Ruslan Kogan is a true innovator in the Australian business world. One of the first to see the potential in online retail, Kogan built a multi-million dollar business. These are eight business lessons from Ruslan Kogan that you need to learn.
Ruslan Kogan had some very humble beginnings.
His family arrived in Australia with just $90 to their names. His parents wanted to provide a better life for Ruslan and his siblings. To do that, they worked several jobs each to keep the family afloat and provide their kids with opportunities.
That effort taught Ruslan the first of many valuable business lessons.
If you’re going to get anything in life, you have to work hard for it.
Ruslan developed an interest in technology from an early age. He built his first computer when he was just nine years old. Years later, he quit a corporate job that he didn’t care about to form his own online technology retailer.
This was in the mid-2000s. Kogan had to figure out how to achieve online retail success while facing off against some major competitors.
He founded Kogan.com and became the first online retailer to offer private labelled TVs online.
Today. Kogan.com is the go-to brand for online shopping in Australia and has expanded all over the world. Ruslan built a multinational business from his parents’ garage.
These are Ruslan Kogan’s business tips for achieving online retail success.
Tip #1 – Keep Your Customers Happy
The first of Ruslan Kogan’s business lessons is something that you’ll hear from a lot of entrepreneurs.
You have to put your customers first.
As he puts it: “It’s all about the customer — every decision needs to be all about delighting your customers.”
Notice the emphasis on “delighting” your customers.
It’s not about offering the bare minimum to keep your customers happy. Any business can do that.
Your aim is to go above and beyond what your customers expect from you. Kogan offers a service that constantly surprises and delights its customers.
To do that, it listens to what its customers have to say. Instead of focusing on competitors, Kogan aims to discover and then exceed its customers’ expectations.
Tip #2 – Don’t Rely on Formal Education
When you receive advice from successful people, many will point towards formal education as the route to success.
There’s certainly plenty of value to gain from a formal education. However, business moves so fast today that many degrees go out of date within a few years.
That’s why Ruslan Kogan doesn’t rely on formal education when recruiting for his company.
He says: “Formal training is for people who want to look like they’re learning.”
“Google is for people who actually want to learn. There is no skill you can’t learn these days. It’s all out there. Just go and type it into Google.”
Kogan’s point is that you don’t need a piece of paper to set the stage for business success. In fact, one of his most important business lessons is that you can learn things from many different sources.
A formal education may provide you with a good grounding. But you need to keep learning from every source possible to succeed. Don’t wait for somebody to make a course for it. Get online and find the information for yourself. Then, work out how you can apply it practically to your situation.
Tip #3 – Have Passion for What You Do
One of the most important of Ruslan Kogan’s business tips is that you need to have passion for what you do.
“Do what you love,” he says. “If you love what you do, you’ll be able to dedicate yourself to your business for 80 hours per week and it won’t even feel like you’re working.”
Kogan’s own career is a perfect example of this in action. He started his career in the corporate world, but soon found himself disillusioned. He couldn’t find a reason to go to work every day, so he struck out on his own.
Kogan decided to revisit the love of technology that he developed when he was a child. It’s through this that he created one of the largest online retailers in Australia.
Find your passion. Figure out the things that you love most in the world and then consider how you can turn that into a business. Kogan’s love of technology led him down the path of online retail. Your passion may take you to different places, but you’ll still follow a similar path.
Tip #4 – Don’t Just Chase the Money
You may think that business success only comes when you’re earning millions of dollars. That’s certainly where Kogan finds himself now.
But one of the most valuable business lessons from Ruslan Kogan is that money can’t be your end goal.
He says: “If I was just chasing the dollars, I would not have motivation to jump out of bed in the morning.”
“And the motivation wouldn’t be there because chasing the dollars implies you’re looking at what you can buy with those dollars.”
This is an important point. If you get so wrapped up in the money, you lose sight of your business’ goals. As importantly, you lose sight of your personal goals.
This comes back to Kogan’s business lessons about delighting your customers. That’s his primary goal. The money is just a happy side effect of him reaching that goal.
