Career, Career Advice

Career Tips from Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet

December 28, 2011

Thinking of taking the plunge and starting your own business? Before you ditch your current career plan check out these tips for success from Natalie Massenet as told to Marie Claire. Natalie is a former journalist and the founder of one of our fave fashion sites Net-a-Porter (a luxury shopping site that garnered 42 million unique visitors last year).

Before Natalie morphed into a successful fashion exec there was a long road of convincing to do including getting designer brands to give her clothing on consignment (to sell on her site) and—oh yeah–then convincing investors to contribute $15,000 each to help raise the $1 million she needed to start the business. But the payoff has been huge — the site was recently sold for $532 million–reportedly netting Natalie $76 million.

“Work means independence,” she says. “It allowed me to shape my life on so many levels. I’ve taken an active role in creating the day-to-day life I wanted, by creating the type of place I’d like to work in. It’s given me financial independence. And it’s given me amazing self-confidence to know that there are no gender secrets to success. You have to work hard and be determined, but it’s got nothing to do with being a man or a woman.”

1. KNOW YOUR FIELD: “The important thing is knowing what you’re going to do and being an expert in what you want to do. It can be something very simple, like being an artist doing screen prints on T-shirts. But don’t pick an industry you have nothing to do with, and make sure you have a basic skill set or knowledge.”

2. DEVELOP A VIABLE BUSINESS MODEL: “Start small, do everything beautifully, have the right people around you, and make sure what you do generates money, because you can’t sustain a business that doesn’t make money. It sounds simple, but a lot of people don’t have any idea of how they’re going to make the money.”

3. GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME: “Never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression — with investors, with customers, with PR, and with marketing.”

4. PLAN FOR THE LONG TERM: “When I started, my entire salary went into paying the nanny. But I knew my salary would increase. You are building something, and your business gets bigger. I can invest today and get the return tomorrow.”

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