Lucy Nourse never thought of herself as an entrepreneur. Her journey as a business owner started more out of necessity than anything else. She had two small children at home and was looking for a marquee-style light for their room that was suitable for small hands. “I was worried about having electricity around little fingers,” Lucy chuckles.
After searching online, she couldn’t find a light she liked anywhere. She found big ones on Pinterest, but none that were appropriate for kids. “I searched everywhere on the Internet and finally said to my husband, ‘I think I can make one of these.’”
Lucy’s lights started getting noticed through her social media pages. This initial exposure began to gain traction and soon, people were lining up left and right to buy a lamp from her.
Lucy never had a background in business and didn’t know the first thing about starting one. What she did have was a growing demand for her lights – so much so, that she started to feel overwhelmed and began rethinking her entire business idea.
“The business exploded before I was even able to prepare for it. I couldn’t keep up with the demand. I didn’t have the inventory that was being requested, and started getting a lot of negative comments from people. It made me question why I was even doing this,” says Lucy.
Lucy came across Shopify while searching for a better way to run her business.
“I actually closed the business down for a couple weeks, and thought I would give Shopify a try to see if it could help me manage my business better. Shopify was amazing. It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she says.
One of the key reasons why Lucy went with Shopify was because of their robust reporting capabilities. As her business grew, the system she was using didn’t have much reporting and it was difficult to keep on top of things with Excel. Lucy is able to gather key insights using Shopify reports like sales by product title, by traffic source, and by month. She also loves that Shopify makes it seamless to print shipping labels and set up shipping methods.
“My husband also has a business, and I was doing his bookkeeping. But when I started having my own business, it got to be a bit much with the old system we were using. I had a friend show me Xero, and I knew I had to try it. I got in touch with her bookkeeper who linked all of us up on Xero. It’s so easy to use,” Lucy explains.
“I think when I was at that point where I shut down for a couple weeks and did some soul searching about whether I really wanted to do this, apps like Xero and Shopify were what made me push forward. When you try to run a successful business, there will always be hurdles along the way. Xero and Shopify removed so many hurdles and made the journey so much easier,” adds Lucy.
Every year, Shopify hosts Build a Business, an entrepreneurial competition based on creating a Shopify store online and outselling the other contestants. The competition also fosters hands-on mentorship with some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.
When Lucy heard about the Build a Business competition, she knew she met the criteria and thought she’d give it a try. “I never ever thought that I’d win. But I was so fortunate to win it,” she says.
A major theme of last year’s Build a Business competition revolved around social media marketing.
“When I first started nearly two years ago, I had never heard of an ‘influencer’ – but it has become such an important part of social strategy these days.
“In Australia, there is a group of savvy moms with great Instagram feeds. They had lovely homes with beautiful photos. I made a list of where I’d like to see my lights, and these feeds were a part of that list. So that’s where it started,” explains Lucy.
Lucy also builds social followers through giveaways and turns her followers into prospective customers through email communications.
“The lights photograph beautifully, but I think people are surprised by the level of quality. They don’t expect how solid and well made the lights are. Those are the people that we want to nurture,” says Lucy.
“For this year’s Build a Business competitors, I would say to just go for it. You don’t need to have a background in marketing or accounting or experience running a business before. You can learn so much online as you go. As long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing and determined, and committed, you can do it.
“Now is the best time to jump in and go for it. There are so many apps and helpful resources to help you along the way. With technology so available, this is the best time in our lives to start a business,” Lucy explains.
Check out another Build a Business competition winner’s story, Neil Waller of Shore Projects.
Xero and Shopify work better together. With Shopify, you can create a beautiful online storefront that’s designed with mobile in mind. When you couple that with Xero, you can focus on growing your business without the headaches of accounting and bookkeeping.