What do you currently do?
I am the co- founder of www.supersimpleshop.com an online shop builder, designed to help small and emerging businesses to trade online without the need for investment in costly e commerce sites.
What is your inspiration in business?
The inspiration for super simple shop came from a freelance project that I was working on when I lived in the states. Having left my position as software development manager at The Discovery Channel, I set up as a freelance software developer and one of my first commissions came from a friend’s mother who wanted to take her Scandinavian silver jewellery business on line. The fact she was a friend’s mother and as I was building up my freelance portfolio, I charged her a nominal fee but had I charged out my time officially, I realised that the website build would have been way out of her reach and that of most small businesses.
Hence the reason for Super Simple Shop- it’s an online platform that allows small businesses to create their own transactional websites for an annual fee of £100 with no commission on goods sold.
I’m the son of two teachers, so whilst I am an entrepreneur, I guess there is a part of me that wants to help people to grow and succeed, which is exactly what Super Simple Shop can offer.
Who do you admire?
I admire anyone who is willing to get out there and create their own business, be it big or small. I admire business people who have developed products and services that provide real value to the end user and improve their day to day life- be it Steve Jobs or James Dyson.
Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
It’s all a huge learning curve and whilst the basis of the product has remained very much in tact, the actual business model has been adapted quite significantly. Having taken the initial idea for the business from a jewellery business, we began targeting Super Simple Shop at hobbyists looking to turn their hobbies in to careers. Whilst many of our customers are indeed crafts folk who make and sell products, we quickly recognised that not all hobbyist retailers are looking to sell on line, nor are they looking necessarily to grow their businesses. Whilst the product is really simple to use, people need to have a basic understanding of technology to be able to upload photos from their camera and for some of our initial customers this was as a step too far.
Another massive learning curve for us is that free is not always good for customers. We started out offering customers a free three month trial, but it became obvious that when something is free it is deemed less valuable and customers were not really investing time in to uploading products and information. We have changed our model to a one off annual payment and instead of the free trial have significantly improved our online help documentation and this seems to be paying dividends for both our business and for our customers.
What defines your way of doing business?
Offering real value to our customers and to their business both in terms of our product but the service we deliver. After all happy customers tend to stay with you and as we are finding, refer you to others. I want to make a good living out of what we are doing, whilst at the same time helping other businesses to grow
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Keep the faith! Starting out has its ups and downs and it is important that you stick with it and have faith in your own ideas. That said, the one dead cert is that things do change, so you need to be willing to adapt your business when necessary.