LOUISE BENCARD ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP: BE HONEST WHEN THINGS ARE FLYING AND FALLING
Author: Gabriella Anesio
Webamp spoke with Louise Bencard: an entrepreneur, a force to be reckoned with, and the CEO and co-founder of BeautyBoosters. The interview was centred around both the glamorous and not so glamorous aspects of being an entrepreneur, the ups and the downs, and the hesitations and motivations.
BeautyBoosters, founded by Louise Bencard and Maria Engberg Refsgaard in 2019, is a company dedicated to making beauty convenient for everyone. It’s about removing the stigma of beauty being something inconvenient you have to go out and get, sit uncomfortably through, and make time for in your busy calendar. Instead, BeautyBoosters wants to make beauty treatments accessible and associated with utter luxury and ease; they do this by bringing the beauty to their customers in their own homes, tailored to their customers’ own schedules - showing up with a drink in hand to make sure clients have a smile on their face, before, during, and after their treatments.
The idiom ‘opposites attract’ exists for a reason - but it’s all the more interesting to see it implemented in practicality, in the form of two people founding and running a business together.
“When I randomly met Maria, my partner in BeautyBoosters, in Los Angeles in 2017, things just immediately clicked. We were so obviously different and had such complementary skills, so when Maria pitched her initial thoughts on what we would later call BeautyBoosters, it seemed foolish not to try. So we did two years later, and I couldn’t be happier.”
The secret ingredient to making two opposites attract for longer than a split second - creating a sustainable relation - is exactly what Louise touches upon here: though her and Maria are totally different, their competences come together to create a skillset with razor sharp edges.
There’s another secret ingredient, an ingredient that you must possess in order to thrive as an entrepreneur. In Louise’s opinion, it’s pivotal that an entrepreneur can find the comfortability and confidence to appreciate their own successes, without others reassuring them that they’re doing the right thing. If you can find it within yourself to say ‘hey, what I’m doing is so badass’, being an entrepreneur might be right up your alley.
“I find it extremely rewarding that I finally have a “job”, where I feel intrinsically motivated to work hard every single day for a long-term goal, without getting immediate reward or acknowledgement, like you do with a regular job. It’s also one of the hard things, knowing that if you don’t do it, no one else will. When part of a startup, you have to find a different motivation for working up to 16 hours a day without getting paid at all. I have worked my butt off for 1,5 years without getting a penny - but I’m more motivated than ever, because we have a common goal and big ambitions for BeautyBoosters.”
In school you get an A+ for hard work, at work you get a promotion, as an entrepreneur you get neither, but the reward is ten times better because you know that all the hours you put in is contributing to your pride and joy - your company. It’s like planting a seed and watering it, watching it go from the seed, to a bud, to a flower...eventually into a whole damn forest.
The moments when a company goes from a bud to a flower, and progresses from there on out: that’s the founder’s A+, their promotion, just not in the conventional way. And to be a good, or at least happy, entrepreneur, you have to clock onto that before you even enter the game.
“The biggest reward is to wake up every day and do something that directly has an impact on the path of our company. We decide the pace of growth, our daily tasks and we are in command on every aspect of the business. It makes me extremely happy everyday to be a part of something I have built with Maria from scratch, with a team of 16 “Boosters” (beauticians) and a lot of customers who truly value something we have built. That’s what motivates me.”
That’s another thing. Most of the time, founders are surrounded by a team of troopers. Well, in this case, boosters. This means your accomplishments are shared with everyone - you do well, everyone does well. They do well, you do well.
Choosing to become an entrepreneur can be equated to possessing an acquired taste - such as liking coriander (a heated discussion to be saved for another time). This means you need to acquire the right skills to become a successful entrepreneur, leader, and visionary. Louise shared her top three:
“Communication, direction and shared passion are definitely the key. We have a team of 16 girls, who are all different in so many ways - but we all share the same passion and goal. Find common ground, don’t point fingers, say “we” instead of “I” and find a good way to deliver bad news. We keep our journey very transparent and share all the ups and downs with our team, because it’s their journey as well.”
Sharing both ups and downs. This is absolutely paramount. When you decide to be a part of the team, you consciously make the decision to be there for both the ugly and the beautiful (unless you prefer flight over fight, in which case: *never* join a startup team). If the only thing shared with you from your boss, especially in a startup, is how green the grass is and never how it needs more watering, or that there’s actually a dead patch that needs to be removed to make room for more grass to grow...then that leader needs to take a lesson or two in pragmatism. A pragmatic leader is one that deals with all situations, good and bad, and, in the process, communicates all of the above with their team.
Wakeup call: the grass isn’t always green, the sun isn’t always shining, and your team most certainly shouldn’t expect either all the time.
There are some personal attributes and personality traits that are more conducive to creating hardwired entrepreneurs. For Louise, there are three personal qualities she views as having been integral to helping her get to where she is today:
“I’d say my impatience, my work moral and my do’er approach. I’m up for any task and if I don’t know how it’s done, I’ll figure it out. I’m too stubborn to quit and often too impatient to wait for someone else to do it.”
