Founders: Bill Huynh, 26
Head Office: Victoria
Industry: Retail trade
Ordering stock from offshore is always a risk. Office furniture company Interior Secrets found that out the hard way when its first shipment of 500 chairs came in from overseas with more than a few defects – and founder Bill Huynh had a hard time staying positive.
However, he learnt a key lesson.
“It's worthwhile outsourcing a third party product inspections company to check goods are satisfactory prior to loading of shipment. Let the supplier know you have appointed someone so they pay extra attention on your order.”
Huynh started the business in 2009 when he noted a hard time finding affordable office furniture. The company now supplies high-end furniture for business and individual consumers.
He met some hurdles at first, with zero business experience and acquaintances who were concerned with this chosen venture. The first six months were tough.
“During these times, this is where you give it one more push with persistence and you do this again and again when necessary until the doubt of success dissipates.”
“It was also disappointing that the biggest challenge I faced was that suppliers did not take the internet seriously.”
But after some careful research of the competition, Huynh has grown the business into an enterprise turning over $1.7 million a year. He’s used some interesting marketing techniques too, including allowing an SEO expert to set his own salary based on results.
And like most entrepreneurs in the Smart50, he’s putting a big emphasis on the online space – where he says traditional retailers aren’t paying enough attention.
“Smaller players and rivals are now also conveniently accessing products direct from manufacturers by attending trade shows and sourcing overseas products online. Those who have developed strong strategic relationships with suppliers will ultimately separate the stronger competitors from the weak.”
For now, Huynh now plans to slow down. The company is in the middle of building a new warehouse, and the entrepreneur says he spends at least 15 minutes a night thinking about how to compete.
“Without competition, I think businesses eventually get lazy.”