Tell us a bit about your business?
This is actually a hard question - because my business covers many smaller businesses. Basically, I run Home Based Business Australia which supports home based business operators, particularly in the area of online marketing. I help ,members build websites and mentor and coach them. But I am also an artist and an author (selling online).
Why did you start up your business?
I was a secondary teacher of Art and the school I was teaching in went under during the 'recession we had to have'. So, I decided to start my own Art business which was a huge success (I won 7 of the Australian Gift of the Year awards and had my designs reproduced under license by 14 different companies such as Shelta umbrellas, Laurentinobags and Fresca scarves. This tremendous success led me to want to share the skills I consequently developed with other start up business. So I formed Home Based Business Australia as a channel and platform through which I could reach these business operators
What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business?
I did not consider that I had major hurdles. I had many new things to learn and my business moved forward at a great rate of knots. There is always the problem of lack of money, particularlywhen your business is a fast growing one.
What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting up their business?
1. Be opportunistic - don't say 'no' when a new opportunity is offered, say 'how'?
2. Make sure you are a realistic optimist - expect the best to happen but be
prepared for the worst.
3. Learn to negotiate and remember that the third party needs to 'win' some
4. Find out what the customer wants that you have the skills to produce -
don't just produce what you know you are good at and that you like to do.
In my case, I did not just produce art and hold exhibitions and try to sell it
(though I did this successfully too!) I realised that the tourist market wanted
colourful, light weight product featuring Australiana, so my art work had
Australian fauna and flora and was painted on silk.
What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
When I first commenced my business, I really did not think that it could replace
the income I earned as a teacher. However, within my first year I received a $100,000 order from a major department store - that was when I realised that I had a 'real' business. From then on it was full throttle. I was determined and passionate, not just about producing my product, but about building and marketing my business.
How did your family and friends react?
My family was very supportive -they had to be. All my business was done at home and my home looked more like a factory than a home. We all had a bed and that was about it. I got rid of the lounge and all other normal furniture. The small round table housed a computer and fax - it must have been tough for the family for around four years. I guess I didn't really have friends at that time - but many of my new business associates became short term friends. When I built Home Based Business Australia, that is when I developed a number of friends through the membership.
How has your life changed?
I am more satisfied, I thrive on a challenge. I like being able to make my own decisions; in other words, I like being my own boss. If things go wrong because of what I have done, I can cope with that better than I can deal with an employer making poor decisions that can adversely affect me. I work harder but I can chose when to work and when to play. I don't stress about such mundane things as house chores and I enjoy being able to look after my flowers. As I do not have to travel to work, I can do much more in the time that it used to take to travel.
What success have you experienced since starting your business?
I think my overwhelming successes is one of the things that keeps me so happy running my own business:-
1. Winning seven Gift of the Year Awards for my product
2. Having a major department store place a $100,000 order with me
3. Having government invite me to sit on 8 committees to help them understand the needs of the HBB
4. Running successful awards all around Australia with major sponsors and the Government support
5. Building a network of over 10,000 business operators
6. Being known as the HBB Guru
7. Having constant media coverage
8. Above all, having some wonderful clients who are happy with what I provide.
What is the vision for your business going forward?
As I am getting older (I am now 68 and have had a stroke and a brain tumour) I have now decided to slow down somewhat and focus on three major areas
2. Looking after the HBB sector via my website
3. Writing books
4. Doing presentations
What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your startup?
1. Be confident, optimistic and determined; this attitude will get you through all of the challenges you face.
2. Don't be afraid to ask for help; join associations that can support you and help you build your network
3. Have a philosophy of 'what can I do for you?' rather than 'what's in it for me' - the latter will happen when you live by the former.
4. Make sure you are offering what the client wants; look after them well as they are the 'Kings and Queens' of your business.
5. Make marketing an important part of your business: look carefully at attraction marketing - it works!