany, there was nothing to read about starting up. It was so hard, so lonely and so daunting setting up my own business that on a regular basis I thought I was nuts to do it.
And if I found it so hard with my networks and my knowledge given I had been writing, researching and studying entrepreneurship and management for 25 years, then how bad was it for everyone else?
I also knew that if I started smart, I had a much greater chance of success. But who tells you what’s dumb?
I desperately wanted to read a great publication every day that could teach me how to start smart, show me the start-up scene, reveal great case studies, tech tips and give me the news but provide context too. Are the banks lending? Are there new grants? What are the new tax changes?
So I registered the name StartupSmart and vowed that once SmartCompany was established we would create a fantastic publication for people starting up or thinking about it.
There was another reason I knew the five week timeframe was achievable. I have fantastic staff. I knew they could do it.
And I was also confident we could create a new advertising category. After all, when companies start-up they actually have a bit of money.
They need new phones, chairs, computers, offices, staff, software, servers, printers, lawyers, accountants, consultants – you name it they need it.
And if we are happy with our provider at the start, we stay with them, which means it’s a great market to reach for advertisers.
We worked frantically for five weeks pulling it all together. We recruited great journalists led by Oliver Milman and three quick acting companies signed up for a partnership: ANZ Bank, Officeworks and Servcorp.
A year ago to this day, I sat nervously at my desk. It was 8am and I was waiting for the first newsletter from StartupSmart to arrive.
When it did, it was everything I hoped for back in those lonely days. I often imagine, as I arrive at my desk and open StartupSmart, all the entrepreneurs and those struggling in those first few years getting their daily hit that will keep them inspired all day.