Cover Story: Otto Mitter On How To Build A Successful Business

Building a business and growing your company is a challenge in the ever-changing market. Industry leader and managing director of Elleebana and Ex-Imports Otto Mitter tells Anita Quade the top five ways to build a successful business.

Building a brand or business is one of the most challenging projects that you can ever embark on with your life’s journey. The average person will spend 90,000 hours of their life dedicated to their job and when you own your own business, chances are you’ll spend even more time than this, working after hours and doing absolutely anything you can to reach those business goals.

I spend at least 60 hours a week working on my company, I have the pleasure of working alongside my wife at the helm, but this in turn does become very difficult for us to switch off when we get home because we’re both so passionate about the growth of the company and we have so many goals to achieve.

When it comes to creating business plans, anybody can do Google searches on how to grow a successful company and there will be hundreds of different business mentors and marketing gurus that can successfully show you strategies on how to grow your business. I want to share some simple methodology on the top 5 principles that work for me and what has been fundamental in helping me create a global brand that is now available with distributors in over 60 countries around the world.

Ex-Import Niche Products Managing Director Otto Mitter


As most companies grow you need to employ more team members to help you reach your goals and cope with the excess workload and activity that is being created. Having more team members though, does require more management and more resources in general, so with growth comes more responsibilities and this in turn takes its toll on you mentally and physically. It’s crucial to try and not get overwhelmed when you start going through this process and if you feel you are, just break it down to the daily priority. I work this into a few sections that are all about setting some clear goals and having a good strategy.

Review your goals frequently and set new goals according to any changes you need to make. Yes we’ve all heard the “set goals” advice before, however, do we actually do it?

The world of business can move quickly, you might have new treatments you bring into your menu, you might have a new product range you wish to launch or you might have some expansion in your premises that needs to come to fruition. Goals can change very quickly depending on many factors. Staying on top of this helps you know where you’re going and where you have been, but if you don’t have them, you can find yourself wondering what to do next, which can cause a lot of unwanted stress and slows down the process of getting ahead.

Pinpoint tasks

Identify tasks that give you the most return. This is something that also changes frequently, for example don’t get caught up each day scrolling on Facebook or Instagram looking at what your competitors are doing. Tackle those emails one at a time and do them with gusto, cut out the unnecessary details and keep on point, maximising your time.

Team goals

Keep your team motivated. There are many ways of finding out your team members currency, find out what that is and do something with it, because having your team motivated is critical to maximising output. It’s very easy to fall into a rut with day to day tasks, you get way too busy to check in on what your team is doing, you’re trusting that everything is going well and then when you check in on the projects, you might not actually be hitting those goals you had in mind.

There are various ways to motivate your team such as finding mentors for them or creating team building activities, but importantly show them your support. If they don’t have your support and you’re too distant this can lead to a lack of motivation and a disconnection within your team.

Collaboration is key

Team work is all about collaboration and when collaborating with team members it’s very important to set clear time lines on the projects you are working on. It took me a little while to value the importance of requesting deadlines, I certainly learned the hard way, by giving people a job and just trusting it would be done promptly or within an acceptable time. After being let down a few times, I really got into the habit of ensuring a timeline is always put to everything. Using project management apps like Asana, Monday or a “work in progress action plan” on a cloud drive is imperative so you can log in and review goals and essentially have the reporting for the projects and priorities at the click of a button. What I’ve found over the years is people can go into auto pilot mode after a certain time.

I’ve adopted a 10 questions deep mentality, if you ask team members what they are working on today and they say a basic answer like “just working on education” that could mean a whole lot of things, there’s a lot of facets to education, but if I ask more questions to unravel more details I find that after 10 questions deep into a conversation you can really find out the full story of what is going on and have a better picture. Don’t settle for responses that don’t give enough details.

The power of positivity

Surround yourself with positive people, sounds easier than it is, but it’s another crucial ingredient to business success and productivity. Positivity when collaborating is huge, it’s not always easy to stay positive in the face of challenges, but as a leader you need to be strong and dig deep in those moments and pull your team up when they are falling down.

Daily exercise and self care. Do you do it? When I was younger I was always active but then all of a sudden I was in a trap for years where I literally just worked, worked and worked and didn’t make time to work on my health. Work was more important right? Since I changed that I’ve seen improvements in confidence, focus and overall performance which helps me to keep the momentum going.

Industry leader and managing director of Ex-Imports Otto Mitter reveals the top five ways to build a successful business.


It is endless the amount of networking that needs to be done to create a successful brand. To be successful you need people and to get the people, well… you need to network. It’s not always as simple as having a product, doing some ads and then all of a sudden people want to work with you or use your products.

Start networking before you need it, don’t wait! Make a plan and think about what you are wanting to achieve. Are you selling a product or service? Then once you are networking are you going to be prepared with the information that the contacts are you going to ask you for?

