Follow your instincts. I encourage every person to do something that they need right now, BUT nobody is offering it. I think this is the best way to start your next startup!
Sophie Miles was born and educated as a typical European girl. She studied marketing at the Polytechnic of Torino, and then started working for a company that offered her move to USA. Where she worked as ‘Senior Marketing and Communications Officer’ for 16 years in a well-known bank.
In 2009, she decided to start his own project, which now is a multinational website specialized in the comparison of financial products with the goal of helping people get into the financial world. In that year, she and her colleague decided to return to Europe to shape this crazy idea of a website to compare credits and insurance. In less than 10 years, they fleshed out the concept, wrote a business plan and set it up. Now they are leaders in all Europe and Latin America, selling out their products even to the competitors.
Finally, last year she decided to go back to the United States to lead the expansion to USA, Canada and South Africa.
She has crossed the Atlantic more times than she can remember.
Where did the idea for Quotes Advisor come from?
Ten years ago, I was in a meeting with a colleague after work in New York. At that time, I was working at the well-known bank, and my colleague from the Polytechnic of Torino was working in the competition. We were in our respective websites, when almost without thinking I asked him: How difficult is to find a useful number here?
After trying for ten minutes to get the information, we realized that it was too much complicated to get a simple rate. Immediately we came up with the following idea: ‘should be real a website that goes through all the pages of the banks’. This website would extract the information from each page and compare it in a simple and visual way. Now it is quotesadvisor.com but at that moment, it was just a crazy idea!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day before starting work, I check my agenda and define the activities that I have to carry out in the day. Usually I choose 6 or 7 main activities that should be finished that the day. Next, I write them down and stick every note on the edge of the notebook.
As I complete them, I take them out of the notebook. Then I make sure that the task was completed; for example: the email was sent, the payment was arranged, the file updated or whatever the activity was about. Indeed, it is based a famous four-step management method called PDCA (plan-do-check-act) but I like to think it is just a stick notes game. It is amazing how well it works!
Finally, I take the note; I make a roll and throw it to the trashcan. (That is my favorite part!) I know my day is over when there are no more notes left on my notebook. It really works for me to motivate myself and work much better.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Our biggest motivation and aim of funding quotesadvisor.com is our desperate need to solve a problem that we have and nobody has solved yet. As simple as the duty of expand the frontier of the imaginable to make this world a better place. In those years, the world did not talk about startups or side hustles, there were no ideas incubators or angels investors. We were simply two colleagues who thought we could do something new!
What’s one trend that excites you?
Today we generate data very easily; every purchase, every product we consume, every message we receive and even every click we make generates a piece of information. We have a huge amount of data, but we do not know what to do with it. Data Science involves some enlargement of academic statistics and machine learning to face unusually difficult problems in many fields at the same time. The job by excellence that responds to this demand is data scientists. Data Scientist has been titled the best work in the United States; average base salary of $ 110,000 and 4,524 job offers. As a person who has been in the business for many years, I have not seen such growth.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Success depends not just on what you can do, marketing efforts or sales, but also on the people you know. For female startup founders and own-business, networking with other women is especially important, as it helps create shared value for both businesses.
One of my best habits is to organize networking events, and ORGANIZE own events! This way you are the connector between all the parties: between those who will speak and present but also with the guests and even with those who sponsor the event. I mean with all people in the room! Over time, your network of contacts will be spectacular
What advice would you give your younger self?
Sometimes the world is a rough place and you do not need an enemy inside you. Among entrepreneurs, it is common this idea of ‘push your limits’ or ‘just do it’ and I am sure this the way to success. But sometimes we take it very hard with ourselves and do not enjoy the things that happen to us. A balance between professional life and personal life should be the starting point of every entrepreneur.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Quite a lot of jobs are being loosing because of the already called “fourth industrial revolution”. This transformation changed the way we work and some jobs now are superfluous and unnecessary. But some experts said that at the same time it would open ‘the opportunity to another wide range of jobs’. Nobody agrees with me that this revolution will create many new jobs only in the long term, not at moment.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Follow your instincts. I encourage every person to do something that they need right now, BUT nobody is offering it. I think this is the best way to start your next startup! Of course, there are always complications; it was not easy jump into the internet business but we have to trust in our instincts.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Digging in our statistics, we realized that 25% of our users read the entire main page and only a 17% of them perform a search in our comparator. The user usually does not spend more than a minute in searching a specific result. Therefore, we have decided to not requesting personal information in order to make the user experience much simpler. Our business grew 5% in the first quarter after that. If you are designing a web site I would strongly recommend get a user experience as simple as possible. Do not ask for information that you will not use.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At the beginning, we had too many problems to understand how the internet business was. To manage a website you need to be aware of the protocols, programming codes and other minimum knowledge to understand how a website works. We both were in the financial market but we did not have any idea about the programming part. It took a while learn terms and knowledge needed to communicate with our programmers.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An interesting idea for a business is to combine two retail business ideas is what in our circle of entrepreneurs we call “Barbeard”. We used to have in our business incubator an interesting retail idea, which turned out to be very successful in the tests we carried out.
The idea comes from the fusion of a bar (with over 18 varieties of craft beer) and an original London barbershop style. It is much more than selling out two products to the same customer at the same time, it is a whole experience you can buy only if you have two or three hours free. It is what we call a weekend plan!
Nowadays buying products is easy, just do two clicks and the products arrive at your home. Examples of this are Amazon, Aliexpress, among others. But living experiences, that is a different story. Retail businesses have to focus on offering experiences to their customers, not just the best price or the best product.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Every dollar spent on knowledge is the best economic investment you can make today. The world has become more complex, technology has influenced all aspects of our lives. In the next few years, jobs will be largely in interdisciplinary fields to respond to the increasingly complex demands of the market and industry.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Six Sigma is popular in many companies today, especially large corporations. The software ARIS Six Sigma by IDS Scheer solves many problems to apply this tool.
Generally, the measurements of performance are done around the cost reduction, so you can easily measure it. However, you cannot apply Six Sigma in a Software maintenance or remediation, a redesign of Website or an active improvement in the User Experience (UX) without detailed process measurements. For example in our company, we took time as a unit of measure to reduce the human resources recruitment cycle. We managed to lower the recruitment time from three months to 4 weeks. Less than a half!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
‘Smarter Faster Better,’ by Charles Duhigg.
In this fantastic book, Charles Duhigg reveals to us why some people and companies manage to be more productive than others, and how we should act to improve and achieve our goals with less stress and effort.
What is your favorite quote?
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” By Charlie Chaplin
- Do not be afraid of being the first one in something: In marketing, there are two key concepts called the red and blue oceans. The first ones are about existing industries and defined market spaces; blue oceans instead represent plenty opportunities for development that is both profitable and fast. Do not be afraid of jumping into your own blue ocean! Expand existing industry boundaries!
- Do not beat yourself up: Do not take hard on yourself and pretend to be self-confident on all your decisions. Sometimes we are very demanding with ourselves and pretend to do everything right and now. This is a hard road and we need you in one piece!
- Capitalize everything that goes wrong: Sometimes we pretend to hide those things that went wrong, because they make us feel less talented. But we must look at it from the opposite side, and change a pessimist mental attitude to an optimistic on. It will result in a completely different way of think, both personally and professionally. I can assure that!
Sophie Miles on Linkedin:
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.