Our founder Jules divulges how we’re working to overcome challenges as a start-up business in the midst of a global pandemic.
What would your advice be for entrepreneurs right now?
1. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best
As soon as COVID-19 broke out in February, I sat down with our COO and Head of Finance and together we built a contingency plan following a variation of scenarios. At the time, we had no idea of the magnitude of the lockdown, but one of the scenarios we considered early on accounted for the shutdown of all physical retailers—which of course was then realised. It’s also helpful to understand what government help is available.
2. Focus on sustainability rather than top line growth
For the majority of us, this isn’t a time for growth—it's a time for survival. Many small businesses like ours may not survive the next 12 months. All marketing initiatives should be focused on high ROI activities. You need to make sure every dollar is making you a dollar. At this stage, we have no idea of the economic hit we are all going to have to endure, so regardless of your cash position, you should be focused on controlling your cash. For us, we do this by increasing our retention, better servicing the customers, and not overspending on any activity which will not materialise into revenue.
3. Look after your team
Culture initiatives like workout classes, quizzes and daily meetings with the camera on! It’s good for human connection. Create an environment where people feel comfortable to be open about their mental health or struggles. This is a testing time for everyone; we will all have our down days. Normalise them. A healthy team produces better, more meaningful work.
What tools do you think are most important to allow small businesses to survive or thrive during this?
Slack is great for keeping in touch throughout the day, Zoom (camera on!) for team meetings and Databox is a great platform designed to create dashboards. This way, we are able to monitor everything including daily traffic to the site, transactions per channel, our conversion rate and marketing spend ROI. These are all metrics we track daily either way, but something I motivate everyone to do during these unpredictable times.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in launching The Nue Co.?
Retaining clarity of thought. The bigger you get, the more capital you raise, and the more opinions you have to welcome into your thought process. It’s important to have a vision, and see it through. I’m not saying you need to be close-minded—after all, I’ve always raised capital to strengthen my team and further my knowledge—however, you need to have conviction and confidence in your decisions.
What has remote working taught you?
Routine is necessary and communication is key. It is also possible to apply a hard stop at 7pm. I’ve definitely been late on some deadlines, but it’s not a life or death situation. Prior to the lockdown, I often worked in the office until 8pm, then continued to work from bed until midnight. I was starting to develop migraines simply due to the hours I was working.
How do you stay focused while working at home?
I have my first cup of coffee in the morning (an oat milk cappuccino) with 2x capsules of NOOTRO-FOCUS, a supplement designed to heighten mental clarity and sharpen your focus with both immediate and long-term results. I’m at my desk for 8/8.30am. After catching up with emails, I’m ready to dial in with the team for our 9am kick-off meeting, which we’ve held every day since working remotely. It’s a great way to be able to say hi to the team, and keep myself and everyone on a standard schedule.
What motivates you?
Creating something new; I love innovation, whether its a brand campaign or working on a new formulation. I love that I’m in the business of making people feel better—it’s so rewarding. Of course, my team and my investors too. I love watching people grow with the company. I love that they make me a better leader in the process.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business?
The biggest challenge has been managing our supply chain. With most of our packaging coming from Italy (they produce the best quality pharmaceutical-grade glass we could find!), we’ve had to find ways to simplify our supply chain.
This, of course, is only a good thing. It forces us to think more locally, which is a more sustainable way to manage your operations.
What technology are you finding the most useful, professionally and personally?
One of my go-to apps is Keynote. The presentation is really clear, simple and you can customize the layout—I use it a lot when I draft my pitches. I also use Google Calendar, Slack for all company communications, and Monday for our team to organize, track, and manage tasks. The Reminders app is also helpful for anything on my to-do list.
At the moment, I’m using Petolon for at-home workouts and Headspace for meditation before I start the day.
Do you have a motto that you apply to business?
Do what makes you happy! In the past three years, I’ve learnt first-hand of the sacrifices that most entrepreneurs make. They are rarely talked about since we’re privileged in so many ways, but almost every entrepreneur I know becomes isolated to some degree. Putting every shred of energy and effort into your business often means that you have very little left for your friends, family and yourself. The highs are so high but the lows are so low that you have to truly love what you are doing in order to get through.