JJ Ramberg imagines a world in which shopping equates to social impact, and she has planted a seed for change with her company Goodshop (which she co-founded with her brother Ken). The entrepreneur is also the host of Your Business on MSNBC and bestselling author of the book “It’s Your Business: 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business.”
I sat down with JJ to discuss how she’s grown her organization, and any tips she can give business owners for success.
The Evolution of Good
While reporting for CNN in Biloxi, MS, and New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, the idea for a company that was founded on the basis of doing a greater good came to fruition. JJ and Ken discussed the possibilities and soon founded GoodSearch.
Each time consumers used the search engine, a penny was donated to their favorite cause. GoodShop was an expansion of this idea, and quickly became the entire focal point for the company. The name of the business was changed to GoodShop, and the concept has taken off from there.
GoodShop partners with thousands of stores to not only save shoppers money but do it for a good cause. They work with popular retailers like Target, Apple, Sephora, Travelocity, and Saks—just to name a few. A percentage of each purchase then goes back to a non-profit of their choice, at absolutely no cost to the shopper.
To date, GoodShop has raised nearly 12 million dollars and works with over 125,000 different non-profits and schools. Find out more by listening to the whole interview below.
A New Venture
JJ Ramberg is excited about their latest project, GoodShop Give. In addition to the great deals and coupons they offer consumers, GoodShop has now become the world’s first ever shop-funding site. Users can now create their own causes and encourage people to shop on their behalf.
Not only is it a socially conscious movement, it is literal marketing genius—as every time a cause is created and shared, it escalates their visibility. I asked JJ Ramberg if she had some advice or tips to offer entrepreneurs on the challenges she has faced building GoodShop, and how to successfully scale a business.
Tips for Transforming Your Business
There is a lot to be learned from JJ’s experiences, and she is used to doling out sage advice on her MSNBC show Your Business. The following are a few key lessons JJ has picked up over the years as a successful entrepreneur:
Go All In
One of the first things JJ admits she learned, is that owning a company can take on a life of its own. She has always worked for start-ups, but GoodShop is the first company in which JJ took the captain’s chair. As she relayed to me:
She admits that although there are certain times when everyone needs a break, it is important to regain the same excitement when you return. In order to be successful, it is critical for the leader to set the standard for motivation.
It’s All About the People
Over the years JJ has interviewed many business owners on her show, and she admits her advice often involves the same concepts: having a team of good people working with you. Some of her best advice involves surrounding yourself with people that complement you, help you obtain goals, and are flexible to change when necessary.
When challenges arise, JJ muses “You have to surround yourself with people who complement you, who are better than you at some things—you have to let them do their job. And if someone’s not right for the company, then you have to either find a place that is right for them in the organization, or make a change in the organization.”
In other words, you need a team that will go along with you for the ride. Exciting things may come up, but so do hard things, and the way you get through them is by having good people to work with.
JJ makes it clear, GoodShop is not a retailer—they simply partner with them. In terms of marketing and visibility, she had this to say:
It is important to make sure you are offering people something they like, and if they like it, encourage them to talk about you. Users need not shop on the site. They can simply visit for the over 500,000 coupons you can’t find anywhere else online (while STILL supporting their cause). This type of service—for nothing in return, ensures people will always be talking about GoodShop.[Tweet “How to #transform your #business. Advice from @jjramberg.”]
Growing a company requires consistent change and adaptation. The concept of minimum viable product (MVP) was birthed in Silicon Valley and is a methodology that JJ closely follows. She believes in getting the product out as quickly and cheaply as possible, in order to understand what her customers like, and gather feedback.
This idea spans beyond digital. She recently gave advice to a brick and mortar business owner about expanding their space with a wine bar. Rather than build it out immediately, she suggested they set up a table and host a few parties to see if this is something their customers are interested in. That would be taking advantage of the concept of MVP. The simple idea is that you go out, you try it, and then you build it.
Consider Your Beginnings
JJ makes it a point that once many business owners begin to make money, they lose site of its value. Ideas become less inventive. People are quick to throw down money on an expensive consultant or marketing campaign, without questioning how much they could achieve themselves.
As you grow and raise capital, it’s easier to say “I’m just going to do this because I can pay for it.” But it is crucial to ask yourself one question throughout the entire process:
“What would I do if I didn’t have this money?”
That truly is JJ Ramberg’s core message. It’s clear that she views the world from a socially conscious perspective, and her free advice is like using the GoodShop brand—it puts a penny in your bank every time.