Are you team Nam Do-San or team Han Ji-Pyeong?
If you are active on social media, you might have noticed that many people are currently enthusiastic about a Korean drama: Start-Up. Telling the story of a group of young people’s struggle in building a tech startup, this drama captivates many viewers because of its interesting storyline. What’s more, as the name suggests, this drama tells a story about the world of start-up which is quite popular among Millennials today.
More than just an entertaining fiction, every Korean drama offers valuable lessons we can imitate in real life. Here are some encouraging messages we can get after watching Start-Up:
1. Great business idea without a real plan will bring you nowhere
In Start-Up, Nam Do-San founded SamSan Tech. While the company has a brilliant idea and a good product, it failed to grow and even almost collapsed after only two years of being founded. When finally SamSan Tech won the CODA competition, they also failed to attract investors because they didn’t have a business plan.
Here, we can learn that no matter how potential an idea is, it will not be much use if it is not supported by real actions and clear business plans. In the business world, a business plan is important as the company’s main navigation. It is crucial for founders to look ahead and see how their company can gain profit and win the potential market. Equally important, a good business plan can attract many investors so that a startup can scale up.
2. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader
Han Ji-Pyeong is an angel investor who works at a startup accelerator called Sandbox. After meeting with SamSan Tech, he offers advice: recruit a CEO. Despite being the founder, Nam Do-San is not suitable to be a CEO due to his personality. He is awkward with people and doesn’t have great pitching skills. He was too focused on algorithms rather than building relationships and connections.
In any organization, it is important to put everyone in a position where their skills are most valuable. Only by doing so, they can develop their potential to the fullest and contribute more to the team. In this drama, instead of being a CEO, Nam Do-San is more suitable to act as CTO because he is more passionate in coding and technology rather than dealing with people. A CEO with passion and good leadership skills like Seo Dal-Mi is indispensable for startups, because she will be responsible for introducing the company to investors.
3. Having a mentor can give you a new perspective
After winning the Hackathon, SamSan Tech entered Sandbox’s residency program for startup companies. The first thing they did before starting a real company was choosing a mentor and Seo Dal-Mi’s choice is Han Ji-Pyeong.
Starting a business from scratch is not an easy feat as there will be many new things that we have to learn. Learning by doing is a good thing for sure, but it is even better if we learn from the experiences of others. A business mentor will be needed to build a start-up company, because he can provide direction, advice, and perspectives from their years of experience in the business world.
4. You can’t please everyone, so don’t be afraid to make a decision
Quoting from Han Ji-Pyeong, “Why look for answers that don’t exist? So, instead of looking for answers, make choices. Whatever you choose, you’ll be criticized. You can’t make any decisions if you’re afraid of criticism.”
Leaders will be known for their decisions, be it good or bad. Self-doubt is normal for anyone, including a leader. However, when running a business, don’t ever let yourself be in that situation for long. Instead of worrying about what other people will say about your decision, it is better to decide what to do right away – of course after rationally weighing all the possibilities.
See also: Essential Areas a Startup Must Focus On
5. Surround yourself with a well-resourced team
Nam Do-San started his business with two of his best friends from college. Because they have known them for a long time, the chemistry of these three people cannot be doubted. As the team grows with the presence of a CEO and a designer, they have to learn to understand each others’ character in order to collaborate well.
When starting a company, early team members are critical as the foundation of a solid company. Every team member must be someone who can be trusted and are experts in their fields. That way, the business projects will be more focused. Chemistry at work does not always have to be friendly, but by knowing each others’ characteristics and being willing to help each other.
6. Hiring for culture fit is crucial for a new company
At the Hackathon, Nam Do-San had to choose between Seo Dal-Mi, a college dropout, and Won In-Jae, a well-experienced entrepreneur as CEO. To his co-founders, choosing In-Jae would be a more reasonable choice. However, Nam Do-San tried to look beyond the skills and experiences: he looked at their culture fit. Although both candidates have leadership skills, Nam Do-San finally chose Seo Dal-mi because she has a character that matches the SamSan Tech team members.
Without neglecting technical skills, culture fit is an important point that new companies must pay attention to when recruiting new members. There will be challenges and obstacles that the team has to deal with when executing a new project. Culture fit is the key to ensuring coworkers work well together and preventing friction caused by differences in character or views between one person and another.
7. Never mix business with personal matters
Due to negligence, Samsan Tech finally had to disband. Nam Do-San, who doesn’t want to lose to Han Ji-Pyeong, asked for help from another mentor. In addition, Yong San also resented Han Ji-Pyeong because of his brother’s suicide, making him ignore his mentor’s concerns.
A valuable lesson we can take here is that grudges and personal problems can have a negative impact and even endanger the stability of a business. It’s not easy to keep your ego, especially when it comes to pride. But in business, there are times when we have to follow the head more than the heart.
8. Be persistent when dealing with criticism
As a business mentor, Han Ji-Pyeong always provides constructive advice and criticism for his mentees. Frequently, he conveyed his message out loud. Seo Dal-Mi as a CEO is described as someone who is resilient and open to feedback. She doesn’t just give up when receiving harsh criticism, but she tried to improve herself even better.
An entrepreneur should develop a strong and persistent mentality to achieve his goals. Successful startup founders will not easily give up and fall into harsh criticism from others. Instead, they will use those constructive criticisms to their advantage.
If you are looking for a drama that is not only light and entertaining but also insightful, Start-Up can be a good alternative company for your weekend. Ready to binge-watching?
Article first appeared at Startup Jobs Asia.
Read also: 3 Roles Startup Leaders Should Outsource