There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.
Meet: Nauman Qureshi, cofounder of Ropazi, a message-based assistant focused on purchasing kids’ clothing. Nauman founded the company with his wife, Sophia Salim, who several years ago was juggling classes at Stanford and a job at Microsoft—all while being a new mom. Sophia was constantly feeling overwhelmed by all the things on her to-do list and wanted to spend as much time as she could with her son as he hit his first milestones.
Sophia also loves fashion, and loved to put together fun outfits to showcase her son’s style. But she had no time to shop. Recognizing that other parents share this predicament, Sophia and Nauman co-founded Ropazi with the core mission of helping parents outfit their kids in great clothes, while giving them time back to enjoy parenthood.
After parents sign up with Ropazi, they’re paired with an experienced personal shopper, who they communicate with solely via text messaging. Instead of having to go to the store, the personal shopper helps the parent pick out the perfect outfit for the child in less than 20 texts. Ropazi largely curates outfits from small-batch independent designers.
We talked with Nauman, who can be found on Twitter @naumanq.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Nauman Qureshi: I thought I’d always be a doctor since I was really good with people, and my dad and his dad were doctors as well. But something along the way changed; I was 14 when I first started to dabble in entrepreneurship and the idea that I can make a business where I bring about an impact bigger than myself.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Qureshi: Ideas remain ideas until you bring them to life. There were a lot of ideas in my mind for solving problems around my surroundings, but I knew the only person stopping me from bringing them to life was myself. I wanted to have full autonomy on what I solved and how I solved it. The vision that I’ve set forth for our company is based on what problems our target demographic experiences. The impact that this vision brings about in the lives of our audience is why I wanted to start my own business.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Qureshi: Success is a subjective term and often is defined by society in monetary terms. Success in entrepreneurship comes in small doses and builds up. There was a time when we had built a product that we thought users would love, but it turned out barely anyone used it. We failed at it! Switching to a new model after interviewing and surveying over 1,500 moms across the U.S. turned out to be something our users now love. That was a triumphant moment—we succeeded in delivering value. Have we succeeded in reaching our vision? Not yet. There’s a lot more small success to collect along the way.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Qureshi: Never take rejection to heart. Rejection is a part of growing a business. When you’re faced with a situation where you get rejected by a potential client, an investor or a critical hire, always treat it like a “Not yet” vs. a “No.” Believe in yourself so that you can convince that person at a later stage to reconsider once you’ve shown progress and a track record. Even if it doesn’t pan out, the “Not yet” will save your heart from feeling low.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Qureshi: Build relationships. A huge part of being an entrepreneur is getting to know people, your customers, your investors, your partners and vendors. Start working on your people skills. You’d be surprised how much of an impact a good impression [makes].
Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?
Qureshi: The Millennial generation is all about flexibility and individuality. They are creators and part of the DIY generation. Companies like Etsy, Uber, etc. have given birth to new models where people can build small services-based businesses around them. I think there is going to be a rise in small businesses in the future.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Qureshi: Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Qureshi: “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”—Aristotle
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