Julia Mackerras, 1 March, 2017
Susannah graduated from QUT with a Bachelor of Mass Communication (Public Relations and Creative Writing) in 2004. She established The Urban List in 2011.
As part of our ongoing entrepreneur profile series, we asked Susannah to share some insights from her entrepreneurial journey.
In 10 words of less, describe your business:
A digital media platform, connecting readers with the business and brands we love.
How is it different to your competitors?
Our clients are attracted to us for four reasons: they want to connect with our audience; they love our style of content; we’re easy and personable to work with; and the results we guarantee.
Our best-friend-like, tongue-in-cheek tone underpins The Urban List brand personality. It’s this readable, shareable approach to content that has seen our audience growth outpace our peers. Last I checked, our audience of 2.2 million was about 25% larger than any other digital guide in our space.
How would you describe your target market?
Predominantly female millennials, 18-35, with a high discretionary income and an even higher desire to experience the best life has to offer: be it new restaurants, beauty treatments, health trends or travel spots.
What are your biggest challenges?
Balancing our high-performance culture with a growing demand for work life balance; encouraging and maximising collaboration and learnings across seven markets; and making the all-important decisions about the investment of our resources, often before the cash comes in the door.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.
Also – “a leader is one who encourages others to lead”. This quote is on a post-it note, stuck to my desk. It’s been there since the day we launched.
What’s the most difficult lesson you’ve learnt?
That I cannot afford to lose confidence – in myself or in our vision. If it wanes, it is 100% my responsibility to get it back, yesterday!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
I’m not big on giving advice, but I am big on sharing stories. The Urban List is a story of a girl who had a dream, who became skilled at sharing the vision, who attracted incredible talents to join the journey, and who worked darn hard to make it come to life!
What inspires and motivates you?
I read incessantly and have a different entrepreneurial inspiration practically every week. That said, I never feel more focused or more driven than when I’ve taken the time to zero in on the priorities (never more than three a quarter), develop a clear running plan, and map out the key milestones along the way.
I’m not really motivated by what our competitors are doing. I’m driven by what we are capable of and the opportunities we see. At the end of the day, what’s important to me is ensuring this business has provided opportunities for every person we touch; that each individual leaves better off than before we met – whether they’re a reader, client, supplier or team member.
What’s your greatest achievement?
My wife and my son.
What do you consider to be your biggest failure?
I have a tendency to feel as though I need to have all the answers; and that when someone asks me a question, they have an expectation I will be right.
I still haven’t mastered the art of feeling that it’s okay to not know; to have to go elsewhere to get advice. And as a result, I see myself respond defensively far too often. It’s a character flaw I’m yet to outgrow, and it’s one that I’m consistently disappointed in myself for.
What values are important to you in business?
Curiosity: always being keen to ask questions and explore what could be. Focus: being able to determine the best use of time and resource. Also resilience: finding the drive to realise goals and dreams in the face of setbacks.
Above all these, people. The Urban List team are extraordinary; hands down, our most valued and valuable resource.
Susannah will be a guest speaker at our inaugural Business Leaders’ Talk event on Thursday 23 March, 2017.