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Why it is important for me to be recognised with Awards

It is always flattering to be nominated or suggested for awards and nominations, and obviously, I would be lying if I told you it doesn’t boost my ego or confidence I am human; of course it does! But I want to share with you the most important reason why it is important for me to be recognised as a leader, as an entrepreneur and an innovator. It is much bigger than just me.

I come from a small town in Sweden. I grew up pretty uncertain about a lot of things, but I always had a strong (some would say too strong) sense of what is Right and Wrong. I could handle a lot of things, but I always struggled with unfairness, and with undeserved authority (again, some would argue any authority…). A lot of the times this would get me in trouble, as I was fiercely (and naively) fighting for what I believed was right.

I haven’t given up that approach, but I have become much smarter about it.

Winning awards does two things for me:

It validates what I am doing: I run my companies not just to make money (I haven’t taken an actual salary yet, and the small profits are reinvested in research, development and staff training), but to do good. My work with Direct Relief and The Fistula Foundations are two tangible examples (read more here).

It also gives me a platform to speak from. I have almost 10 000 followers on twitter, and a large network on LinkedIn. I have been asked for comments by The Washington Post, on CNBC, BBC and other media. This means that when the times comes for me to really make a difference, I can start with a very large network, and go from there.

There are also numerous other benefits: It validates the companies to customers and partners, it gives my teams a boost, it brings us tremendous joy to go to award ceremonies together (and win!). Obviously, none of the awards would happen without I, M, T, D, E, R, O, J, L, L, R and T, which they know very well: a leader isn’t a leader without the team who chose to follow her. And the fact that THEY chose to follow ME, is the biggest award a true leader could ever get.

THAT is the real reward.

While I know JUNE Medical has been growing…

…at an accelerated pace, I was delightfully surprised my company won Best New Business in Bucks last year.

Growth – personal, financial, career or otherwise – has always been an integral driver in my life. I consistently search for new ways to expand my experience and knowledge to stay in a perpetual place of forward motion (I like developing and learning new things). This state of being has become second nature, and I have to watch myself; I am very comfortable with change (actually seeking it, getting uncomfortable when things are too stable) and I need to always make sure others are happy with the pace.

With this award for the business, I couldn’t help but take a moment to reflect on what helped JUNE Medical get to where it is so quickly in only two years. We’ve gone from a company of three to an international organization with more than 10 team members and we have brought on several new partners like Carbon Medical, Astora and LamidayNoury. We have diversified the line of JUNE Medical products to increase stability – and we have taken tremendous market share in the last two years.

 

What is it that we’ve done right to receive such recognition?

For me, the foundation of any company is its team. You have to know (or at least figure out by trial and error) what experience and skills you need and when to bring it in. For the first couple of months, the team was small: focused on getting set up in the right way and exercising our strategy of Act Big. We were working out of a Regus office close to my house, getting the business off the ground with a mix of passion, financial expertise and sheer gumption. I have brought on hand selected people, some of whom I have worked before, knowing they had the right make to be successful in this environment. Together, we further defined our business needs to forge a larger path forward. I remain in charge of strategy and big picture finance, but have delegated the daily responsibility of the business to those who are better skilled than me to make it a success.

I approached building my team conservatively, hiring people who were passionate about our mission, understood our vision and were capable of wearing multiple hats. Not only were we building a team of JUNE Medical believers, but also a diverse team of complementary skills that could do more, with fewer bodies. This allowed us to shape the team smartly, not necessarily rapidly, with a long-term vision of sustainable growth in mind. We run circles around our competitors, and people are shocked when they hear how few we actually are.

I have known for a long time that I wanted to run my own company. Both my parents ran their own companies when I grew up, so VAT and balance sheets were as familiar to me as cookies and milk. Every role I have had, every meeting I have attended and every leader I have seen has taught me something valuable. I knew what I was preparing for, and I just needed to be patient enough to wait for the right opportunity, in the right environment, at the right time.

Because I knew who I was, what was important to me and how I wanted JUNE Medical to be operating, it allowed me to have a clear view on what worked and what didn’t from the outset. My vision was to create a business that would support my values, and that would allow me to do good, but would allow me to work a “mainstream” job shortly after its founding. By not adding the pressure of “how do I make JUNE Medical my full-time career that will pay me lots of money,” I inevitably gave myself the space to build a solid foundation for long term growth, based on the right values. With that clear in everybody’s mind, making the right decisions are easy. Customers come first. Always.

 I also had the freedom to think about what the brand stood for in the moment and what it could stand for five years down the road. This helped solidify the core values (that still exist today) and put us on a faster trajectory because we weren’t constantly questioning the fundamentals of the business. We knew what we stood for as we started to reach critical mass and what our customers wanted to keep us moving in the right direction. We’ve been able to use this awareness to guide each decision, creating efficiencies and movement with every step forward.

Could JUNE Medical have grown faster or continue to grow faster?

The short answer – yes. But this would most likely take bringing on financial investors to fund new growth initiatives. Opportunities that we know we’ll be able to deliver on our own, on a slightly different timeline.

Was it scary when I invested my savings into JUNE Medical to get it off the ground? Yes. Is it sometimes unsettling to know that 10 people depend on me for their livelihood? Yes. Do I wish I had extra cushion from another source? Not ever.

I’m sure there is a time and a place to contemplate investors, but for now I love knowing that each decision isn’t always driven by the bottom line. It enables us to be more creative, take more risks and grow substantially more quickly by freeing us of the chains (and quotas) that financial investors would create.

There is a way with smart decision-making and tenacity to win independently. It just takes some patience, the right team, a sense of purpose, a solid strategy and the discipline to execute it well.

 

Angela Spang

Founder, Owner and Managing Director JUNE MEDICAL