Maria Hatzistefanis Credit: Maria Hatzistefanis

Rodial founder and CEO shares her secrets for becoming an overnight success

We picked the business brains of Maria Hatzistefanis, founder and CEO of Rodial, getting her secrets for starting a business and becoming an 'overnight success'...

You may not have heard of Maria Hatzistefanis but you’ll definitely know her brainchild – world famous skincare company, Rodial.

Starting the business from her bedroom in 1999, Rodial now has products in 20,000 stores worldwide, and as founder and CEO it’s safe to say that Maria has earned her business stripes.

After her cult ‘snake’ serum went viral, so did her business and people were quick to call Rodial an overnight success. However, she’s here to say otherwise – it was actually 18 long years in the making.

‘I never planned on becoming an entrepreneur,’ Maria told us. ‘Circumstances just brought me to the point where my only option was to start my own business and so I just learned how to be an entrepreneur along the way.’

In her new book, How To Be An Overnight Success: Making It In Business, Maria details how to (seemingly) become an overnight success – offering up her very best secrets for starting a brand.

Maria Hatzistefanis

Maria Hatzistefanis

The secret to starting your own business…

‘Do your research and make sure that your business idea is different to everything else that’s out there in the market. You need to be different – you need to have a point of view that no one else has. I see so many people who just say “I’m going to start another jewellery line” but that’s not enough – I feel like some people really want to be entrepreneurs and get excited about it, but they need to think about why their product is different to everything else out there.’

The secret to developing your brand…

‘It’s very important that you are consistent in your brand. You must decide what your brand is and define your target market – then make sure whatever you create addresses the need of that target market. Once you’ve decided how you’re going to communicate with your audience, make sure that your branding identity is consistent across all of your platforms. Whether your brand is high-end luxury or quirky, that needs to be seen across your all of your platforms – from your online website, across Instagram and across any point of communication.’

The secret to building your business on social media…

‘When building a brand on social media, your initial instinct is to promote the product as much as possible to get people to buy it. While that’s one method, it’s also important and more engaging to tell your story and give background on the brand with your photos. Only posting product photos to Instagram all of the time will just turn people off.’

The secret to staying motivated…

‘Make sure you celebrate the successes that come your way, even if they’re small. When you’re an entrepreneur you need to celebrate the little moments, whether it’s an unexpected order, the highest sale you’ve ever done or that you just hired someone amazing. You need to celebrate the small successes because you don’t know when the bigger ones will come.’

The secret to balancing your work and personal life…

‘It is hard and everyone needs to find their own balance. I’ve had to sacrifice my social life as I spend a lot of time at work. I have a lot of friends in my team and the industry, as well as my family, but outside of that I just don’t socialise the way I did before I started my business. When you start your own business something has got to give and you have to look at your priorities – sometimes your social life has to suffer and you have to accept it.’

The secret to coping with stress…

‘I’m a big fan of exercising – yoga and meditation. I do it first thing in the morning to get myself set up for the day and to clear my mind. When I’m working out I come up with new ideas, so for me exercise is a great way for me to hone the stress.’

The secret to networking…

‘There are a lot of ways to network nowadays and it’s easy to be lazy and just network online, but you need to get out there. Go to conferences to meet people, exchange business cards, then make sure you follow up and go for a coffee and exchange ideas. Aim to push yourself out of your comfort zone and set yourself an achievable amount of meetings a month. I force myself to do three coffees a month – there’s always a benefit out of those meetings.’

The secret to interviewing someone…

‘When I interview someone, I try to find a reason not to hire them. I always try to look at the worst case scenario with them and I make them prove themselves and fight for the role until it comes to a point where I can say that a person is perfect.’

The secret to being interviewed…

‘The employer wants to hear something new that a candidate will bring to the table and most importantly that you genuinely want to be there. There have been too many times when I have interviewed people and they have said, “oh I just want this job for a couple of years and then I will move on to what I really want to do”. You would be surprised how many people have actually said that and obviously no employer wants to hear you’re fixed on a better job at a later stage. It’s just about being enthusiastic about the role, doing your homework and being specific about why you want to work for that company.’

The secret to taking risks…

‘When you take a risk in business you first need to work out the worst possible outcome. If you can deal with the worst-case scenario, then it’s a risk you can take.’

The secret to being an overnight success…

‘There’s actually no such thing. It takes years of hard work – as well as challenges and rejections along the way but it’s worth it. Hopefully on the back of my book some people will be inspired to move on from a job that they’re not happy with, decide to start their own business or just be inspired to keep going. It’s a hard slog but it can make you super successful and very happy.’

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