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Growth For Less: Creative Startups Can Make it Big in Less Than $500!

Many startups today are moving away from traditional marketing towards growth hacking. A trend that was adopted way back by marketers and innovators in the Silicon Valley, Growth Hacking simply refers to using creative and technical marketing techniques with the sole purpose of growth. Who can benefit? If you plan a quick launch or have a small marketing budget, you possess a creative spirit and technical know how - in short, you are a start up with a vision – growth hacking can be your best friend to boost your business or product. In fact, unless you are a big company like CBA that could afford to spend $522 million on marketing in FY2015 as reported in Annual Report 2015, startups can make a big impact in a creative way with less than $500! Does a growth hacker think differently? If you have used SEO, you have already been growth hacking. However, it is not a static concept. A growth hacker must think independently, creatively and from the user’s point of view. Instead of pushing the product, the aim is to pull customers to the product. Instead of focusing on a niche clientele, usually the focus is to draw a large pool of people. Are you wondering why growth hacking works? Here’s why: We love change. Of course, anything that is out of the box catches our attention. Anything that creates a buzz (tweets, likes and comments) on social media garners maximum attention (or as we say, followers). Word of mouth is a proven sales manager. The more people see you, the more they talk about you. And the more they talk about you, the more they see you. Viola – you just got famous. Growth hacking goes beyond marketing. It is an intelligent mix of data analysis, behavioural study, social media marketing, advertising and traditional marketing. The famous also hacked! Companies like Facebook, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Quora and Twitter made it big by using inventive and creative strategies. The reason for success: in-depth user analysis and creative insights. Metro.co.uk, a much-loved news portal, used principles of responsive design in their website way back in December 2012. They provided a friendly, interactive and intuitive portal with easily share-able content that ensured viewers were hooked. Users could even create their own micro blogs. Regular competitions ensured viewer engagement leading to over a million viewers in a short span of time. Airbnb(room rental service for travelers)redefined the way we travel causing mass disruption in an established industry. They made use of some loopholes in the Craiglist (an advertising service) portal by letting users advertise their rooms on Craiglist while applying through Airbnb, offering an integrated solution. This ingenious arrangement got them instant traffic for free! Craiglist did fix these loopholes eventually to prevent cross-posting, but Airbnb had arrived in a big way by then! Not to forget YouTube, the largest video sharing community. YouTube employed simple techniques such as rewards for uploading videos. The comments section on each video turned Youtube into a social platform where people were soon sharing their opinions, arguing and bonding over their favourite videos! Finally, some handy tips to get you started: Keep in tune with the latest trends on the digital landscape. Being an early user of a social media site can get you some extra leverage. For example, in the early days of Pinterest, each user had to follow suggested profiles of the earliest users. Give people what they want. Marketing creates demand while growth hacking fulfils the demand. Works well for solution oriented products (read DropBox and Paypal). Have a blog and share content. Ensure each member of the company signs up and shares. Tap the potential of going viral. While you create content to share, do provide user-friendly information instead of solely talking about yourself. Contribute to online discussions. People always like friendly and helpful pages. A social campaign could give your website an instant boost. Generating curiosity is a sure shot crowd puller.  

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Hamperlicious.....Saving the world and spreading the love, one cookie at a time!

