Natalie O’Brien understands the many challenges faced by small and micro-business enterprises. After all, she is a self-educated IT professional who started her journey in the field out of a genuine passion for the constant innovation created by information technology. She knows that SMEs could only rely on their own creativity and effort, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need help once in a while.
This is why Natalie O’Brien founded NOB IT Solutions in 2010. If you’re an SME owner in today’s online marketplace, you may not have the expertise or knowledge to leave your digital mark on your industry. So, here’s where NOB IT Solutions come in. The company offers a full range of online and website services, such as “web development, WordPress development, and web maintenance.” The company wants to make your business life easier through training and consultancy services, which will give you the basic tools you will need to survive on your own. If you want to work with them on a long-term basis, you can do so remotely.
Prior to NOB IT Solutions, Natalie O’Brien has already showed her enterprising instincts. When she was 18 years old, she founded a small company that offered graphic design solutions to clients. Soon enough, larger companies noticed her work, and they offered her jobs as webmaster, where she “developed programmes, software, and networking.”
Natalie O’Brien had already gained 15 years of professional experience in information technology and graphic design before she even turned 40. Her work ethic and passion for the industry might turn her vision of becoming the “Microsoft of the Caribbean” into a reality.
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Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Natalie O’Brien: What makes me stand out is the way I interact with my clients. I am not afraid of technology and show my clients how to embrace and understand it. Most clients I meet know what they want but not what they really need and what it takes to achieve their goal. What I do is get to know my client and get to know more about their business and goals, then I start by educating them on what it takes and work alongside them in getting to know the business process and show them what would be the best way to use technology to benefit them in the long term.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Natalie O’Brien: Hmm I would say to take care of yourself mentally and physically. In today’s world one can burn out quickly with the fast pace of technology . What I have done personally was join a triathlon club which helps me improve my health and wellness and I crochet in my down time which helps me relax away from the computer. After taking a time out I can come back to work with fresh eyes, clear state of mind, energy and new ideas.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Natalie O’Brien: Well there are a few people:
My parents who bought me my first computer and encouraged me to be my own boss;
My uncle for getting my first internet account and getting online and family in supporting me along the way;
My first employer who told me to never let work control me but to take control of my work.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
Natalie O’Brien: This pandemic has forced so many business owners to show up differently. Some of these ideas are as follow:
- Advertising by using more interactive ads, Video ads and animate ads that will encourage potential customers to visit your site.
- Using different platforms to make ordering online easier. In my country I see there implements ordering via Facebook Messenger, Mobile Apps and Whatsapp to name a few.
Jerome Knyszewski: Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
Natalie O’Brien: My advice is to do proper research before starting development by finding what is the best solution for your business and knowing who your target audience is. A new trend is dropshipping which is integrating and working alongside these suppliers to take care of the demand of items. The best thing is that there are no overhead costs as there is no need to hold stock in warehouses,etc. In addition they can use platforms such as amazon and ebay in order to sell their products as well to reach a wider audience.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Natalie O’Brien: I think the most common problem I’ve seen is many founders really not knowing what it takes to get an e-commerce business up and running and expecting a developer to present you with a solution without knowing their business process. My suggestion is to do research and know what your plans are for now and in the next 5 years so when you are ready to start you can present to your developer a proposal on what it is you need. From there a developer can start accessing what it would take to provide you with the best solutions.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
- Development Time and Cost: For example some people expect the site to go live within a few days or a couple of months at a very low cost. It takes time to get things done and it also takes a bit of investment to get the right tools.
- Security and Maintenance: Making sure you get the right website security and maintaining your site on a daily basis.
- Understanding of the system and processes it takes in running a site: Not everything is automotive there still need some manual input in the running of an Ecommerce business
Jerome Knyszewski: One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?
Natalie O’Brien: First work on addressing the issues and amending it in a timely manner. Start tracking and recording all these issues so it can be reviewed and see where the problems are and how best you can work on improving your service or products .
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Natalie O’Brien: Honestly, I would love to see more women and young persons of the Caribbean get into technology and use this knowledge to be more innovative and recognized on the international space.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
You can reach me via:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!