What I Wish I Knew – Lucy Kebbell, founder of The WIP

Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
4 March 2022

When Lucy Kebbell started working on The WIP, a digital membership platform for sustainable businesses, she didn’t have much experience of running a business but was determined to make it work.

She received a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp to help her get her idea off the ground. Alongside the loan, she was matched with a mentor to support her as she launched her business. 

We caught up with Lucy to find out what she wishes she’d known about running a start-up from day one…

Things don’t have to be perfect

I've been working on The WIP for just over a year now, but it's only been in the last few months that it's really sunk in that this is a tech company. I don't think I really realised that was what I was building when I set out to do it. I saw it more as a B2B networking and support business, but we've had a platform built from scratch and I've had to wrestle with all the frustrations that come with being a tech start-up. 

We were questioning what our MVP is and when we launch. I have quite a perfectionist attitude about things and I wish I'd known earlier that people are very happy to help you beta test things, they're also really happy to be part of something that isn't perfect, that isn't fully branded up yet. I think we could have gotten away with being a little bit less fully branded. And possibly that could have meant we launched sooner.

It’s not as hard as you think

My idea of applying for a business loan was a lot different to what it turned out to be. I don't know if that's specific to the Virgin StartUp experience, but I wish I'd realised that it was completely doable – it was within my skill level. What I created and put forward and what subsequently secured the loan for me was a very good application and a very good business plan. 

I wish I'd had a bit more faith in my business acumen and my ability to create financial forecasts and things like that. That kind of thing can feel overwhelming. It's not my background and I'd never done it before. But I really rate the way that Virgin StartUp does the loan application because it was really easy to understand and my advisor was really personable. It was really great and much quicker than I thought it was going to be.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Entrepreneurship isn't about glossy headshots and being in the Forbes 30 under 30 list. People do this at every stage of their lives and you can work on something for years before it starts getting picked up by press or bigger groups of people. 

There's so much work that goes on behind the scenes. I wish I'd realised that sooner and been a bit more patient and not compared myself to other founders who have already launched and had a product out there for a lot longer than I have. You have no idea about the issues that they had getting to launch, where they got the money from, or how they spent it. I think it's important to be honest and to not put too much pressure on yourself because it's not going as fast as you hoped it would.

Inspired to start your own business? Visit Virgin StartUp for advice, guidance and Start Up Loans.