Mentorship Lessons Learned From Half a Decade Of Entrepreneurship

Giovanni Angelucci, founder and CEO of Queen Street Bakery, shared his entrepreneurship journey and lessons learned for new founders

Curated by: Stefan Palios in partnership with MindFrame Connect

Going on an entrepreneurial journey can feel like the loneliest path in the world. Even though millions of people globally are entrepreneurs, no two people will have the exact same journey. 

Thankfully for founders, entrepreneurial journeys have trends. This is something Giovanni Angelucci learned during his own journey, transitioning from banking, to business school, and into a family business. 

In a video feature with MindFrame Connect, Angelucci shared some of his lessons learned in the hopes that other entrepreneurs can benefit.

1. Build something you want to see in the world

While many famous businesses started because the founders wanted to solve a problem (think: Tobi Lutke started Shopify so he could sell his surfboards online), Angelucci learned this timeless lesson through his family: his mom stopped eating gluten due to a sensitivity and he realized there weren’t many options for nutritious, low-sugar bread products without gluten in them. 

So he started Queen Street Bakery to solve that problem for his mom and anyone else dealing with the same challenges. 

“I want that to exist because I want to eat it and I want my family to eat it,” he said.

2. Size doesn’t matter

A common adage in business is that you’re either building something for scale (like a VC-funded tech company) or just building a “lifestyle” business (paying yourself a good salary). Unfortunately, “lifestyle businesses” have been derided in the entrepreneurship community as more about owning a job than a business. Thankfully, that tide is turning.

For Angelucci, though, size doesn’t matter when it comes to business. 

“You need to see where there's an opportunity for something to exist,” said Angelucci. “So there has to be a gap somewhere and that can be big or small. It can be very niche. There are a lot of businesses that are very niche and work out well.”

Rather than focusing on size, Angelucci said you need to have “nerve” and “be a little bit crazy” to genuinely try to build your business. And even if you are going to go for unicorn status, you can’t ignore business fundamentals

Seek formal and informal mentorship

Angelucci shared that he’s had significant amounts of both formal and informal mentorship throughout his journey. The common thread is that he said he isn’t afraid to ask for help—whenever he’s reached out, he said people were more than willing to offer their perspectives.

“We are the first to admit we don't know what we don't know,” said Angelucci. “So we ask around.”

Become an information conduit

As a mentee, Angelucci is unafraid to ask for help. But even as he’s learning and building, he’s capable of helping other people who might be a couple of steps behind him in their journey. 

When Angelucci plays the role of mentor, he tends to stick to informality. Rather than pretending he has all the information, he sees himself as a “conduit for good advice.” With that mindset, he takes what he’s learned and shares it with his staff and other entrepreneurs he meets. 

Get ready for a roller coaster

Angelucci found over the years that entrepreneurship is not one big battle, but “thousands of little ones,” with changes coming daily or even hourly. Sometimes that’s difficult days of working with employees. Other times it’s the reality of pivoting your go-to-market model, something many entrepreneurs have had to do.

To get through, Angelucci said it’s critical to get ready for whatever roller coaster might be coming your way. 

“You find your little moments of light and they pull you through your moments of darkness,” said Angelucci. 

In the end, make it fun

Looking back on his journey, one thing stood out for Angelucci: the parts he enjoyed the most were the parts driven by a passion he couldn’t quite get out of his head. He strongly believes that people who are willing to give something a try are usually rewarded with success, even if it takes a while or your success comes from the second or third tries after a failure. 

But ultimately, he thinks a key part of success is having fun with it, whatever you end up doing. 

“If nothing else, you spend most of your hours working,” said Angelucci. “It's going to be much more interesting potentially than whatever you're doing otherwise. So go for it. Worst case scenario, there's always another job waiting in the wings, especially for somebody who's got that sort of gut and that moxie, that ambition.”

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