BusinessWings: Have you always wanted to set up your own business?
Kasia Gospos: I have never thought of starting a business until I moved from Poland to Australia five years ago.
When I arrived in Sydney in 2008 - picture a relatively inexperienced 28-year-old, young woman whose main priority was to develop her career - I was surprised to learn that unlike my native country, Poland, many Australian women not only worked part-time but also dedicated their energies outside of the office to pursue their passions.
In October 2011, I founded Leaders in Heels, which started off as a blog dedicated to empowering and educating women to take responsibility for their careers and lives.
BW: What inspired this idea?
KG: I was ideally positioned to start and lead Leaders in Heels because of my mother's influence. She taught me that that there is no bigger achievement for a woman than being independent.
My father passed away when I was just 13 and my mum who was then in a senior position in a large organisation, was able to support me and my brother, send us to good universities, and eventually became a director in the company my father held shares in.
I was ideally positioned to start and lead Leaders in Heels because of my mother's influence. She taught me that that there is no bigger achievement for a woman than being independent
She is my inspiration to start a forum like Leaders in Heels: to educate and empower women to take accountability for themselves and their lives.
BW: How has it started?
KG: The blog quickly acquired a large readership and more experts began contributing on a regular basis. From very humble beginnings as a one-woman show, Leaders in Heels now has three amazing female editors dedicated to career, business, technology, lifestyle and styling sections and over 20 regular contributors (located globally).
This additional support has allowed me to concentrate on more strategic growth planning, as well as website and business development, security, online marketing and networking. We have just partnered with the Dress For Success Sydney charity to raise their awareness and provide them with promotional activities estimated at $50k.
We follow the Huffington Post model from the US - all people involved in Leaders in Heels are providing their contribution voluntarily. The aim was and remains to create a network of women supporting other women.
BW: How did you finance it?
KG: I am quite tech savvy so I learned web-development myself simply by reading online forums and trying it for myself. If you are a self-learner you can launch your online business for less than $100.
BW: What have you enjoyed about running your own business?
KG: The most exciting part of running a magazine is the opportunity to interview successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs. My vision and goal for Leaders in Heels is for it to become the first preferred website for women in business worldwide and to lift the magazine’s profile. Part of this vision includes showcasing successful women at the top of their game; most recently interviewed CEO of Ogilvy PR Australia, Kieran Moore and Microsoft Australia Managing Director, Pip Marlow.
BW: What’s been the biggest challenge?
KG: Time. Running a magazine is time-consuming; add social media and you could work 24/7.
BW: What has surprised you most about running your own business?
KG: That there are many more amazing women passionate about the same I am. At the very beginning I used to do everything on my own: building the website, creating graphic design, promoting it, maintaining social media, editing articles and interviewing women. I didn’t think that there were people who would love to be involved and help.
BW: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in business for the first time?
KG: Never be afraid to ask for help. Leaders in Heels has grown very fast when I started actively engaging volunteers, contributors and partners.
Don’t try to be a serial entrepreneur. Master one business first.
Network. Most of the successful entrepreneurs became successful because of the support they have got from people they knew.
BW: Do you have a fixed plan, eg, a five-year or 10-year plan for the future?
KG: Yes, but not such a long one. Online media is evolving too fast to plan for five years or more but I have intermediate plans.
Future strategies for Leaders in Heels include hosting a forum for women to be able to exchange ideas, a networking event in 2013 and a mentoring program for young women. We will be definitely tweeting about this. We have lots of ideas – time and funding are the only constrains. We will be looking for more volunteers, partners and sponsors to support us in these ventures.