Sam Mednick is a professional Life and Executive Coach based in Barcelona (www.blueprintcoaching.ca). A Canadian native, she’s been living in the city for eight years working with companies as well as individuals focusing on transitions, communication, leadership training, time management and productivity as well as emotional intelligence development. For more coaching tips, tune into her Podcast.
THIS MONTH: GETTING A BUSINESS OFF THE GROUND
My friend and I are from the US and have been living in Barcelona for over six years. We are thinking of teaming up on a project that we are both passionate about, but need some advice on what it’s like to start a business here, mostly from a marketing perspective. I have some questions for you (see below)...
Barcelona Entrepreneur Newbie
Barcelona can be a good city to start a business, especially now, ‘post-crisis’, with so many young entrepreneurs emerging onto the scene. You have asked some great questions and in order to give you as much insight as possible, I’ve teamed up with Adam Davis, Digital Customer Strategy Manager at Vistaprint (www.vistaprint.es) with over 16 years of marketing experience under his belt.
What are the best ways of marketing the project in this city?
Sam: Start with your network. Barcelona is very much a city where it’s about who you know—your network is your lifeline. As with any new business, a mix of online presence, marketing campaigns and word of mouth is key. Talk to anyone and everyone who will listen as you never know who might be interested in what you’re selling.
Is it better to pick a target consumer, e.g. expats vs. locals, or go broad?
Adam: This depends very much on the product. On a general note, go broad to start, as you never know which audience your offer might resonate with and it might not be what you had expected. You can always narrow the target later on when you know more about your customer.
How do we get people excited about and interested in a product that is already popular in our country but not here?
Sam: Barcelona is the ideal place to bring what you know to the table and to implement a new idea or product. Foreign concepts can thrive here (look at the recent hamburger and brunch trends), as often people are already anxiously anticipating its arrival. Once you get a few early adopters to jump on the bandwagon, they’ll sell your product to the more sceptical ones.
What are some important things to consider and be mindful of?
Adam: Don’t forget your customer. It’s very easy to fall in love with your product or to get caught up in metrics. These aren’t necessarily bad things, as long as you are proactively getting and acting on customer feedback. Get out from behind your screens and go and meet, speak to people and listen to what they want and don’t want.
What is the best way to go about build a relationship with vendors?
Sam: Patience, persistence and honesty. Establishing relationships with people here takes time (as I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve been here for six years). They need to trust you. Face-to-face meetings are a great place to start or a telephone conversation (instead of email). People here also really appreciate it if you can pay them not only on time, but early. Invoices often take two to four months to be paid, so if you’re able to pay a vendor sooner rather than later, you’ll stand out from the crowd and they’ll have more incentive to work with you and to be reliable.
For those interested in learning more about starting a business, there’s a great podcast worth listening to called StartUp. It’s a raw and very real account of the ins and outs of what it’s like to create a company.
To share your thoughts on this column or ask Sam a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Metropolitan at email@example.com