The Mouse Over with Rob Ryan of

Oct 22, 2011   //   by admin   //   The Mouse Over  //  No Comments

Name:  Rob Ryan

Title:”Spreadsheet Guy” / Owner

Business Name:

Business BIO:

LadyUmbrella is a brand new and exciting range of ladies t-shirts from Spanish designer, Elena Montes Casado, which hopes to fuse fashion and art and is based in Dublin.


Q: What are you doing now?
Right now I have the pleasure of completing an interview for the great Xcel Business Solutions site… [Ed’s note: Shameless pandering to me is always welcome, thank you Rob.]
I’ve also just uploaded a new LadyUmbrella video to YouTube and am trying to spread the word about it.
Q: What’s your typical work day?
There really are no typical days. Every day there is something different but in general my duties include tweeting and maintaining a social presence, getting orders packed and shipped promptly (we aim to have all orders out within 24 hours), keeping in touch with our suppliers, link building and trying to find people to mention us in blog posts.
Q: What’s your favourite aspect of work?
I like that I am my own boss. For years I had someone telling me what to do and so to have the freedom to work to your own schedule and derive pleasure from what you do is undoubtedly the favourite aspect of work.
Q: What is your background?
I suppose it would be fair to say I’ve a mixed background. I’ve a diploma in performance music and a degree in IT. Employment wise I’ve been a fund accountant, a door to door sales man, an IT guy, a band manager, a bar man, a chef and now “spreadsheet guy”. Jack of all trades I guess…
Q: What’s the best thing that happened in the last year?
It’s hard to isolate one single moment that was the best thing. We were recently at the Irish blog awards finals in Belfast which were a lot of fun – sadly we didn’t take home the gold but to make it to the final is something that really hit home to me.
Q: What is your best source of new business?
I would say it has to be twitter and facebook. I see both of those platforms working hand in hand to help find new customers for us…
Q: How do you communicate with your customers?
I like to be honest, personal, informal and polite when communicating with customers. I try to keep a consistent tone throughout all of our platforms so that our customers can get a good and clear understanding of who we are and what we do.
Q: What does customer service mean to you?
The customer is King / Queen. We really try to go above and beyond what our customers would expect from a small t-shirt company and try to make each one feel that we care because we genuinely do. We’re a minute business and without our customers we wouldn’t be here so customer service is all important.
Q: How do you use the internet in your business?
The internet is used for all aspects of our business. We have an online t-shirt shop where we get a lot of our trade. On top of that all of our marketing and promotion is done online via social media, blogs, videos etc. I think it’s fair to say that without the web being what it is today we would have no business.
Q: What form of business planning do you use?
To be honest – none. I didn’t study business in college so have no idea how to go about planning things – I’m just a fan of thinking about things. I believe that if you think things through the plan will fall into place. As for writing anything down… I’ve a desk full of scraps of paper with scribbles and head full of mental post it notes 😉
Q: Do you manage your work/life balance?
I would say no. I’m very full on and when I get into work mode that is it. When we were first getting the business going I was working about 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and loving every second of it. I think the best type of balance is one that you are ok with, insofar as if it is your own business, you have to be ok with not working on it to take a break.
Q: Any low brow vices? Jedward? Coronation Street? McDonalds?
Not so much vices but peeves..I can’t stand Jedward, Coronation Street, X-Factor or any of that rot..I think they are doing a huge disservice to our society and as a result of people being too absorbed in mind numbing stories and razzamatazz they are missing out and lying idle, when reality crumbles around them…As for McDonalds – a once a month “treat” 😉
Q: What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation to me is being different, being the purple cow, being memorable, being something that friends have to tell their friends about.
Q: How do you handle negative feedback from customers?
Prevention is better than cure. To date we haven’t received any negative feedback and touch wood that will continue. Sometimes people want to change their t-shirt size as they might have gotten a size too big/small but we have free returns so that alleviates any issues there..Like I said, the customer is king/queen and we really do try to keep them happy…
Q: Is business networking, either online and / or offline, of benefit to you?
I’m not a particularly good “social butterfly”. I’m more of a wall flower really, so offline networking is tough for me. Online is quite beneficial though and something that I find a lot less intimidating 😉
Q: How does technology affect your business?
Well, we don’t have any fancy CRM or anything like that and only use “low level” technology for our business, i.e. free web based tools. However, like I said earlier, without the web we would have no business, so, I would say technology affects our business greatly.
Q: Best time management tip?
Not to steal from the kings of the swoosh –  but just do it.
Q: Is there anything that defeats you?
Yes, sometimes I take things very personally and I shouldn’t. LadyUmbrella is more like a baby to us than a business and so when I share info about the business that I think people will react to, but don’t, I get disappointed, bewildered and frustrated. I just have to remember that no one cares about my baby more than me, and I can’t expect everyone to share my enthusiasm.
Q: What is your view of business for the next year?
We’re hoping to continue to grow, slowly but surely, and to keep spreading the word of LadyUmbrella. I view LadyUmbrella as a marathon not a sprint and will endeavour to do what I can to try get it to the next level.
Q: What’s next?
Almost time for a coffee break now in LUHQ, once I post out yesterday’s orders.
Thanks for taking the time to ask me some questions and I hope you and your readers enjoy Smile

Rob, thank you so much for a great and honest insight into operating an online business using social media marketing!
I’m sure readers will join me in wishing you continued success.
Got any questions or comments for Rob?
Then please let us know in the comments below Wink  ~ Helen.

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