What was the reason behind starting your business?
The one thing that I love about small business is that each one has its own story. I'd love to get to know each face behind the businesses, so please tell me how and why did you start your small business?
My story is that I used to work in corporate accounting, from working at Optus to Coca Cola and then moving onto a 4 year role in Johnson and Johnson. I had enough of the corporate life. Even when I was working as a management accountant in Johnson and Johnson I was thinking up business ideas on the side just naturally.
I've always been quite entrepreneurial starting with wholesaling and then selling polo shirts on eBay when I was in uni - for "fun" - and it was so fun! It was only natural I felt that I didn't fit in the corporate world, I had no desire to climb "the ladder" and just felt everything was inefficient and a lot of resources were wasted on things that didn't matter. I then moved into a role at one of Australia's leading online marketing agencies - E-Web Marketing which really opened my eyes to business. They gave me such a great opportunity to develop my entrepreneurial skills and, after some time, I even ran my own social media department, teaching me skills in looking after budgets, pitching, sales and more. I'm so thankful I got that role and it really opened my eyes to so many possibilities.
Now we're in the same position as a lot of startups are in Australia, trying to grow and help others. I wanted to grow SavvySME because being a small business owner, sometimes it's hard to meet the right people and find the right answers to things. As we grow as a community, I hope that we can all support each other through our struggles and celebrate our wins! That's why we have a 'member stories' section just for you guys to share your stories of success and dramas!
I hope you enjoy our site and I'm hoping to hear about your story :)
hi wendy, what a surprise to hear of a dissatisfied corporate accountant. having worked in accounting for 10 years, i started my own small business 10 years ago for four key reasons: 1. to fulfil a desire i had held since high school 2. to enable greater flexibility in work hours to spend more time with my family 3. financial independence 4. to be my own boss. after 3 years of ups and downs with moderate success, due to changed personal circumstances i returned to my former employer. however i still harbour a desire to do my own thing again someday, in the meantime my wife has her own small business so i can enjoy the ride with her.
Slightly long story, but I will try and condense it- basically I was driving my two young daughters to school and was just so sick of the radio content that was currently available to me. The lyrics were offensive and played at 8 in the morning, the advertisements were prolific and had no direct relation to me as a parent and the talkback was dribble and annoyed my kids, so I chose to turn on a CD to keep the kids happy and drove straight into a traffic jam. Of which I had 3 hours to brew over the state of radio in Australia...and was left wondering if there was a radio station for parents. When I FINALLY arrived at work, I began to to investigate if something like that was out there, and I was shocked that nothing like this existed in AUSTRALIA, let alone WA.
I told a few people (close friends and family) about my idea and very quickly became excited at the idea of starting such a project myself.
I was very naïve to begin with, not thinking for one second that I would be embarking on the never ending climb to nowhere in order to get such a station on air.
I chose PuggleFM as the name for my station as kids were baby goats and I’m not overly fussed on goats, plus they weren’t Australian, when I came across Puggle- which is a name associated with baby Platypuses or Echidna’s I knew that was the name for the station.
I trademarked the name, designed the logo, printed the stationary, purchased the domain names, registered the ABN and ACN – all the basic things you do when you start something like this up.
I engaged with a radio consultant who was brilliant, gave me a lot of information, to which I read though and became more and more excited about the possibility of launching PuggleFM in the very near future.
I began developing the programs whilst compiling what would be my first submission for a license to the ACMA.
I developed the programs as seen on this website and spent a lot of time developing these concepts on the premise I thought they would really benefit the community.
I submitted my first application for a community licence and received no response – nothing…. For like a month. This started the year long battle with the ACMA, of which only a few weeks ago finally ended (I took them to the Commonwealth Ombudsman who shockingly "found" a license - after the ACMA had said there "was absolutely none avaiable" - needless to say - i turned that offer down, because besides the fact it was a shared license and they refused to tell me who it would be shared with, in the time it had taken for this to come to a conclusion, the online/podcasting version of PuggleFM (of which I only did to prove to the ACMA that I was serious about the radio station) had actually taken off, and I was attracting 75% of my growing listener base from OUTSIDE of Australia - without ANY advertising!