Be super organised and fast! Don’t take forever to get back to people you network with, everyone’s time is precious.

Forget your personal agenda – Let people know they are the priority! Let them know that you are interested in whatever it is they have to say or contribute.

Never dismiss anyone as unimportant, you never know when that person will be able to help you.

Figure out how you can be useful. – Assist people with no expectations, what are your core skills when collaborating? Can you facilitate at workshops or set up the events and meetings? Be prepared to dive in and show your value when networking with people.

Helping people usually comes back to reward you in more ways than you expect.

Follow up and follow through. One of the fastest ways to kill your business. People will lose interest in working with you if you don’t follow up and follow-through.

Believe in the power of networking, don’t underestimate the power of networking! It’s a powerful tool.

Building a business and growing your company is a challenge in the ever-changing market, said Otto Mitter.

“Never dismiss anyone as unimportant, you never know when that person will be able to help you.”


In our company we have many facets to what we do, reliability is a huge part of creating trust with our customers and having success in our company. Therapists need to rely on our distributors having products in stock and providing a good service and they need to rely on our educators to ensure they uphold high standards and deliver material that will give them the best results with their clients when performing treatments. The list goes on and on, but the point being, is reliability is everything and you can’t ever forget it.

If you aren’t reliable in business this is another quick way to start losing customers. Reliability creates trust and trust is one of the fundamental components of successful partnerships and growth.

If a client comes to you to get a set of lashes applied, they’re trusting that you’re going to do a great job and that you’re going to apply the lashes safely and correctly with beautiful styling and high standards. Reliability is the way of creating trust with your clients and I’ve seen over the years unfortunately when people aren’t reliable what happens. If educators don’t respond to their students quickly with answers or the correct support that they need we get feedback that that person is unreliable and straight away that is harmful to their business! People simply don’t want to work with them anymore. Reliability requires discipline, you need to think about how you want to be treated and how important it is when “you” have to rely on someone. Never forget that point, it can destroy your business real fast if you don’t master the art of reliability.


Another key principle that I’m a big believer in is practising gratitude, staying positive, keeping humble and being grateful for the opportunities that you have.

To show you’re grateful for what people do for you is just a huge part of building the relationship with your network, your clients, customers, distributors or whoever you’re working with. It’s great to stay positive and really project that gratitude for the opportunities people give you along the way when you’re working and collaborating together. Everybody benefits more when you have a positive culture happening within your business and whether you’re a small salon with just a few people or a really big business with lots of employees or people on the team, gratitude shows you care and when your team or customers know you care, that makes a big difference.

Practising these elements of giving gratitude daily is very beneficial for having a positive culture within your business and is extremely powerful.

“Ultimately when clients come to a salon they want a great experience that takes them to a place where all their worries go away,” the managing director revealed.


Creating an exceptional customer experience is one of the most important factors in growing your business. How important is it to make sure that clients love the environment and feel of when they enter your salon? Or to ensure they love coming to your website and finding all the information that they need easily? Do they get the support that they need straightaway or promptly?

In a world that is living in a sense of urgency more than ever before, we have to master the art of exceptional customer experience. Many of us send a message with an expectation that we will get an answer immediately and if you don’t have good planning, protocols and resources in place for this, you will quickly feel the negative effects of not getting this element correct.

Be exceptional at customer service

Mastering the art of exceptional customer experience, is mastering the art of keeping our clients coming back and working with us time and time again. Having great refund policies is so important as well because in business things don’t always go to plan. Having policies like this is security for your client and customer, it builds that trusting environment which in turn makes them want to work with you or spend their hard-earned money with you and importantly, creates a sustainable and ongoing relationship.

You want to create an amazing experience for your customers the very minute they walk in the door, ensure you greet them and take interest in how their day is going, is the environment in the salon social media friendly and does it entice a fun, relaxing or secure atmosphere where they want to share about it with their friends on social media?

Ultimately when clients come to a salon they want a great experience that takes them to a place where all their worries go away. They can embellish in a special time and experience customised especially for them.

Feedback is key

Capture and measure feedback, you might think you’re offering a good service but how can you be 100% sure? Collecting feedback is a great way to monitor if your clients are truly happy, just because you think you’re providing a good service doesn’t mean they think you are.

Continually improve the experience by taking that feedback and doing something with it. Getting the feedback is the easy part, actually implementing procedures and new changes to improve is usually a lot harder and more time consuming, but essential in taking your customer service experience to the next level.

These above principles are things that I use every day in my company, they are crucial to our success and future growth on our journey. The hardest challenge as a business owner when implementing these principles is consistency, we are all human at the end of the day right? If you can get these elements right, you’ll be well on your way to reaching new heights in your business.

This is a cut-down version of an article that originally appeared in the July-August 2022 issue of Professional Beauty.

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