Red Balloon founder shares insights into online entrepreneurship

Naomi Simson, founder of online gift retailer RedBalloon, says people wanting to start their own business should be detailed and visionaries.

“I usually defer to businessman and entrepreneur Jack Cowin who puts it better than I ever could,” Simson says. “I saw Jack present at the EY Entrepreneurs workshop, where he opened with the quote ‘an entrepreneur needs to be a cross between a microbiologist and an astronomer’. He believes that true entrepreneurs are special in that they can be both detailed and visionary.”

Simson says great entrepreneurs are curious, persistent, are searching for better ways to do things, endlessly positive, focused and have exemplary people skills. While entrepreneurs can be born with these traits, she says some can also be learned.

“Curiosity and positivity are hard things to teach — you either have them or you don’t,” she says. “But characteristics like focus and persistence can be learned, and need to be — without them you’re unlikely to make it as an entrepreneur or business owner.”

Simson attributes the success of her own business to tenacity and hard work. “It was almost three months before RedBalloon made its first sale,” she says. “People used to ask me ‘when were you going to give up?’ but the thought never crossed my mind. I never, ever thought that it would not work and I never contemplated throwing in the towel.”

Simson also says that entrepreneurs don’t get discouraged by failure and, in fact, learn from it to make their next endeavor successful.
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