Helle Priess

Founder of Doerscircle.com

Helle Priess, Founder and CEO of Doerscircle.com, is a Danish born entrepreneur who has lived more than half of her life in Asia. Having successfully built new business units and entities, and launched and grown new markets throughout Asia, for large corporate companies during the first half of her career, she decided to venture on her own in 2009.
Since then, she’s been part of establishing, growing, and exiting several start-ups and early- stage business. Also, she’s been advising and sitting on the board of a number of companies – from early stage and privately-owned companies that have grown into global leading companies, to non-for profit and goodwill organisations, and dominant stock listed companies. Helle describes herself as a “Doer and Entrepreneur by Heart”. She loves solving problems, making a positive impact, and turning ideas into solid businesses that make a true difference. Helle is also the mother of a 4-year old daughter, who’s been part of the business journey since she was born; and then she’s a firm believer in staying sharp and agile in business by staying in good physical and mental shape.

Where did the idea for Doerscircle.com come from?

It really arose from my own observations and pain points. When I ventured on my own in 2009, I realised how much more difficult, and expensive, everything was as an individual, compared to being part of a large corporate. There were so many things that I needed to get going and deal with, things that weren’t related to my core business, and certainly not the reason why I started my own business. But just ‘underlying’ things that needed to be in place and be maintained to operate a solid, sound, and sustainable business. The first thing that really bugged me was insurance.
When I reached out to my insurance company, that had been insuring me for 10 years at that point of time, I was rejected. In the first place, they didn’t even want to look at moving my insurances to my own account. After several rounds of negotiation, I got an offer back that was times 5 on price, but with significantly less favourable coverage. In the beginning, I didn’t even believe this to be true, but I realised that it unfortunately was. At that point of time, I spent a month searching the market for a better alternative. I spoke to insurance companies, brokers, and any other person that I knew would have knowledge, insight, or contacts to help me. But the offer from my existing insurance provider ended up being the best one. That really bothered me. And this is just one example. I was also, in the first place, turned down for renewal of my credit card by my bank, and instead offered a debit card, which at that point of time couldn’t be used outside of Hong Kong, where I lived, and also not online. Say, as an entrepreneur and Independent Doer operating globally, it naturally didn’t serve my needs. I also noticed that something as simple as standard software plans could be up to 10-15 times more expensive for an individual compared to the prices I used to pay in a corporate setting. That all didn’t make sense to me. And it frustrated me. These experiences, compared with more and more people becoming self-employed and independent, led me to finally start Doerscircle. As I didn’t see anyone else taking a holistic approach to solving the problems of this ever-growing group of people, that I was and am part of myself. So, I thought I better do it. And that was how it all started.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My days vary quite a bit. But they’re structured. I wake up at 6am and prioritise to have quality time with the family. That means that we always have breakfast together and talk about the day. Also, we’ve got time to play with our daughter, which brings good energy and mood. And yes, with a 4-year-old we can obviously have a challenging morning from time to time too. But I find that prioritising quality time during the mornings gives all of us the best start of the day. On the days where I send my daughter to school, I leave with her at around 8:15am and then I usually either walk the 30 minutes back from the school – listening to a podcast, a book, or having the first calls of the day while walking; or I go for a 5-6K run straight from the school. Then I’ll usually be in the office at around 9:30am. On the days where my husband sends her to school, I’m at the office at around 8:15am. My days are usually booked with quite a lot of meetings – internally and externally. However, I also block out time for follow up. The more I manage to structure my day and my activities, the more productive I am. Also, I prioritise to move! Say, when I have calls that do not require me to sit in front of the screen, I’ll usually go for a walk while talking. This simply gives me good and new energy, which again makes me more productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I simply try it out. That’s the very short answer. However, having said this, we naturally think things through and make plans. However, I’m also a firm believer, especially in early-stage business, of trying things out. And to quickly move on if a new initiative is not working.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Well, it’s not really a trend. It’s more a shift in economy. But I’m very excited about how the hybrid way of working and living is unfolding at the moment and how it’s been further accelerated by Covid. We’re seeing a very significant shift in the way we work and live, which is setting a whole new standard for the workplace. It requires corporates to re-think their operation models, how they attract and retain talent and secure a much better integration of a new blended workforce; and it’s allowing individuals to create new career paths and discover new ways of living. I find this super exciting and that’s exactly the shift that we’re here to enable with Doerscircle.

