Launching a business poses challenges from almost every angle, from funding the venture to finding the right staff. For most entrepreneurs, the minefield of legal compliance weighs heavy and can be devasting for a small company if approached without the right expertise.
For a monthly fee, Farillio provides entrepreneurs with all the legal documents and guidance needed to grow their business. The company sets itself apart by viewing the often precarious legal landscape through the eyes of a small business owner.
Business Advice caught up with founder Merlie Calvert to hear about how the business got started, her passion for entrepreneurship and the unique approach to branding for a legal company.
Who are you and what is your business?
I’m Merlie, and my business is Farillio. Our platform makes it simpler, faster, better and more affordable to manage your small business’ legal needs.
Where did the concept come from?
I built it because I needed it – and it didn’t exist.
“Farill” means brave. And for me that says it all. You need serious guts to start a business, but you’ve got to be braver still to keep going through all the ups and downs you’ll inevitably face. I wanted a business that embodied the spirit of entrepreneurialism, so that it could form a rallying cry for all those who, like me, doubted themselves and maybe put off launching their dream.
How did you fund your business?
I bootstrapped to start – scraping together savings, relying on my husband’s salary (and goodwill!), trying to build that all-important minimum saleable/usable proposition on the leanest basis possible – while not compromising all the key stuff like data security and user experience.
Nine months in, we did an investment round totalling £400,000 in a couple of tranches with angel investors, all incredible for being prepared to take that risk and make our future journey possible. And, this summer, we raised a further £650,000 from several experienced investors who are coming on board as shareholders in a personal capacity, lead by Lord Stanley Fink, who is an amazing supporter of businesses just like ours.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?
There are so many challenges along the way – but, with the launch, I think it was overcoming the fear of not being perfect and going ahead anyway. We tested and tested and got terrific user-guinea-pigs every step of the way, but I know from all my fellow co-work peers that, however hard you work and prepare, you almost never feel ready or perfect. I felt nauseated for about a week when we launched.
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
Never giving up – on the dream, the plan or the gargantuan workload that comes with this kind of business.
What marketing strategies have you used?
We have a multi-stranded marketing strategy and you’ll find us wherever our subscribers hang out. We’re a tiny team, but because we’re a content monster, and we collaborate with loads of amazing business and legal people too, we have lots to share. This makes our marketing activities really fun and very varied.
We meet and tweet, post, Insta, blog, campaign, mailshot, email, event support and host. We live our marketing and we are it, all across our team.
Above all, we are a brand with incredibly strong values that permeate everything we do, from how we speak, support, collaborate, share and publish, to how we build our team, our tech and our Farillio world. Everything starts from that point. And if something – or someone – does not fit with our brand and values, we do not engage with it.
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In five years’ time, I’ll be…
Just as obsessed with making the world of business work better for businesses, lawyers, and students… I’ve been 20 years at this already; it’s a life’s work! I seem to have an innate need to shake things up and simplify stuff and I have an uncanny knack of being in places where fellow rebels hang out. In my defence, things just happen and then I can’t help myself!
Who are your business heroes and why?
Honestly? The unsung ones. Those who step out every day and start a business, or keep going at what they’ve started, in spite of every challenge that inevitably comes their way. We have an unhealthy habit, I believe, of lauding the big names with the big money success. I love the founders by whom I’m surrounded every day. Those who I’ve watched grow, learned from, shared blueprints and investors and team members with.
I’ve learned how success is really achieved, from ground up and step by step. And I pay it forward, as far and wide as I can, to those who are following in my footsteps now.
Getting the balance right for your #employees can be tricky at times – but the @H_S_E‘s 6 stress-management standards can help you get it right. And our suite of employee resources (many cowritten with @HeptagonHR!) can help too! Take a look here: https://t.co/sGw6I5arPE pic.twitter.com/rxNBITDPLf
— Farillio (@farillio) December 11, 2018
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Do it. If you have a dream, don’t let fear hold you back – because, seriously, you’re going to learn a whole new definition of fear at every step of your journey! But the really empowering truth is that you will find the ways to overcome what makes you anxious and 6 months, 12 months, years later, you’ll look back at what you were scared about and it will seem really trivial – possibly even funny. Build a brilliant network of people around you – it’s never too soon to start – and someone will always be able to help you with the answers you need.
The biggest risk you ever take is backing yourself and taking that first step to starting out. So back yourself – because if you don’t, nobody else can.
What’s your favourite way to spend downtime?
Goofing about with my kids. Who are very goofy. And have terrible senses of humour and frequently play pranks on me. There is never any danger of me getting an ego or ideas above my station. They’re the board of directors of my other job, and life is NEVER quiet, dull or predictable.
Last series you binge-watched?
Hmmm, I miss the days of being able to binge watch something great! I loved Homeland, Game of Thrones and The Man in the High Castle. But I’m a huge fidget and always involved in something – so, for me, it’s less binge and more bite-size. Thank goodness for box sets!
What three things can’t you live without?
If I’m being honest, no.1 is my phone – but I have such a love/hate relationship with it that I resent even listing it! From a “keeping me being the me I like” perspective, the three things are my kids, coffee and a really good fry up.
What app do you use the most?
WhatsApp. It’s like air traffic control of my life!
What song is always on your playlist?
Oh, it’s an oldie: Midnight at the Oasis – Brand New Heavies. It reminds me of the desert, friendship, happiness and infinite horizons and possibilities. Plus some very crazy university parties…
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