Enjoy the messy startup process

January 30, 2015

Profile Picture Tim Rudkins

“I like to start businesses.
It is fun, intriguing, and I like trying different things
and knowing more about the market.”

A simple answer to why he is into entrepreneurship, and how an entrepreneur enjoys making different attempts in developing a business.

Tim Rudkins, small business start-up coach at Rudkin Small Business Solutions and serial entrepreneur, has thirty years of global business experience and has initiated multiple businesses across industries. Having established enterprises in IT consulting, small business development, project management consulting, resort and travel, and real estate properties, I wonder how Tim stays focused.

Staying focused

“I am a big list maker. The question to ask here is: what’s the next 20 things I have to do now, opposed to those who can be done later?” Tim smiles. For an entrepreneur, there is always more to do. From creating business models to marketing strategies, from setting up websites and building connections with partnering agencies, these are examples of what is in the entrepreneur’s mind.

Tim’s strong project management background and ability to prioritize things comes in handy. More importantly, entrepreneurs have to recognize the fact that it is them who have to do the work. Tim confidently says, “If somebody has to ask you to do something, you should not be an entrepreneur”. Being proactive and clear about task prioritization are the keys to remain focused in business.

Overcoming barriers

A serial entrepreneur who has stepped in different businesses, I asked Tim if all his businesses were successful, and if not, what barrier has he encountered?

He has hopped in very different business models and industries and enjoyed both successes and failures. Through the experience, Tim figures that each industry has its specific traits and market dynamics. “Certain industries are hard to get into, especially those who require large capital investment, special legal regulations, or existing dominant competitors.” What is similar is that “changes are required constantly. As soon as you start selling your products or dealing with customers, you need to consider how to change the products and how to present the benefits better.”

It is important to keep in mind that product development is based on assumptions from market research. When you start selling, some of these assumptions may not hold up and the entrepreneur needs to try something new to improve its sales.

Startup leadership

In addition to running the business, I am curious what Tim’s viewpoint is on building the start-up and leading people. Having had the experience of leading few people to 50 employees in his businesses, he stresses the importance to have everyone clear about the business model and strategic direction to inspire them to stay focused and energized everyday at work.

Nowadays, Tim is into the solopreneur model that he is promoting with his new Small Business Solution firm. For a solopreneur, leadership will apply to the people one works with, including partners and clients. “Leadership is about making sure that everybody relating to the business is on track of things.” Tim tells me.

Business mentorship

Kaleidoscope believes so much in mentoring; we made this our business model. I wonder what his experience has been? Tim has had mentors at different occasions. While entrepreneurs usually work independently, one’s working partners or even clients can be the ones who offer advice on specific moments. His mentors made him aware of one fundamental understanding of entrepreneurship, “It is always a mess when you start off something.”

Through the process, an entrepreneur has to keep plugging away. “You have a plan, and you adjust it, and constantly plug away to see what it really works”, he reconfirms to me.

At the time of our interview, Tim is the owner of Rudkin Small Business Solutions and two other businesses: a travel-related business in Suriname and a condominium business in Toronto. How does he manage to maintain three business start-ups at around the same time?

The serial entrepreneur streak

“The three businesses are developing in different stages, 2015 will be a busy year. I am making marketing plans for Small Business Solutions promoting the Solopreneur Model, along with coordinating agencies in Suriname and talking with condominium agents. Like I said, I like thinking and trying new things. Sometimes, serial entrepreneurs like me focus too much on one single business and things get boring. On the other hand, if the business does not go well, it is depressing.“ This clearly speaks to the rollercoaster ride we speak of at Kaleidoscope.

Tim enjoys having multiple things happening simultaneously, making new attempts, and having fun in the start-up process. That is the trick he is persistent about when it comes to entrepreneurship. “Start on some level, don’t dwell on the idea only. That is where the fun is.“

There is no perfect idea in the business world

Tim’s advice to new entrepreneurs, is one he inherited from one of his mentors: “Never love your idea; like and enjoy your idea, but not too much. This may sound counter-intuitive but it is valid in experience. There is no ‘perfect’ idea in the business world. Be ready to change and modify consistently, and if you need to, even to get rid of it.”

He has never heard of an idea remaining the same throughout the start-up process. Even when the business is established, it is necessary for entrepreneurs to be aware of the market changes and comply with modifying the business model.

“The thing is, enjoy the messy startup process and be comfortable about the work you have to do.” Tim concludes. It is the fun and the urge to explore more on the path of entrepreneurship that keeps him moving on.

To hear Tim speaking about his experiences and professional skills, visit his website.


Ting-Yu Wei

Ting-Yu Wei is Kaleidoscope’s Business Resource Writer. She lights up whenever she hears a good idea and loves to get people connected for idea development. Her roles as a sales representative, a lecturer in developing countries, along with an Schulich MBA allow her to engage in social enterprise development, impact investing and youth entrepreneurship training. Find Ting-Yu on LinkedIn.