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‘The most important thing as a start-up is to know exactly what you want, what you are good at and what you want it to look like’

Petra (60) has lived in Zutphen all her life. She once trained as a textile buyer at the textile school in Enschede. After several jobs in women’s fashion, she started as a manager in the textile department at IKEA in Duiven. There she held various positions for the following 26 years, both in the branches in the Netherlands and at the head office in Sweden.

A dream of starting up for herself

She has had the plan to start her own business all her working life, but she never followed through. There was always some reason not to do it. Her salaried job was always demanding. She worked far more than 40 hours a week, so she never had much energy left to set up her own business in addition to her ‘regular’ work. “The moment IKEA started reorganising, I saw the opportunity to start for myself,” she says.

“I downloaded a blank business plan and then just started typing. The most important thing is to know exactly what you want, what you are good at and what you want it to look like.” She then created her own website. She also took the time to take additional courses in her (new) field: interior and garden design.

“I focus on clients who are slightly older, with whom the children have left home and – often just one more time – are renovating or moving. Their motivation is to ‘do it right this time’ and then I am asked for an interior design plan. A renovation usually also involves the garden. I therefore offer both options: interior and garden design. That’s a pretty unique combination.”

Coach gave tools for effective marketing

The marketing part involved in running her own business left her questioning entrepreneurship. “I was not getting new customers through social media. All my friends and family were liking my posts. Very sweet, but I need sharers. Besides, it turned out that sketches and drawings of interiors or gardens didn’t get many likes. My business coach from Benjijtoekomstproof helped me a lot with my online positioning and marketing.”

“It is nice to see that the target group I focus on is actually responding. I am most proud of the fact that clients recommend me to others as well as that my very first client is moving again and is the first to call me to help with the interior design.”