If you’re looking for advice on how to throw yourself in at the deep end and come out swimming, Erica Stewart is your woman. Juggling many hats – business founder and CEO, wife, and mother of three children, Erica started innovative online marketplace hardtofind.com.au in 2008 as a hobby, and used her maternity leave in 2010 to seriously develop the business. It was during this time that she realised the true potential of hardtofind and decided not to return to her job as National Sales Manager at News Life Media.
Transitioning from a career in advertising and traditional media to the world of online and digital marketing was a huge change for Erica and she found herself having to learn fast. Working from home, she single-handedly managed everything from customer service to seller acquisition, marketing and strategy. Erica would work until the early hours of the morning after putting her kids to bed – responding to customers, curating products and planning marketing campaigns and promotions. Then the day would start anew, balancing her kids with cold-calling and straight-up hustle.
Those early days in her front room were challenging but also incredibly rewarding, as Erica’s efforts saw hardtofind grow rapidly. Moving from home to a desk in a share office, she soon took on her first member of staff, followed by her second, then third, with the team moving into their own office and not looking back since.
hardtofind is now an award-wining, multi-million dollar marketplace that employs more than 20 full time team members and a 270,000-strong customer base.
The business has gone from strength to strength, experiencing 100% year-on-year growth since its inception, and was named one of Australia’s Top 20 Online Retailers for 2015 by Smart Company. Erica has also received many accolades, recently being named one of seven ‘entrepreneurs to watch in 2016’ by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Through her business and everyday life, Erica meets many incredibly capable women, some of whom are also mums juggling careers and family, and she says the one thing they all have in common is self-belief and a strong work ethic. When giving tips of the trade, Erica says there is no silver bullet – you just have to back yourself and keep going. She says it’s important to celebrate the wins along the way and speak to as many people in your industry as you can, as often as you can, to keep learning. And most importantly, as clichéd as it sounds, (try to) exercise, and drink wine!
We hope you have found this inspiring ..I am off for that glass of wine!
Lisa & Jo