How I Built My Design Startup

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The founder of Laurel & Wolf, who spoke at Women 2.0 City Meetup Los Angeles, shares three important tips that helped get her startup off the ground. 

By Leura Spielman (Founder, Laurel & Wolf)

My entire life, I have been passionate about beautiful things and spaces and how they shape the way you feel, think, and act. Early on in my design career, I was lucky enough to land a job with the award-winning design firm Martyn Lawrence Bullard Design. I was hungry to gain respect as a designer and worked relentlessly to prove to my employer that I could handle anything. A short period later, I had become the senior designer and was heading up high-end residential and commercial design projects all over the world. It was an incredible learning experience but after 3 1/2 years I was ready to spread my wings. Nervous but exhilarated, I made the leap and launched Leura Fine Interiors.

I quickly noticed once leaving the high-end design market that most people were desperate for interior design help but could not afford it or if they could, were terrified of hiring a professional designer. I figured there had to be a better way of connecting designers to clients and why not use a marketplace platform to do it. Thus the idea of Laurel & Wolf was born. Although I have never been tech savvy, I was frustrated by trying to make my passion for design and my business fit into a broken and archaic business model. It was time to make an even bigger jump.

Accomplish Small Goals; One at a Time

Once the idea was born it was all I could think about. I sought out every person I knew in tech ( founders, investors, advisors, marketers, business development folks) and sat them down and picked their brain about their businesses, their experiences, their journeys and began to form a plan. After all of these interviews I had my first few steps in place that I needed to take. From that moment forward it was a constant push to accomplish these small first goals one at a time. By tackling each goal individually, I was able to move very quickly. As if on a continuous loop, the only thought in my mind was, “Just keep pushing the ball forward!”

Execution & Persistence

I feel that as an entrepreneur and founder the most important thing you can do is be persistent and learn how to execute. A great idea is a wonderful thing to have but without being able to execute on a strategic plan you will be lost. I constantly preach to our team that we have to balance our broad vision and ideas with being able to tackle and accomplish one thing at a time. My background in design has actually helped me wrap my head around why this is so important. You don’t get the dream house without first laying a foundation, creating a frame, and then building upon that, sometimes painfully, brick by brick.

Done is Better Than Perfect

In addition to this, I also always say that done is better than perfect. We all know that perfect is an ideal that we should constantly strive to obtain but what some people fail to realize is that perfect doesn’t truly exist. More often than not, while it is critical to test and analyze, shipping your product is far more important than spending months “perfecting it.” The reality is that you won’t know what will make it perfect until you send it out there to be judged. As scary as it is to put something out for the world to see, it is far worse to waste valuable time, energy, and money attempting to “finalize” a perfect product. If its a great product, the process of building, testing, and revising will never be done. Just like people, I believe products should always be a work in progress.

To decide to make the jump and become an entrepreneur is a wondrous, dizzying, and terrifying decision. I have even heard people joke that to be an entrepreneur you have to be irrationally optimistic! All jokes aside though, being a female founder in a space dominated primarily by men might make that jump seem even scarier. However, I would argue that the women of our generation are armed with a battery of skills that we can use to our advantage as founders. We are natural born jugglers and we have a keen understanding of how to balance multiple tasks, expectations, and goals. With the power of choice came the expectation that we can and should “have it all.” This has meant that as women, we are in a constant process of trying to win at everything. If this isn’t good training for a founder, then I don’t know what is!

Hear from speakers like Leura at the next Women 2.0 City Meetup.

luera About the guest blogger: Leura Spielman is a professional interior designer turned entrepreneur and founder. After working as the Senior Designer for one of the world's top interior design firms ( Architectural Digest Top 100, International Interior Designer of the Year, and as seen on Bravo's "Million Dollar Decorators") Leura launched her own interior design business Leura Fine Interiors( also featured on HGTV.)