Hello Sally, can you tell us more about yourself?
My name is Sally Victoria Benson; I’m the co-founder and Editorial Director at Macaulifestyle.com. I was in a completely different industry before moving into publishing and digital communications. I’m a professionally trained Actress and spent 7+ years acting on TV and movies in China- Speaking Mandarin. I’m now based in Hong Kong working on business development, digital communications and managing our editorial calendar.
What inspired you to start your company?
I moved back to Macau (where I spent my childhood) and met Katya who was working on an idea for a lifestyle guide/website for the city. I was immediately draw to the idea as Macau was in desperate need of such a guide and now living there as an adult I faced the challenges many people face when in Macau. Where to go, what to do, what to see and where to buy stuff. Katya and I clicked almost immediately and have been very good friends and business partners ever since.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in Macau Lifestyle?
The hardest lesson for me was to accept that you never really switch off. It's impossible to not be thinking about your business. I thought I’d be able to have 'me' time and even when you have 'me' time; you still have the business on the mind. This can be stressful and difficult and not for everyone.
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE
On growing teams…
Running a business isn't a solo job. You have to grow your team if you want to grow. Take time to hire the right people. Invest time and money in helping them grow and develop within your business. Listen to their ideas, respect their opinions and make them feel valued as a member of the team and business. Gifts are good too. Everyone loves gifts!
On mistakes to avoid and best practices for fundraising journey…
Macau Lifestyle had an initial Loan from the government of Macau as part of their young entrepreneurial scheme. It was helpful but nowhere near enough to fund our business, which we didn't completely realize back then. We haven't taken on any funding since but if I had the time over, I’d have raised more initially. Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it?
On building credibility and trust…
Time, consistency and a good attitude. Keep doing good work, knocking on those doors, asking for favours and then just give it time. You will gain the credibility and trust the correct way which will also help your business to thrive.
On the top three things to consider before starting your own business…
1- Is this life for you? Instability, low pay, long hours? Can you do it? You need to be self-motivated as you are your own boss, if you don’t have this personality, it can be a hard few years.
2- Is your idea for a business actually a good idea or you just think its good? Make sure you do some research, evaluate your idea and the market you want to launch it in, how does your business make money?
3- Do you have a decent savings account or some initial investment to start things off? If not, how will you fun your lifestyle/pay your bills while your business grows?