We’ve launched Secrets of Success, a new weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum. I’ve asked some of the smartest, most innovative, most successful people I know to share their insights and success secrets.
Meet: Michelle Thompson, the director of customer acquisition and retention at Swap.com, the largest online consignment store for children’s clothing and other merchandise.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Michelle Thompson: A veterinarian, a la Doc McStuffins.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Thompson: I always wanted to have my own store, and admired local shops that I patronized. I always looked up to entrepreneurs, and never felt like I wanted to stay in a conventional, corporate environment.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Thompson: Not really any specific pivotal moment, but I remember reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point and being mesmerized by the types of people we are, how powerful the word of mouth is, and who I related to the most: a Connector.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Thompson: Another consignment shop owner stressed the importance of social media and Facebook. It was “free” at the time, and a great way to create a network and have them market for you! Since social media is becoming bombarded with more paid advertising, using referral campaigns and making your customers grow your network is the secret to success.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Thompson: Customer service is key! Good or bad, it will make or break you. Keeping customers happy or turning a bad situation around will most likely earn you a customer for life (and they will tell their friends!).
Lesonsky: Do you have a small business prediction for the rest of the year?
Thompson: I think supporting small businesses has been increasingly popular for shoppers, but I am worried the brick-and-mortar shops might take a hit. For example, weather was a huge factor for stores this past winter in Chicago. Finding an online alternative for selling your items might be a good idea during slow times.
Lesonsky: Do you have a favorite book?
Thompson: I love the Hunger Games trilogy. I am sure I was supposed to say a smart, nonfiction book here, but I cannot help it. I devoured this series.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Thompson: It’s on my desktop computer: “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way’.” –Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.