In last month’s instalment of Tomorrow’s Leaders we chatted to Charles Cridland about his successful start-up, yourkparkingspace.co.uk. This time we’ve met with founder and CMO of retail discount site LovetheSales.com Stuart McClure to hear about his story and tips on how to set up a fruitful business. LovetheSales.com recently placed 17th in Startups 100 and Stuart is part of the Maserati 100, which celebrates the top 100 innovators and disruptors in UK entrepreneurship, so we had a lot to talk about!
What’s your career story in a nutshell?
I have worked in digital marketing for 15 years, so pretty much have my whole career dedicated to that. I have worked in a lot of e-commerce scenarios, notably with The Caravan Club and T.M. Lewin, and now of course, at Love the Sales. Throughout that I have always sided slightly more toward the owned side of marketing, so SEO, email, that kind of thing.
What has been your proudest career moment, so far?
Starting LovetheSales.com was great, probably the proudest moment of all of them. We had to do a lot of work prior to even starting the business really. Lots of evenings and weekends. The culmination of that effort was receiving our first round of investment and then starting proper. It was exciting.
Describe your workspace. Are you tidy or organised chaos?
Tidy, definitely. I hate having rubbish all over my desk. I don’t believe in ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’ or anything like that. I just hate having clutter everywhere. Regarding work I am a big fan of lists. I generally have a fresh list of things to get done each day – I then try and focus on that list by thinking about what I’ll get done in the next hour, focus on that, take a 5 minute break and then on to the list again.
Which stationary item could you not live without?
We have an almost entirely digital office, so don’t tend to use much in the way of stationary but as a team we use post it notes to plan tasks for the week (we use agile to plan our work), so they’re essential. For me though, I do love a gel wrist rest for my mouse!
Who is your business Idol and why?
I don’t really have a single one to be honest – I like elements of a few. A couple of obvious ones: Elon Musk for his vision to solve issues that will affect the entire planet. Steve Jobs for his tenacity and focus to produce excellence. For me though, there are a few less known people that really inspire me. A Psychologist called Daniel Kahneman is very inspirational – the way he thinks about the human brain is fascinating and makes very interesting reading for any marketer – I recommend his book ‘Thinking fast and slow’.
What is your Top Tip for a Productive Day?
I already mentioned my list of to-do’s and then focusing on what you’ll get done each hour – that’s a good one. Another great one, although it’s more of a long-term thing that helps each day be more productive, is Mindfulness. I practice Mindfulness as frequently as I can and it makes a massive difference to your ability to focus and reduce the interruptive thoughts you often have running a business.
Tea or Coffee?
Definitely coffee, lots of it. But not instant…
Which workplace habit can you not stand?
One thing does drive me mad is meetings for meetings sake. It doesn’t happen at LovetheSales.com, but I have worked in a few companies where it was endemic. I found there was so much talking and very little incisive decision making in those situations. I developed a habit of leaving a meeting if there was more than five minutes where I was not involved. Sounds a little extreme, but it works as people start to realise they need to get to the point.
What advice would you give to people starting their own business?
Be prepared for it to be harder than you imagined it would be. Starting a business is really exciting, and something everyone should try if it’s a goal of theirs. But, it is definitely harder than you first think it will be. It may be more work, or it may take longer to get customers. Maybe you’ll need more money, or more staff. Whatever it is, there will be many more challenges than you expect.
How do you switch off?
Often, I don’t, which is unsustainable. Since starting LovetheSales.com I have learnt that there is a balance to output and effort. If you are well rested and have a relaxed mind you reach a peak of output – after that, working harder or longer tends to be counterproductive. If I am honest I live in a limbo of working too much, then realising it, and taking a little time out – over and over. I am trying to get better at the balance though.
What’s next for LovetheSales.com? Do you have any plans for the Future?
Yes, lots of plans. We are looking at a round of funding now, so getting that done is the first priority. From there we are looking at expansion to overseas territories that present opportunity. We also have several exciting innovations in the pipeline that will make our site even better for both retailers and consumers. Can’t say what just yet though!
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