As International Women’s Day shines a spotlight on female achievements, we speak to Xero customer Kate Morris – the founder of Australia’s first online beauty store, Adore Beauty – to hear why she’s on a mission to educate and empower other women, both in business and at home.
I started my e-commerce business out of my garage in the year 2000. It was the time of dial-up internet, before social media, and before smartphones. As the first online beauty store in Australia, we couldn’t go and get off-the-shelf shopping cart software. We had to code it all from scratch.
In many ways, it was harder to be an online business back then. But on the flipside, small businesses today face lots more competition. If you’re operating in the retail industry, every consumer has a computer in their pocket and you’re well placed to reach anyone, anywhere.
You need to be on the ball from the get-go.
I’ve been lucky enough to learn a lot over the last 19 years – back when many brands believed no one would buy beauty products online – and adapt and grow through change. Now I feel a responsibility to share those learnings with other entrepreneurs, and mentor other female-led businesses.
The principles of lasting business
An online business can feel like a daunting prospect, but it helps to remember that the principles of a building a good and lasting business do not change. Whatever technology you use, you should be looking for a unique way to solve a customer need – one that’s not being solved currently or that you think you can solve better. That’s how you prioritise your efforts.
At Adore Beauty, our mission – to empower women to make great choices and feel confident – hasn’t changed. The tech we use certainly has, but our reason for being remains the same.
And, being an online business, the sky’s the limit. We can serve customers from anywhere and make beauty accessible for people who might otherwise be too intimidated to visit a store. Think of someone you know who is ill, disabled, living in a remote area, or just feeling overwhelmed by the juggle of work and kids. We can reach all those people.
But we can never sustain that success unless we connect with our customers. For me, a successful business is one that listens and responds to its customers, one that is committed to evolving the business to meet customer expectations. There are plenty of places to seek out feedback these days. So what are you going to do with it all?
I feel energised by the idea that if we don’t evolve, we won’t survive – and we try and evolve and extend our experience all the time. Being your best in business is not a case of maintaining the status quo. It’s about acting on a constant desperation to be a step closer to what your customer needs you to be.