Ecommerce Entrepreneurship: How to Scale Your Online Business Successfully with Ronnie Teja [EP. 56]
Ecommerce entrepreneurship comes with its ups and downs, but once you’ve discovered the keys to success, growth is all about execution.
Ronnie Teja’s unique founder story shows how you don’t have to have a background in online business to become an ecommerce entrepreneur, but what it does take is determination, flexibility, and a drive to build something great.
The founder of Branzio Watches and ecommerce entrepreneur joins us on The Opportunity Podcast to discuss how the challenges of launching his online business set him up for future success and the lessons he’s learned in his journey so far. Ronnie also shares what’s needed to scale your online business successfully and the best way to expand an existing portfolio.
Listen to The Opportunity Podcast Episode #56
Topics Discussed in this episode:
- Ronnie’s unique and inspiring journey to ecommerce entrepreneurship
- Why facing many obstacles early on can be a good thing
- How initial struggles led to scaling opportunities
- The key to branching out from one online business to a portfolio of businesses
- What Ronnie looks for when adding to his portfolio
- Why a strong team is crucial to running multiple online businesses
- What’s needed to stay relevant, competitive, and scale in an ever-changing niche
- The growth opportunities ecommerce entrepreneurs often miss
- Ronnie’s tips and advice for budding ecommerce entrepreneurs
Getting Started as an Ecommerce Entrepreneur
Everyone’s entrepreneurial journey is different, but Ronnie’s is more unusual than most. He’s a first-generation Canadian immigrant; his family, originally from India, moved from London to Vancouver on May 14th, 2008, where his career began with him picking blueberries. Seeking something more, Ronnie taught himself digital marketing and eventually landed a role as digital marketing manager for retail banking of Canada at HSBC.
Ronnie then moved to BestBuy, where he learned everything and anything about ecommerce. This was a completely different experience from HSBC and gave him greater insights into fast-paced, diverse marketing.
With a wide range of experience under his belt and a drive to create something of his own, Ronnie decided to make the leap into entrepreneurship. On January 1st, 2015, less than seven years after landing in Canada, Ronnie launched Branzio Watches, his first solo venture as an ecommerce entrepreneur.
The Mindset to Overcoming Entrepreneurial Obstacles
Within the first six months after launching, Ronnie felt like he’d faced almost every possible obstacle.
His first obstacle was a copycat brand from Vancouver that was using the same designers and logo. The following obstacles were issues with shipping, design, and product mold.
This might be enough to put someone off entrepreneurship altogether, but not Ronnie. He says that having everything go wrong so quickly was fantastic because the stress was all front-loaded. It taught him to persevere and be strong-willed, even when things get rough.
Ronnie’s mindset was all about going it alone, so he didn’t have to rely on anyone else. He no longer wanted to worry about being laid off or spending his skills to make money for other people. Ronnie took a leap of faith with both feet, and that’s what’s kept him going ever since.
Start Then Scale: How to Grow an Ecommerce Business
Ronnie believes there isn’t much talk around the amount of grief you go through when you first become an entrepreneur; especially in terms of the number of hats you must wear to get a business off the ground.
“When you first start an online business, you are the customer service person, you are the media buyer, you are everything. I had like seven different hats that I was wearing. Of course, coupled with no sleep, no gym, no exercise, because you’re completely glued to your laptop, and everything else, it definitely affects the whole game.”
In this situation, what are your options? Ronnie suggests looking outside of your business for help and leaving your ego at the door. He turned to a friend and fellow entrepreneur who helped guide and assist him during those early days and he recommends others follow a similar path.
“If you’re able to leave ego at the door, you’ll be surprised to find out how much people would actually be able to help you out or you can learn from other people’s experiences.”
Ronnie’s second piece of advice is to be smart about where you invest your money and see what your options are. When Ronnie was first starting out, he managed to secure just a 20% down-payment and a 60-day credit line from a supplier, meaning there was enough money to put into advertising to drive more sales.
However, this was back in 2015 when the cost-per-acquisition for customers was lower, especially on Facebook and Instagram. But his advice still stands: swallow your ego, ask for support, and you may be able to do more, faster.
Why a Good Team is Essential to Building a Portfolio
When Ronnie decided to branch out from one business and acquire others, it highlighted something very important: he needed a high-functioning team.
With a strong team in place, you can step away from the day-to-day running of the business and start to look at new opportunities. For Ronnie, this meant bringing in an external specialist to help implement an entrepreneurial operating system (EOS) and transform his team into one that could manage the pressures of multiple businesses.
Now, Ronnie’s team handles multiple products and roles within the business, giving him the capacity to explore new avenues for expanding his portfolio.
What to do When Buying a Business
Doing your due diligence is key to buying a business. Ronnie advises speaking with the founder or owner and asking lots of questions, so you know exactly what you’re getting into with this particular business and what the acquisition will look like.
A major consideration for Ronnie is diversity. If your business uses just one channel, like Facebook, to attract buyers, it’s a riskier choice than a business that uses multiple channels like Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc.
Ronnie’s concern is that if your primary selling channel goes down or you get locked out of your account, your business is no longer able to trade. However, if you use more than one channel, you’re less likely to be in a scenario like this and it makes your business a safer bet to buy.
How to Add a New Business to an Existing Portfolio
Expanding a portfolio is different for every business owner. Ronnie considers two things when adding new businesses to his existing portfolio; the first is if there is a synergy between the businesses he already owns and the new opportunity; the second is if his team will be comfortable managing a new niche.
Ronnie says that if you want to scale, then sticking to more similar businesses can help you move faster.
“If you work in watches, would you understand what it takes to sell sunglasses? Or men’s bracelets or men’s jewellery? Yes, of course you can. Okay great, let’s acquire that business. Whereas if you were selling watches and then all of a sudden you’re selling software or a SaaS company, then that becomes a completely different ballgame.”
Ronnie’s businesses do operate in different niches. What makes this possible is his high-functioning team and a training period of 30-60 days after acquisition, where the whole team will learn about the new business. He says this is important to both the business’ future success and to do justice to their acquisition.
How to Scale in an Ever-Changing Ecommerce Niche
In an industry like fashion, it can be hard to keep up. Ronnie’s business, Branzio Watches, has helped him work out what it takes to scale in an ecommerce niche that changes so quickly.
His advice is to pay attention to how you’re communicating your products to your customers. He says that ecommerce buyers respond best to visual content. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, all help you communicate visual cues that tell a story about your product.
“That whole process of creating a brand begins with creating an aspirational product. That means having the right creative, having the right copy, having a website that is beautifully designed, and where people can actually find out more about the product. All of that is quite important but a lot of people forget these things.”
This leads onto his final suggestion for growth: testing.
As an ecommerce business owner, you need to be comfortable with the idea of taking risks. Ronnie believes taking risks is crucial to brand development and scaling your business, but he says there is a smart way to approach it. He suggests using a test budget.
“In ecommerce, it’s important to have a test budget. For us, it’s an 80/20 split. We use 80% of the budget on generating revenue with tried and tested methods, but we use 20% to test out new opportunities. Sometimes we lose money, but it helps us become a brand and brands are willing to take risks.”
To hear more top tips about embracing ecommerce entrepreneurship, listen to Ronnie’s interview with us on The Opportunity Podcast. Press play on the player at the top of this page or tune in to The Opportunity Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your usual podcast app.
If you feel like you’ve taken your business as far as you can and you’d like to hand it over to a new owner who has the capacity and resources to help your brand reach its fullest potential, then schedule an Exit Planning Call with one of our friendly business advisors.