When Covid hit the world and we all went into lockdown, Anastasiia Shcherbakova took it as an opportunity to make her dreams come true. Becoming an entrepreneur was something she had always wanted. She’s had many business ideas in the past, “but never did anything about them because deep down didn’t believe in them.” Lucky for us, she finally found the courage to start How Might We, a business that, in a nutshell, offers innovation strategy consulting.
“Innovation is a state of mind, and we build better together - not apart.”
The three elements
When talking to Anastasiia about How Might We, it soon becomes clear that the main focus of the business is her users’ personal needs. She works with small companies and entrepreneurs on “finding and developing innovation opportunities and improving experiences for their stakeholders. That includes research, experimentation, service design, marketing, facilitation and other aspects of business operations brought together in order to create lasting and sustainable projects, products, and services”. There is no time or place for “rushing into solutions.” How Might We is all about working together with clients on finding the best strategy for their innovation. “Its name is a design thinking method that helps discover insights and pain points. How Might We statements make it easier to reframe the problem and focus on user needs. There are three elements to How Might We’s:
- How - not having an answer and being open to exploration
- Might - suggests open-mindedness and considering multiple perspectives
- We - reminds that it’s all about teamwork and inclusion
By using this method, How Might We “searches for answers rather than have them”.
Being her own boss wasn’t completely new for Anastasiia. As a student, she already had a taste of the entrepreneur experience: “I started freelancing during my Master’s degree and loved working on different projects. Different industries, different companies, different ideas - I loved how dynamic and versatile it was. So by the time I was ready to embark on that journey on my own, I had a taste of independent work.” But despite all of her former experience, becoming an entrepreneur still felt like stepping into a new reality: “I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared to be an entrepreneur - it’s always a leap of faith. It’s embarrassing how many mistakes I’ve made along the way and how many projects of mine failed. But that’s part of the journey and experience is the best teacher. Every project I ever worked on gave me a new insight into what is possible and what the market needs. I took my knowledge of marketing, service design, project management, and passion for innovation and impact and brought them all together and finally separate pieces made sense together. So that’s how How Might We came to be.”
“I thought that even if this idea flops and I get dragged with my face through the mud, I would still do it and I would do it again.”
The entrepreneur experience
Anastasiia describes being an entrepreneur as “a wild but extremely fulfilling ride.” Her biggest challenge was “finding a healthy balance between work and self-care”. “Because I love what I do, I tend to hyperfocus and overwork quite a lot; so I had to be more strict with myself about unplugging, spending time in nature, and finding hobbies other than starting new projects. It doesn’t always work but I’m trying my best. After all, I can only be a good leader for my business if I’m healthy and happy.”
On the other hand, finding a healthy balance between work and social life was something that was a bit easier for Anastasiia. “Entrepreneurship has allowed me to meet a lot of people who are passionate about creating something new and making the world a better place (my favorite kind of people). So I don’t really separate social and work life. I think the most helpful was making sure that I had a few months’ savings in case things didn’t go well. I find it extremely difficult to focus if I have to worry about how I can support myself and my family, so that gave me a certain peace of mind and security.”
Tips and tricks
Now that Anastasiia knows what it’s like to be a business owner, she likes to share a few of her tips and tricks with future entrepreneurs. First, “aim at creating a structure that would allow you to walk away at any point and things won’t fall apart.” Second, “business should work for you, not the other way around. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day operations, try to be involved in every little aspect of your business, and never get enough. But you create business to support your lifestyle, not to sacrifice your life to your business.” And last but not least: “always have everything in writing and never put project expenses on your personal credit card, no matter how hard you believe in its success.”
“One thing I know for sure is that whatever form the company takes in the future, it will always be aiming to make the world a better place.”
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