An Interview with Tara Hunt – Founder of Buyosphere

Scaling / May 14, 2012 / Admin

Tara Hunt is the author of The Whuffie Factor, speaker, blogger and CEO of Buyosphere.

1. What inspired you to start your own business?

This is my third business (although first startup). I’ve always been inspired by the same thing: asking “How can I do this better?” For Buyosphere, it was “Egad, shopping online is becoming unmanageable. There are too many choices and not enough clarity or personalized results. How can I make this a better experience?” I even shopped the idea to other startups for a few years without having them pick it up. I finally hunkered down and took the initiative to build something myself to solve it.

2. What was one of the biggest set backs you had to overcome? And what did you learn from it?

One of the biggest heartbreaks is when you get excited about launching something and then when you launch it, you don’t get the same reaction that you expected. And with every heartbreak, you learn something new: you have to re-evaluate your assumptions, you have to look at your execution, you need to re-assess your direction. There is never one lesson and it’s not always super clear. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. When a company achieves a semblance of success, 25 different people go back and assess what led to that success and there are 25 different answers. When a company fails, the same thing happens: multiple assessments with multiple answers. I feel that the road to success depends on so many internal/external factors. What works for one company won’t work for another. Best practices are a myth. That being said, there are things I’ve learnt to watch out for. Don’t make decisions based on fear. Don’t listen too acutely to analytics (at the peril of your instincts). If you are about to do anything because you’re at the end of your rope, stop and think.

3. How did you grow your company? In other words, what major factors led to your company’s growth?

I feel like I can’t answer this question properly because, well, we are still growing our company. I don’t know a company in existence (even Facebook or Apple) that ever stops figuring out how to grow their company. But, how we’ve grown to date? By being our own biggest users and understanding what works and what doesn’t work. Marketing, promotion and PR works to get the word out, but does it sustain growth? In our case, we were seeing growth with every article, but when there was a lull in PR, the growth would slow, so we looked at the product and are in the midst of a redesign because we figured out that we were missing some major opportunities for keeping people engaged.

4. What is your biggest challenge in balancing work with your personal life?

The biggest challenge is thinking that there will ever BE balance. I am always working, even when I’m out to dinner with friends or on a date with my boyfriend. Being an entrepreneur means that you don’t ever really switch off. The stakes are high and your input is the only control you have over the outcome. The biggest challenge is finding the ability to separate yourself from your business. I take things far too personally when they don’t work.

5. What are three pieces of advice you would provide to start-ups/small business that are trying to grow their businesses?

1. Don’t think about growing your business – think about solving a problem or creating something that people love. The growth is a by-product.

2. There will be more dark days than hooray days. Don’t let the dark days cloud everything else or get to you. I’m still learning this one.

3. Seek the support of other startup/small business founders. Finding solace in solidarity can be the most helpful tool you have. You can learn so much from others.

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  1. Awesome! Love it!

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