Klarna CEO Niklas Adalberth shares his tops tips on starting a business and how to make it a success.
Starting your own business is challenging, it takes time, hard work and dedication. That will be no surprise to anyone reading this. In 2005, Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Victor Jacobsson and I founded Klarna – an online checkout solution and payments provider that simplifies buying for consumers and retailers. We knew it would not be easy but we were excited to build a solution that filled a gap in the fintech sector.
We have learnt a great deal over the past 10 years, so we wanted to share our top tips to keep in mind when starting your own business.
- Find founders with the same ambition as you
No man is an island – it can be difficult to run a business by yourself. My advice is to find founders with the same ideas and ambitions as you. It is also important for the founders to understand the company culture and roots of the business. If the founders understand the business and you agree on the culture of the company, the business will feel authentic from the outset. This gives the business a strong foundation which you can build upon and grow to success.
- Put in the hours
Everyone who has started their own business knows how tiring it can be. Be prepared to put in the hours – late nights and early mornings. Holidays can be a few and far between when you first begin a business. In the first year of starting Klarna I had five days’ vacation. However, with that said, looking back it was all worth it in the long run. Working hard in the first couple years of starting will pay off and you will really see a difference in the business if you dedicate your time to the company. One of my favorite sayings is ‘if you work a lot, things happen; if you don’t, nothing happens’ and that has been my moto ever since we started Klarna.
- Have the guts to do it
When we started Klarna we were working on our idea in our spare time, on our holidays and even when we were working our other day jobs. In my opinion, working on our vision for Klarna part time really helped to hit the ground running when we initially begun the business. Understanding our roles and the business from working on our idea beforehand, meant that it was not such a big jump into the unknown and it was a smooth transition into our daily roles building Klarna as a successful company.
- Recruit people who are better than you
Always look for people who are better at doing the work than you. At Klarna we always try to hire the best possible team and so far we have been extremely successful. We have 1,200 people who have been working on online retail risk assessment for ten years and 80 people working on our security algorithm alone, every day.
- Get coding
Learn to code. I wish I had known how to code or at least learnt how to code when we first started Klarna. It makes it so much easier to speak to the engineers and understand how they work.
- Spread your wings to other locations
When we expanded Klarna we thought it would make most sense to expand to the country closest to us. We expanded to Norway first, and Finland and Denmark. But looking back, it may have been better to expand to Germany first. Expansion is always complicated no matter which market you enter – but in Germany, the potential is about 100 times bigger than in small markets. It is important to seek the best advice you can from mentors and people experienced in expansion to help you understand the best place for you to grow your business.
- Believe in your product
Finally my last piece of advice would be to believe in your business idea and have faith in it. If you believe in your idea, stick to it no matter what others say. If we hadn’t done that, Klarna would not be where we are today.
Niklas Adalberth is co-founder and deputy CEO at Klarna