In today’s Her Business Story we meet Amande Tanefo, the female entrepreneur behind Launch & Sell. Amande shared her business journey with A League of Her Own.
Amande please tell readers more about your business Launch & Sell
I help female entrepreneurs get the kickass website they need to grow their business online. I create WordPress themes and share my know-how to allow women to build their own website quickly and easily without any coding knowledge required.
What made you decide to become a female entrepreneur?
Two things: the nine to five routine and my partner.
I studied Business and Industrial Engineering at university, which was very orientated towards working for big corporations. After getting my masters, I went directly into the corporate world as a data scientist and expansion project manager.
Although I was working on big projects – and it should have been my dream job – I felt like it wasn’t what I hoped for. The nine to five routine, the never ending meetings, the ladder game: it just wasn’t for me. I craved for more freedom and for more possibility to really make an impact on people.
Everyone around me was corporate. I knew it wasn’t for me but I didn’t know what kind of alternatives were available until I met my partner, Chris, who is a successful entrepreneur. He showed me a whole new world full of opportunity: I could build my own business using my tech skills and provide services to help other entrepreneurs follow their dreams.
How long did it take for you to put your idea into action? What prompted you to act?
It only took me a couple of months. I’m an impulsive person, so once it was in my head I was literally obsessed with it and I knew I had to give it a shot. Less than two months after starting to investigate the initial idea, I gave two weeks notice at work and jumped into my business idea head first.
What has been your scariest moment as an entrepreneur?
The first months are always easy. You have big fresh ideas, you’re so motivated, ready to conquer the world. It’s exhilarating.
What I didn’t realise straight away was that I wouldn’t be able to do what I used to do in the corporate world. I thought I would just be able to offer my skills and services just like when you apply for a job. I could see a lot of businesses that would definitely benefit from my expertise and thought it would be easy to get customers. Well, it wasn’t, at all…
I had to learn to market myself differently; to package my services and present them in a different way to what I had been doing previously. It was a steep learning curve that was actually very scary for me as I felt I was starting from scratch.
Over those few months I learned so much about how to run a small business by myself, wearing all the different hats of an entrepreneur: coder, marketer, accountant. I’ve grown so much thanks to that.
What has been your proudest moment?
The release of my first WordPress theme, Tribe.
I had been working as a freelancer for a year and a half and I decided to switch my business model. I wanted to help more business owners at once. I wanted to make great web design available to more entrepreneurs. So instead of developing sites for clients one-by-one I decided to create super user-friendly templates targeted to specific niches (business coaches, life coaches, influencers and event organisers). My aim was for my customers to use my themes to create the beautiful, professional website they needed to grow their business online.
Tribe was my first theme and it was quite a risk. I took a few months off to prepare it, spec it and build it, hoping it would resonate with female coaches. And luckily it did. I had my first sale on release day and I was so happy. It’s been a real turning point and the trigger of Launch & Sell.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from founding your own company?
Marketing is key! It’s not just about having good skills or good products, it’s also about being able to make it visible. You may have the best products/services, but if no one knows about them, you won’t sell any. So before spending too much time on developing the best product, I always draw out a marketing plan to see where my audience is and how difficult it is to reach them.
What does success mean to you?
Good question! It’s difficult to answer because I’ve been growing and learning a lot during this entrepreneurial journey and my definition of success has changed a lot.
Today I think that success is two main things: firstly, helping as many entrepreneurs as I can. I know it sounds cheesy but nothing makes me happier or prouder than to see what my customers have achieved with my themes; how much it has helped them get out there and start their business online. I feel like I have made a real difference to their life!
Secondly, for myself, entrepreneurial success means freedom. Freedom to organise my time, to travel, to be independent. I’m now completely location independent, which is a big success for me. I don’t depend on a corporation or the job market anymore, I only depend on me and my ability to offer products and services that help people. This puts me back in total control of my life and my destiny. It’s exactly what I wanted.
But, like most people, I always want more! My next step is to continue to grow my business and help even more people grow theirs.
Has a mistake ever led you to success?
I believe every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow. I have made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of terrible ideas, but it has all helped me shape the business I have now. I still make mistakes, but every mistake is a step further towards success. If you can realise it’s a mistake then you won’t do it again and it will help you understand what works and what doesn’t.
I also believe my mistakes give me more confidence. Making mistakes has taught me how to deal with difficulties in a positive way and carry on going forward. Now I know nothing is going to stop me.
Which women inspire you? And which men?
To be honest, while I have a lot of respect for a lot of fantastic men and women that have achieved a great deal, I’m not the type of person that is overly inspired by others. I’m more of a fighter and a freedom seeker. The prospect of offering a great, worry-free life to my family is what is motivates me.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?
Don’t try to please everyone, find your tribe, learn what they need and deliver targeted services and products. When I started out I was very afraid of not having enough business, so I was trying to offer everything under the moon so that I could have more customers.
I soon realised that you wouldn’t trust a normal chef to do your wedding cake would you? You’d prefer a cake specialist. While they’re both food professionals, you’d rather hire an expert that specialises in what you need. It’s exactly the same in business.
I know that now but it took me a year of working with many different niches to understand this and start targeting my services towards female entrepreneurs (coaches and freelancers).
I spent a lot of time analysing what features they needed in their website to be successful, what style works best and how to make it user friendly for that niche. I made it my priority to listen to their needs and deliver exactly what their business needs to grow.
My products only fit my audience, but it fits their needs perfectly: I’m delivering a very targeted service that will work for them.
What’s the best piece of business advice someone has ever given you?
Always test your ideas and get feedback ASAP. When you develop a service or product it’s like you’re in your own bubble. You may think you have a genius service, but in reality if you asked your potential customers they would tell you they don’t want half of what you’re offering and would prefer Y instead of Z.
It’s always important to stay connected with your target audience and test your idea quickly. Get feedback from actual potential customers that will help you shape the best service/ product for your audience.