Damian Blumenkranc, founder of Creativa, started his first business at age 15. He shares his top entrepreneurship lessons for inspiring start-ups.
Before launching one of the largest video production companies in Australia, Creativa, which won more than 80 awards and grew significantly over a decade, I sold modems.
I was fifteen years old, living in Argentina with an entrepreneurial father who was very open and honest with us about his business dealings growing up. I was lucky to learn my first entrepreneurship lessons from him.
It was in the very early days of the internet. At the time, on occasion phone lines would accidentally cross and one day I found myself intercepting a call between a buyer and a wholesaler of modems. These were some of the first iterations of modems around – nothing like today.
I was young, bold and opportunistic, so I directly asked if I could buy some and I launched Argentina’s first-ever online store selling computer parts through a Bulletin Board System (BBS). This business continued at first while I started studying. I enjoyed the freedom of earning more than my peers, but my family were adamant that I focus on my studies and education.
I went on to complete a degree in Business and Information Technology then spent a few years in corporate (tech and comms) before relocating to Australia.
Entrepreneurship as a necessity
The culture shock was huge. My overseas achievements were not recognised and visa limitations on my ability to work meant entrepreneurship was almost essential to survive. I launched an IT support company which I ran for seven years before selling it, and simultaneously bootstrapped several equipment import businesses.
In the early days of YouTube, I launched Creativa – a short video production and animation company, which took off and is a huge success. We largely produce explainer videos for companies.
Today, I wear many hats. Father, entrepreneur, advisor, mentor and investor, to name a few.
One of my most rewarding roles has been mentoring through Entrepreneurs’ Organisation and giving back to the start-up community. Sharing the years of knowledge and learnings by supporting my peers and younger generations coming up in the world is inspiring and motivating. It reminds me of the youthful optimism that helped me launch my first business at fifteen.
5 entrepreneurship lessons from those early days
1. Take a chance
You don’t get what you don’t ask for. You’ll experience synchronicities in life – opportunities that seem fateful even – but it’s up to you what you do with them.
Entrepreneurship is about calculated risk taking. You need to be in it to win it and willing to take a chance and learn.
Your first business may not be your ticket to early retirement – it rarely is. But every ‘overnight success’ is often ten years in the making with many businesses, successful and failed under their belts. Saying yes to opportunities when they arise and taking a chance, when of course it makes sense to do, so is the best place to start.
2. Recognise growing opportunities
Many of my businesses, from selling modems in the earliest days of dial up internet, to producing videos before YouTube became a household name, took advantage of rapidly growing markets.
If you can identify what the business needs of the future are, you can provide a solution.
3. Learn from those around you
I was fortunate to grow up with an entrepreneurial father who shared openly the highs and lows of business. His transparency allowed me to learn from a young age.
For those in business who haven’t had that opportunity, finding your tribe is key.
Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, the largest global network for entrepreneurs, is a great way to connect with other successful founders. You can learn a lot from those who have walked the path before you.
4. Sell a solution, not a product
Understand your customers pain points and how your product/service solves their problems or fulfils an aspiration of theirs.
This starts with listening to your customers when they talk about their challenges. Be clear on the value you’re providing beyond the product itself.
For example, when selling a watch, you’re selling status not just a timepiece. With the early modems I sold, I was selling people the freedom to access the world at their fingertips – something we all take for granted now.
5. Start before you’re ready
Being a problem-solver is key to being an entrepreneur. The biggest thing holding people back from starting a business is simply fear! Take the leap and build your parachute on the way down.
This article by Damian Blumenkranc originally appeared on Kochie’s Business Builders and is republished here with permission.