What I have learned in my first two years as a tech startup CEO

30th August 2018

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One year ago, Amanda Cai launched a company, iContract. In this article, Amanda discusses the challenges and opportunities of launching a tech startup in London the current environment.

It was always my ambition as a child growing up in Shanghai to be an entrepreneur and be my own boss. It is a dream I have been able to realise in London. We launched iContract, a platform that connects contractors with recruiters and in-house hiring teams, in August 2017. It was a year in the making.

So, what have I learned on this journey that I would pass onto other early-stage startups, or people – especially other women – who have an idea that they want to turn into a business?

  1. Challenge everything and be challenged

I know it’s a cliché, but it’s essential to be agile. The tech industry changes at lightning speed and you need to be adaptable to its continued evolution. I believe that to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to keep asking difficult questions and challenge everything.

I like being challenged too and surround myself with people who are going to push me, rather than have ‘yes people’ who will agree with me all the time. I want to empower the people around me and want them to be honest. In a small team, this transparent approach breeds better productivity and results.

  1. Roll with the punches

As an entrepreneur, you have good and bad days. The key is not to be phased by them, no one ever quit on a great idea just because they had a bad day.

You need to be ready to roll with the punches and not let bad days and experiences put you off. I often learn more from these days than the good ones and grow from them.

  1. Don’t surrender your principles

One of my golden rules in life is to never settle. Throughout my experience as a CEO so far, I’ve had many occasions where I’ve been presented with opportunities or moments where I could have taken the easy road out but in exchange for surrendering my principles. 

This has never been an option for me.

  1. Keep motivated and always have a long-term vision

Every day, the excitement of running a startup is a driving force. Our aim at iContract is to transform the lives of contractors in an economy that is becoming more and more flexible in its approach to work. It’s that vision that carries me through, and it’s really rewarding when we hear how iContract has helped people find work and help them in their work-life balance.

  1. Just do it!

My advice for any would-be entrepreneur is if you believe in what you’re doing, just go for it! For female entrepreneurs in particular, we’re coming into a good time as a lot of women-led startups are getting a lot of overdue attention.

Life and work both move fast so it’s key not to dwell on certain things in work and to just do it!