Every successful business has their own secret. We asked the owners of seven small businesses to share their tips and the biggest lesson they have learned since starting up.

SPRAYTANHUSET

Two retail shops in Oslo and Bergen and a webshop that sells spraytan and self-tanning products. We talked to Natalie Müller and Janne Hegna, the owners of Spraytanhuset.

Natalie and Janne from Spraytanhuset

What is the secret of your success or best business decision you made?
There are a few things that were central to making the business a success. Spraytanhuset opened at a time when there were very few healthy, professional alternatives to sunbathing and tanning.
We’re passionate about spreading the message on the dangers of solarium use and “shock sunbathing”, and really want to provide a healthy alternative.
After years of using spraytan ourselves, we had a good knowledge of the products and the different brands, so we were able to choose quality brands that give good results. We were lucky enough to get distribution agreements for the three top brands.
When we started we had limited money so as the owners, we had to do most things ourselves. It was really useful that between the two of us we had skills and experience in areas such as marketing, concept development, sales, finance, HR, web design, graphic design and SEO.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned or what advice would you give someone starting up?
Building a business is hard work – long hours, frustration, uncertainty, lack of sleep. It can be challenging to stay motivated during slow periods. The important thing is to know that this is part of the journey and don’t allow yourself to be put off.

Try also to be open to ideas and suggestions from other people. Often, friends, family or other business owners have ideas or suggestions that you may not have thought of yourself. Having a business partner you can discuss ideas with has, in our case, been a great help.

Read the full interview with Spraytanhuset

 

OPE

Ope AS was started by two Norwegian furniture designers, Lars Urheim and Eirik Høvik Helgesen, whose vision was to reshape the furniture industry to create more ”living”, sustainable homes. They have a retail store and a webshop. Lars has this to say about their secret of success.

What is the secret of your success or best business decision you made?
The secret of success is to relentlessly spread the word about your unique offer. My best business decision was to enter the market with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) before everything was 100% perfect. Of course, in the years since we started we’ve learnt a lot, which has let us greatly refine and improve the quality of our products!

Lars Urheim and Eirik Høvik Helgesen

Biggest lesson learned or what advice would you give someone starting up?
Not to give in when times are hard. Everything moves in waves, and many entrepreneurs give up just as the market is becoming aware of their existence.

Read the full interview with Lars Urheim

 

JÆGER OG HUND

Jæger og Hund has successfully grown from a specialty business in 1982 into a thriving e-commerce business today. They have a retail store and a webshop. We talked to the owner, Per Magnus Pedersen.

Per Magnus Pedersen from Jæger og Hund

What is the secret of your success or best business decision you made?
Common sense suggests it would not really be possible to run a shop where we live, deep in the woods. But hard work, a long and well-established customer base and the right products help! And then it’s important to use the channels that are available. The old saying “location, location, location” isn’t so relevant, at least not in physical sense. A good online solution along with good integration options makes it possible to sell to customers from anywhere.

What is the biggest lesson learned or what advice would you give someone starting up?
It may sound old-fashioned, but you have to be willing to put in many, many hours of work to achieve what you dream about. And then I think it’s important to build brick by brick. Risk tolerance is good, but if the foundation is weak, you won’t create a lasting business.

Read the full interview with Per Magnus Pedersen

 

LØTEN RC-SHOP

Løten RC-Shop started from the passion of radio controlled product enthusiasts. With a retail store and a webshop they are selling leading brands of drones and other radio controlled products across Norway. We talked to the founder, Geir Brubakken.

What is the secret of your success or the best business decision you made?
Our success is built on following some simple retail rules; have parts in stock for the products we sell; have our stores and sales channels available when customers are free from work; fast and correct deliveries; and provide high service levels to customers.

Biggest lesson learned or what advice would you give someone starting up?
Things that seem too good to be true usually are. My best advice to anyone who wants to start in the industry is to really examine the market before starting. You should also have good backing from family, friends and not least a good bank.

Read the full interview with Geir Brubakken

 

CORKINI

A visit to Portugal in the ‘80s introduced Ragnhild Strandbakken to the versatility of cork, known to most of us as stoppers for wine bottles or as an insulator. Today Ragnhild runs an online store, Corkini, from Lillestrøm in Norway.

Ragnhild Strandbakken from Corkini

What is the secret of your success or best business decision you made?
I run the business myself, including importing the products, selling them online and doing the accounting. There’s a lot to do and because I don’t know anything about computer programming, I decided early on to use reliable, easy systems for my online store and accounting, to make this part of my business as easy as possible. That’s why I chose Shopify and Fiken.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned or advice would you give someone starting up?
Well, I’ve only recently started, so maybe I’m not the best person to give advice! But I strongly believe you need to burn for what you do and love whatever you sell, whether it is a service or a product.

Read the full interview with Ragnhild Strandbakken

 

GARNKURVEN

We meet Hanne Solhaug, owner of Norwegian e-commerce company Garnkurven (”The Knitting Basket”). They sell yarn, needles and accessories for knitting and croche.

What is the secret of your success or best business decision you made?
Last year I rented warehouse space and moved everything out of my house. That gave me more space, and the possibility to increase my stock. That lead to increased sales, so it was a good decision even if it was a bit scary at first.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned or what advice would you give someone starting up?
Treat your business as a real business even if you start out small. Having good routines from the start makes it easier to grow. Also, there are lots of resources out there, you don’t have to invent the wheel all over again or do everything yourself.

Read the full interview with Hanne Solhaug

 

NETTSPORT

Nettsport sells equipment for shooting sports, including air guns and camouflage equipment from their retail store and webshop. We talked to Espen Haaland, the founder of Nettsport.

What is the secret of your success or the best business decision you made?
The products we launched with proved very popular in the market. This was mostly based on our own experience. Having been involved with this as a hobby, we had a good idea of what the sport shooting community wanted. We also quickly established good contacts with leading producers in the industry.

Biggest lesson learned or what advice would you give someone starting up?
Do not count on making a profit in the beginning. Remember that VAT will have to be paid eventually. Use applications that help you save time. A good applications can quickly save you a year worth of work.

Also, watch your bottom line closely. And lastly, never give up, even if you get turned down by some people.

Read the full interview with Espen Haaland

 

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