“Why I raised £10k for my business by selling my shoes”

And just like that.. tech entrepreneur, Carrie Osman tells us about her novel solution to a lack of startup funding: selling her designer shoes.

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Written and reviewed by:
Carrie Osman

Research has shown that startups founded by men get, on average, 6.2x more funding than women-owned firms in 2023. We hear from Carrie Osman, founder of the multi-million-pound consultancy firm, Cruxy&Company, about the challenges she faced when starting her business, and the creative thinking required to close the funding gap.

Founding my tech consultancy has been an exhilarating ride. Growing up in Surrey, my East London grandparents instilled in me tenacity and determination. Their “get things done” attitude became my business foundation. To fund my venture, I had to think outside the box.

During my corporate career pre-Cruxy, I quickly understood how, for the most part, it’s a man’s game. There are preconceived judgements around women in business as a whole, which can limit our self-confidence. I knew that I would already be yards behind my male counterparts when launching the business.

I knew that I would already be yards behind my male counterparts when launching the business.

Instead of traditional funding routes, I tapped into resourcefulness. I sold my beloved Louboutins and car, raising £10,000. With that, I set up shop in my parent’s spare room. But this way of funding wasn’t without difficulty.

Getting to the Crux

As a female entrepreneur in the tech industry, I faced additional challenges. Breaking through the glass ceilings and challenging gender stereotypes was no easy feat, especially as I’d never worked in this space before.

Cruxy has taught me a mountain of lessons. Since we launched a decade ago in 2013, I’ve faced my fair share of setbacks. The thing I kept reminding myself is that, as even the most successful entrepreneurs demonstrate, setbacks are inevitable.

Resilience is the name of the game. I soon learnt that adaptability was my superpower – being open to pivoting and exploring new approaches as the journey unfolds.

The three biggest roadblocks I faced when (literally) bootstrapping Cruxy were:

1. Mindset. I faced scepticism as many viewed the business as a “lifestyle” venture, which was only amplified further when doubled with the fact that I am a woman. Some perceived it as a casual pursuit. I found this patronising – not just because I knew I was able to succeed, but because it also underestimated Cruxy’s true potential before it could get off the ground.

2. Streamlining Operating on limited funds required precise allocation of capital to maximise impact. I had to spend a lot of time identifying key areas to invest in to optimise resources and achieve significant results. For example, understanding how outsourcing is a great way to accelerate the business and drive growth.

3. People I had to wear multiple hats and take on tasks outside my expertise to keep the business running efficiently. I bypassed headhunters to save on fees, which meant DIY-ing the hiring process.

Building a real CEO mindset

For women SME owners, especially those within the tech space, it’s difficult from day one.

After 10 years in the tech game, I’ve learnt a lot and have built a multi-million-pound consultancy business. There are some significant leadership lessons that I would urge others to follow.

For women SME owners, especially those within the tech space, it’s difficult from day one.

As a CEO, it’s essential to avoid falling into the trap of being too busy to get things done and thinking you must excel at everything. Instead, be open about your strengths and limitations, and delegate tasks accordingly.

Clarify your role and responsibilities, focusing on what truly aligns with your expertise and contribution. Resist the pressure to handle everything independently, and foster a collaborative environment where the right people are empowered to tackle specific challenges.

To thrive in a competitive landscape, it’s also crucial to create a playbook that outlines efficient processes across your organisation.

Emphasise performance optimisation by leveraging more operating system models than other companies of your size. The use of a proprietary benchmarking system will further embed a high-performance organisational culture.

By streamlining processes, acknowledging your team’s expertise, and promoting transparency, you’ll create a more efficient and effective organisation ready to seize opportunities and overcome obstacles.

Be ready for standard questions. No expectations, but show up, excel, and leave a lasting impression!

Are you a female entrepreneur struggling to get your idea off the ground? Read about the top five small business grants for women.

Written by:
Reviewed by:
Carrie Osman
Carrie Osman is the CEO and founder of tech-enabled consultancy, Cruxy. Since she started the company in 2013 from her parent’s spare room, she has shown true grit and determination to succeed. Right from the very moment she sold her first pair of designer shoes and car to fund the business, it’s this ethos that has carried her through her career.

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