For the past few months I’ve been immersed in the day-to-day life of an entrepreneur. We've been working together, as a group, to KICKSTART our smoothie business. The road hasn't been all smooth and flowery, but we've also encountered some holes and bumps. However, the experience overall has been wonderful, it's a journey I wouldn't exchange for anything. It has been fun, exciting, frustrating, but most importantly the learning outcomes have been huge. As I was reflecting upon the midterm I came up with the two most important lessons so far.
FEEDBACK, is a word we come across all the time in the IA. For the past year I've seen the tremendous value it has in the class; however, now that we've applied this skill in the real world I see that it has a colossal value was well, and I can't imagine companies, in the BUSINESS world, survive without it, it's CRUCIAL. Moreover, I am not the only one who sees the immense value of it, but also Eric Ries, the author of The Lean Startup. In his book, Eric talks about how companies use the MVP method in order to test their product with a real audience and then improve it based on authentic feedback and tests. Huge companies and small startups have realized that they grow and become better by showcasing their product to early adopters and then using their suggestions to improve their product. We've done the same in Blendz by pivoting and iterating through the process. We’ve had to iterate with the flavors and the physical appearance of the company (logo). At the beginning of the semester I started working on the marketing section and I worked with the logo. Through the creation of that I learned that it is not about brainstorming one idea and trying to make it better, but instead trying out many ideas, pitching them to the class and then iterate with three designs to finally choose one, the one that most suits our vision and beliefs. Then I begun to work in the product development section and I had to try out different flavors many times to perfect the recipes and find delicious ones that our customers will crave and want to buy. The different flavors were tested in the prototype run-throughs that we've conducted this semester. By talking to the clients we've been able to figure out the successful and unsuccessful flavors and thus be able to keep the good ones and change the bad ones.
Furthermore, I believe that learning how to iterate, get and give feedback, synthesize it, and learn how to apply it is essential in the classroom and outside as well. Learning how to cope and process good and critical feedback is extremely important for a company, and also for me, individually. Even though, it’s hard at times knowing how to give it and receive it is an important skill to GROW and minimize your weaknesses, since you are now conscious about them. The feedback we receive as a company and I receive from others allows me to get an INSIGHT of things that I may not realize and should change. However, it’s not only about learning how to receive the feedback, but actually analyzing and using it. We tend to write it down, but never actually use it. At the beginning we would do surveys and leave them aside once people completed them. However, by analyzing them we were able to see patterns, which allowed us to realize mistakes and quickly make us think of solutions. For me, individually, I synthesized the feedback I receive from the discussions and created a short statement that represented my reputation in the different subject areas, allowing me to have a quick summery of my strengths and weaknesses so that I can work to improve them along the way. Finally, if you learn how to apply the feedback you would be able to make the changes and grow.
Finally, I’ve also learned the importance of maintaining a culture of excellence, not only as a class but as a company. We want to create a culture where we can trust each other with different tasks, a culture where we take initiative to make Blendz grow, and a culture where we are all motivated. In Blendz we are extremely dependable on each other with different tasks, so we need to trust that we are all going to complete the tasks beautifully. Also, for all of us this is the first time we’ve created a business, so no one has the answers on how to do things right or what path to take all the time. This is why we all need to take initiative and try to find work and complete different things that can help the business. We all have different things going on aside from Blendz, but we need to complete tasks without waiting for other to tell us. If we want to meet our goal we all have to give some extra thought and hard work to the company. The CEO’s are there to support and guide us when we are confused, but if we all want this business to thrive we need everyone take OWNERSHIP. We need to stop waiting for the expiration date on the yogurt to pass by to do something. We are all in or this company will not be great. Finally, this business is not only a school project, we’ve invested money and a lot of time that is valuable. I’ve learned that in order to keep everyone motivated we all need to take a sense of ownership. In order to do so we eliminated the departments and created projects, instead, that each one is in charge of. This has boosted the motivation and productivity in the class since everyone feels more pride as they accomplish their individual tasks. Also by having things done this way it makes everyone feel more responsible and thus complete excellent work on time.
This semester has truly inspired us to create beautiful work and to apply the knowledge and skills from previous semesters. It's been an amazing journey and I still want to see where Blendz takes us.