Last year Hövding had sold 50,000 products globally. As a result, the product has begun to catch on across Europe and is now also stocked in Japan. At the same time this year, the company has more than doubled sales, having moved 110,000 units as of June 2018. We caught up with the CEO of Hövding, Fredrik Carling, to discuss his five tips for managing a small, niche business and growing that into something bigger.
- Culture. I always start here. My experience is predominantly fashion-based. I worked in various senior positions at Levi Strauss & Co. (Managing Director Nordic and European Brand Manager, amongst others) for a number of years before joining Diesel as Managing Director Nordic. Both of those companies had excellent cultures, across all of their teams. I learnt here that the key to making staff want to perform and, most importantly, ensuring they want to stay, was the culture of a business. You get what you put in.
- No glass ceiling. This is perhaps going to sound a little cliché, but I can elaborate. As a CEO, my job is to oversee the bigger picture of a business. I always ensure that the individuals in my different teams are focused on their day-to-day tasks and performing accordingly. However, when certain milestones are reached, people can sometimes suffer from tunnel vision and get caught up in the moment. It is in moments such as these that it is crucial for the leader of the team to step in. They must understand that this is just the beginning. If a Sales Director and their team just doubled their sales, then let them know that you believe fully that they can do that again next year.
- There is always a way. Running a business has multiple facets and at times there will be stumbling blocks. I have had to deal with everything – from patents and issues surrounding these, to mathematical problems, to having to deal with new compliance disputes in different markets. What I have learnt is that there is always a way around a problem.
- You’re only as good as your team. Over my career, I have learnt to surround myself with experts. It is impossible to know or understand everything. But what you can do is find someone that specialises in a certain discipline and learn from that person. Then, with time, you will begin to have an understanding of many different aspects of your business.
- Plan to Re-Plan. In the early days of a business it is essential to have a long-term vision. But, one has to be careful to not get too caught up in this. Things change. It is an important lesson. I have learnt that, ideally, you want to have broad strokes in mind for the future, rather than mapping out every little detail. Be flexible and prepare to adopt changes and you will eventually notice how your organisation, your customers and you products evolve and adapt with you.