5 tips for stepping into startup land from the corporate world

Written by Lana Weal on the 10th of November, 2018

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This is a guest post from Andrèz Coco, the founder and CEO of Knowlly – a solution that makes it easier and faster for solar installers to help households adopt solar. Andrèz has experience in human centred design with some of the biggest brands and has worked in various locations around the world.


My career journey started in corporate land. I loved it and I thrived in it.

But still, at a certain point in my career it felt like I was missing something. I missed the ability of moving fast, having real impact and working towards a vision I truly believed in.

When SheStarts came to my attention, it was the perfect opportunity to achieve more meaning and impact with my work through my own startup.

With Knowlly, I’m making sustainable home improvements like solar easier and more accessible – and I know I’m going to make a positive impact on both people and the planet.

I expected that starting my own business would be similar to the work I did at corporates – only on a different scale and in a faster pace. The reality of startup life turned out to be pretty different.

Here are my five key lessons on the big unknowns of starting a startup:

1. You’re always pitching.

You have to be willing to present your business idea wherever you go, tailor your message to who you’re speaking with and bring energy each time you pitch – you never know where it will lead to.

You never know when you’ll meet your next investor, customer, or partner.

The big difference between working for a big company is that they’re often a big brand that everyone wants to work with.

Starting a new business comes means you’re starting a brand that no one knows, so you need to hustle and pitch to get your story out there.

2. You choose your own work schedule.

When you’re working on your own business, it’s like your baby. You want to spend as much time with it as you can to make it a success.

It’s not a 9 to 5 job where you “clock off” when you leave the office. All of a sudden weekdays and weekends are all the same.

Work and play often overlaps.

So you need to find a balance for what works for you and set boundaries around when and how you’re going to work on your business.

3. Learn to ask for people’s opinions.

Did I ever think it was going to be easy starting a business in an industry I didn’t know? Not really. But because this is how my journey started, I do appreciate the power of asking for wanted feedback even more.

After we came back from the US trip with SheStarts, I wrote a blog about how important it is to find your own identity when building your business.

It can be very intimidating when you’re not an expert in a field (yet) that you want to start a business in.

I really had to learn to tune into the thing that made me stand out and use that as the strength and core of my business.

You should know when who you want opinions from. And know when to listen to your own intuition to make decisions and move forward.

4. Find your balance with time and money.

When working at large organisations, there are far more resources available in comparison to a one-person startup. And although every employee works on a lot of things at the same time, it still seems that overall things move pretty slow.

Access to resources was a massive change for me when starting Knowlly.

Working by yourself means the pressure to get things done is all on you. And when your business isn’t profitable, you need to make sure you’re still able to live comfortably.

But in the end, you need to make decisions.

It’s better to take action and adjust later than sit around debating and do nothing with no progress.

5. Make the most of your community and sisterhood.

For me there is no doubt that the startup journey flows better when you have a support network of people who are going through something similar.

I feel so surprised and lucky that through the SheStarts accelerator, I now am part of a group of strong ambitious women willing to share experiences and learn from each other.

Knowing that we went through the early stages of our startup journey together and no matter where our journey takes us, we’ll always able to reach out to each other, share advice or just listen to what’s going on.

There will be times where you need a community or sisterhood to call on. Make sure you have a community you can rely on when you need to.

What are some of your lessons learned from the big unknown of starting your own business? And what are some of the things you can relate to?

Watch more of the journey of the 2018 SheStarts female founders in the eight part Documentary Series: