Five things I learned while setting up my stationery business

Beautifully made products always make their mark, and even within our tech savvy times we like the tangible, tactile feel of nice stationery. Entrepreneur Kristina Karlsson set up her stationery company after deciding one night, in the middle of the night, that she wanted to start her own business. Here she offers advice for those who want to follow in her footsteps:


1. Have a clear vision

I know this seems silly to state, but it’s a necessary step. You need to have something that is written down, a mission statement, a business plan or just your idea. I started my company because I woke up in the middle of the night around 3.a.m, stressed because I didn’t know what I was doing with my life and career. My partner told me to write down what I wanted, so I did.

I wrote that I wanted to ‘drive to work every day, be excited about work, have a business of my own, work with Swedish design and make $5,000 a week – that final part of my vision took the longest 🙂

Now, I make 3.a.m style notepads for people who get ideas in the middle of the night, so they can remember it in the morning.


2. Be open to learning

Having the idea is the first step, but starting a new business is not easy, there are the not-so-fun bits of admin to contend with and the lessons you learn along the way. I try to learn from every mistake and use them as a chance to make better store practices, for example, I noticed that as we expanded our stores were being left differently at night and people couldn’t find things. So I thought it would be a great idea to have a check list in each store so that we could all close up the same way, making it easier for whoever was opening up the next morning.

3. Plan for scale

We now have over 80 shops across Australia, New Zealand and Asia, plus our new London store. My advice as you scale is to plan ahead to reduce mistakes, so read key business books and call your mentors. I have a lot of great friends who run their own businesses and I consult them before any big decisions, they often have useful tips or contacts in the area where I’m expanding to. Also culture is important, look at the culture of the country you are expanding into and be respectful of that.


4. Never take no for an answer 

This is actually written out on the wall in my office, I have a sign that says ‘ Don’t say no, say how’. It’s a motto for how I do business but also for how I am as a person in real life too. In the early days of our first Sydney store we had a huge delivery of stationery planned for our opening day over the weekend, and then we got a call from the courier to say he couldn’t deliver the goods in time. So I called them before they closed and took his mobile number and said we had to have the stock, and we got it all in time for the opening.


5. Keep setting new goals

It’s very exciting to achieve your first set of goals, but it’s important to keep setting new targets for yourself and keep growing in your business. When you do something you are passionate about, it will help to keep you motivated on stressful days, and on good days your passion will help you think about the next steps for your business. We now run goal workshops in store and habit workshops are new for 2016, so you can form new, positive habits that will power you through to the next steps in life and business.

LIKE THIS? Read up on how Desmond and Dempsey set up their sleepwear business here.

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