Tell us a bit about your business?
Love it UP is a group buy site where we feature new amazing deals everyday and offer ongoing deals on our Beauty and Fitness, Fashion and Accessories, Home and Garden, Travel and Techonlogy pages. We also have pages dedicated to special occasions like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, so our members can bag a bargain all year round!
Our main point of difference as a deal site is that we donate a portion of our company's proceeds to Australian charities. To date we have proudly donated over $52,500 to our charity partners!
Our mission is to offer our members incredible deals, to offer our advertisers a cost effective and measurable way to promote their business and to contribute to the community by supporting Australian charities.
Why did you start up your business?
We saw a great market opportunity. Consumers are more and more educated and always look for the best deals. Merchants are always looking for new cost effective ways to gain new customers. Online shopping is growing fast. It made sense.
Further, my business partner and I already owned a marketing company and when we saw the opportunity in the deal space we thought we could leverage from our marketing resources to start our own site, and as we've always supported charities with our business we decided to create a structured donation program for Love it UP.
What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business?
Our biggest hurdle was probably IT. We were pretty strong when it came to getting deals and getting members. The back end side of the site and ensuring that our emails were being delivered to our members was our main challenge.
Cashflow was also a major hurdle. Like with all start-up businesses I guess :)
What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting up their business?
Create smart partnerships. Accept the fact that you can't do it all and create partnerships with people and businesses that share your vision and will help you grow your business.
Make your business your core competence or your passion. If you are really really good at something or really passionate about something you are definitely more likely to run a successful business. Do not venture in a business you don't know much about.
Use an outside in approach. Do not assume that because you (and even some people you spoke to) think a certain way that it is the way. In most cases, your business is not about what you think, it's about what your target market think. Research your competitors and talk to your target market to find the best way to respond to their needs and create a space for your business in the market.
Make sure you've done all your due diligence. That's the boring bit! And that's also what will ensure that your business is a sustainable one that will be long lasting. Check the relevant laws (i.e. for us it was mostly internet laws related to privacy and spamming). If you are not the sole shareholder, make sure you have a solid shareholders agreement in place.
What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
That was 6 years ago and i remember the feeling... "I can do it on my own!". That was the main driver that made me take the jump. At the time i was working for a large marketing organisation and i had some limitations on how i could manage my clients. The lack of freedom and sometimes the lack of belief in what my managers where asking me to do definitely fuelled my need to leave and start my own business.
How did you family and friends react?
Haha! That's a good question. There were 2 different types of reaction: the "scared secure sceptic" - "You're sure about that? You have such a great job right now! What if it doesn't work?!", the "naive enthusiast believer" - "That's awesome! Great idea! If anyone can do it that'd be you!".
And all were very supportive and encouraging :)
How has your life changed?
Having my own business gives me a greater sense of freedom, independence and achievement. Every morning i get up and i'm excited to go to work! I love what i do. Work has become more a game than an obligation.
On the not so positive, I did take a hit financially and in particular in the early stages when i couldnt pay myself regularly. There were serious times of uncertainty and juggling.
What success have you experienced since starting your business?
Where to start! We experienced so many successes along the way, big and small.
A big one is successful business relationships! Our business would be nothing without the people that work in it and with it. We have created a great company culture, we have built a really solid team and great partnerships with our service providers and merchants.
Another big one is success in creating a community of Love it UP members and supporters. We have close to 500,000 newsletter subscribers and over 15,000 Facebook fans.
Also, we have run incredible deals that were extremely successful.
And obviously our contribution to charity is a great success too. Over $52,500 donated within 2 years, as well as vouchers and sponsorship of some events.
What is the vision for your business going forward?
Keep growing and getting stronger building a business that is highly profitable and can seriously compete with the bigger players in the market.
What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your startup?
Business is a roller-coasters, always will be up and down! My top tips to motivate yourself and face all challenges:
- Have clear goals, know where you want to be and identify the small step that need to be taken to get there
- Make other people a part in your vision (staff, business partners, family, friends) so when you may be a little down you have a support network
- Celebrate all small successes along the way and persist until you get to where you want to be!
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