Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 10th 2016 Contents had into
starting a Web
site aimed at
reselling items for
babies and children.
Tracy had been
warned about the dan-
gers of getting distracted from her core
business so early on, but she ignored the
naysayers, hoping that she could make
both sites successful at the same time.
Unfortunately, even though Tracy worked
hard, her new site failed. And since it
consumed so much of her time and ener-
gy, her original concept began to fail as
Tracy was resolute about succeeding,
so she scaled back and focused on her
original business. She did a lot of research
and listening, and eventually the core site
began to grow and turn a profit once
Eventually, she felt confident enough
to launch a new site, Tradesy.
Today, spurred by everything she
learned from her experience with failure,
Tracy has grown her business to the point
that her Web site has more than four mil-
lion users and she has raised more than
US$40 million in venture capital financing
from investors, myself included. Her over-
arching advice for all entrepreneurs who
are looking to scale up and expand is to
never get distracted from your company s
core focus and I wholeheartedly agree.
That said, there s no harm in looking
ahead. In fact, having a clear understand-
ing of where you would like your business
to go will be useful when you re over-
coming the obstacles that are bound to
pop up. At the very least, it will help keep
My advice for you, Zoë, and for any
entrepreneur who is weighing the pros
and cons of expanding her business, is
this: focus on your passion, start small,
dream big and plan ahead.
Scale up only when you are ready;
not just because opportunity
(Richard Branson is the founder of the
Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin
Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and
Virgin Active. He maintains a blog at
can follow him on Twitter at
twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more
about the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)
(Questions from readers will be
answered in future columns. Please send
them to Richard.Branson@nytimes.com.
Please include your name, country, email
address and the name of the website or
publication where you read the column.)
I am from the UK, but currently live in
Oslo, Norway. Several months ago, I iden-
tified a gap in a market here and jumped
on it. I set up a resale website for designer
clothes, and during the development stage
the business evolved to a point where I
began to see the potential for it to grow
much bigger, and possibly more lucrative.
Should I pursue the path that is much
more scalable, or should I play it safe and
focus on my current business model?
--- Zoë Gale, Norway
The business world is incredibly
exciting; just thinking about all
the potential opportunities out
there can make an entrepreneur s
head spin. Some people jump
from concept to concept in
search of an idea that will make them rich, but
this is the wrong approach to take: If you get
into business solely to make money, you won t.
Zoë, it sounds as though you re off to a great
start. Entrepreneurship is, and has always been,
about finding a market gap and then providing
a product or service that makes people s lives
better. You appear to have nailed this part, so
Now you have a big decision to make: Do you
scrap your old plan and scale up quickly, or
should you keep moving steadily forward? Before
you decide, it s important to evaluate why you
got into business in the first place.
I have always sung the praises of dreamers,
they move the world forward. While entrepre-
neurs should dream big, they should also realise
that there is value in starting small. Being pas-
sionate about your product and reaching small
but important goals can help you turn a big
dream into a big reality.
How? Starting small enables entrepreneurs
to focus on creating the best product or service
possible and ensure that it has long-term value.
Once value has been demonstrated, it s time to
think about scaling up the business.
Your experience brings to mind the story of
Tradesy, an online marketplace that specialises
in selling used women s clothes.
Years ago, Tracy DiNunzio launched a Web
site aimed at making it easier for women to buy
and sell pre-owned wedding dresses. She was
passionate about the idea, and she believed that
the site would make a big difference.
Within six months of launching, Tracy made
a profit, and then she began to recognise new
possibilities. She decided that she would expand
her business quickly; she put everything she
MARCH 10 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG13
Growing your business too
fast can be risky. Before you
scale up, ask yourself these
• Are you passionate about
your product? Passion and
purpose are essential to suc-
• Have you demonstrated
long-term value? Will your
product endure beyond initial
• Does your company have
a core focus? Is your product
making people's lives better?
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