We’re here to enable and empower the new hybrid workforce by catering to, allowing for, and supporting new ways of working and living; at the same time as we create a bridge for corporates to better leverage the new way of working, driving efficiency, productivity, and easier workforce management for them too.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I always plan the next week on Sunday evening. That gives me clarity and ups my efficiency and productivity. That doesn’t mean that there cannot be changes. There’re always changes. Especially when you run a start-up or an early-stage business. Therefore, the last thing I do every day is also to revisit the next day’s schedule. The more structure I can bring to my days, the higher the productivity. And, if I could mention a second one, which also ties into planning, as it needs to be planned, then it’s physical exercise. It’s super important for me to stay in good physical and mental shape, in order to stay sharp and agile in business.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Just do it! Don’t think so much about what other people think or what other people expect you to do. Trust your own intuition and pursue your vision.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Lots of people look at entrepreneurship as a race, something you need to hustle and be “always-on” in order to make it, but doing so comes with a cost. No amount of success is worth your physical or emotional health, and it’s completely fine to prioritize exercise, good food and enough rest so you can always operate at 100%.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Building and insisting on a positive culture, which I believe is the foundation for sustainable and high performing teams. And then obviously plan, structure, and follow through on execution.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Having spent so much of my life in Asia, I’ve taken the time to develop a strong personal network of contacts in this part of the world. So, there’s always a person I can rely on when I’m facing an obstacle, or need help and advice to get something done for my business.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I’ve had many failures. Small and big. And depending on how we define failure. For me, the important thing is to not see failure as the end, but as a great opportunity to learn. Always reflect on failure, take whatever you can take from it, and then get back on your feet and move on. I’ve never come across an entrepreneur or a founder who’s not experienced failure. And the ones who would claim that they haven’t are probably not speaking 100% the truth. The important thing is to fail as fast as possible, to correct as fast as possible.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One thing I believe is that each of us have a skill that we can offer, something that you’re particularly good at that someone else might be willing to pay for. It’s never been easier to start freelancing, so take a little time to figure out what you’re good at and then offer it as a service to the people in your network. It might be help on social media posts, designing brochures, writing blog articles, or even taking pictures. Side hustles are more popular than ever, you simply need to get started.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

That’s a good question. But I’ll have to say that every time we go out as a team – to either celebrate a small or big win, or just to catch up in a different setting, it’s well spent. That adds to building the positive culture that I spoke about before. Last Monday, for example, we all met at a combined café and co-working, co-creating space for breakfast to celebrate the past week’s results and for our Monday kick off meeting. And yes, that was probably a bit more than €100, but it was well spent. Ohh… otherwise, and on a very unserious note, I’ll probably have to say my new Doerscircle brand colour neon yellow sneaks. They’ve gotten me so much positive attention – at business fairs, in meetings and even on our social media posts. So those €100 were definitely well spent too. And has for sure justified them as a new pair of sneaks in a collection that accounts too many sneaks already. Hahah.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

For our platform development we use Trello as the planning tool between our tech development team and the business team. That’s a super simple but highly efficient tool where everyone can add new cards and tasks, and everyone can see the development and priorities. We then jointly revisit it every Monday morning to secure full alignment. That works super well.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

That’s a difficult one. There’re many. But most recently, I read “Think like a monk” by Jay Shetty and I’ll for sure recommend that one. It gives an insight on the lessons he learned living as a monk, and about finding meaning, purpose and joy in your life. But what I particularly liked was how each idea was broken down into smaller teachings that are easy to start doing, each and every day.

What is your favorite quote?

“The important thing is to never stop questioning”, Albert Einstein

Key Learnings:

  • Think fast and act faster, but be ready to adapt as the situation you’re facing develops.
  • Reflect on your mistakes as opportunities to learn, improve, and get yourself back on track as fast as possible.
  • Look after yourself, and make sure you’re getting regular physical exercise, so that you stay sharp and agile in business.