While we are all still raving between Team Ji Pyeong and Team Do San, the phenomenal Netflix K-Drama Series Start-Up goes beyond romantic relationships and family stories. The build-up of each character is impressive without a doubt, as they learn lessons in life and career while they carve their paths to their own denotation of success.
I will skip through the entire story line just in case you stumble upon this article before you actually watch the series. I will try my best not to touch as many spoilers as possible. Let’s get straight to the relevant points of the series which are totally relatable in real life and why it’s a must-watch for entrepreneurs.
LESSON 1: Starting a Business is not easy. If you succeed you will be called a CEO, if you don’t you’re a fraud.
Whoever says that starting a business would be effortless and trouble-free is probably someone who hasn’t started at all. It may seem easy on the outside when all you see are success biographies from CEOs and topnotch business-owners. Pretty much, every successful person who has climbed the ladder has a story to tell.
LESSON 2: Starting a business is like sailing in the vast ocean. It’s either you die of thirst or you’ll survive. Pursuing profits on the early stages of business is like drinking sea water. No matter how thirsty you are, you should not drink sea water, instead wait until it rains.
Low-risk high-return concept is a common mistake for starters. On the first years of a business, never expect for high profits. Instead, build your market first. The early stages of the business is where the birth-pains come along. Losses come naturally, and that is perfectly normal. Do not be tempted to go after big sales on your first year. Try to recover, strategize, and build first. High profits will come after.
LESSON 3: Only friends, family, and fools invest in a new start-up.
This is a harsh truth, but don’t get disheartened. This only proves that your friends, family, and outsiders who invest in you believe in your full potential. Most seasoned businessmen will not invest in your new start-up because they are not willing to take the risk in case it fails. Not all investors have the extra money and capital to put to risk. People will only look at you when you prove yourself worthy to them. There’s a 99% chance that people will not believe on what you do. That’s ok. They are just “noise”. Focus on the 1% and grow that number exponentially. Turn doubters into believers.
LESSON 4: Do not let someone’s opinion become your reality.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion of us. Just because someone tells you something about you doesn’t mean it’s true. Nobody knows you and what you can do better than yourself.
LESSON 5: It’s not bad to sail off without a map even if you are bound to get lost.
Somewhere along the way, our plans do not work out as how we first envisioned it. It’s OK to set sail outside your initial master plan and tweak it a bit depending on the outside factors and circumstances. Getting lost along the way doesn’t mean you will not get there. YOU WILL! It will just take a little longer, but you will!
LESSON 6: Get a business card.
What is an entrepreneur without a business card? How will you show the world that you are legit, if you don’t put your credentials on paper? Always have this handy just in case you meet someone compelling to build your connections with. It works a long way.
LESSON 7: Skills are important, but Charisma is key.
Skill is highly significant for your business to thrive, but no matter how exceedingly skilled you are, if you do not have the charisma to sell your service, there’s a chance that you won’t get noticed in this vast sea of like-minded entrepreneurs. Just like Nam Do San in the series, he has the brain every engineer would dream of but he is poor in the mingling arena. Meanwhile, he meets Seo Dal Mi, a woman who has zero background on technical knowledge but is A+ when it comes to sociability and interpersonal skills. Do San admits that communication is his weakness, thus he hires Dal Mi to be the face of their business. The two works efficiently hand in hand as they cover for each other’s weaknesses.
LESSON 8: You don’t regret choices while you’re making them. You regret after. Regrets always come late.
Building a business requires you to make choices 100% of the time. With this being said, we must weigh our options from Plan A to Plan Z. Think before you act, as we might end up regretting for the things we could have done differently.
LESSON 9: Stop looking for answers, there is no right and wrong answer most of the time.
You cannot just Google “How to become a successful entrepreneur” or “What is the right choice to make?” Our choices ultimately depend on us and on how we react to certain situations. Remember, you will be criticized anyway whatever choice you make, but it’s not up to the people around you. They will say many things about your choice, but still you are the only person who knows what’s best for you. You won’t be able to come up with great decisions if you’re afraid of criticisms.
LESSON 10: Your mentality is your greatest asset.
Be firm. If you want to achieve something badly, hold on to it. Hang tight and believe in yourself. With hard work, resilience, and perseverance, it will happen. Be like Seo In Jae, a woman of character, a go-getter. The only thing that stands between you and success is your mindset. Your mind is a magnet. If you ponder about blessings and accomplishments, you will attain what you think about. But if you will think about trials and difficulties, they will come to you more often. Always cultivate positive thoughts and think about how you will achieve your goals. This way, you are not only fostering a positive environment in your workplace, but you are encouraging assertiveness through optimism.
