Last year we featured Aimee Marks, Founder and Managing Director of The Tom Co. as part of our #LeadingLadies series, where she discussed the motivations behind starting an organic tampon company and driving business growth. Today we ask Aimee to share her top tips for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
1) Tap into your gut instinct, this is critical in business
When we first went after the major supermarkets to stock TOM Organic products, I had a lot people telling me it was a bad idea, that mass grocery is not the ideal environment for a purpose-led business. While there were many occasions where the advice of others had been invaluable, this was a path I really believed was right.
I stuck to my gut instinct and continued to push for Coles and Woolworths to take our products, even though it was years until we were eventually accepted. When the odds were stacked against us we persevered, as we knew this was the way to impact the most women. TOM would not be in as many households as it is today if we hadn’t.
2) Be selective about the types of people you want to work with every day
Two years ago I was hiring for a major role and found someone perfect. However, she had her own business she wanted to launch and I was worried it would impact her commitment to TOM. Nonetheless I backed my gut instinct and made the hire. In the process I lost a potential investor who didn’t believe the hire was right, but it ended up being the best decision as this employee helped transform TOM into the business it is today.
My key tips for surrounding yourself with the right people are to never hire when you’re desperate, to treat soft skills as equally important as functional expertise, and to focus on candidate motivations and values.
3) Mentors are one of the most important resources you can have
In the early days I had three mentors, many of them introduced through family connections. My mum was hugely influential in this. I think that most people look at being a mentor as a real privilege, so it’s worth asking. For all the people I approached, I never got knocked back. Even if you do get turned down, reset your intentions and try again.
It’s important to be clear on what you’re needing support on and the time commitment you’re asking for. I really leaned on my mentors for their life experiences, networks and contacts and made sure I showed my appreciation every step of the way.
4) Be passionate and never give up
The times that you are at your busiest or under the most pressure is when you should double down on self-care and belief. When I’m feeling the pressure and giving up starts to look appealing, I tap into my support network to remind me of why I do what I do and to lift me up again. Mindfulness is also key for me in ensuring I bring my best and most grounded self to each situation.
Connect with Aimee Marks.
Read Aimee’s #LeadingLadies article.
Find out more about TOM.