Gabby Leibovich does not wear a suit to work. It’s one of his rules to building a successful startup.
It has been eight years since he and six mates began CatchOfTheDay, now one of Australia’s most recognised and respected deals sites.
“We started the site with the simple premise of offering just one unbeatable deal a day,” he said, adding “Most people told us we were crazy.”
“‘How can you build a business around offering only one product a day?’, they would say.
“Right from the outset we had a clear vision and understanding of the business we wanted to be and what we wanted to stand for.
“While this has been an evolving process over the past eight years, it’s no secret that much of our success has been based on embracing nine key values.”
And here they are:
1. Out-think the competition and execute faster
Great ideas are just the beginning, taking these ideas and turning them into a profitable business is the key. We have never been overly corporate, which has allowed us to act fast once we have a lightbulb moment.
2. Create ongoing win-win relationships with suppliers
Without suppliers, you are nothing. Think of your suppliers as part of your business and make sure you finish the transaction on a good note. If they are upset, they will never be back and they will tell others. Always keep doors open and relationships alive.
3. Look for new ways to delight customers
Customers are king. Without them you have nothing. Our core business was always about selling people things they didn’t plan to buy so repeat purchasing is very important.
Our buyers love us for many reasons, but at the end of the day they need to love the products they paid for with their hard-earned cash. We all love unwrapping a parcel and trying on a pair of shoes with that “brand new” smell — the shoes smell a lot better when you’ve just saved $80 on them.
4. Work hard, play hard
No successful business is built on laziness, but rest assured that if your workmates are your friends, you will arrive at work with a smile and be a lot more productive. At The Catch Group we have always invested in culture and work happiness. Our building contains a gym, basketball court, barbecues, bicycles and a slide, and we often throw themed parties, like pyjama parties.
5. Grow through positive word of mouth
In our first six years we spent next to nothing on marketing and grew through positive word-of-mouth. That positive buzz came from great deals, full stop. Everyone loves to show off their latest purchase and reveal how much they saved on the latest toy or dress.
Top customer service is also a priority. We didn’t always have the best customer service in the early days, but it’s an area we’ve improved with phone support, longer hours and online chat, and it’s top class right now.
6. Everyone’s opinion counts — listen!
Our business was never a dictatorship. What I truly love about this place is that because of our flat structure and our lack of hierarchy, anyone, no matter what part of the business they are in, has the ability to challenge us, speak up and change our future direction. We encourage collaboration, we hire the person, not the CV, and we give our staff the opportunities to change and the tools to grow and succeed.
7. Create a family
Families succeed with love, families break apart with criticism. Instead of criticism, we find coaching and encouraging people brings out the best in them. Though it was easier to be a family when there were 20 of us, we still try hard to make sure everyone is welcome and everyone feels that they contribute to our overall success.
8. Be comfortable at work
This is my “don’t wear suits” rule, which is not really a core value but says a lot about us. I personally hate suits and save them for weddings only. Work is not a wedding, work is about being yourself and allowing your creativity to burst out. How can it burst out if you’re all stiff and uncomfortable?
9. Do more with less
Startups don’t have spare cash to spend on nonsense and very early on need to develop a good sense of fund allocation. While we are no longer a startup (we now employ around 600 people on seven different sites), I am happy to say that our large and active office still behaves like a startup and is careful not to overspend. There’s nothing worse than turning into a CRAP company – a business that Can’t Return Any Profits. Dollars and sense!
I was going to add a 10th value to this list — be kind, be humble — but you should be practising this anyway. If we don’t treat each other as human, what’s the point of going into business?
Gabby Leibovich is co-founder of The Catch Group, Australia’s leading online shopping group comprising online stores catchoftheday.com.au, scoopon.com.au, groceryrun.com.au, eatnow.com.au, mumgo.com.au, yumtable.com.au and westaveneue.com.au.