Kadri Tammai: What do you really want? How to find your personal lodestar

August is the month for lying back on the grass in the evening darkness, gazing up at the stars and letting your thoughts flow free. The lovely long summer is over, and hopefully there was enough time to chill out and ask yourself ‘what next?’. To ask whether you really want to keep on doing the same thing that you do every day, writes Tehnopol Startup Incubator manager Kadri Tammai.

Feeling comfortable is nice, but it won’t take you very far. Nor does it help you advance much in the long term to read stories of successful entrepreneurs while only dreaming of becoming one yourself or commenting on all the posts in the financial freedom chat group. Real life is real life, and engaging in it needs you to be bold and to take the first step yourself. The step of setting up your own startup for example.

Describing the whole startup sector in Estonia from the one end to the other would take a long time; Estonia has the most startups per resident in Europe, the most venture capital invested per resident, the most startups valued at over a billion per resident, and so on and so on. The sector is a magnet for Estonians and for foreigners arriving in Estonia, and I believe that we could easily add that it has the most exciting startups in the world.

What is really great about all this though is that startups have long since moved on from being the world of people fresh out of school in their t-shirts, ripped jeans and trainers. Not that there is anything wrong with jeans and trainers, but it is good to see that new and scalable businesses are being built by people with various different professional backgrounds.

It doesn’t matter whether you work in the public sector, as an HR manager in healthcare, or as an engineer in an industrial company, you could be running your own startup business tomorrow. Whatever your professional sector and whatever your job, you will have faced bottlenecks that make you think that one or another problem could be solved much more effectively. Have you ever thought that you might be interested in developing that solution yourself?

Many people say yes to that, but then promptly add that they have never before run a business and don’t know how to go about it. It is often those people who have a lot of experience of work that find it hardest to turn a new page and start something fresh. They frequently feel that they used to know everything about their subject, but now they are the one constantly needing to ask advice. The good news is that there is no artificial shame in the startup sector, as it’s okay to be wrong, it’s okay not to know, you have to take risks, there is always a lot of uncertainty, new ideas and knowledge come flooding in every day, and it is all incredibly exciting.

If you have never built a company before you will not know much about it at first, but if you have the drive to find out, then people with experience will be able to give you a lot of help.

If you are making your very first budget or creating a marketing strategy for the first time, there are always more questions than answers. But your mentor has already done this 500 times, so you can be sure that they will know the answer you are looking for.

This is why there are various incubator and accelerator programmes in the market that can help businesses at different stages of their development. At the Tehnopol Startup Incubator we support those who are only creating their product or service, and we help them bring it to market and attract the investment they need to grow. This is of course guided by gurus in their field, and so the new businesses do not need to reinvent every wheel themselves or make anew every classic mistake from the world of commerce. Being a startup is like riding a roller coaster, as it is fast, exciting, a little scary, but incredibly fun!

And of course you must have your lodestar. You may earlier have seen it as the brightest star in the sky, but for startup companies it is the ultimate goal to strive for, the one that is commercially the most important. You must just think which your lodestar might be for your business, and make your dream come true!

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