For Elissa Liu, working for Deloitte Consulting was a great experience but she had the entrepreneurial bug. She wanted to strike off on her own but also wanted to leverage the skills she had acquired as a strategic consultant. Combining some market due diligence and her desire to start an ‘online’ business, she decided to start Spark Growth Partners, a simple and cost effective social media solution for start-ups. After only 6 months, she’s been finding terrific success targeting this niche demographic.
Q: What’s your elevator pitch for describing Spark to someone on the street?
At Spark Growth Partners, we help start-ups put their best foot forward through social media, with the ultimate goal of growing their customer base, increasing engagement and connecting with other partners in their industry.
Through an online solution, we make it easy to help entrepreneurs find the cost effective social media solution that’s right for them. We can help with social media tool selection, set-up, and optimization, as well as ongoing maintenan
Q: How did you figure out the market “need” for Spark Growth?
In networking with other small business owners, we quickly recognized there was a real pain point around social media. Business owners often had one or two social media properties set up, but they didn’t know how to use them effectively - they weren’t optimizing them with custom graphics, integrating across tools, or using the right add-ons and applications that made sense for their particular business. Others had a hard time even figuring out where to start without spending too much time, so they had been putting social media on the back burner.
Q: How hard was it to leave Corporate America and start a business during a recession?
I left Deloitte Consulting as a Senior Manager in the Strategy and Operations practice, focused on the Technology, Media and Telecommunications industries. I enjoyed working as a consultant as I got to work with clients to identify growth opportunities, solve business issues and develop programs to improve operations. I also enjoyed the entrepreneurial nature of playing a lead role in growing our industry revenues for Corporate Strategy by over 20x in just over 3 years.
I always knew that at some point I wanted to build a business of my own, and eventually jumped into the start-up world in 2010 with the launch of an outdoor adventure company that’s continuing to grow. Spark Growth Partners is now a way for me to combine my love for helping clients solve problems and improve their businesses, with running my own company and building a business.
Q: What are the 3 key steps that you think are necessary for successfully launching an online service business?
1. Test your messaging and service/product offering with potential customers: Get feedback and incorporate it into the versions of your messaging and service/product you launch with.
2. Develop an online presence that aligns with your brand: Get your website and social media properties set up to communicate your brand, enhance your credibility and allow you to connect with potential customers and partners.
3. Connect through online and offline networking: Sales and business development is critical in an online service business, as is the need to offer something of value in every relationship. You need to connect with customers through social media with engaging and valuable content to develop a way to continue communicating with them. Find other professionals who can complement your skills and help you out where you need it (e.g., legal, HR, accounting).