Meet Claudia North, a Certified Practicing Marketer (CPM) with more than 25 years of experience in digital marketing and strategy operating across Australia, South East Asia, and North America.
Claudia founded her first eCommerce business over 15 years ago, where she ideated and designed her own product, manufactured it overseas, and built her own website. She has a strong appreciation of Solopreneurship as well as an understanding of the challenges in scaling small businesses in the eCommerce environment.
Claudia has since sold her first company, and the innovative product sales are thriving online with thousands of 5-star reviews and are sold today in over 30 countries. She has turned her attention to working directly with small eCommerce business owners.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Claudia North: I am a Certified Practicing Marketer (CPM) with more than 25 years experience in digital marketing and strategy across Australia, South East Asia, and North America.
I have been a CMO since 2002 working across large corporations such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Suncorp, the Financial Planning Association and OptionsXpress. Rounding out my marketing strategy experience for big business with over 5 years working in advertising, media and content agencies.
I have over a decade of experience pioneering digital video content marketing throughout web, social and digital OTT channels, leading large teams across paid advertising, performance and analytics, editorial, UX/UI designers and developers.
More recently working directly with hundreds of eCommerce SMB brands and designing a digital marketing framework with foundations and layered media channels to support cost effective growth for SMBs to scale both locally and globally through eCommerce.
I founded my first eCommerce business over 15 years ago, where I ideated and designed my own product, manufactured it overseas and built my own website. I have a strong appreciation of Solopreneurship as well as an understanding of the challenges in scaling small businesses in the eCommerce environment.
I have since sold my company and today product sales are thriving online with thousands of 5 star reviews and are sold today in over 30 countries. Since then I turned my attention to working directly with small eCommerce business owners.
I started ‘with Small Business’ to empower small businesses to grow sustainably so that they can succeed over the long term. By helping small business owners navigate the digital maze with affordable, expert eCommerce marketing advice.
My mission is to significantly increase the success rate of small eCommerce businesses globally.
I am driven by working with small business owners that are passionate about their business and cause as well as the endless growth opportunities that digital presents today for SMBs.
My personal vision is to enrich lives through conscience and conscious marketing. Marketing should educate and inspire us about our passions in life.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Claudia North: I am sure many can argue for both sides of the coin, however based on my personal experience I would have to say we are born entrepreneurs.
My father is a serial entrepreneur, He has worked for himself his entire life and been involved with 50+ businesses. One of his initial ideas when he was travelling overseas many moons ago was to bring pizza to Australia (we didn’t have pizza in Australia back then) He has been in imports and exports, travel, building, fashion, groceries, food and beverages, hotels, trading, livestock, farming, property, to name a few.
My mind is programmed the same as my fathers, we see future opportunities before they arise – this isn’t something I learnt through life, I have always thought this way.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Claudia North: I have the vision and I get things done
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Claudia North: ‘with Small Business’ offers affordable eCommerce marketing advice and tools for small business owners to grow their online business. We do this via a purpose built platform where businesses can sign up to our membership for AUD$97 per month.
On the platform small businesses can get direct access to real eCommerce experts via direct messages and groups, our eCommerce Growth Assessment, self auditing tools to assess their current eCommerce practices, eCommerce growth best practice toolkits with step-by-step instructions, masterclasses, live Q&A sessions, digital industry changes and the relevance to small businesses and do-it-for-me briefing documents.
We are only a couple of years in. We started the business prior to COVID. The demand for unbiased and affordable, expert, eCommerce marketing advice has only skyrocketed with the shift of small businesses to the digital environment to survive.
