Lastminute founder reveals secrets of her success

Martha Lane Fox reveals the keys to business success

Martha Lane Fox, one of the most recognisable faces of the dot com boom, last night revealed some of the secrets of her success.

Speaking at an event held by Oxford Entrepreneurs Lane Fox revealed how she initially told future business partner Brent Hoberman that Lastminute.com was a ‘terrible idea’. However, she overcame her reservations to create one of the internet’s most memorable businesses.

She highlighted four key areas for entrepreneurs to focus on in order to be successful: cash, people, new ideas, customer experience and service.

“Profitability was always core to the business, I don’t think businesses can work without a plan for that. To some people it comes second and they look to get the technology right and then the traffic to the site,” she said.

In terms of finding people she recommended calling people direct who might be bored in their current jobs and interested in joining a new dynamic start-up. Fox said people are often ‘flattered’ by such an approach.

New ideas should also never be discouraged: “Some companies say ‘we don’t need any more new ideas’ and want to concentrate on what they have got. However, keeping mechanisms in your business for them can be very rewarding. You should never prevent new ideas, you just need to manage them properly.”

She and Hoberman also spent hours on their website assessing the customers’ point of view and felt that this was crucial to her success.

“I think if we hadn’t done that it would have sent the message across the company that people could back off from making it as good as possible and this could have been disastrous,” she said.

Lane Fox stepped down as managing director of Lastminute in 2003 although remains a non-executive director.

She has had a lower profile in recent years following a car crash in which she was seriously injured. She is currently working with new business called Lucky Voice which is bringing Japanese-style karaoke bars to the UK.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2007

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