Tell us a bit about your business?   Hamperlicious is a gourmet food hamper company based in Melbourne. We are unique in a sea of 'samies' in that we bake, mix and preserve all of the products that go into our hampers. We don't outsource products and we don't fill our hampers with cheap and nasty fillers that you can buy from a Supermarket. We make everything from scratch in our own kitchen and seriously, our hampers are awesome.    We create hampers for those with dietary intolerance's and have a range of delicious raw and vegan products available that cater for the health conscious and superfood lovers. We also celebrate and use local, organic ingredients where possible and everything is completely free of preservatives. We support fair trade products and donate 10% of our profits back to charity and community benefit programs. Perfect for those who appreciate real food with heart and soul.    Why did you start up your business?   Hamperlicious was born out of a love of cooking and feeding people and watching my parents receive tacky, generic hampers year after year thanks to their employers. After making up Christmas hampers for my family and friends and seeing the joy and surprise on their faces, I knew I was onto something. People love products that are homemade and done so with heart, it fills them with warmth.    What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business?   Combining full time work with starting Hamperlicious has been an intense and stressful experience. Evening and weekend hours would be spent madly cooking and packing hampers with my supportive partner coordinating courier deliveries whilst I was at work. Finding the time to work on the business to build and grow it has been the biggest challenge being an owner operator. Taking a deep breath and a step back from the daily needs of the business is imperative for any small business operator and is so often forgotten, it's actually a hard thing to do for fear of things grinding to a halt!   What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting up their business?   Make sure your idea or business is something you feel strongly about and believe in. Feel it in your bones and heart, make sure it's a good fit with your beliefs and then go for it! Chase that dream and make it happen. Marie Forleo's B School is also a fantastic online course that provides an unbelievable support network for young women entrepreneurs worldwide, I would highly recommend the investment for the connections you will make alone let alone what Marie will teach you. You can find Marie at www.marieforleo.com .   What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?   The desire to immerse myself in and promote something I believe in. Being sick of faking my interest or my commitment to my 9.5 job. Wanting to celebrate food, share love and joy through food and put smiles on people's dials by giving them a "wow" moment and something yummy to munch on.   How did your family and friends react?   My family were initially very hesitant and wary for me. Keeping their sentiment at an arms length and blocking it out as much as possible was made ever so easier by my incredibly supportive partner. My friends through Instagram and Facebook have seen the development of my products and business and share their feedback with me daily. It's fantastic to get a comment like "oh wow, that looks amazing, great work Bec" and really keeps you motivated. The instant gratification of these social media tools is brilliant!   How has your life changed?   I'm now spending my day's doing what I love; cooking and feeding people whist feeding my soul and nourishing my creative kitchen spirit. What could be more amazing? This to me was the most important factor, to fill my day with passion and fun whilst helping to save the world, one cookie at a time through our charity group donations.    What success have you experienced since starting your business?   Having the good fortune to connect with the Qantas Frequent Flyer Group and secure the hamper supply for their affiliated clients was a huge moment for me and the business. Being ecstatic is such a good feeling!    What is the vision for your business going forward?   To focus on and create more health conscious hampers packed full of raw food treats, gluten free masterpieces and sugar free creations. The demand for health orientated products is growing at a massive rate and eating this way myself, I believe in the benefits of eliminating certain ingredients from our diet. Branching out into the wholesale supply of retail healthy snack products is also somewhere I see Hamperlicious heading in the next 24 months....coming to a Health Food Shop near you!   What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your startup?   As I mentioned earlier  Marie Forleo is an absolute gem! Her ability to motivate, drive and inspire is ridiculously good and her teachings are straight forward and no nonsense but delivered in such a quirky and funky manner you can't help but feel like you have your own private cheerleader.  Stay focused, remember what it is your trying to achieve and just follow through with one step at a time. Becoming overwhelmed is so easy when your starting up because you are trying to do everything yourself. Breath, then create a priority list of what needs to get done and just do it one by one. 

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Happy Mother's Day! Elise Easdown of What's On 4 tells us her story

