Founder and CEO of personal fashion-sizing platform EyeFitU, Isabelle Ohnemus spent over 10 years as an international broker before deciding to change the direction of her career. EyeFitU was born out of Isabelle’s love for fashion and a growing awareness of the lack of standardisation in sizing across brands in the fashion industry (and its repercussions). She chose to start her own company to offer a solution.
Whilst entrepreneurship is not at all a new concept, there has been a noticeable boom in recent years. The term “startup” is most commonly used to describe promising new small businesses fuelled with ambition, unique concepts and the desire to scale up. As members of the digital age we can relish in a new level of accessibility: affordable advanced tech and funding streams allow those who want to put innovative and disruptive ideas into practice, and make money from it.
But with innovation and disruption comes fierce competition. Earlier this year, the Financial Times reported on a survey conducted by the Centre for Entrepreneurs that found that the number of startups is still increasing in the UK. However, as described by an Aston university professor Mark Hart, “despite record levels of business start-ups, the majority of our businesses do not grow.”
It is no secret amongst the startup crowd that setting up your own business is a tough route; a fact that isn’t deterring entrepreneurs from pursuing their ideas, suggesting growing levels of aspiration and confidence among these business leaders. As the founder of an international startup, here are a few key ways in which you can grow your startup into the global game changer you dreamed it would be.
When first setting up a business, it is usually the role of one individual to take care of everything that goes with the set-up: from building a website, to sourcing office space, to investing in appropriate and necessary tech. With little or no stream of income in the beginning, the management of all of this can seem overwhelming and choices have to be made wisely.
As Caroline Bullock, a BBC News Technology reporter, points out; “Going it alone is certainly a lot cheaper than it used to be...DIY website providers such as Wix, Weebly and SquareSpace, help the technical novice with design templates and SEO support.”
The advantage of today’s startup boom is that there are many platforms and networks dedicated to supporting new small businesses: shared workplaces, affordable website building tools and even clever use of social media can give your business the initial kickstart that it needs without breaking the bank. What’s more, using these DIY platforms means that if any changes need to be made they can be done personally and in real-time.
Surround yourself with the right team
Carefully source those vital team members to help you grow from a promising startup to a globally recognised company. A big bonus of running a new company is having the freedom to build your own fresh and passionate team. Rather getting caught up in the often stifling ways of an already established firm, empower a team with democracy and flexibility in the workplace, nurturing and encouraging the dedicated talent you’ve acquired.
As noted on Fortune by Sophie Wade, the CEO of Flexcel Network: “Empowered entrepreneurs can adapt and execute fast, expanding nimbly at co-working spaces and benefiting from the increasing pool of flexible talent.”
The benefits of adopting a modern-day approach to recruiting and looking after staff will certainly pay off. Taking chances with a strong mix of experience, digitally-minded and innovative personalities, across generations, will only add value and propel your business.
Do not underestimate the power of knowledge. Staying abreast of industry news, stories and competitors in your field isn’t optional: it’s absolutely necessary. Education can be varied and exciting; from maintaining a habit of reading the morning news over breakfast to attending international events. Leaving your office, or even country, to meet like-minded peers who specialise in the same or similar fields is just as important as reading a white paper at your desk. Consume, pursue and remain curious in order to thrive and drive forward.
Let’s face it, the main reason for setting up a business is to achieve high revenue and profitability, and in order to do that your concept must have longevity, within an area that is in need of a solution. Ask your yourself, is the problem you’re aiming to solve a) ongoing and b) global?
Equally, your solution must be fluid enough to adapt to changes with the problem itself. I established EyeFitU because of my acute awareness and ongoing personal issue with clothes sizing across brands and online stores internationally. I wanted to tackle a global issue that was clearly not just affecting consumers, but retailers too, and I could see there was a clear route for my ground-breaking platform to really make a difference.
Not forgetting the competition! You must have a unique selling point (USP) that sets you apart from others and that drives you forward where others will stumble.
It has been found that under 20% of small businesses take part in international trade, as stated on SME Web; “One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses can make is behaving like a small business.”
Undeniably, startups are perceived as being risky, but with the right direction and education, risk can pay off. Be ground-breaking, educated and ambitious and your business will be on the best track to becoming an international gamechanger.