Inspirational Woman: Christina Ioannidis | Founder of Aquitude

Christina knows all about perseverence and how to overcome  the challenges faced with on a day to day basis. That is why Christina setup Aquitude to provide others with inspiration and guidance on how to be successful in this climate.  We speak with Christina regularly and Aquitude also provide WATC members with some great articles. Find out more below.

What made you decide to set up your company?

Double redundancy when working in the IT and Telecoms industry in 2000 and 2001 spurred me to start my first business. I wanted to try out something different, to follow my heart and do what I was passionate about. Whilst in each occasion I was getting involved in an industry I knew very little about, I had very clear visions of what I wanted to achieve and be successful.

What have been your biggest challenges so far in the company?

When starting in a new field as a start-up, (which I have done twice), learning and having a receptive mind has been the greatest priority. The biggest challenge for me was keeping going when all the chips were down. Going out on your own is not for everyone, as there are times when you can only rely on yourself to get through the hard times, and find your own strategies in order to do so. However, the desire to learn, including from mistakes, has kept me going when facing those great challenges, including when I nearly lost everything and had to declare my first business insolvent.

If there was one thing that you could say was a great success, what would it be?

For both of my businesses great success was measured by setting out and achieving the creation and delivery of a new service with satisfied, returning clients. My greatest satisfaction has been when clients come back for something new; no matter the challenge I would always find a way to deliver what my clients/customers desired. Now, with Aquitude, we are very happy to have clients who have been with us from the beginning, and with whom we have worked for over 2 years, and who are our greatest ambassadors. Word-of-mouth has been crucial for growing our business.

How do you see the market performing in the next 12-18 months?

Whilst it is very difficult to predict the market these days, the next couple of years will be challenging for all. The status quo will definitely change. Companies are going to have to target their products very specifically to their customer base, and focus on service so as to achieve return purchasing and increase loyalty. The same is true for managing their employees; corporate first instinct will be to perhaps down-size in view of an uncertain market, however, as my experience with my previous company allowed me to learn first-hand, it is the employees themselves who may hold the keys to finding ways of facing and resolving the company’s challenges. The secret to this is empowerment, and enabling their talent to do exactly that – offer their talent and have a voice to facilitate a turn-around. This requires great leadership from senior management.

If you could go back to when you started the company would you change anything?

It would be easy to say that with the benefit of hindsight I would have taken less risks, however, the greater the risk, the greater the learning whether through success or failure. I would have benefited from other professional men and women mentoring and supporting me and the business, whether it was for raising investment, or finding staff or even networking. This is why, through Aquitude, we have now sponsored the creation of the bidiversity (business innovation through diversity) forum (www.bidiversity.com) and one of its core pillars is the Share pillar, where start-ups can obtain support from professionals and companies for the development of their businesses.

When and if you get the time, what do you like to do in obtain a life balance?

Sports is critical for me, a great way to release any stress! Spending time with my partner, as well friends and family comes a very close second. I have found that they are the best support network in good and in bad times.

Can you share any tips for any members wishing to start out on their own?

My greatest tip is: Persevere, persevere, persevere.

There are 3 quotes which I would abide by:

 “A man (or woman) with an obsession is a man who has very little sales resistance”

(C S Lewis); Your passion and vision will get you there – just stick to it!

“The hardest you work, the luckier you get”

(Gary Player) – hard work leads to serendipity in my books!

And finally, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently”

(Henry Ford); as my experience has shown, failure earns us learning, and also, great respect for having taken a risk.

To find out more about Aquitude, click here to access their home page.

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