After 12 years of teaching I gave my career away to follow my dream of making a successful business out of being an artist. I started with a small pool of savings and set up in the basement of my house, designing a range of copper candlesticks that went into production.
I know most businesses today take at least two years to mature. The fact that I gave myself six months was terribly naïve, but maybe one needs to be naïve and crazy to make their dreams a reality. Having said that, I knew I had a business that was working then, but I didn’t know whether the business would be working in a year’s time or 10 years’ time. I was never confident of that and I think you should never be confident. If you get confident, you change and become arrogant. You have to keep proving yourself over and over again.
One of the biggest challenges with my company was creating brand awareness on a global scale while working with a limited budget. The key was networking with others and never underestimating the power of word-of-mouth referrals when customers share their journey with others.
Here are my five key tips for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to launch their brand internationally:
The key to success in retail is largely about the product and ensuring it appeals to the target market in terms of design, functionality and quality. It’s important to pay attention to detail and ensure the product is design-led and can stand alone in its own right. Customers should “see” and “experience” the brand clearly.
Route to market
From the beginning, it’s crucial to clearly define your route to market – which channel do you want your product to be exposed to? Will it be through an independent store, a range of stockists, large department stores or eCommerce? Each channel has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential you understand each one completely before selecting one over the other or selecting multiple channel options.
Once the product has appropriate distribution or presence in the market, it’s critical to share the story and passion for design to add personality to the brand. Don’t be shy to talk about your inspiration, design process and what your company does, while still remaining humble and thankful that your products are accepted by the market. Align yourself with people and companies that support your ethos and vision.
When setting up a company in a new territory, make sure the stock is warehoused appropriately and that all orders are going to be delivered in the most efficient, cost-effective manner. The key is identifying a suitable and sustainable supply chain partner.
At the heart of any business is the people. The most important element is the strength of the relationship that exists between all stakeholders, including the relationship with clients and customers. Ensure that there is an effective sales team who support the exposure of your brand and products to the marketplace in a passionate, disciplined manner. Local knowledge is vital and assists in the development of the company.