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Three years and two weeks ago, I attended my first Startup Weekend. And last week, the business we built that weekend finally launched.

It feels like a good time to reflect on the last three years – and to share some of the things I’ve learned with other budding entrepreneurs who might be where I am in three years’ time (or a bit sooner!)

So here are four ways my life has been different after my Startup Weekend experience:

Less Time Surfing

Which is kind of ironic, because our whole business is based around surfing. But I soon found that running a startup means putting in the hours at the weekends, the evenings, even the early mornings. So pretty much all the times I’d usually be at the beach.

But here’s the thing – it’s all worth it. The excitement of building a business from scratch is a buzz that is (nearly) comparable to riding a big wave.

However, it is important to step away and keep some perspective as well. A bit of time in the ocean is a great way to do this, but whatever you enjoyed doing before starting your business, make sure you make a little time for it afterwards too. (Notice the sub head for this point isn’t No time surfing!)

Better at my Day Job

I came into Startup Weekend a true novice to the entrepreneurial world. I was a copywriter before (and still am for half my working week). But I learned more about marketing and promoting a business in the first six months than I had in the previous five years of my career.

I don’t think this scale of learning is unique to marketers either. Start to run your own business and you’re picking up transferable skills all over the place.

You’ll have a lot more to put on your C.V after launching your own startup. Only problem is, you might never want to be employed again!

More Confidence

I never had any intention of running a startup. But once my idea was selected, I knew I had to run with it.

That meant doing a few things that were not natural to me. Standing up and pitching, for one. Putting on a jacket and going to meetings with potential investors. Networking.

I found that the more you do these things, the easier they become. After a while, I even started to enjoy the experience.

People really aren’t as scary as you think they are!

So take it from me – if I can overcome the nerves of getting up on stage or approaching someone ‘cold’ to ask for help, anyone can. And your business will be all the better for it.

More Ideas than Ever

I don’t remember ever having an idea for a business before I thought up Johnny on the Spot.

But now I’ve been through the process of taking a business from idea to launch – now I’ve spent time learning from other founders, and now I’ve read countless books and articles on building a business – I’m having a new idea every week.

The fundamental principle behind every business is the same – you are finding a better solution for a problem than anything currently available. As an entrepreneur, your outlook changes – you learn to see problems in a different way and to ask ‘How can that be better?’

Learning to focus on just the one idea at a time is important. But constantly looking to improve the status quo is a quality that will serve you beyond the success or failure of any business.



Ben Martin Ben Martin
Ben is the founder of Johnny on the Spot, the Surfer’s Personal Diary. He lives and surfs on the Gower Peninsula, on the south west coast of Wales. Besides running the startup, he works as a freelance copywriter at www.wordbutler.co.uk. He hopes you like this blog. @onthespotapp