From the ground up: What does it take to build a successful e-commerce business?

portrait of Micha Saade
Micha Saade is the COO and Co-Founder at Namstetics and 2017 Fellow. Is what it takes to thrive at a startup the same as building a startup? A thick skin, persuasion, and accepting failure are key characteristics for Micha in her journey as a strategist at Fiix and Careguide in Toronto and now as a COO and Co-Founder. Micha talks about her early career in sales and marketing at start-ups and gives us tips about how we can have an impact on a company’s overall success. Micha’s mind, body, and soul approach to health has a direct influence on her yoga-apparel brand. Finding balance through yoga and reiki, Micha shares the economics of her business and gives us an insider's take on influencer marketing, quality control, dealing with difficult customers and employing people internationally. Leaning on collaboration and expertise of designers and suppliers, having an insider-man, and asking yourself if you truly believe in what you're doing, have been essential for her success. Celebrating your small wins will motivate you toward bigger accomplishments.

Three Tips on How Sales is Related to Entrepreneurship

Scott: You’ve worked in sales for startups; how did that transfer into your entrepreneurial journey?

  1. Sales representatives have to ensure that the solution or product you’re selling is solving a potential buyer’s problem. That being said, everyone in the company is responsible for sales somehow or selling the company even if you’re not in sales. That means that you have spoken highly of the company you work for.
  2. The best people are problem solvers. They are selling solutions to real problems that people have. If there is no fit or they don’t need the solution, it will create problems down the road. In addition to problem-solving, Micha thinks you have to have “thick skin.” To do this, ask: do you believe in what you’re doing? If you believe in what you’re doing, you have no reason to concern yourself with what people are thinking about.
  3. Marketing is a huge part of sales. When you’re selling or doing customer success, you’re hearing that the customer needs to communicate to marketing what ads should say. Micha talks about how you can “assume the sale if the client is coming to you with curiosity or if you go to them and you believe in what you’re doing.

Three Pieces of Advice for Being Successful at a Startup

Scott: You’ve had experiences in larger corporations like banking and worked at startups before founding your own. What is the most significant difference, and what advice do you have for people entering the startup space?

  1. You have to be ok to pivot and adapt at a startup. If you don’t know how to deal with the stress of work that you’ve been doing being paused or moved, you need to learn how to better adapt to a fast environment. There is no learning rubric or set curriculum, unlike school, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t constantly be learning. You have to be ok with letting this go!
  2. At startups, you need to take the initiative, which is often not encouraged at big corporations. A simple ask to change a spelling mistake on a bank’s website, which faced multiple hurdles, led Micha to know she didn’t want to be in that environment. At startups, you won’t be praised for innovation or initiative since it’s part of the nature of the environment and the expectations you are looking out for the company’s best interest.
  3. You need to exercise your resourcefulness. It’s like a muscle. You should always be looking at what you have in front of you and act on it instead of waiting to be in the perfect situation to execute. Look for other channels and new ways of going things.

Three Lessons From Dealing With Burnout Early in Your Career

Scott: You’ve talked about how your seven-day weeks 12h-our-day hustle got to a point where you felt burnout. What have you learned from that experience?

  1. At a point early in her startup career, Micha felt like she couldn’t even get up to go across the street to get a cup of coffee in the morning. Sound familiar? Micha committed to a 30-day yoga membership at a studio nearby. She was looking for small wins, not focusing on participating in the class, but just showing up to a class was enough. The first thing is to recognize that something is wrong that you are not feeling like yourself. Once you accept this, you can set small daily goals focusing on your body and mind’s health.
  2. Micha understands that yoga can be intimidating. It’s not about flexibility or strength but rather a mindset, and it completely transformed her burnout experience and hustle mindset. She’s now been practicing for five years. A way to approach this is to think about energies in the room and be aware of your energy. Once you’re mindful of this, you can tackle new experiences. In Micha’s experience, some of the best yoga teachers are ones that you feel safe and comfortable and just instantly relaxed. They also know how to explain the poses without making you feel dumb; they’ll also explain the posture with consent. If you haven’t experienced this, check out @namastetics to access Instagram recorded classes and explore various online live teachers.
  3. Everyone deals with some kind of trauma. If we don’t deal with it, it will come back and manifest in our bodies. The Body Keep Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk talks about this in-depth. Micha was interested in Reiki. Burnout and lead her to build curiosity around the Ancient Medicine use of Chakras. To keep it concise, Chakras are the seven key points in your body that just told everything together. I guess you could say. Micha expands on these in the episode and believes that being aware.