Your business needs a purpose beyond generating revenue. That’s particularly true today as customers look for reasons to engage with brands beyond forking over their cash.
Tip #5 – Accentuate Your Competitive Advantage
Kogan found its niche because it was the first company to offer private labelled TVs online in Australia. It’s that competitive advantage that gave the company a foundation on which it could build.
Finding your competitive advantage is among the most basic business lessons. Ruslan Kogan takes things a step further when he says: “Make sure your business has a competitive advantage and work relentlessly to flaunt it.”
That last part is one of the most important business lessons from Ruslan Kogan. It’s no use having a competitive advantage if you’re not telling people about it. You want people to know what you can offer that nobody else can.
That advantage could be anything. Perhaps you offer the best customer service. Or, like Kogan, you’re the first person to offer a particular product or the first to take advantage of a new sales channel.
Whatever the case may be, you need to accentuate that advantage. Put it front and centre in your marketing materials.
Tip #6 – Use Data to Your Advantage
Kogan credits much of his online retail success to his use of data.
“We’ve got very accurate statistics on what people actually want,” he says. “And by being able to service demand in that manner, we can make a business model that is a lot more efficient.”
Kogan makes a simple point here. The data you collect provides insight into your customers’ needs.
It all starts with what your website gathers. Analytics software can provide you with insights into the pages that customers love and the ones they bounce away from. It can show you which search terms people use to access your business. Plus, it can show you the typical paths they take through your website.
You can use all of this data to figure out what you need to offer to your customers. You may find that a product sells better than expected, which could cause you to pour more into marketing that product. Or, you may find that a high-cost item isn’t pulling in the sales like you thought it would. That could lead to you changing your marketing or ditching the product entirely.
Those are just a couple of examples. Analyse your data constantly so that you can review what you offer to customers.
Tip #7 – Don’t Forget Where You Came From
Kogan takes pride in having built something from humble beginnings. He’s also quick to point to the fact that he has the same group of friends that he had when he was younger.
“They haven’t changed in 15 years,” he says when talking about his friends. “It’s not like to my friends I’m some other person, or some guy who’s a businessman or whatever. They still remember me as the guy who’d wag school and get drunk in the park.”
This may not immediately seem like business advice. But Kogan makes an important point here. It’s crucial that you don’t get so caught up in your business that you forget what’s important to you.
The time Kogan spends with his friends allows him to escape the pressures of business. He has no obligation to be anyone other than himself in these settings. This refreshes his mind and allows him to approach his work with a fresh perspective.
Tip #8 – Take Risks
Ruslan has a familiar story to share from the days when his business was still just an idea.
“I went and shared my idea with a few people, and they all told me I was crazy.”
That’s a common response that entrepreneurs receive from people. You come to them with something completely new and they can’t see beyond the status quo. They may think you’re crazy because you want to do something different.
Unfortunately, this can steer people away from success.
Some of the best business advice that Kogan offers relates to risk. Despite everybody telling him how crazy he was, he knew he’d spotted a niche in the market.
He bet on himself and it paid off in a massive way.
Every business needs to have facts and figures to support it. But all new ideas also carry an element of risk. Manage the risk as much as possible, but don’t fear it to the point where it stops you from doing anything.
The Final Word
Ruslan Kogan puts all of these lessons into practice on a daily basis to maintain his online retail success.
However, these lessons extend beyond the retail space. Any entrepreneur can learn from Kogan’s journey. He put his passion and desire to delight his customers before his profits. That created a bond between Kogan and its customers that naturally led to sales increasing.
Kogan had the courage to take risks where no one else would. And he knows how to show people what makes his company so different from its competitors.
Finally, Kogan keeps his feet on the ground and doesn’t get carried away with his success. This offers him a fresh perspective that ensures he approaches his business with his customers in mind.
How can you apply these lessons and other tips from successful entrepreneurs to your business?
CUB can help.
At CUB our ambition is to unite those who are changing the world through their businesses. We support these people by building a private community of Australia’s next titans of industry. And we bring these titans together to accelerate the achievement of each other’s ambitions.
If you wish to be considered for membership, please feel free to request a club introduction on our membership page: www.cub.club/membership.