First steps to becoming an entrepreneur

In recent times, you could be forgiven for thinking that the life of the entrepreneur is one of endless excitement, where one good idea turns what we once called work into a walk in the park! While the day-to-day reality of an entrepreneur is anything but easy, their life can indeed be challenging, stimulating and fulfilling. Today, more than ever, we look to entrepreneurs to challenge the status quo and open new doors.  So what is entrepreneurship all about? Who is it for? And how can you get started? 

Marianna Szeib (Master in Management 2012), took an hour out of her hectic schedule to tell us about her experience in starting her company Face to Face, a physical and digital community of fashion creators, radiating through a B2C and B2B network. Marianna looked back on the challenges she has faced and how her journey as an entrepreneur started out.

Pursuing new challenges

Marianna, a Polish native, joined the ESCP Master in Management in 2007 and spent three years across ESCP’s London, Madrid and Paris campuses. Settling in Paris, she worked in the fragrance industry at L’Oréal and then Dior (LVMH).  “It was clear to me that I was driven by creativity and team spirit. Even though I could find those elements in my previous jobs, I wanted to look for another challenge”.  

Honesty and development

Marianna says that future entrepreneurs need to be honest with themselves.  The entrepreneurial world is open to everyone; however, the entrepreneur needs to feel at ease with uncertainty and risk. “If we are attached to a certain stability and predictability in our life then becoming an entrepreneur might cause permanent stress and frustration”. 

Marianna found that taking the time to get to know herself was key both before and after starting her business. Personal development courses can help to define motivations clearly to face fears.  As Marianna says, “Once this work is done, we are much less influenced by criticism and more focused on our objectives in life”.

Agility, passion and resilience

Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be “moments of glory” and “moments of doubt”.

Marianna sees the successful entrepreneur as agile and flexible. He needs to “adapt his activity to the market which is in constant movement”. With this in mind, it is clear that a strong dose of curiosity and willingness to learn will not go astray! 

Marianna continues, “having faith and passion in what we do is so important, it gives us the energy and strength to make things happen and not give up when the first obstacles appear”.

The ability to persevere in challenging situations is something Marianna experienced during her time at ESCP. After three years working in an ever-changing international environment, Marianna thought “If I can succeed here, I can take on new challenges.”

Building the right support network

At ESCP, Marianna developed her ability to create strong support networks. She explains “Changing cities every year forced me to build new connections every time so that meeting new people wasn’t stressful anymore and became something very natural”. 

ESCP Alumni were at hand to share their experiences and offer advice when Marianna was just starting out in her career: “It’s very reassuring to be part of such a prestigious institution which helps us to open doors”. 

In the following years, Marianna sought out support from additional education such as the Entrepreneurs programme at l’Institut Français de la Mode and the Station F incubator to develop her company Face to Face. Throughout, the importance of family in providing support cannot be underestimated: “the emotional support of my husband and family was a key factor in overcoming all kinds of doubts.”

Communication and inspiration

The entrepreneur’s ability to communicate, sharing her vision of the world is a critical element in her success.  Not just for clients or partners, but for new recruits as well. Today, Marianna says that building a complementary team is key to “the future success and longevity of the business”. This requires creating an inspiring and supportive working environment. “Sooner or later the entrepreneur will discover that she will not be able to make it happen all by herself”.

Marianna has built a successful company in just a few years. She shows us that the fundamentals of being an entrepreneur are relatively simple:  honesty, passion, agility, perseverance, communication… And to bring it all together? ESCP can help you with that!

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