Welcome to today’s Her Business Story where we meet the female founder behind The Merit Club, Krisztina Tardos.
Kriztina, tell us more about The Merit Club
The Merit Club is an online members club for women. We strive to make the unattainable accessible to our members, by giving them discounted access to not only our regular events – including Self-defense workshops or Coworking days, but unique opportunities to try out some of London’s most exclusive member’s clubs, luxury spas and other beautiful venues.
We also strive to make the unknown familiar to our readers by our curated library of content and start discussions through our articles. We’ve been searching for unique and inspiring things to do, listen to or read about that will add sparkle to our week-days, with ways to reach beyond our working diaries that are solely for us, our personal development, and our curiosity.
We want to create an environment in which you can truly connect to the best possible version of yourself and bring the so called ‘female empowerment’ in the personal realities of our day-to-day lives. This is the essence of our club and we truly believe in it.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
There wasn’t a lightbulb moment for me, it was more like an internal feeling that developed over time. I had the idea bubbling away for a very long time before I had that “I think I can do this” moment. Part of the attraction towards having my own business was freedom. Both financially and geographically – which is what an online business can provide.
How long did it take for you to put your idea into action? What prompted you to act?
So the idea was born 4 years ago in a completely different format. Merit Club however only crystalised in my mind 18 months ago, over a year before I managed to launch. Since the minute I decided to go for it, which was soon after I did my super speedy – however very thorough – research and realised that there was a gap on the market, I haven’t stopped. Being my first ever business though meant that everything took me 3 times longer to implement, so the initial ‘oh it will be live in a month’ ended up being 14 months…
What has been your scariest moment as an entrepreneur?
The launch. I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. At least that’s how I felt. I had no idea what to expect. Will anyone ever sign up?? But then people flooded the website and I knew I had created something women are interested in. I am a people pleaser, hence creating a business where I can make other people feel better about themselves, make their lives easier and get them to experience things that they will remember is what makes me feel alive. But this also means that I can easily take it to heart when something doesn’t work, or be in constant fear that no one will turn up to our events, which is definitely the wrong thing to do when you operate in the event business.
What has been your proudest moment?
I had many actually, even though it’s only been 5 months since the launch, I’m always immensely proud when we put a piece of content on the website that seemingly struck a chord with our audience or when our events sell out. They are all little moments of reaffirmation that make me feel like it is all worth it.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from founding your own company?
That nothing is really impossible. It’s such a cliché, but seeing all these amazing establishments such as very well-known private member’s clubs open their doors to our members or having celebrities wanting to represent us is something I never thought I could achieve.
On a more practical side, I had to learn to be extremely organised, especially in our accounting. Money slips through your fingers if you don’t capture it somewhere. All those pennies add up, especially in the early stages of a business. Wish I started it from day minus 1. Doing it retrospectively is SO much harder!
What does success mean to you?
I think there are so many different sides to success. What I believe in is personal success that isn’t defined by our careers, but by achieving a goal we set for ourselves, however big or small it might be. I feel the joy of ‘success’ just by learning a new skill, which was most recently when I dipped my toe into learning self-defense. Something I wanted to do for so long and finally managed to get on with it!
Which women inspire you?
I am amazed by women who really have it together. Do a run in the morning, then work crazy hours and still have time and energy for their friends and family. One woman like this is Julia Calabrese, a lovely woman I’m fortunate to know. She has achieved remarkable things in her career of over 30 years, works 15 hours a day and still manages to beat me in my FitBit’s step count! I just can’t get my head around how she does it! I once joked that she probably attaches her FitBit to her dog’s collar, but in fact I know she is just a super human. Women like her will always inspire me and make me strive to become better.
And which men?
I admire people who achieved or are on their way to achieve great things in life. But what inspires me is when they are not afraid to share their knowledge or connections with others. They realise that by helping others they won’t have less, and maybe even get personal pleasure out of supporting others. Meeting people like this inspired me to start my venture and will always be an example I want to follow.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?
That it will be incredibly difficult! Especially in the beginning. People do say this, but you only really realise it when you are already in it. It does test you and very early on you know whether you are cut out for it or not. As it took me over a year to set it all up, I had time to weight up and research everything so I didn’t have any huge shocks luckily.
What’s the best piece of business advice someone has ever given you?
What I’m very grateful for is that I came across an article debating pros and cons for designing your own website versus spending thousands of pounds on getting it built by an agency. I read this right before I almost committed to do just that. They made a very valid point that just by investing a huge amount in making your platform pretty won’t instantly result in the desired amount of traffic. Building your business up slowly – and cost effectively – testing your idea and then investing in what you identify as most crucial in making your business successful is the way most businesses should consider starting. This advice alone saved us over 50 thousand pounds and a huge amount of headache.