Today easy access of distribution channels and low entrance costs create excellent opportunities for any talented individual to become an entrepreneur and communicate their business to a large audience. However, the communications landscape is more complex than ever and success demands clear, smart and customized communication to reach the right networks, says this issue’s Young Entrepreneur, Anitha Schulman.
“The combination of strong communication skills and the right network put me on the fast-track to success for my design company, compared to the traditional way of going through years of school for a design and business degree,” Anitha Schulman tells The LINK.
Through years of working within media, Schulman has taken on various roles, building a vast knowledge within communications. She has, among other things, started and developed one of the biggest female podcasts in Sweden, written TV-series for Swedish Channel 3 and is currently running a popular blog and a successful crockery design business.
Good time to take risks
Schulman believes that a successful entrepreneur needs to dare to take risks but must also be aware that when juggling ten balls at the same time, probably only one will end up in the right place.
“Almost everyone has a creative streak, the question is who will choose to take it further,” Schulman tells The LINK.
According to Schulman, the current climate offers excellent entrepreneurial opportunities, due to easy accessible communication and e-commerce technology. One can create a business on the side of one’s full time occupation with a relatively low start-up cost. The possibility to not give up your day job is important, according to Schulman, and a common mistake is to give up your main occupation too soon, something that she herself has avoided throughout her career.
The recipe for success has also a lot to do with how much effort one puts into the business, and capitalising on what you have rather than running after something you don’t. Schulman has kept specializing in communication, for example through starting and developing her popular pod cast.
“Personally, I am a super communicator. During my entrepreneurial efforts I have kept digging where I stand, rather than running somewhere else just for the sake of it”, says Schulman.
Building a brand from scratch
When reaching out to a Danish design company to fulfil her dream of launching her own crockery collection, Schulman met with negative feedback and a tough setback.
“I had had an idea for quite some time to create crockery for everyday use, which was beautiful and expressive in its design, while dishwasher durable,” says Schulman.
Being turned down was a setback, but Schulman decided to take on the challenge herself and to use her vast knowledge in communications to realise her vision.
“The great thing about e-commerce is that you can start it up on the side of your main occupation and scale it up as quick or slow as you want. For me it was very positive that I had already built up a brand for myself,” says Schulman.
Today her crockery company, PAR Anitha Schulman, is not only successful but built on her personal brand, creating positive synergies between both personal and professional brands.
To Schulman, building a brand, whether selling products or creating podcasts, is all about consistency and building trust over time – something that is also true for e-commerce.
“In real life people do not get a crazy idea that explodes overnight, every success is proceeded by hard and extensive work”, says Schulman.
Although Schulman has never done so little marketing as over autumn 2015, her crockery company has never sold better. She believes this success is carried by the long and consistent work, building her brand and customer base.
But there is more to success than good communications, according to Schulman.
“You should never underestimate your customers, they are often more clever than you are”
She thinks that listening to your customers has never been more important than in today’s ever changing business environment, because what is right today might not be right tomorrow. You have to be perceptive and friction sensitive, to shape your communication content and products depending on the customers, she says.
And according to Schulman, people often use social media in the wrong way and don’t customize content for the specific medium or audience targeted.
“Published content must be designed after the specific forum that it is intended for and the audience that is being addressed. This is because everyone comprehends things differently. To optimise communications, the content needs to be specified by the platform, by the medium.”
Network your way to success
Schulman emphasizes how having a large network is helpful, but having the right network can really make or break a business venture.
Being a successful entrepreneur today also means sharing knowledge and helping each other, in order to minimize expensive consultancy fees that can eat up any revenue, according to Schulman.
“Everything is measured in hours, making every delay costly and sometimes seriously detrimental. Today there’s no room to be slow, because in this hyper dynamic business environment you could be out in a second.”
Choosing the right people to work alongside is fundamental, a perfect match in regards to knowledge and vision. A start up, or a small company, has the advantage of starting out from scratch, building the perfect team and can thrive with minimal resources.
“Today it is all about finding an efficient and dynamic way to act within the industry you work in and be ready for change. Everyone runs in the same direction, and it is fast moving”.
According to Schulman, this also means that a company should be able to produce on demand, to avoid being stuck with large amounts of unwanted stock.
“You have to dare being flexible today”
The age of social media
The emergence of social media met great resistance in business contexts, according to Schulman. People around her questioned her professionalism when she at an early stage integrated social media in building her brand. However, the use of social media has shown to be a great way of scaling and shaping information, reaching where other media has struggled.
It’s impossible to neglect the fact that people spend an increasing part of their life on social media. But this also has drawbacks.
“It’s an extremely tough job to reach through the noise in the digital world today”
Today people are born into an already digital world and are thus hard to reach for people outside of this generation.
“I belong to the generation that from an early age had to consciously programme digital into our systems - some people chose to embrace it, while others chose not to. I consider myself having the advantage of being both tech savvy and having a big network, but also the ability to transfer information between the younger and the older crowd.”
According to Schulman the commercial map has been re-drawn, shifting focus towards social media where blogs have replaced what magazines used to be. She doesn’t believe in Facebook in the long run and she says Twitter is almost only used by journalists and opinion shapers.
Although the communications landscape is constantly changing, Schulman is sure that using social media when running your business is not only beneficial but crucial for success, the age of social media is here to stay.