Interview with Kealey Nutt from Eleven & Twelve
Kealey Nutt is a Digital Media Producer, and the Director of her own SME. From Perth, but now a true Melburnian, her business is based in Richmond. Kealey gained industry knowledge by starting her own online magazine, and helping to run one of Melbourne's first coworking spaces.
Tell us a bit about your business?
Eleven & Twelve is a digital media production agency. We specialising in helping people communicate with their customers and audience in a down-to-Earth, conversational manner.
When developing content, we always have one question in mind -
"If you could speak to your target audience face-to-face for one minute, what would you tell them?"
We translate the answer to that question into the theme of our copywriting, video content, social media action plans, and website designs. This helps us stick to ensuring our clients' customers can find what they're looking for in a simple, fast, and enjoyable way.
Why did you start up your business?
I moved to Melbourne from Perth and I found myself hanging out socially at a coworking space while working on my own side projects. I received some awesome job offers over the space of a few weeks, but ultimately, I just didn't want to stop hanging out with the friends I had made at the coworking space.
I ended up helping to run the space, help grow the community and help move the coworking into a much bigger premises. But being quite independent and creative, I needed an outlet for my own ideas and creativity.
Really, I started the business so that I could learn and experiment with a specific skill set, have location and schedule flexibility, and to grow my own little world.
Oh, and I've always wanted a job where I could have a dog at work. And now i have both the job, and the dog.
What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business?
Cashflow. It's a big jump to go from receiving a wage, to having to be the sole person responsible for getting yourself paid. And as a young person, making sure I budget and keep to a strict financial plan is quite difficult.
Also, managing client expectations, as well as your own expectations. Making sure that you set a specific milestone as a signifier for when your work has been completed, and a deadline for that to happen, and ensuring that that's all signed off on in a contract so that you don't find yourself doing loads of extra work that you didn't originally quote for.
I found generating a buzz and marketing leads, and finding new clients to be the fun, easy part. It's all the more formal elements of business that I've struggled with.
What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting up their business?
Make sure you have a business plan before you jump into it all. I did the NEIS program, which forced me to slow down and consider by projections, and what startup equipment and funds I might need.
I think I would have spent all my savings on equipment and stationery and marketing before even doing any work, if I hadn't have slowed down and got my budgets and plans sorted out first.
And then all of my stationery would have been useless because I inevitably, my business looked a whole lot different, and offered different things than I planned, once I got out into the market and saw how it would all work in action.
What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
I guess, it was really the idea of independence. For being able to financially support myself, and eventually hire other people to do what they love and be able to share the flexible, happy lifestyle with them. And it's always nice to know that when you receive praise for work, you can really be proud of yourself for building that positive experience from the ground up.
How did you family and friends react?
I would not have been able to make it this far without the support of my amazing friends and family. They've all been amazing. And really understanding when my lifestyle changed from going out and being available all the time, to staying in and working a lot.
I have a truly amazing group of people around me who encourage me, give good honest feedback on the things I do, are there for me when things don't go well, celebrate with me when they do go well, and help me brainstorm business ideas, email replies and all sorts.
How has your life changed?
In every way.
My day-to-day routine is as flexible and creative as I need it to be at any time. I get to do a variety of different creative projects and be involved in all different aspects of the work - and with a diverse range of clients.
I get to travel and meet different people, attend different events, learn new things.
I'm creatively fulfilled. I'm responsible for my own financial and career success. I get to dress however I want. And I get lots of fresh air, and space which has improved my mental health and wellbeing by immeasurable amounts.
What success have you experienced since starting your business?
I've been featured in quite a few media articles, magazines and so forth. And invited to speak at a number of events including L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival's Cultural Program, lectures at Swinburne University, technology and networking events, and various conferences.
It feels really very rewarding and exciting to have people who are interested to here about the things I'm creating and experimenting with in my work!
What is the vision for your business going forward?
I have some side projects I want to launch, and in some cases re-launch. They're my passion projects, and the reasons I got into the industry. So in the next year, I really want to build up my client portfolio so that I can fund some team members to come on board and help me put those side projects out into the world, and help to make them their viable parts of the business.
My first mission for 2013 is to generate enough cashflow to hire my amazing intern as an employee.
What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your startup?
Just keep going.
You'll wake up in the middle of the night worrying about what to do about certain clients, or how to best do your work, or how to pay your rent, feed yourself, and have enough cash left over to take a client out for coffee.
You'll have disappointments. It will be hard at times.
But it's worth it.
Have a nap, go for a walk, clear your head. Then get back to it, and just keep going.