What has changed is our drive to support significantly more SMBs based on the challenging new environment that they need to operate in. We have drastically reduced our monthly membership fee. We have plans in the works to further build out our platform to deliver end to end unbiased advice and low cost eCommerce marketing services so that small business owners can focus on what they do best, rather than being swamped in becoming digital marketing experts to grow their business.
eCommerce marketing is complex and almost impossible for small business owners to go it alone.The complexities of eCommerce can be overwhelming, even if you have extensive digital experience. Not only that, real digital experts are in demand and expensive, now more than ever.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Claudia North: The environment has changed significantly and is evolving fast – technologies, consumer behaviour and habits, values and beliefs, all macro and micro economic factors. Predictability is out the window and the unforeseen is omnipresent.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Claudia North: No wrong assumptions come to mind, however I sold my first start-up because I was lonely being a Solopreneur.
As I mentioned earlier, today the product sales are thriving online with thousands of 5 star reviews and sold in over 30 countries. My product was nestled in ‘health (for babies)’, ‘re-use / recycle’ and the ‘whole-foods’ space. Had I remained in the business and expanded my range holding onto the values and uniqueness of my offering at the time I would have rode the wave of growth in all of these industries. That has taught me to back my instincts and commit to my vision.
Some may say I ended up paying dearly based on the missed financial opportunity. If you asked me if I could go back and hold onto the company would I? No, I make decisions in the moment that feels like the right one for me, I don’t believe in regret. I trust that all the experiences that come my way are the journey for my life lessons.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Claudia North: Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I expected that I would get things done faster. At the end of the first year, I was disappointed that I didn’t move the needle fast enough. Upon reflection I can see that we needed to go through the different stages that we did to have the enriched offering we have today – I learnt there is no such thing as an ‘overnight success’.
Don’t let anyone or anything deviate you from your vision. Believe in your vision and yourself.
I know that believing in your vision and yourself sounds corny (blah, blah, blah…) however, when I started I was all excited about my great business idea. Over the past few years I have had various instances that made me doubt myself and my vision. My perseverance and determination got me through those times and now there is nothing that will push me off course.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Claudia North: Considering other ways to deviate from the vision. Of course throughout the growth of your business things will change and alter based on the markets response, insights, mistakes etc. However these things should not make you deviate your your vision. You need to be open to feedback as well as staying to course to your vision. Deviations will only waste time and money.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Claudia North: Hahaha…too funny, revert to answer 5.
What hasn’t changed? The entrepreneurial spirit and that’s about it 🙂
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Claudia North: You get to be the boss and in control of your own destiny!
Yes, this is both true.
However, the rubber really hits the road when your business growth is slower than anticipated and you have to turn your attention to finishing off some house renovations – in preparation to sell your home and move your 3 teenage children somewhere else.
Yes, you’re the boss and in control, but it takes nerves of steel sometimes to weather these storms. Not only that, you can never (or rarely ever) switch off. That works for me because I am a thinker and like to solve problems – I don’t think it would work for everyone.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Claudia North: A robust work ethic, high motivation. A deep passion to weather the moments you go off-piste. Problem-solving – as you will be doing this everyday.
- Planning and organisation
- Open mindedness
- Agility to pivot when required
- A little insanity
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Claudia North:I know stacks of people that follow entrepreneurs on YouTube, subscribe to lots of different websites to learn. I am not one of those people, I wing it and trust my instincts.
I will recommend only one book I discovered recently called ‘Traction’ by Gino Wickman. A dear friend recommended it to me. It simplifies the complexities of running a business. It has a simple yet effective framework and 2 page strategy template.
I live by their ethos, “do what you love, with people you love, making a huge difference, being compensated appropriately with time for other passions”.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Claudia North: I have worked in corporate, agencies, for my family and for myself. When times have been tough, I have considered ‘if this doesn’t work out, what else would I do?’
There is no other job I would rather do than be an entrepreneur in my own business.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Claudia North:Dr. Deepak Chopra – over 2 decades ago he entered my world and I read all his books and went to most of his courses. He opened my mind and my heart. Still to this day I refer to things that I learnt from him, he has enriched my life.
So many things he said back then I didn’t understand, as my life has unfolded they are now making sense. Thank you Deepak for the wonder you shared, I am forever grateful.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Claudia North for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Claudia North or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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