Seventy-Thirty: Susie Ambrose
Psychotherapist Susie Ambrose realised that her richest clients had no time for personal lives, so she founded a dating service for millionaires.
Susie Ambrose was working as a psychotherpist and realised that her wealthiest clients had no time for personal lives. So she founded Seventy-Thirty a global matchmaking service for millionaires.
Name: Susie Ambrose, CEO. Age: 39 Business: Seventy-Thirty Ltd. Type of business: Matchmaking, Lifestyle, and Life Coaching for Millionaires Start date: 25/10/04
When did you first decide you wanted to start your own business? When I was working as a psychotherapist. I felt I had a flair for business strategy and creative implementation and this made me realize that I was destined to start my own business. I was already working with wealthy clients who usually didn’t have time to meet suitable partners, so I began to strategize a plan for Seventy-Thirty.
Tell us about your business Seventy-Thirty is a global matchmaking, lifestyle, and life coaching service for millionaires and high net worth individuals. It was started with the understanding that the very successful are often “cash rich, time poor,” individuals who sometimes lack the time it takes to have a fulfilling personal life. Seventy-Thirty also has a sister company, Aspire 70:30, which was created for those who, although not wealthy, would like the chance to be introduced to wealthy members based on various compatibility factors.
Was it your first business idea and where did it come from? No, it wasn’t my first idea, though it was the one I felt the most passionate about.
Was your decision to start a business inspired by any other companies or individuals? I was inspired by many of my psychotherapy clients, who revealed a genuine need for a professional, personalised approach to matchmaking for the wealthy. This apparent gap in the market served as a catalyst for my business development plan.
What makes you think there’s a market for your business? Research has proved that the affluent tend to work 70% of the time, leaving only 30% for their personal lives. Before the company launch, market research confirmed that many successful men and women were indeed single and had few appropriate resources for finding suitable partners.
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What research did you do? I got a business writer that did 85% of the research. I also researched the internet and various publications for possible competitors.
What advice did you seek? Some of my husband’s friends, who are successful businessmen and help from experienced business people, my solicitor, and my accountant.
Does the government need to provide more help to people trying to start a business? If so, what should they do? They should come up with a secure system that helps fund start-ups, much like angel investors do.
How useful has your business plan been and do you think you’ll stick to it as your business begins to grow? It has been essential to stick to the business plan throughout. However, we see new possibilities emerging as well.
How much did it cost to start the business? £50,000
How did you fund this? I have an investor (business angel) and I put in some of my own money too. I knew my investor from before and I showed him my business plan and he liked it. I found the experience very exiting and educational, he took a percentage of her company which is typical protocol.
When did you stop working? I stopped working as soon as she started developing the concept. It was very strange to her at first as I was thinking and making decisions on my own. But this feeling evaporated very soon and I felt very excited about the whole thing. The moment was majestic and I will never forget that day. I knew I had just jumped on a train that would take me to my destination: my own successful business.
Are you working from home or from premises? Seventy-Thirty is an office-based service, located in Mayfair, London. Staff are also able to work from home when necessary.
If you’ve already got premises, are you glad you made that decision? Having an office in such an ideal location was essential for this type of business, and has proved to be a sound decision for the company’s operation.
How many hours are you working at the moment? Like many of our clients, we tend to work at least 70% of our waking hours, if not more! Susie often puts in 16 hours days, and longer.
How are you managing your day and what steps have you taking to ensure you’re able to get everything done without working around the clock? It is a complex company and there are many responsibilities to attend to. Learning to prioritise wisely and to delegate tasks appropriately has been the key to maintaining our own work/life balance.
What about staff, is it just you?Selecting qualified staff has required very careful screening, given the nature of our clientele. It has been a successful process, though, and we have successfully built a network of qualified experts at Seventy-Thirty.
Is the amount of red tape that comes with taking on an employee something that concerns you? If it is, what will you do about it? It is more important to Seventy-Thirty that appropriate employees are selected based on their expertise, than worrying about the red tape involved. We rely on highly experienced staff who can maintain a level of professionalism at all times.
What marketing and advertising have you done so far? The website was the primary marketing tool at the first launch of the company. Our major PR campaign was launched in March 2005, and we have also recently begun advertising in various publications.
Where do you hope to be in 12 months time? We hope to continue to build a network of satisfied members and establish ourselves as the frontrunners in our target market.
What are the main obstacles to growth? Ensuring that we can successfully communicate what makes Seventy-Thirty such a unique service in a world of online dating services and introduction companies.
How do you plan to overcome these? Continued efforts in effective marketing and PR, as well as the delivery of unparalleled and customer-focused service.
What skills and personal characteristics do you need to start your own business? Focus, ambition, and a strong belief in the concept.
So what advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business? Do not start by thinking you will make money overnight, as it is not going to happen. Do your research even if it takes one year. Prepare yourself for life to change drastically; so if you have family, talk to them about this. You will be working 16 hours a day and sometimes more, you will not be going on holiday and you will be working on Bank holidays. The first year and perhaps the second will be all about the business. And the golden rule: be realistic.