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Facebook VP Nicola Mendelsohn and Chrissie Rucker OBE of The White Company share the business tips they learned along the way
“One of my favorite times to be at the helm of Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Facebook is meeting amazing women who use our platforms to create and grow their businesses”, explains Nichola Mendelsohn. to come. âMy grandmother ran a haberdashery business and my mom still runs a catering business, so from an early age I understood that it takes real skills, motivation and support for women to women entrepreneurs are successful. I have also seen that being a female founder can be incredibly rewarding, not only for people who start businesses, but also for their families, employees and communities.
The government’s Rose Review last year was an important reminder that more needs to be done to create a level playing field for male and female entrepreneurs. He revealed that only a third of entrepreneurs are women, creating huge untapped potential for the UK – Â£ 250 billion in fact! The leveling up of the rules of the game was the very reason we created Facebook’s #SheMeansBusiness program in 2016, to help women entrepreneurs come together, share tips and make connections to pursue their ideas. commercial. So far we have trained 30,000 women in the UK and we are committed to doubling that number over the next two years. Globally, we have trained 500,000 women in 48 countries since 2016.
Our new book, Make it work; Lessons from corporate life was created as part of the program, so that we can educate women who are already leading the way and inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs to consider a career in business. This book shows that there really isn’t just one way to do business and I hope women read and be inspired by it!
“See failure as something to build on”, says Chrissie Rucker of The White Company
Founding The White Company in 1994 as a mail order business with a mission to sell all white, stylish, high quality housewares at affordable prices, Chrissie Rucker’s business has become a household name. And she didn’t stop there – after the birth of her first son, she started The Little White Company in 1997, selling baby and children’s clothing as well as nursery furniture. Then, in 2003, she also launched a collection of women’s clothing. The White Company now has over 60 outlets in the UK, Ireland and the US and Chrissie is involved in many women’s charities and business initiatives. Alongside her husband Nick Wheeler, she received an OBE in 2018 for business services and was also named Private Businesswoman of the Year by PWC in association with HSBC.
Chrissie’s tips for going it alone:
1. Do a “normal” job first. âI left school at 16 with only O levels (the equivalent of GCSEs in my generation) and went to fashion college where I studied sewing. My first job was as a receptionist at the media company CondÃ©Nast (home to magazine brands like Vogue, GQ and Glamor), after which I rose through the ranks of journalism, learning how to plan and organize a shoot, how to write. texts, and watch how the art department designed the pages. I would really recommend to anyone who is just starting out that the time spent working in a job is really valuable before starting their own business. You gain so much experience that I think helped me get started in business faster.
2. Become friends with your bank manager. âI had a lot of challenges in the beginning: getting to grips with the technology, having enough space to store inventory, and learning to try and keep track of finances – I was bad at math! My first real challenge was when I ran out of money. But two things helped me tremendously at the time. First of all, I entered a small business competition and won it, and got Â£ 5,000. Second, I got organized enough to go see my bank manager, who was very supportive and granted me my first loan.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. âA lot of things went wrong in the first year and I learned a lot of things very quickly about how not to do things; finding someone to help me financially was so important. One key thing I learned on my trip is not to be afraid to ask for help. You will often be surprised at how generous others are with their time and advice, and it can make a huge difference to your business.
4. Know your brand’s DNA. âThe world of retail is a crowded market, so it’s essential to be very clear about what your brand is – and what it isn’t. It can sometimes be very difficult to keep your brand on track, and sometimes you have to make decisions that can seem like crazy from a business standpoint. For example, we’ve had times where we’ve sold a blouse in white and blue and sometimes blue sells for more than white, so our sales teams will want to sell more blue and add more color to the different lines. This is when you have to be strong and put the brand before the sale. You have to think âwe are known and loved for white, not blueâ.
5. Failure is essential. âWhat has helped me stay true to my vision is that we are constantly testing and learning, and I see failure as something to learn from and build on – and that can help you. help make bold choices. As a kid I competed and my teacher taught me that to compete you have to train incredibly hard and falling is just a big part of getting there. When I fell it was always ‘get back up and let’s try again’. I think it gave me great resilience and I learned that if the first attempt didn’t work, try another way.