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This young entrepreneur shares the 3-step strategy she uses to banish self-doubt

Photo courtes Sabena Suri

Photo courtes Sabena Suri

by Nina Zipkin
When Sabena Suri, then 24 years old, couldn’t visit a friend who had been hospitalized, Suri and two other friends assembled a get-well care package complete with cozy socks, a notebook, tea and a mug and her favorite book. The act inspired the idea for BOXFOX, a platform that provides customers with the tools to build unique and personalized gifts.
Three years after the women quit their jobs to run the business full time, BOXFOX’s services now include hand-selected gifts for everything from baby showers to weddings. The service ships across the world.
The now 28-year-old COO shared that she and her co-founders have been able to triple consumer sales every year since its launch, and are on track to hit $6.6 million in revenue by the end of 2018.
One in four people who use BOXFOX are repeat customers, according to the company, and it has corporate accounts with big name brands including Airbnb, Drybar, Fandango and Southwest Airlines. Its team has grown to 12, with five more new hires joining in the coming months.
More than figuring out how to craft the perfect gift and giving herself a crash course on the ins and outs of international shipping, Suri says that one of the most rewarding elements of growing this business has been connecting with other women with similar goals.
“As young female entrepreneurs, we started a company in a world where both of those qualities [can be] perceived as two strikes against us,” Suri tells Entrepreneur. “It took [finding] a lot of strength within myself and my two co-founders to know our worth and the value that being young and female actually brought to the table. By building this company [we hope that] we are starting to pave the way for other young women as well.”
Suri shared her insights about how to bolster your confidence and write your own rule book.
Q: Can you tell me about a time that you needed to create an opportunity for yourself or others?
When we first started BOXFOX, a lot of times it felt like [people thought] we were creating this concept because we were women. Gifting is [sometimes seen] as this cutesy concept. But we knew that this company was bringing an important service to people’s lives. We knew that it wasn’t just a cute concept — it was scalable.
Maintaining the vision of why we were starting this and understanding that people might have wanted to put us in a certain category or think about us as a certain type of entrepreneur, we knew that we were going to have to fight against that and prove that that wasn’t the case. This was much more important and much bigger of an opportunity than just starting a cute little company.
Q: What was at stake for you? Did this experience change how you think about leadership?
For any entrepreneur building a business, what’s at stake as a leader is failure. That can be defined as not living up to the potential that you’ve identified for your company and what you dream that it will become. As young female entrepreneurs, those stakes feel even higher. We want this business to succeed from a financial standpoint. We all quit our full-time jobs to pursue this. I believe so strongly in the concept. But we also feel we’ve got a lot more to prove. The success of this business will hopefully inspire other women to follow in our footsteps and go after what they really want.
In terms of how this has changed how I think about leadership, it really gives me a purpose that feels greater than the granularity of the everyday life of being a business owner. One thing I do is really empower our employees to give me feedback constantly and ask for what they need from me. I want to always help give them the resources that are going to help them do better in their jobs.
Q: People who want to advocate for themselves don’t know always know how. What are actionable steps they can take to make themselves heard? What steps do you take?
The first one is information gathering. There’s so many resources to connect with people who might be in your exact same situation, whether that is a network [of people] or books or blogs or podcasts. In your moments of self-doubt and being unsure, having those resources can really help. Having strong mentors, especially other female entrepreneurs, helps me feel like I’m not alone. When I’m having a moment when I wonder if I’m good enough and how to advocate for myself, I write down all the things and accomplishments that I’ve brought to the table.
Putting pen to paper and saying here’s how I contribute every single day and here’s what I’ve brought to this company or this job or this situation. This is how you can build up this unwavering confidence that’s going to drive you forward and allow you to stay strong when you know you’re going to be facing something super difficult. When you’re marching into your boss’s office to ask for a raise or to an investor to ask funding or a manufacturer to get better pricing, you really just have to not take “no” for an answer. With those three steps you’ve equipped yourself with information and your own self-confidence and that feels like a really good combination. I find that never really fails. (-Entreprenuer)


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