skip to log on skip to main content
VoiceOver users please use the tab key when navigating expanded menus
Article related to:

Starting a business

Unlocking Success: Jane Lu's Tips for Small Business Owners in the eCommerce World

ANZ Financially Ready

2024-01-30 00:00

Jane Lu is an entrepreneur and Shark Tank Australia investor who knows what it takes to achieve world domination in the fashion eCommerce landscape. From humble beginnings in her parent’s garage to millions of followers across social media and owning one of the most popular online fashion destinations in the world, Jane’s success with Showpo has inspired entrepreneurs far and wide. And she’s sharing her advice with existing and budding small business owners who dream of their own multi-million-dollar empire.

So how did she get started?

“If I'm being totally honest, Showpo was an accident,” Jane shares. Someone had approached her with the idea to make a physical fashion store. At the time, Jane didn’t have any other business ideas – she just knew that she wanted to start something and say bye to her corporate job. And then the first fashion store failed. Because Jane had no other options for finding work at the time, by default she had to start another business.

It was this second attempt at a fashion business that inspired her go-to piece of advice for any start-up: “Be ready to learn, make mistakes and pivot.”

Be ready to learn, make mistakes and pivot

“When I started Showpo, the last thing I wanted to do was fashion retail, because I failed the first time. But in hindsight, it was one of the best moves that I ever made,” Jane explains.

She used her fashion experience, business insights and the mistakes she made to pivot away from the first fashion store idea and build Showpo. This meant that Jane went from running a physical pop-up store within certain hours, to developing an eCommerce store where people can shop whenever they wanted to. By having an online business that wasn’t at the whim of slow foot traffic and opening hours, Jane’s decision to go down the eCommerce route accelerated her global success.

When businesses make those mistakes and fail, they can learn so much more on how to run a business. Jane explains that starting a business is a skill and business owners will learn how to get better at it the more they put themselves out there and just try things.

“Something that I tell so many entrepreneurs is don’t be afraid to try and fail – you can take those opportunities to grow as a business owner and discover what works for your product and business. Maybe it’s not your first idea, or even your second but as you learn while doing, you will find an idea that will work.”

Jane’s tips for success

1. Take small risks and double down when something works

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the best things any start-up can do is to just give it a go.”

Even if what you do is small, you can take tiny risks and gain experience with running a business. While there are plenty of fantastic resources out there, there’s only so much you can listen, read and watch. Doing something and learning through experience can make a huge difference for your business.

If you decide to do a business course or listen to a podcast, start a little something with minimal investment on the side and use that as practice. There are so many different resources for getting started in the eCommerce space that gives business owners more opportunities to give things a go. Running a business is a skill, and practicing how to do it (and different parts of it) is key to success.

“With the first business idea, it took me a month to build the website,” Jane shares. “But with Showpo, I built the website overnight, had a photoshoot that weekend, then made my first sale the following week – all because I knew what didn’t work for a fashion eCommerce store and used those learnings to create Showpo.”

2. Work on the business, not in the business

Most small business owners often end up wearing different hats and doing everything in the business themselves, especially in the beginning stages. But trying to do everything in the business can eat into the time you should be spending working on the business. Delegating well once you have the resources to do so is so important for giving yourself the space you need to spend more time on the business itself.

Business owners should also investigate ways to take out repetitive manual tasks, because the time you’ll save from doing this can be funnelled into running your business. And these days, business owners are incredibly lucky to have access to different options – think accounting software, all-in-one eCommerce platforms, automated marketing software and more.

3. Hire for your blind spots

As you spend more time on your business, knowing your blind spots as a person and business owner, then hiring to fill those gaps, can pay off in the future.

“Working with people who are different to you, but are still a cultural fit with your business, can bring in different types of skills that you can use to optimise and grow your business.”

It's important to know your weaknesses, because that’s what you're constantly trying to improve as an eCommerce business. And you can do that by hiring generalists in the beginning. They can do everything for you and keep the business moving, so you can focus your energy into running the business. Then when your business starts growing, you can start hiring specialists like a marketing manager or an accountant to get things right and manage those business areas so you can focus on the bigger picture.

4. Have a bias for action

“One of my new business green flags is having the right attitude,” Jane says.

Being a doer and giving things a shot allows business owners to take those initial risks and discover what product or service will work best, because everything has a beautiful flow-on effect when you have a strong product.

“The biggest change I’ve noticed in eCommerce since I started Showpo is that there’s all this great technology out there that makes running an eCommerce store accessible for everyone,” Jane explains. “The successful business owners are the ones who take embrace those new technologies and play in the eCommerce space to see what works for their product or service.”

Having a bias for action empowers small businesses to pivot quickly and learn from their mistakes, so that they can improve and build, to the point where they’re running a successful business.

Jane’s final piece of advice

“Be kind to yourself! Trying and failing so many times can be a bit of a drainer emotionally, so being a little kind to yourself on those really tough days can make a difference. It's also important that you understand that progress isn’t linear and that you shouldn’t compare your success to the companies on social media with thousands of followers. It’s not easy – but celebrating the little wins and the small steps you’ve taken can help your business go a long way.”

Next steps

If Jane’s words of wisdom have inspired you to start a business, then check out our Business start-up guide (PDF 6.7MB) to get the ball rolling with your business venture.

Unlocking Success: Jane Lu's Tips for Small Business Owners in the eCommerce World
Business specialist
ANZ Financially Ready

Related articles

This is general information only, so it doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. ANZ is not giving you advice or recommendations (including tax advice), and there may be other ways to manage finances, planning and decisions for your business.

Read the ANZ Financial Services Guide (PDF) and, if applicable, the product Terms and Conditions. Carefully consider what's right for you, and ask your lawyer, accountant or financial planner if you need help. 

Any tools, checklists or calculators produce results based on the limited information you provide so they are an estimate or guide only. As they are incomplete, they are not a substitute for professional advice.

Terms and conditions, fees and charges, and credit approval and eligibility criteria apply to ANZ products.

You need Adobe Reader to view PDF files. You can download Adobe Reader free of charge.