“Reboot” is Jodie Fox’s memoir of her experiences as an entrepreneur building a successful shoe business called Shoes of Prey. She provides valuable advice on navigating the challenges of building a global business and emphasizes the value of owning a business, even if it fails.
Reboot by Jodie Fox offers valuable insights into the challenges of building a global business. The book covers topics such as choosing a business idea, navigating cultural differences, creating a healthy company culture, and managing mental health as a business owner. It uses examples from Fox’s experiences with Shoes of Prey and includes perspectives from other successful entrepreneurs. The book also offers tips on supporting employees and managing mental health in business.
Lesson #1: Getting Your Business Started
To expand on Fox’s approach to finding a new career path, here are some additional tips to consider. First, reach out to professionals outside your existing network and consider job shadowing to gain hands-on experience.
Take online assessments to identify your skills, interests, and values to help build your career wishlist. Keep in mind that it’s okay if you can’t find a perfect match initially because research suggests that passion for a career can develop over time. Don’t hesitate to pursue a job that only fulfills some of your passions as it may become more satisfying with time.
Turn Your Idea Into a Business
Inspired by her personal experience designing shoes at a Hong Kong market stall, Jodie Fox and her co-founders launched Shoes of Prey. The website allowed women to design and order custom shoes, replicating and scaling the unique and fashionable experience of owning one-of-a-kind footwear.
Finding the Target Community for Your Business
Entrepreneurs often start their businesses to solve problems they encounter as consumers. Jodie Fox founded Shoes of Prey to provide affordable and fashionable custom shoe options. Sahil Lavingia expands on this concept in “The Minimalist Entrepreneur,” emphasizing the importance of identifying a problem and target community when starting a business. To find potential communities, individuals should start with their interests and social groups, joining relevant communities to better understand their needs. For those looking to move from idea to execution, Fox offers valuable tips.
Tip #1: Research Potential Competitors
Fox and her team researched competitors and found only one with a poor customer experience, while Nike’s successful sneaker customization service indicated a market for shoe customization. Fox advises conducting research to see if a business idea has already been executed well.
Shoes of Prey’s niche of affordable, high-fashion shoe customization for women has not been filled since the company closed. While other companies offer customization options for athletic shoes and sneakers, the challenge of manufacturing unique shoes while offering countless design possibilities limits scalability opportunities.
Tip #2: Create and Test a Prototype Product
To validate a business idea and maintain a positive mindset, Fox recommends simplifying the product and testing it with target customers. The Design Sprint process by Jake Knapp is an effective way to gather feedback quickly, as it involves developing a prototype and testing it within a structured and collaborative five-day workweek. This process provides valuable insights without spending excessive time or money on product development.
Find Your Suppliers
Fox suggests that finding suppliers can be difficult, especially for businesses that require manufacturing. To overcome this challenge, Fox and her team returned to Hong Kong to meet with owners of stores similar to where they had originally designed their shoes. Initially, many suppliers were hesitant to work with Shoes of Prey due to their unique manufacturing needs.
However, when the 2008 global financial crisis caused a slowdown in large factory orders, the suppliers were willing to take a chance on Shoes of Prey. Fox recommends finding suppliers online through business websites like LinkedIn, attending industry events to see manufacturers’ samples, and researching suppliers of brands that make similar products.
How to Evaluate Potential Suppliers
Choosing the right supplier is crucial for any business, especially when specific needs must be met. Shoes of Prey prioritized finding suppliers who could handle small orders. When selecting a supplier, factors such as cost, reliability, and location should be considered. Reliability is important to ensure timely delivery of quality goods, and location can affect shipping times and environmental impact. While international suppliers worked for Shoes of Prey, it presented challenges. Ultimately, choosing the right supplier requires careful consideration of your business’s needs.
Lesson #2: Navigating Cultural Differences in an International Business
To run an international business successfully, it’s vital to understand cultural differences. Fox highlights the significance of everyday cultural differences and specific considerations when working with different cultures. Hiring local employees and meeting the expectations of customers are also important. Understanding cultural differences helps build long-term, trusting relationships with global partners. You can take a college course on cultural awareness or use apps like Duolingo to learn another language.
Be Aware of Everyday Differences and Special Considerations
Fox stresses the importance of cultural awareness when working with international suppliers, as ignorance of cultural differences can result in misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and strained relationships. For instance, in China, appearance is important to convey success, and Fox realized that dressing well was important to her suppliers. As a result, she started wearing more expensive clothing and jewelry to meetings to signal that Shoes of Prey was a serious business. Adapting to cultural differences is vital in establishing successful international business relationships.
How to Dress for Success in International Business
Understanding cultural differences is crucial for successful international business relationships. This includes being aware of everyday cultural differences and specific considerations such as holidays. Fox learned this lesson when she misjudged her appearance and failed to consider Chinese New Year’s impact on her business relationships.
To prevent similar mistakes, it’s important to research appropriate business attire and important holidays. Additionally, integrating international holidays into your corporate structure can promote a respectful culture. Erin Meyer’s method for measuring cultural differences can make understanding these differences easier.
Hire Employees Local to the Other Country
Fox and her co-founders recognized the significance of local employees in working with international partners to navigate language barriers and cultural differences. These employees can fulfill diverse roles, including liaising with employment agencies, establishing a local office, handling shipping and packing, and maintaining communication with suppliers for seamless operations and quality control.
