How to Break Even in Your First Year of Business

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Seven steps to make it happen.

Thirty per cent. That’s how many startups break even – ever – and the majority of them don’t see a dime of profit till as late as their third year on the scene. So the fact that Annie Legoe, founder of Aussie maternity and lifestyle brand LEGOE., pulled it off before her business (and firstborn) celebrated its first birthday got us asking questions. Here, she shares how to break even before you blow out that candle – if not sooner.

1. Be passionate

Starting a business isn’t easy, so having a genuine passion for what you’re doing will keep you in the game. “You’re going to also have days where you don’t have energy or the motivation. Just let those days pass and jump back on once you’ve had a refresh,” says Annie. “If it’s something you truly love and are passionate in, then never give up. Passion and hard work are a recipe for success.”

2. Fill a gap

If you’re craving something that doesn’t currently exist, chances are other people will be too. “LEGOE. all came about when I was pregnant with my first son and I couldn’t find any normal maternity wear that just made me feel like me,” says Annie. “I just wanted to wear pieces that were still fashion forward, comfortable and that you could live in and love forever. I honestly dreaded getting dressed during this first pregnancy and I just knew I had to do something so other women didn’t have to feel the same way.”

3. Plan to succeed

Having clear aims in mind (even better, on paper) will propel you toward them – so says seasoned goal-setter Annie. “When you set goals, you have them in the back of your mind all the time and you do whatever it takes to reach them.” The trick, she adds, is to keep them realistic. “I think it’s good to set goals that push you but aren’t ridiculously out of reach. I never felt it was out of reach to break even, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to take me all season or just weeks.”

4. Be (very) social

Over eight months before LEGOE. even launched, the brand amassed around 25,000 followers. “At that time, maternity was still very much a ‘dinosaur’ in the whole fashion scene – especially in the way it was presented on social media,” says Annie. “So with a focus on really cool images and some seriously stylish mummas-to-be, it drew great attention and people really took notice of what I was doing.” Gifting bloggers with pieces from her range didn’t hurt, either.

5. Give back

A dollar from every LEGOE. sale goes to Send Hope Not Flowers, an Aussie not-for-profit helping mothers survive childhood in the developing world. “Giving back to those less fortunate is something that’s always been instilled in me and my family… so I knew that if I could be in a position to give back and create more awareness [around a cause] then I would definitely do it.” If you’re weighing up the cost of being charitable, consider this: a recent survey found millennials are more likely to buy from companies engaged in philanthropy.

6. Cater to your customer

And be willing to adapt… fast. “Listening to any concerns, queries and feedback has always been so imperative, and you have to be able to adapt to change quickly and be open for anything, as at the end of the day, the customers are the ones who are buying your product and helping you achieve your dream,” says Annie. “You need to be there for them 100 per cent and be ready to adjust things for them.”

7. Don’t get comfortable

Although she broke even early on in her first season, Annie didn’t see her success as an excuse to put up her feet. “From that moment, I had already set a new milestone, as you can’t get complacent,” she says. “Yes, [enjoy] a quick moment of pride, but then get back into focusing on what you are doing and where you want to get to next.” For LEGOE., this means continuing to keep their customers happy and targeting international markets.

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