Michelle Hsiao, Founder of Revenue Growth Advisors, on Launching a Holistic Full Spectrum Consulting Group
Hi Michelle! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
I am the proud founder of Revenue Growth Advisors, holistic full spectrum consulting for retail/B2C, wholesale/B2B, ecommerce and business development. I have led merchandising, ecommerce, digital marketing and financial initiatives in roles with Macy’s, as Group Vice President and as Senior Vice President for Boscov’s Department Store. Additionally I am armed with the entrepreneurial, accelerated growth and creative thinking from leading with a start-up, as Head of Ecommerce/Chief Merchandising Officer . I have deep knowledge of home goods, women’s and children’s apparel, toys, food and candy, and various selling formats (brick and mortar, ecommerce, DTC/marketplace, wholesale/ manufacturing/direct sourcing). I am highly adept with innovative approaches for profitability improvement (P&L/EBITDA), founder/leader resource maximization and guidance as well as innovative customer experience and strategy. I am Mom to an entreprenista/fashionista/future mayor and CEO in the making, 8 year old Lauren, my alpha generation internal focus group! Love being her “life coach and guide” (which is why I included a photo of the two of us!). I live on Long Island, NY but was a Manhattan girl for 17 years and originally from Maryland. I love spin class, theatre, the beach, golden retrievers and cheese/bread/wine for dinner!
So Michelle, what excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I’ve been blown away by the incredible talent of the Entrepenista members, as well as how generous everyone is with their time to connect, and support each other with guidance, connections and just general good will.
How did you decide it was the right time to start your own business?
I’d been “doing the work” of consulting for a couple of years, but not in an official/”we are a company” way. I decided to take that leap, connect with and bring on board other thought and industry leaders and to support and focus on small to medium businesses.
You mentioned earlier previous experience with department stores, can you expand on that?
I had held positions with billion dollar retailers for 20+ years, including as a buyer, overseas sourcing/product manager, and as a senior leader in ecommerce merchandising and marketing for Macy’s as a GVP, growing the digital business from less than 1% of the corporation’s business to nearly 30%. I was an SVP for Boscov’s, a regional department store in the northeast, leading a large team overseeing all merchandising, profitability, marketing, etc for Home, Toys, Candy/Food, Pets, Luggage and more. When I left Boscov’s in the early days of the pandemic, I consulted for several organizations, including an online marketplace, vendors/wholesalers, and also volunteered my time as an executive business consultant for The Acceleration Project, a nonprofit that supports small businesses. Those experiences inspired me to see my background and knowledge, along with incorporating some incredible industry professionals, to launch my business with a focus on supporting small to medium businesses with high quality, strategic and full spectrum business consulting services.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I’ve always known what it is to be an entrepreneur- my parents had their own companies for most of my life, and I understood from the sidelines what that meant-both the good and the bad. I didn’t anticipate that I’d start a business- I was very happy in corporate America. But the experience of going through the pandemic/corporate uncertainty, and then the positive experience of volunteering with the nonprofit to support small businesses just inspired me to take the entrepreneurial leap!
What was you initial marketing strategy?
I’m still in what I consider to be the “first launched” phase. So I’m still learning what works and doesn’t! So far, networking with colleagues, in person and virtual events, social media posts on LinkedIn and business groups on other platforms have served me very well. I know i need to step it up in terms of building my “thought leader” presence online. Taking it one day at a time!
Entreprenistas overcome challenges every single day. What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way, and what did you learn from it?
We had a great client very early on, and one of my team members was the primary service provider. Because of her experience level and expertise (which I am not as steeped in), I took a bit of a backseat. This lack of day-to-day involvement and presence on behalf of the client ended up causing some issues. I was able to correct the difficulties but I learned that as the CEO/Founder of my company, I still need to be in a very present and involved position/very “client facing” even if my team members are leading the day-to-day.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Starting the business! I took the leap, figured a lot out as I’ve gone along, and it’s intimidating and overwhelming! But I’m so glad I’ve done this. And every time that my daughter talks about me as “the CEO of her own company,” I’m so proud to be setting an example for her!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What do you have any pro tips?
Absolutely! We need to be focused on driving our businesses, and all that entails. But we also need to take care of health-both mental and physical. We need to have great experiences with friends and family. But the idea of “she does it all!” is BS (pardon my french). NO ONE can “do it all”. Figure out what you can outsource, let someone do for you-whether that be a house cleaner, a meal service, a tutor for your child, hiring a travel concierge to plan your big family vacation. Letting go of tasks that you can do for yourself, but your time is better spent elsewhere frees you up to take that hour walk, to sit and be present and play barbies with your child, to take an afternoon and go to the spa.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
I figured it out pretty quickly, and I’m glad I did: Take the initiative, reach out to people, ask to connect, have “virtual coffee, be hungry and excited to hear about others’ businesses and ideas. These efforts will pay off in spades: new business, connections, gaining ideas, and just having a great conversation.
Michelle, you have lots to celebrate! What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
We haven’t “achieved” it quite yet but we’re working on our full marketing and content strategy and implementation which we plan to launch very soon. We’ve been “driving down the road at 100 mph and need to change the tire but we can’t stop”- meaning we’ve been doing the “work” for our clients while also strategizing and building. it’s a lot! But we’re excited to be working “on” our business more and more, and not just “in” our business.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I’m so excited to continue to grow our connections and support small to medium businesses. We have conversations almost daily, or at least weekly, with S to M business owners and leaders who might not be ready for us today, but we see them growing and being ready for the next phase in 2-6 months. Small to medium businesses need the same quality level of guidance as big business: on profitability, getting into big retail, improving their production, growing their marketing presence etc and I am thrilled, along with my team, to be providing that.