Do you want to recruit 40
employees, attract more than 800 customers, get financed within
months, have social media buzzing about your company, and throw an
event in a very short period of time? It sounds impossible, but the
TEDxBeirut team did it.
TEDxBeirut was created by a young group of people who had full time jobs and yet worked around the clock to introduce something inspiring to Lebanon, while facing many challenges, and learning a lot about marketing, building a team, fundraising, and working under pressure along the way. These seven lessons from their experie nce should help any entrepreneur create an agile framework for starting up.
1. Don’t spend money on office
space. When it comes to office space, a café, a friend’s
flat, or any other public and free space will do. The TEDxBeirut
team did not have a headquarters. Invest your money in places where
you really need it rather than wasting it on things you can have
2. Be honest about your finances. You don’t need money, all you need is someone who has it. A lot of us worry about not having enough money to startup. Yet the TEDxBeirut team considered this a motive to go and talk to people and companies about what they were doing, explaining that this is going to be the event of the season, and that companies would have their names exposed to over 600 people. They also explained how their money was going to be spent- this is how they got funding. Honesty is crucial when you’re trying to get people to pull out their checkbooks.
3. Hire students. The most crucial part of any entrepreneurial endeavor is your team. TEDxBeirut would not have been what it was if it wasn’t for the team they had- their strategy, initiative, and spirit of volunteerism. University students are often the most active advocates for a cause, so it’s great to get them involved, and make sure they know what they have to do. The event succeeded because every single volunteer had the passion and energy that the organizers did.
4. Interact with your audience. Instead of using billboards, radio and print media, the organizers turned to social media, using a facebook page, twitter account, and LinkedIn account to promote the event and communicate with their audience. They used the channels to respond to complaints about registration, and also to get feedback during and after the event. The total cost was $0. But the most important rule factor was maintaining a steady presence. Make sure you are always there on social media- don’t post something and disappear for five days.
5. Deal with complaints quickly. When dealing with complaints and difficult situations, the TEDxBeirut team discussed any issues with the whole team in order to have several opinions on how to deal with them. This ensured that everyone was aware of what problems were being encountered, and it made for faster suggestions and less dissatisfied people.
6. Meet with as many people as you can. Always have your business card and a smile ready. The TEDxBeirut team now knows half of the Lebanese population because they made sure to prove their presence. Social media is not enough- being present at events is what gets you real connections.
7. Have fun! At the end of the day, investing in TEDxBeirut required no money- all you needed was a smile and a lot of energy. Dividends came in the form of a black T- shirt saying “I am organizing TEDxBeirut “and lots of coffee and cake. And let us not forget the gym benefits- walking around Beirut and Lebanon was a definitely way to the keep the team as healthy as ever.
TEDxBeirut was an entrepreneurial journey unto itself. It demonstrated that everyone canachieve something even if it simply means bringing people together to discuss ideas. Entrepreneurship is about the spirit, the passion, the energy and the love of doing something different and getting out of comfort zones and into the unknown where something exciting awaits. You don’t need a fancy office or be making tons of money from the first year. All you need is the belief and confidence that you, regardless of where you come from or how old you are, can break the boundaries of limitation and cross over to inspiration.
On the 24th of September every single one of us left
TEDxBeirut with an idea, a dream, a question… Let us all bring out
that rebellious entrepreneur inside of us to make sure we are