The Female Entrepreneur Whose 5 Success Tips Might Surprise You

4 min read

“I still can’t believe this all started with me and an excel spreadsheet at my (small) dining room table…”

With perfectly styled hair, long lashes and impeccable make-up, it’s no wonder this clever young entrepreneur is behind Hong Kong’s first on-demand beauty service, Sponge.

Most entrepreneurs are familiar with the ridiculously high percentage of small businesses that will fail in the first couple years, Diane Younes (30) a French-born, New York lawyer has created a business which falls into the small subset of success stories.

Diane founded Sponge one year ago when she and her husband moved to Hong Kong for a change of scenery.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Diane when she first started out. And 12 months on, I’m itching to know what life has been like for this highly ambitious beauty queen. I asked Diane for the low down on building and maintaining a successful venture and how to progress from start-up to viable business.

Get your pens out peeps, this advice is worth noting down.

Diane Younes on keeping it real in the start-up space

Sponge is ‘amazing’, ‘a fantastic experience’ and the Sponge experts do ‘some serious magic’. Nothing compares to hearing this kind of feedback we’ve received from clients.

And I still can’t believe this all started with me and an excel spreadsheet at my (small) dining room table. I was one month into moving to the urban jungle that is Hong Kong, and I just went for it. Four months later, Sponge was born. Twelve months on and I’m on the best and most exhilarating roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on.

And the irony in all of this is that I don’t like roller coasters.

female entrepreneur

I love what I do

It all comes down to this. I am beyond excited to work every day, I love what I do, and I consider myself to be very lucky to have created my own job. The latter, really, is what I’m the proudest of and forever will be.

See, everyone tells you how hard it is to launch a startup. And there are countless articles you can read, seminars you can attend and workshops you can sit through to tell you how to build a business. Come up with an idea, segment your target market, set up a business plan, build your minimal viable product, and so on. But there isn’t much guidance out there for when you’ve launched your business, gained traction with your customer base and your business is growing… fast. Because as sad as it is, not everyone gets to that point.

So, now what?

female entrepreneurs
French-born female entrepreneur, Diane Younes

Here is what I’ve learned so far as a female entrepreneur

Don’t get too comfortable. Your business is doing well, so give yourself a pat on the back. But use that momentum to make it even better. 

  1. Build a great team

Build a team that is good at the things you’re bad at, and learn from them. Brainstorm ideas together and sit back in awe as they come up with things you’ve never thought of. That’s when you know you have the right team.

Just like a well-executed jump, growing your business is about timing.

I didn’t start with the team aspect by accident. It is the most important aspect of your business, on par with the quality of the service you provide to clients and client satisfaction. Because, as in life, it’s all about the people you surround yourself with.

Just like a well-executed jump, growing your business is about timing. Knowing when you should do things: when to hire, when to spend more money, when to expand. If you do something too soon, you’ll crash and burn. If you wait too long to do something – you guessed it – you’ll crash and burn.

Michael Jordan had the best basketball slam-dunks of all time – jumping over adversaries, tongue out and slamming the basketball into the net (he even made his jumps into a business logo). Try to become the Michael Jordan of business decisions. Minus the tongue.

  1. Numbers tell the truth

Stay on top of your business’ finances. Know how much money is coming in, and know how much money is going out. These numbers will tell you what to do. They will tell you exactly what aspects to focus on, what aspects to cut back on, and how much money you can spend. Numbers tell you just how healthy your business is. While I’m not into looking at numbers on a weight scale, I live by the numbers on my balance sheet.

  1. Social media is free

Not many things – let alone useful things – in this world are free. Use it to your advantage. Your brand must not only have a presence on social media, but an identity, a personality and a voice. Spend more time developing your brand’s identity, than you do actually using social media for your business.

  1. Stay organised and don’t overload your schedule

Failing to get through your entire to do list is enough to demotivate anyone. Am I the only one who gets a kick out of crossing off items from her to do list?

  1. Make time for yourself

If you’re not doing well, your business won’t do well. Maybe you like to hike, workout, or perhaps paint. I like to lift heavy weights to a killer playlist. Drake, Swedish House Mafia and Kygo do the trick. And I won’t admit to having Justin Bieber on my playlist (ok, I do).

I also take a few moments every morning to step outside and breathe before I start working. Because sometimes we forget to do the simplest things.

Diane x

Are you thinking of launching your own start up? Perhaps you know some kickass female entrepreneurs out there? We’d love to hear all about these exciting new ventures in the comments below.

Sponge details

Instagram: @gosponge

Facebook: @gospongehk


5 secrets to becoming a successful female entrepreneur

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