LESSON 11: Life is unfair, get used to it.
Life doesn’t owe us anything. We feel down and betrayed every time something bad happens in life. The truth is, life wasn’t meant to be painless and smooth. It is up to us on how we pave our way to contentment. Just like Han Ji Pyeong who got all the money and career achievements, but never got the real things he longed for. He embraced it as it is and never expected anything from life in return. We can never have it all, that’s just how life is.
LESSON 12: Risk can be good or bad. Risk is a possibility of loss, but it doesn’t mean danger.
When we build a business, we always take risks. A business is a gamble. A start-up has a 50% chance of succeeding, but at the same time a 50% chance of failing. That’s OK. When you fail at the first attempt, try again. Taking risks doesn’t always mean it is threatening. Sometimes, we have to take big risks for us to learn and be able to know what we should do next. Don’t be afraid to start over. The next time you do it, you’re not starting from scratch anymore. You’re starting from lessons and experience.
LESSON 13: Differentiate Revenue Model from the Business Model. Focus on Marketing and PR.
Often times, new businesses fail to make a proper business plan for their start-ups. This is why a lot turn out into a failure. Start with the end in mind. What are your plans in case you fail to support your funding? Will you allow investors? Will you sell out shares? From this series, Han Ji Pyeong has taught Samsan Tech to distinguish their Revenue Model apart from the Business Model. This allows your business to expand its funding while you find your way to your right market without bleeding money.
LESSON 14: If you can’t beat them, join them.
The business industry is small. There are times when we try to challenge ourselves to beat more established businesses. However, this takes a lot of time, effort, and money. If you have the heart to go after a well-established brand, you must be prepared for anything that might come in between. But, if in time you realize that you cannot overpower the giant, join them. Be one of them. This is the only chance for you to learn from them on how they made it all the way to the top. Eventually, when you become like one of them, you can always adapt their ways and processes and build your own. This time, better and more improved version just like how the Samsan Tech boys acquired their upgraded skills from 2STO and how Seo Dal Mi got her courage from In Jae Company.
LESSON 15: Always read every detail of a contract. Don’t just sign.
This is a given. When you start your business, you will encounter a lot of contracts and agreements between other parties and your company. These are legal papers that hold the people signing liable and accountable for anything that could come around in the business. With this being said, you have to be particular with every line written on it. Otherwise, you might end up with losses and disputes.
LESSON 16: A business can only grow as large as the CEO’s dreams. Don’t limit yourself. Know your “WHYs”.
There’s a saying that goes “If your dreams don’t scare you, then it’s not big enough.” Soar high. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but we also have to remember to balance reality with dreams. With the perfect mindset, goals are easier to achieve so don’t be afraid to dream big. Know your purpose and why you’re building your business. With this in mind, it would be simple for you to see your mission and vision and start from there.
LESSON 17: Keep looking back where you came from.
When you get to the top, don’t forget to look back where you started. Keep yourself grounded and thank the people who helped you reach where you are now. Share your stories to inspire, not to brag. A humble business owner is always the one that’s loved and preferred by many. Just like the Samsan Tech boys who have achieved everything they wanted, but did not stop visiting where they first started.
LESSON 18: Following your dream is a very difficult road to take, but it’s always worth it!
Do what you love, love what you do. If you have a passion project, pursue it. Don’t be afraid to go after your dreams and turn it into a reality. When you are ultimately passionate with what you do, you will never call it “work”. You will be more productive more than you have imagined. In the end, reaching your dreams and achieving your goals is the best thing that can ever happen in the world even if it takes blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. Just do it!
LESSON 19: Great things don’t come easy.
We all know this by now at this point. Building a business, a career, or relationship is something that comes with a lot of struggles. But we must endure! As the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easy. If you want something you’ve never had, then you have to do something you’ve never done.
LESSON 20: PRAY FIRST AND THEN MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Nothing’s impossible. We can do anything. We have a bigger support system than anyone could wish for. Our Lord is greater than our fears. Do not doubt the power of prayers. Whatever we do, strive hard and the rest will follow. Everything will come in God’s time. Don’t stress. Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God’s timing. His timing is always perfect, never early never late. But it’s always worth the wait.
To cap it all up, here’s a photo of our good boy, giving you a thumbs up for your head start!
DO YOU HAVE LESSONS FROM “START-UP” THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
ARE YOU TEAM JI PYEONG OR TEAM DO SAN?
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
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