Life as corporate refugees

Tell us a bit about your business

SavvySME is a brand new social platform for Australian small and medium businesses. It’s an online community setting packed with social features, business knowledge base and soon a B2B marketplace. 

So think about SavvySME as a one-stop shop to help you find everything you need to run your business - from latest news and expert advice, to useful business tools and quality business products and services. 

The platform’s designed exclusively with business owners and entrepreneurs in mind, and we’re proud to partner with some of the biggest brands in town such as Officeworks and Bing Lee to bring our members exclusive discounts on everyday business essentials.

Why did you start up your business?

I’ve always been passionate about helping businesses grow. My business partner (PJ) and I have long consulted to major corporations and built sizeable consulting businesses, but prior to that, we started and ran our own businesses. PJ started and sold a successful IT consulting business some years ago. I started a property investment and development company around the same time, which I still own and run today.

So having experienced both ends of the spectrum, the contrast was staggering! Whilst larger businesses have all the internal support structure in place, small business owners tend to do everything themselves – sales, marketing, HR, IT - you name it!

We saw an opportunity where we could amalgamate knowledge base in small business management and the latest digital marketing concepts, with the most advanced social media and web technology - and lay it all at the fingertips of small business owners. SavvySME was conceived.

What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business?

Our first hurdle was adjusting to life as corporate refugees! It wasn’t easy leaving the security of established careers in exchange for a nomadic experience of ‘camping’ literally anywhere to save on office costs - provided there was good coffee, free Wi-Fi, and free power supply for the MacBook Air :)

We then set out to bring on the right co-founders. Our startup was bold and ambitious, so we needed people who share our vision of helping small businesses. It was a critical moment, and I’m extremely proud of the founding team we’ve assembled.

The first order of business was to validate the market, without which our ideas would’ve been just pie in the sky. We learnt a lot of about small business owners and what they value most. So we tailored our concept and solution to make it even better than we’d first imagined.

What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking about the process of starting up their business?

  • Follow your passion. It’s your passion that will sustain you through thick and thin, but it’s also your passion that will show forth in the way you build your business – from designing the most innovate solutions, to providing exceptional customer service.
  • Hire the best. It’s one of the most confronting dilemmas for startups with limited funds, but you need the best people around you who shares the same passion and help get it off the ground in the right direction. We’ve an amazing team at SavvySME.
  • Begin with the end in mind. Don’t be tempted to dive in without first knowing if your ideas can be commercialised and in turn create a profitable business, or you’ll always be stuck in the rut of looking for investors as soon as your runway is exhausted.
  • Be open-minded. Sure, plan ahead but you must always be prepared to adapt to changing needs and market conditions at all times. Listen to your customers. Your business will only be successful as long as it’s relevant to your target market.
  • Create the best customer experience. Channel all your energy into creating the best and memorable experience for your customers - every time. It’s all the little things customers may not even notice or expect that counts. They’ll love you for it.

What made you decide to make the jump and focus on the business?

Going it alone in business is hard, and we wanted to help. I realised early on though that if we’re to make any real impact at all, we needed to be immersed in issues affecting small businesses. Secondly, we had to carve out a realistic scope as a startup and still make a big enough impact. We needed to see for ourselves how the platform could help enrich the lives of business owners. That’s when we made the jump.

How did you family and friends react?

My family and close friends have always been very supportive. The truth is that I was the last to be convinced. I had to be sure that the gig was the real deal before involving anyone else as livelihoods are at stake - my family, my co-founders, and the rest of the team. But since then, seeing how the team and business have grown within such a short time, I know now that it's probably the right decision after all.

How has your life changed?

This might sound trivial but leaving our power suits behind in the morning feels amazing! The only problem is that even our friends barely recognised us now in our casual wear. At this early stage, we’re arguably working harder and sleeping less than before, but we couldn’t be happier. Our families and friends haven’t given up on us just yet, so I guess we’re ok for time being ;)

What success have you experienced since starting your business?

It’s still early days, but we have built an amazing team who’s gone from strength to strength in terms of size and capability. We’ve just launched our beta site last month and the response has been phenomenal! We’re just blown away by the quality of contributors and depth of conversations even at such at early stage. Seeing our vision come to life feels almost surreal! We’re now more determined than ever to make SavvySME even more powerful and useful for our members.

What is the vision for your business going forward?

Our priority is to get the word out and put SavvySME on the map. We’re busily working behind the scene to implement the rest of the platform, and in the process, create the best user experience for our members. Our vision is to become the trusted destination for business owners and entrepreneurs in Australia seeking to connect and collaborate. We hope you’ll join us and share in our vision.

What tips can you give other SavvySME members about motivating yourself to push through challenges that rise up while building your startup?

  • Be laser liked focused. When starting up, don’t get distracted with what others are saying or what your competitors are doing. Instead, concentrate all your energy, thoughts and resources solely on the business you’ve committed to get off the ground.
  • Build a support network. Going it alone might sound romantic, but you need all the help you can find. Friends and family are not always qualified or objective source of advice. Instead, look to connect with mentors, advisors and peers such as those on SavvySME.
  • Stay the course. It’s a battle of sheer determination and stamina. Never give up. Balance tactical problems with strategic goals. And never stop learning. Always look for how you can improve, and make the most of latest technology and trends.
  • Enjoy the ride. Entrepreneurship is one of the most satisfying journeys in life. So make the most of it and have fun! Build an inspirational team around you, and always take opportunity to learn – it’s one of the most fulfilling experiences ever.

Phil Khor

Phil Khor

Founder at SavvySME

G’day, I am the founder of SavvySME. Running a business alone is hard, which is why my team and I are keen to do our part to help. We are proud to create this platform for you to connect, share and engage with service providers who can help grow your business. Our goal is to become a trusted destination for you to find experts and resources for your business easily. We invite you to share our vision for a vibrant community of folks looking out for each other :)

SavvySME

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Information and communication technology


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