Hiring reliable and open-minded local staff is crucial to ensure a clear understanding of your international operations. Consider enlisting the help of recruitment experts to find the right candidates for these positions.
How to Hire Employees in Another Country
Fox and her co-founders faced a challenge in hiring local employees in China due to unfamiliar legal and logistical processes. They learned that there are three options: setting up a branch or subsidiary, hiring international workers as independent contractors, or partnering with an Employee of Record (EOR).
Each option has its own benefits and considerations, with the first being the best for those establishing a physical presence, the second offering flexibility but requiring understanding of the country’s regulations, and the third being a quick and easy solution with an established entity in the country.
Understand the Needs of International Customers
Understanding cultural differences is important when communicating with customers in new markets. Different countries have varying customer service expectations, and adjustments may be necessary to meet these expectations. For instance, Shoes of Prey partnered with someone who understood Japanese culture to handle the elaborate packaging process, which enhances the customer’s experience.
Moreover, cultural distinctions affect customer satisfaction research, as the most valuable information comes from underlying assumptions that contribute to customer ratings. Companies should pay attention to these assumptions to better connect with customers in different countries.
Lesson #3: Making Big Decisions
Fox’s third lesson at Shoes of Prey was making decisions in uncertainty. This causes stress for entrepreneurs, activating the amygdala and reducing activity in the striatal system. To combat this, Fox moved forward before feeling ready, chose the best possible solution, and kept solutions simple. Shoes of Prey found asking for regular shoe size was more accurate than elaborate foot measurements. Fox followed the KISS principle, advocating simplicity in decision-making.
Lesson #4: Creating a Strong Company Culture
Fox’s advice for building a strong and positive company culture involves clear policies, expectations, and support for employees during times of transition. In addition to this, she has also shared tips on overcoming decision paralysis.
Set Up Structure and Expectations
Fox learned the importance of establishing clear policies and structures early on to create expectations for employees at Shoes of Prey. HR policies create a common set of expectations and standards of acceptable behavior, ensuring legal compliance and protecting against litigation.
When Shoes of Prey moved to the US in 2015, they hired an HR manager who created policies to support the growing team, including employee surveys, training sessions, and clear promotion tracks. These measures improve employee satisfaction and retention.
Provide Support During Difficult Times
Fox stresses the significance of supporting employees during challenging transitions to foster a positive company culture. When Shoes of Prey relocated from Australia to the United States, they offered their employees the option to move and provided resources such as administrative checklists and temporary housing. This support helps alleviate stress and promote a smoother transition for employees.
More Ways to Support Employees During a Move
Additional tips to support employees during a company relocation include informing them as early as possible, seeking their input on the new location, offering opportunities to visit, providing information about the area, and offering assistance such as finding a new residence, granting time off, flexible hours during the move, and relocation bonuses. These measures can help employees prepare for the move and facilitate a smoother transition.
Example #2: When the Company Is Struggling
In the final months of Shoes of Prey, Fox supported her employees by holding regular meetings to discuss the company’s financial situation and reduced employee hours instead of deferring their salaries.
She also provided opportunities for employees to find other jobs, sending their names to other companies and offering references. If your company faces a similar situation, it’s crucial to communicate openly with employees and provide support such as reduced hours, severance pay, and utilizing state workforce agencies if applicable.
Lesson #5: Dealing With Mental Health Struggles as a Business Owner
In this section, we will discuss ways to care for yourself as a business owner based on Fox’s experiences. We’ll cover strategies for dealing with imposter syndrome, as well as mental health challenges like depression and burnout that can occur when building a business. We’ll share some of the lessons Fox learned and provide guidance on how you can manage your own well-being as an entrepreneur.
Managing Imposter Syndrome
Fox battled imposter syndrome, despite the success of Shoes of Prey, feeling insufficient as a business owner. She believed that any challenge she couldn’t comprehend was proof of her incompetence. To counteract these emotions, she wrote down one positive accomplishment each day and documented her successes in a spreadsheet. When she encountered feelings of inadequacy, she referred to her achievements as proof of her competence.
How to Combat Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is prevalent in the business world and beyond, causing self-doubt and hindering individuals from acknowledging their accomplishments. While keeping a success log is helpful, it’s crucial to address negative thought patterns. To overcome imposter syndrome, individuals should recognize when these feelings arise, reframe negative thoughts, talk to others, and view failures as opportunities for growth.
Managing Depression and Burnout
Fox experienced burnout and depression during her time at Shoes of Prey due to neglecting her personal life and health. Burnout is prevalent among entrepreneurs due to financial concerns, work-life imbalance, and daily stressors, with over 60% experiencing it. While taking time off is the best solution, it’s not always possible. Fox suggests combating burnout by prioritizing quality sleep, spending time with loved ones, pursuing passions, and being in nature.
Strategies for Improving Your Mental Health
Fox discovered the importance of balancing her mental health with running a business. To manage her struggles, she found solace in trusted healthcare professionals, a supportive community, and hobbies outside of work. During the company’s collapse, her community proved to be a valuable resource. Seeking help from professionals and developing a supportive network can benefit those dealing with mental health challenges. Engaging in hobbies outside of work is also important.
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