Sound finances and legalities are essentials for every business, at any stage. However for many startups struggling to get off the ground, good legal advice is often out of budget. I spoke to Elle Hosie the founder of Elletrepreneur, who specialises in working with start-ups.
How did you start Elletrepreneur?
I started doing some freelance work for word-of-mouth clients and realised quite quickly that there was a real opportunity to provide my services to startups. To make it cost efficient, I would need to streamline the service by offering as much as possible for as little aa possible. That’s where I started to look to Technology and grew from there.
Had you had any business experience before this?
Working at a law firm with lots of startup clients meant I had some business experience and an understanding of the startup world, but it was very different.
How big is your team at the moment?
Not big at all! I just have a small team at the moment – we grew quite quickly at the end of 2016 and so this year has been about getting that right.
How do you promote and PR your business?
Legal services are quite difficult to promote without coming across as really samey or salesy, so we have tried to let it grow really organically. Trust is central to the services we provide so the best PR we have found is word of mouth recommendations. I also love writing blog content to simplify some legal issues.
What are the challenges with running a company like Elletrepreneur?
I find the constant decision making can be quite challenging, every decision lands with you! It can be hard to delegate at first, especially when you have a really clear vision for your business and you’ve initially started on your own. I’ve also always felt quite awkward being the ‘face’ of the business – I love meeting people and talking about it but cringe a bit when it comes to self-promotion!
And what are the rewards?
Well both of my main challenges are directly linked to the rewards – knowing that your decisions have built something is incredibly rewarding and when you get acknowledged as a founder or for providing a great service, there is no better feeling. We recently got named as one of the ‘Best Resources for Startups 2017’ which was totally out of the blue and a huge compliment.
What future plans do you have for expanding your vision?
We are very focused on being as efficient as possible and speaking to our audience in a language that is meaningful to them – we want to be the leading online platform for startups for protecting and building their businesses.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I work best early in the morning and later on in the day. I read that you should ‘eat the frog’ – do the thing you least want to do first in the day, if that’s sending a complex email or reviewing something. Once that’s out of the way, I try and mix up my tasks between strategic work and the day-to-day stuff. It’s a cliché but no two days are the same, which is one of the best things about running your own business.
Why did you initially get into law?
I told my mentor I wanted to be a CEO/ run a business and she told me to get a skill under my belt like accountancy or law first – I am useless with numbers and thought law sounded a lot more interesting!
What’s been your biggest achievement in life thus far?
Either starting my business or cycling 1000 miles across France with a best friend, a tent and two (in hindsight) really crap bikes.
And biggest failure?
God there are so many! My original plan was to launch a peanut butter brand and it’s become a legal tech business, so that’s a pretty epic fail depending how you look at it.
What do you think the advantages and setbacks are for a female founder in the startup space?
I have always found being underestimated as a female founder can massively work to your advantage. I think the setbacks to female founders usually come from within and start with self-doubt, but I do think my male founder friends have been much more successful at raising investment… Regardless of how much dialogue there is at the moment about getting more women on board and investing in female-lead companies, it doesn’t seem like investors are really ready to put their money where the conversation is. Or maybe it’s about the female founders not seeking investment and having the confidence to make others believe in their business. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Don’t do the ‘work around the work’. Perfectionism or focusing on getting it right first time is something that will totally hold you back as a founder, follow the ‘lean startup’ mentality that you should be embarrassed about your first version/ collection/ launch when you look back (or even at the time). Jump in and work on refining it later when you have customers, feedback and data.
Did you have a mentor or people you asked for advice?
I did have mentors but they were initially all from professional backgrounds with successful careers but none of them had any idea about starting a business and were quite ‘risk-averse’ – I had to really look for mentors with their own businesses, but now I have found my ‘tribe’ and have peers and mentors with whom I share great advice.
Who are your role models?
My mother is a personal role model for me, though our careers, personalities and priorities are very different! I also really admire Natalie Massenet (founder of Net a Porter) and I love Tony Robbins.
How has what you do, changed you as a person?
I am much more resilient and have more confidence that I can do things I put my mind to. Law has made me very detail oriented whilst running a business helps me to look at the bigger picture, a difficult balance to strike sometimes…
How do you like to take time out for yourself and stay healthy and active?
I try to drag myself to an early morning HIIT class, reformer pilates or a swim/ walk. I also love a little painting and DIY projects – I’m currently working on up-cycling furniture using Annie Sloan paints. I find painting so relaxing and great for thinking.
What are the top 5 books and blogs on your reading list?
- The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, Sarah Knight – I’m only just reading this but it seems like essential reading
- Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom – it’s hard reading but incredibly relevant to our future.
- Google is like a book to me. I usually want to read about something specific so I Google it and read the first thing that comes up.
- I read the Lifestyle Edit blog by Naomi Mduddu a lot and my favourite blogger is Anna Hart of South Molton Street Style – totally unrelated to my business but as she is also a small-business founder I identify with her straight talking approach.
If you could do any other job, aside from what you do now, what would it be?
Someone who gets paid to go on holiday all the time and review luxury hotels.
Do you have any unconventional words of advice?
Eat the frog! Also, if you are feeling like you have a lot on, I find it helps to see my life in terms of hours not days and tasks and you realise you have a lot more time than you think.
What is your motto?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
If money and time were no object, what would be on your to-do and to-see list?
To see: Taj mahal, Mozambique, Bora bora.
To do: learn gemmology and interior design & set up a school designed for blind children.