Meet the WE Magazine for Women – Woman in Business, Dee Wood, ItDoesTheJob.com Ltd. The Eco Store that Saves you More.
Tell us about your business.
My business is a department store online for products that save energy, money and time. I provide practical products and ideas to help people reduce their energy consumption. Brimming with smart and adaptable solutions for business as well as home improvements, I’m there for anyone looking for clever ways to save money. Offering products to suit everyone and every lifestyle, I believe smart-shopping shouldn’t be marginalised to a selective audience. Sustainability can, and should be, in everyone’s lives. One of our aims is to slice through the mass of energy-reducing jargon out there, and offer products that are uncomplicated, simple to understand and above all, ‘do the job.’
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
It doesn’t occur to me to work for someone else. It’s a completely different lifestyle, being your own boss. I think I’d actually be unemployable. (Laughs). I’ve never had a proper job. It’s funny. I love the responsibility and flexibility this lifestyle can offer me. But there is also a greater sense of doing something that really matters. Every day, I can utilise my skills and passion for sustainable living. I couldn’t do that with any other job.
There is a freedom that this allows you. But it’s a commitment; you’re with the business for better or for worse. Again, to feel like we are actually doing something. Going out there, making a difference and having an impact…it’s almost tangible. That’s really what I do it for.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
I’ve always grown up with this sustainable lifestyle. In a way, it’s funny to count it as an influence. I guess, what’s normal for you, and is your default setting, doesn’t really seem very innovative or inspiring. People often say, ‘why are doing sustainability?’ Well, we’ve always lived like this, ever since I was born. So, it doesn’t make sense not to.
My actual lifestyle and how I’ve grown up is the biggest influencer because that is exactly why I am doing what I am. I suppose, the fact that I want to make it easy and normal for everyone to be living on less energy and less money: that’s what’s driving me. Those thoughts wouldn’t be there without my background, the atmosphere and lifestyle I grew up in.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
It was very exciting when our website was first launched about a year ago. Definitely, having something I’m pleased to show people, and say: ‘this is what I’m doing.’ It’s quite pleasing, when people take a look at it and say it looks slick and professional – which is not how I think of myself! (Laughs)
It took a lot of work and effort to get it to the stage that it’s at. I mean, it’s all still developing, but that’s almost the beauty of it. And that’s a part we enjoy developing the most as a company, as well.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
I think that it’s important to have perspective, particularly when you’re a smaller company, and you think you’ve made the wrong decision. Actually, you can always work the positives out of it and there’s no point bemoaning the decision you’ve made. That is some great advice I have put into practice.
‘Worst things happen at sea’ is one of my favourite quotations that I stand by. It’s all about working with what you’ve got, and keeping in mind that there will always be somebody worse off than you. You might think that your problems are bad, but you can actually turn it into an opportunity.
Something else I’ve picked up from people in business is the importance self-confidence. No one is going to believe in you and your idea if you don’t believe in it yourself. I mean, why should I trust you, if you don’t even trust yourself? You do notice the difference between people who are generally comfortable in themselves, and those that are all for show and putting on a front. The confidence and trust in yourself is definitely something I’ve grown in and practised along the way.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
In terms of marketing initiatives, I go to a lot of local workshops and engage with the community. Because I’ve lived in this area my whole life, I know it completely. I am able to go and approach a business upfront to help them. Even being an e-commerce website, it’s important to start in the local and go on from there. I would say our website is our biggest marketing tool for sure, in terms of having something to show: All the information on the products and our ‘About Us’ page is right there at your fingertips.
But being involved in the community remains a huge part. People like you having a physical base. It makes you feel more real as a company, and massively helps people to feel confident in us. It’s actually been helpful in a lot of ways, having this base. For example, people who come down to visit us from Manchester can say they have been to East London. I have noticed that its builds peoples’ trust and belief in us.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
The little things always matter, especially in terms of looking after your customer service. When you make a poor effort on a rushed job, it always comes back to haunt you in the end. You always find yourself spending more effort, time and money doing it correctly the second time around. Whereas, you could have spent an extra five minutes doing it right the first time. I believe in the importance of spending the first half an hour of the day, making a plan and organising your tasks. Realistic tasks should always be set. Instead of giving yourself five, you should have a list of 4 more achievable things that you can viably get done in your working hours. You’re really inefficient if you don’t have that.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
Becoming a paperless office and going electronic has had a big impact on the kind of resources and tools we use as a business. Being electronic allows for me to work successfully with others and from other spaces. We are London based, so the internet connection is also very good. I tend to use Evernote and Google Docs often for file sharing, which are both great. Or phone system is also all online, which means they can work over the internet. It’s possible work anywhere. I can take calls to and from the office, and from anywhere in the world which I have done.
By having access to your email from everywhere and using cloud computing, we can take all notes online that can be shared among colleagues. It makes you equally flexible as an office, as it does productive. You can all edit documents at the same time as being much more cost effective. Actually, when you store lots of paper you are paying for the rent. Going paperless brings down your fixed costs as you’re no longer paying for that space, such as what filing cabinets occupy. Being totally electronic brings all the costs down.
Do you have any new projects coming up? If so, please tell us about it.
Definitely building the foundations of the website has been a big milestone for us. We’re coming up to its first year now. Looking forward to the upcoming year, we’re excited to do a lot more marketing with the website now the foundations are set. It’s all about getting a whole load of new products on the website. We product test every single product physically ourselves on our own house, so that’s quite a big effort. And then it’s a case of doing all the write-ups and getting all the products we like on the website.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
There’s so much going on in East London. I enjoy going out and socialising, getting involved in local events, new cafes, seeing art, and sampling real and local community ventures. In the summer, I hold events for the Leytonstone Arts Festival. http://www.leytonstoneartstrail.org/ . Getting involved in my community is very important to me. Last year, I ran a pop-up cinema, and look forward to getting involved again this July. For relaxation, I love reading a lot of news, current affairs and satire in my free time.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
I would like to have another Apprentice. It’s really important to give other people opportunities, I think. Expanding the business is another goal. In terms of e-commerce, it would be nice to grow and perhaps move premises.
You want to write a book on: Practical, clever and easy ways we can all be sustainable, reduce energy consumption and save money.
I would love to write an accessible book that everyone can just dip into for handy tips and advice, because that’s what I’m trying to do as a company.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s super, super easy to save money and energy. Everyone always thinks it’s for other people, or it’s weird, or that it’s expensive. And it’s not. It is all about doing the little bits here and there. For example, if your lightbulb goes, just buy and LED light to replace that. That’s a small cost.
It’s about the little costs and the little savings here and there that add up. Don’t go around retro fitting everything: it’s so easy to be smart about it, and then you don’t notice the costs: you notice the savings. That’s what I’d say.
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you?
Our website: http://itdoesthejob.com/
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