Now 2013 looks to be a really exciting year for PuggleFM with new partnerships, over 30 new podcast series currently in development - it's been a bumpy road but it seems to have all paid off :)
Just like Wendy &Todd I went straight into an accounting job after finishing a commerce degree and the everyday grind of public practice accounting did nothing for my creative entrepreneurial side. I found my real energy came after hours when I was launching "side-projects" online. It was playing around more than anything until I had a health scare in 2007 and that's when I really got serious about taking my side projects to the next level.
I have always been business minded with an affinity for numbers & a love for the internet & technology. I am lucky to have a business partner who has strong skills in some of the areas I am weak.
I have now been full-time in my business since 2010 and while I work harder than ever I have never felt more satisfaction in what I do. Also the fear of poor health impeding my ability to earn an income is gone.
I would say the main reasons I got into business were for control & flexibility and never dreamt it would be as rewarding as it has been.
I got through University (just) and then went to work in hospitality for 8 years, running a pizza restaurant with my father. I was 25, with no money, an Economics degree that I didn't want to use, and a very poor attitude concerning hard work. I was at a crossroads in my life.
At the restaurant, I worked 80 hours a week for more than two years, and I was beginning to get (understandably, I think) quite depressed. I didn't have time for the gym, for holidays, for parties - for life.
A friend of mine gave me a copy of The E Myth, and I read the book back to front in less than 2 days. I felt like I had been converted. It was the most intoxicating, exhilarating feeling I’d ever had. There was a better way to do things and now this was my once in a lifetime chance to do it.
After a few months of research I decided to start selling promotional stickers to the United States. Having seen my friends success with fridge magnets, I was looking to replicate his success with a different product.
When I told my father I was leaving he said that I was being brainwashed, and that you couldn't have a lifestyle in that kind of business. To prove your manhood, you had to endure 80 hours of work every week. What my dad hadn't realized (being too busy in the pizza shop to spend his attention elsewhere) was that it was now mid-2000, not the 1970s. My mother was also a beacon of support, “Anthony, you will never get an opportunity like the pizza shop, you will be begging for your job back." You get the picture.
In the end, the business was a success. It gave me freedom, creativity, respect and confidence. I often hear people say to me that when you run a business you have no life. Well, my response is "When I drive to work and all I see is thousands of people going to work in bumper to bumper traffic at the same time every day, that is what I call having no life"
I now decide: When I go to work, when I go on holidays, how long I stay back. My freedom cannot be bought. Its priceless.
There is a difference between why I thought I started my business and what the real reason turned out to be.
My wife and I decided there had to be a better way of providing service in the domestic cleaning market. So many cleaners flop around doing as little as possible, missing days because of car problems, equipment problems...the excuses were endless.
I had been a business coach for a number of years and while enjoying my client's success understood that it was their business and not mine.
So why not bring the desire to have my own business (other than coaching) together to bridge the 'gap of poor service' in the industry.
Has it been hard? I guess so, but I love the challenge. Do we have work/life balance? Who cares! I don't really understand that term anyway. Does it mean when you are working you are dead? I would be very surprised if anyone can point to a 'job' that has work/life balance.
We can walk or cycle to our office because we decided to lease one within a bicycle ride of home. We can go home when we want and start when we want. We can chose to focus on whatever we want to, in OUR business.
And what are the real reasons?
Running your own business is a reflection of life: you have ups and downs; successes and failures
You meet, and engage with a broad spectrum of people not just as an employee, a cog, but as an individual 'out there' making it happen.
You are challenged to grow; the more success & failure you have the more you grow...if you keep going.
And lastly, for me there is the sense of making a real difference in peoples lives: our employees and their families; our customers and anyone we come across who can't be helped but be infected by our enthusiasm.