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Susannah George on using the web to drive customers

Susannah George launched TheUrbanList.com last year, because she believed small businesses could be better leveraging the web to drive customers through their doors. Here, she talks about building a platform to facilitate this and reveals her desire to build a business that attracts the best talent available.

Having spent the majority of her 20s living overseas, George found she was both excited and saddened by the retail environment upon her return home.

“I was increasingly impressed by the standard and diversity of retail and restaurant offerings, but also saddened that so many were closing their doors due to the tough competitive environment,” she told Dynamic Business.

So, the daughter of a 4th generation entrepreneur built a platform designed to deliver turnkey online marketing opportunities to Brisbane businesses, as well as a credible and engaging editorial offering. With a strong background in communications and digital marketing, George knew The Urban List needed to fill a specific niche.

“Rather than attempting to be a ‘catch all’ city portal, The Urban List focuses on a small number of businesses we deem best of breed. We act as a filter for the Brisbane dwellers who are more interested in quality than quantity of search results; and as a trusted partner for the businesses’ marketing needs – they know their brand is in safe hands, based on the audience we have been able to attract,” she said.

It was also important for the fledgling website to stand out among the plethora of information available online.

“[I] wanted to filter through the noise to ensure I was connecting these businesses with the socially active clientele they deserved,” she added.

Another important point of difference is the site’s focus on cementing credibility over generating revenue. According to George, her team puts more energy into improving the site’s usability and, as a result, has generated a loyal readership and built solid relationships with the businesses it represents.

Hire right

When it comes to managing start-up risks, George said it comes down to two primary factors: human resources and cashflow.

“While finances are always a critical element to any business, lately I have focused a lot of my attention on ensuring we are building the right team. My father once gave me the advice that it’s important to hire for what you want the business to be, rather than hiring for what the business is right now,” she said.

With this in mind, her goal is to build a product and culture that positions her start-up as a talent magnet; attracting entrepreneurial, ambitious and creative team players that are as keen to see the business grow as much as she is.

“I’m proud to say that we have 5 such people working with us at present, with another to join the crew next week,” George said.

It is this high-quality team that George will be relying on to help her achieve her growth goals – launching The Urban List in other Aussie cities.

“In three to five years’ time, I would hope that The Urban List is connecting small businesses with new customers in at least three major cities, and potentially also a number of regional hubs.”

Her focus on hiring right is some wisdom she hopes other start-up entrepreneurs will take on board. George concedes it’s easy to be swayed by incredible technical skills or that candidate who looks good on paper, but business owners should never discount the importance of finding the right cultural fit when recruiting.

“Be clear in your vision, in how the individual will fit within the existing framework and trust that the right person may not tick all the boxes immediately, but is capable of developing their skills as required.”

Her final words of wisdom?

“Invest in an incredible team; believe in them; and get out of the way!”

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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