The secret to this CEO’s success was proving her ex-colleagues wrong
If you’re dying to turn your side hustle into a full time gig, then do it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned working with executives, founders, CEOs and everyone who is an entrepreneur, they all know exactly what they want. They make decisions with confidence. It’s that type of freedom that can approve tens of thousands dollar budgets but every decision is a risk.
Just like when I quit my own job to freelance, that was a scary risk that I was willing to take because I believed in myself. Online retailer executive and lazy CEO (her words not ours) Jane Lu from Showpo.com shares my same sentiment. The Australian-born executive runs a business like a funhouse. Showpo’s Facebook page is full of memes about cats, coffee and of course cute clothes.
From working as a consultant at an accountant firm to venturing out to be her own boss, Jane was determined not to fail. Even if it meant putting on a suit everyday and pretending to go to work while living with her parents, just to keep them happy. Now with a business that grosses over $30 million in online sales, Jane gives her advice on quitting your daytime job to start a business.
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What made you start your business?
I never even had an interest in starting a business at all. It just seemed way too risky and out of my league, and I was pretty happy with where life was already taking me. It wasn’t until I fell head over heels in love with this European boy that I met at uni, who spoke so much about traveling and starting his own business that I even thought about this concept of entrepreneurialism.
There’s always a boy involved. Did you guys get married and travel?
Well, after these seeds were planted, they started to manifest in my head. I made the rashest decision of my life, to that point, and decided to spend that my final semester abroad on exchange in Sweden, took unpaid leave from my job at Ernst & Young and broke up with the boyfriend. I spent nine months in Europe and when I came back to my job at EY, I just couldn’t adjust back to cubicle life. I came back with travel withdrawals and one of my uni friends reached out and wanted to start a business with me and another friend.
Was this an easy transition?
I thought this would be an awesome fun project so I guess this is where my entrepreneurial journey started. Sadly, that business was a complete and utter failure and I was devastated. I had literally hit rock bottom. All of a sudden I was unemployed, my business had failed, I had lost quite a bit of money on it, and it was all in the middle of the GFC.
How did you recover?
This was probably one of the toughest, most FML, times of my life. Any sane person would’ve given up and gone back to the safe corporate life, I decided to start another business straight away, and the thing that drove me to get right back on the horse, was that spite. I wanted to prove to my old business partners and to prove to my ex-colleagues, who are all definitely laughing at me by now, that I could actually do it. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how Showpo was begun.
What is your advice to readers who want to quit their jobs and start their own stuff?
My advice to those who want to quit their job to start their own business would be to ease into it. Start working on your business while you still have your job, this way you’ll see if it’s truly what you want to be doing. Another thing I would recommend is to cut down on fees so that you can you’re your money into marketing your business. For example, when I started Showpo I googled basic HTML and built my website from scratch. I also got all the clothes I sold on consignment meaning I didn’t need to pay for it until it got sold.