Interview: Silje Landevåg (33), Founder and Business Developer of Online Sports Store GetInspired.no
Silje Landevåg (33), founder of and now business developer of online sports store, GetInspired.no, is an inspiring lady to say the least. In 2009, at the age of just 24, she literally started the company from her own living room couch. The skyrocketing growth and success of Get Inspired was not something the young entrepreneur had imagined when she first started out, but as of today, the company has 36 employees consisting of young ambitious people. And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, she’s launched her own sports clothing brand ‘Love it’, which you can check out by clicking here.
“It’s pretty incredible what we’re able to do as long as we set our minds to it; I had to figure out how to do anything from accounting to logistics and purchasing, which were all things I knew little to nothing about”, she says.
Keep reading to get to know more about this impressive self-made power woman.
First of all, how did you start your day today?
I started my day having a lovely brunch with my brother, Sindre, who’s the CEO of Get Inspired at Scandic Nidelven in Trondheim. We didn’t have a specific agenda and just chatted about the company in general.
What made you take the leap and start your own business?
Primarily, the job market being really hard to get into. I was fresh out of uni and unemployed, and had nothing to lose by starting my own business. I figured I could learn a lot from the process regardless of the outcome. I didn’t invest more money than I knew could afford to lose; I took up a loan for 200 000 NOK’s, which is pretty much the same amount as a student loan, which seemed manageable.
What were your biggest insecurities when first starting out and how did you overcome them?
I was only 24 years old at the time; young and naive with a lot of courage. I actually didn’t focus very much on what could go wrong at the time, which I think is an advantage of starting your own business at a young age. It didn’t take long before I was faced with obstacles and challenges though, and looking back at the start-up phase I consider it a very lonely and challenging period in my life.
I was all alone, working from home in my slacks with no makeup or effort put into my looks what so ever. I didn’t have a business partner, or anyone to confide in or ask for advice, and I faced a lot of challenges that I “just had to take care of” – regardless of whether or not I knew how to even start. But I did it, I managed. It’s pretty incredible what we’re able to do as long as we set our minds to it; I had to figure out how to do anything from accounting to logistics and purchasing, which were all things I knew little-to-nothing about. I remember sending out invoices manually during the start-up phase and I had to tick all the payments and then follow them up.
What is the best and worst thing about being your own boss?
The best thing is the influence I personally have on the company in terms of deciding which steps to take and what direction to head. I also love the flexibility, and being able to develop the company as we go along. As of recently, I am working as ‘business developer’, which is a position I have shaped myself. It has taken me 9 years to get here, so I guess you could say it’s about time?
The worst thing about being my own boss is probably all the responsibility, especially when things are not going your way. There have been many battles that have been difficult to face and endure mentally. Also, there aren’t that many people you can talk to when you’re the boss, and I constantly need to be careful about what I say and do – especially now that Get Inspired has grown and gotten bigger. Fortunately for me, I have my brother with whom I can be myself 100%.
Tell us about something you’re really proud of in your business and/or your greatest achievement:
I am incredibly proud of the positive turnover we’ve had – despite not taking up any loans on our way here. I am also very proud of our team, and the fact that so many talented people want to work for us – that really motivates me. Other than that, I am incredibly proud of having launched my own clothing brand ‘Love it’ – I absolutely love the clothes and am so excited to show you all the news!
Where and doing what do you feel most inspired?
When I’m working strategically and creatively. When I think about what I can create, how we can advertise it and reach out to our target audience, and how to get my team to believe in my idea. An example of this is the process of designing ‘Love it’; I love working with the designers and then creating a marketing strategy for the products, it makes me so excited!
How do you pick yourself up and keep going when you feel discouraged?
It depends on the situation; if I’ve made a mistake or something has gone seriously wrong, I need some time on my own to reflect on the situation. Typically, this means a day or two of going into my own head ad figuring things out; evaluating the situation and establishing what I can learn from it. I’m trying to get comfortable with and adapt to the mindset that challenges and hardship are essential for progress, and a natural part of the game.
I also talk to people that I trust who help me get back up. Who that person is depends on the situation, but there aren’t that many people who I really “let in”. “Sometimes you need to get stung in the eye before being stroked on the cheek” is a (Norwegian) saying that illustrates what I’m trying to say quite neatly – I’m not interested in talking to people who will tell me what I want to hear, but rather people who will tell me the truth and help me figure out how I can move on, learn from a tough situation and use a negative experience as an advantage in my business.
Working out is also something that works really well when needing to get through a rough period – it contributes to turning a negative mindset into a positive one.
Name any woman (past or present) whom you admire and look up to and please tell us why:
There are so many fantastic women out there! Gro Eide, the publicist for the Norwegian skiing association have been a really important inspiration to me on several occasions and is a woman that I really admire and look up to. Other than that, I really respect Erna Solberg (the norwegian prime minister) and think she’s an amazing prime minister – rock solid and confident.
I am also generally inspired by people who listen to their hearts and follow their dreams, big or small; people who don’t give a f*** about “The Jante Law”.
What do Scandinavian women need more of? Less of?
We need more girl power. We need to get better at cheering other girls on – there is this incredible force generated when women are cheering each other on. We also need to raise our hands more, scream louder and embrace the opportunities that we’re presented with. And also focus on the fact that we are “good enough” and can always learn what we don’t already know – an area where we have a lot to learn from men.
Name three qualities you admire in other women:
Women’s ability to multitask – we are so incredible at it! The ability to “see the big picture” while also paying attention to the details. Also, structure and effectiveness, I think a lot of us get better at those two things after having children – mostly because we have to.
If you have one, what is your personal or professional motto?
Whatever you do, do it with passion! Passion for your work is essential for success.
Tell us one thing that people would be surprised to know about you:
I love cheese doodles, I played the saxophone for 4 years and I have skydived..
And finally, do you have any advice, big or small, to all the ambitious women out there wanting to head for their dream career?
Go for it and follow your dream – we spend 1/3 of our lives at work and you can do whatever you set your mind to! Make sure you have your friends and family on board as your personal cheerleaders and start looking at what resources you already have available.
Envision what your life will look like when you achieve your goals; everything you’ll be able to experience, how much you’ll grow and what an amazing role model you will be for your children (and others) when they see how hard you’re working on following your dreams. Write your dreams down and make a “motivation list” that you can dig out on tough days, reminding you why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Look ahead, believe in yourself, dream big and stay positive – we need more women who dare, so I really hope you do! <3
[Please feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments section]