Brain Food: Decisions - Antony Buck, co-founder, REN Clean Skincare

MY BEST ...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

... was thinking big. It's terribly easy to build failure into a business by not really going for it, but inevitably you'll be up against people who are. If you do commit yourself to something, you're suddenly competing with very few people. All the people who are playing at it will disappear.

So you're suddenly in a very rarefied group of people, and stuff happens that doesn't happen if you don't commit yourself. You will end up in situations and talking to people that most people won't.

The two things that we did that most people wouldn't have done was to appoint a PR company before we even existed, and to open a shop. It was about believing in the business; assuming it was going to be successful - not arrogantly, but asking: what does it need to do to be successful?

Rather than 'let's do it and see what happens'.

The shop was just a way of turning a little idea into a physical reality, and as a new brand, it gave us stature that I don't think we could have got in any other way at such an early stage.

MY WORST ...

One of the worst things we did was to hire people we knew. Never ever do that. Don't hire any friends, friends of friends or any friends of relatives. Inevitably, at some point, there is something you are going to want to change. What the hell are you going to do if you want to fire your mother-in-law? For us, it was someone who was helping out on the finance side. There was no upset; it was just bloody awkward.

Another bad decision was launching haircare products - which we're now running down. We're small, we don't have time to do all of this. We probably have at any one time 20 really interesting opportunities, and we just had to learn to be ruthless about our time and resources.

You've got to be clear about where you want to get to. We spent a lot of time and money doing haircare, and it was successful - which was the annoying thing. But it was the wrong thing to do because we're a serious skincare brand and I think the clarity of that was compromised by being sidetracked into haircare.

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Leadership

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