Startup Diaries: Nothing To It, But To DO It!

Kristel Kuit, founder of Headroom Assistance.

Kristel Kuit, founder of personal assistant services company Headroom Assistance, talks to The NextWomen about the importance of action in entrepreneurship, and shares her top tips for success when starting a business.

Nothing to it, but to DO it!” is a meaningful and simple phrase, which I think is a good one now that we are well underway with 2014. This important phrase is, for me, what entrepreneurship is all about, and it helps me run my business on a daily basis. I hope that you will find this tip as useful as I have.

The term ‘entrepreneur’ is a derivative of the French word ‘entreprendre’, which translates as ‘to undertake.’ Entrepreneurship is about that step between having ideas and making ideas happen, however big or small those ideas might be.  

What I’ve learned while running my start-up, Headroom Assistance, is that entrepreneurs come in all different shapes and sizes.

 However, I’m still often confronted with the leading stereotype we all know: the young elite-university drop out who becomes a millionaire before his 30s. I often feel insecure because of this stereotype; am I not too old to start a business? Should I not be running three businesses at the same time? Should my business not be all about the (in)famous hockey stick growth model? In reality, I see entrepreneurs all around me, whether it is my stay-at-home mom who creates the coolest poems, the grocery guy around the corner who makes the freshest smoothies, or one of our customers who works as a Legal Counselor for a huge multi-national.

Start-ups are very ‘in’ at the moment, which I think is a great thing. More and more often do I meet people who introduce themselves as an entrepreneur. Especially here in the Netherlands, where it is still considered too outspoken to use that term (the saying here goes: if you act normal, you act crazy enough). But what I love about these people is that they are actually DOING it. They are executing their ideas, and we should all commend and support anybody who puts themselves out there to realize their ideas.

Doing it makes all the difference; you can have the best idea since sliced bread, but if you don’t DO anything with it, it remains just that: an idea.

So how do I get things done? Starting and growing a business brings a ton of to-do’s with it. Every day I have to prioritize what I want to do that day, and what can wait. Below are some tips on how I organize my daily work life, perhaps they will work for you, too.

1. Divide your strategy for the year in quarters and then in months.

This always helps me to make my goals concrete and to prioritize my to-do’s.

2. Make sure your goals and tasks are SMART

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

So for example, your strategy for the year is to be in the top 10 of companies people want to work for in your country. What do you need to do in order to achieve that goal?

For instance, make sure your current employees are happy, but how do you know this? You can test this by organizing a questionnaire, etc. And then decide who is going to be responsible for this and when you want the results on your desk.

3. Put your to-do’s in a handy online tool

So you know you won’t forget anything important. It also helps me evaluate my productivity. Tools that I use are Basecamp, Evernote and Calenderista. They are cloud based, so you can access them from wherever you are and it is so much fun to cross your accomplishments off your to-do list!

4. Never put more than 3 tasks on your daily to-do list.

For me this is a realistic number of tasks to complete, and I always feel so good when I cross off the last one. If I put more than three tasks on there, it can make me feel overwhelmed and stressed out when I notice that some to-do’s take longer than others. Plus, when you have time left after your three to-do’s, you can always add more and feel awesome.

And then? Get going.

So, let’s all start with the first step of realizing your idea(s). And please, let’s try to have fun while doing it ;) 

Kristel got her idea for Headroom Assistance in 2011, while living in San Francisco, but founded the company in Amsterdam, the Netherlands the next year. Headroom stands for Assistance from a Distance and little by little tries to convince European entrepreneurs to “Focus on what they do best, we take care of the rest”. While in the U.S. it is seen as fairly common to make use of a Virtual Assistant, it is seen as an unnecessary luxury to Dutch entrepreneurs. Before founding Headroom, Kristel worked as a PA herself for multi-nationals, non-profits and start-ups. For more information about Kristel, see her LinkedIn

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