That’s right, impatience, you read correctly. There’s lots of stigma surrounding impatience, with most viewing it as a scapegoat for screaming at people for no reason. But that really doesn’t have to be the case, as Louise discusses. Impatience may especially be “acceptable” when you’re an entrepreneur. Granted, if you’re the most impatient person to walk planet Earth, maybe your full-time job shouldn’t involve extensive caring for the elderly, but as a founder and someone running their own business...wanting to get things done pronto can’t come as a surprise.
As touched upon earlier, an ingredient to becoming a successful entrepreneur is relying on your own judgement as to whether things are going good or not with the company - there won’t necessarily be anyone telling you that you’re on the right track (unless you hire someone to do this). For Louise, this also ties into her biggest challenge - when you’re your own biggest critic, the temptation is higher than ever to work around the clock to find the answer, the solution, the fix to it all. But you have to know when to say enough, or at least learn to recognise when your body needs it Zzzzs.
“The biggest struggle has to be the uncertainty. You never know when you’ll succeed. As an entrepreneur, your life becomes your work and vice versa - and it’s really hard not to let one affect the other. The biggest challenge is to let go. It’s challenging, because knowing that only you can elevate your business and decide the pace of your growth, you want to work 24/7. It’s like getting a notification saying: “Do you want success?” and then have to force yourself to press “Postpone” or “Snooze.”
Nobody’s going to do your work for you, but you simply can’t work 24/7 - even though you want to. It’s a scary and extremely exciting journey.”
Forcing yourself, as an entrepreneur, to pause something you genuinely enjoy doing, and know will bring you success, is like telling a toddler to only eat three pieces of candy on a Saturday; it’s gruelling in the beginning, they don’t listen to you, but with some tears and slip-ups along the way, eventually they learn a key skill of discipline.
Teaching yourself discipline isn’t the only useful tool all entrepreneurs should be familiar with. I asked Louise what she wished others had told her before entering the world of entrepreneurship, to which she responded the following:
“That it takes time, and that you can’t expect to be able to do everything yourself. You do need help, and it’s okay to ask for it. Don’t use Wix to build your platform (I can’t stress this enough). Monday is going to be your new favorite day. Talk to your friends and partners about your frustrations, so it doesn’t stack up. Get advisors or mentors, you can call when you are at a crossroads. Be proactive. Prepare to pivot. Get ready to sacrifice a lot, both monetary and socially. Be honest when things are flying, be honest when things are falling. But most importantly, when something comes to life, something else might die. For me, it cost me my relationship and the life of my best plants. Remember to take time off and nourish the things you care about. It’s ok to prioritize your business baby, but don’t forget the other things that matter to you.”
Self-sacrifice - it’s tempting to believe you have to give up everything to realise your entrepreneurial dream. But the best visions are those that are created with some sacrifice, but not complete self-destruction. To be able to love what you have built in the end, you can’t hate the process.
Everyone is always told to dream big. But what does dreaming big actually look like? I asked Louise what Maria and her would do if they had an unlimited pot of money to grow their business.
“Then we would be worldwide by now, have an app and spend a lot of money on crazy marketing stunts. We have a lot of ideas! We would be hiring new talents to excel in every area of the business and would be testing new markets all over the world. We would have customized and pink electrical bikes for all our Boosters, so we could be CO2-neutral. And maybe pay ourselves some sort of salary, so we could take our parents out for dinner. In ten years, I hope we are the no. 1 beauty service provider globally. Whether you are in Dubai, LA, Moscow or Milan - you’ll always know where to get your beauty on demand, without having to compromise. Furthermore, we’ll have our own line of exclusive cruelty-free beauty products. Now, wouldn’t that be great?”
As an entrepreneur fighting every day to keep their business alive, it can, very understandably, become hard to dream big every day. When you have to live day by day and deal with the most seemingly trivial things to simply maintain your company (let alone grow it), envisioning such a bright and successful future may just be the furthest thing from your mind. But keeping these things at the forefront are imperative to make the sometimes mundane everyday startup grind worthwhile, worth all the sweat and tears. It’s like the carrot and stick metaphor - the carrot is the cruelty-free products, the pink bikes, the international markets, and the stick is the five hours of sleep, the fact you can’t afford to take your parents for dinner, and the parties you had to miss to count the bills. Worth it, though.
“We’re the only ones in Europe offering beauty on demand, but we want to be much more than just a regular beauty provider. I think our universe is very unique, empowering and inspirational. We want to provide confidence, inspiration and encourage curiosity of the beauty universe. Everyone can use a boost - and there’s nothing more powerful than a woman oozing confidence.”
We’d like to extend a big thank you to Louise Bencard for sharing her entrepreneurial journey with us. To keep up with their work, you can find Louise, Maria, and BeautyBoosters on LinkedIn (or browse their services on their website).
If you find the topic of entrepreneurship interesting, you can find similar posts about others and their journeys on this blog here. You can also find Nicolai Vittrup on LinkedIn, or use the contact form on this website to leave any comments. To learn about everything SEO, PPC, and web, explore the content produced by Webamp.