Elise Easdown is the owner and director of What’s On 4 Australia. She lives in Brisbane with her two little ones and her very understanding husband. Elise won the 2012 Emerging Ausmumpreneur Awards as well as the 2012 Practical Parenting Mumpreneur Awards. These are such great achievements so we wanted to hear the story behind Elise and her business What's On 4 Australia.   Elise's story "I always had an entrepreneurial brain. As a child I seemed to see business opportunities all around me but never had the confidence to pursue any of them. But some where in the back of my mind I always felt that it would be when I had children my new direction in life would be clear. Sure enough while on maternity leave with my first child Julius I fell in love with going to children’s activities. Having previously worked as a paediatric occupational therapist and baby massage instructor it wasn’t a foreign world but it was one I was involved in as a participant. I loved going to playgroup and music classes, visiting new parks and playcentres. Socially it opened up a whole new world of mothers for me to connect and share newborn experiences with. I also really enjoyed being at home with my son and wanted a job that I loved but also a new life with my family that worked for us. Yes I wanted it all! I decided when pregnant with my second child that a job from home that was flexible would be the answer. Continuing from my interest in children’s activities I thought of creating an online place where parents from all over Australia could search for local events, things to do, activities, clubs and help with planning birthday parties. I wanted it to be quick and easy to search with accurate information and no need to register. Through research I came across What’s’ On 4 in the UK and approached the owner Sam Willoughby if she would coach me in doing something similar in Australia. As fate would have it she was just about to release her international franchises and I happily agreed that this would be my best way forward with a proven method and ongoing support. Little did I know that babies don’t always do what the books say. I often heard from other mums that they got their work done while their babies had daytime naps. In my case I was flat out boiling the kettle for a cup of tea let alone having any time to think about work! My children aren’t big sleepers. I also didn’t realize how often children get sick! So I became a night owl and often worked late into the early hours of the morning. It has certainly being a juggle and has its challenges but the benefits of a have a flexible career from home have outweighed these. My aim of creating What’s On 4 Australia was to encourage families to involve their children in activities. I feel it is so important that children experience the beauty of music, the skill of sport and the friendship of playgroups. What I hadn’t thought so much about was how much I would be supporting small businesses. I’ve loved getting to know many businesses in regional areas and the capital cities of Australia and being able to showcase to the public what they have to offer children. I have a small team of mums who also work from home that I outsource some work to and have found the use of social media, especially Facebook has been very important in building awareness of the business. We have a national Facebook page www.facebook.com/whatson4littleonesAustralia and then separate state/territory pages with over 35,000 followers. Building this community has been very important for our brand development. We’ve also reached10,000 listings this month and are currently running our second national What’s On 4 Junior Awards where we recognize excellence in children’s activities and party services. We are proud to be the only ones in Australia offering awards such as these. It has also been a very rewarding past 12 months with acknowledgment from Practical Parenting magazine and the Ausmumprebeur network awarding me Entrepreneurial awards. The greatest reward however comes from seeing my children grow and develop, as they were my inspiration in the first place." The SavvySME team would like to extend a big thank you to all the mums that spoke to us this week. It's been such a great week being able to peek into the lives of mums doing business around Australia. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY EVERYONE!!

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Hobby, business, or somewhere in between?

There has always been a place for hobby businesses, especially in the arts and for boutique producers. The world of online retail and e-selling tools has opened that up to a whole range of new micro-businesses and even hobby entrepreneurs. Starting a hobby business can be a great way to pay for what you love doing in your “non-work” time. If you can make a clear profit on what you’re doing as well, even better! There is an important decision to make as you work away though - is this a fledgeling business you ultimately want to take off and do full time, or is it something on the side for fun and some pocket money (remember you can always change your mind as you go, you’re not locked in)? The difference between the two is in how you spend your time and (re)invest in the business. A hobby can work on much lower margins, do without much, if any, marketing budget, be structured for convenience and so on. On the other hand, there are some things you should be looking at from the outset if you’re looking to grow. These are my tips, whichever way you’re looking at taking things, on how to make the most of what you’re doing: Make it yourself Remember you’re starting out. You’re creating something - and it’s your creation which becomes your brand, what you’re famous for. The more of yourself you can convey the more unique your product will be, and for a boutique product that’s exactly what you want! Manage your distribution Where and when you sell is really important. You want to sell out of what you have, but only just! Being in demand and having people rushing to buy from you is great for business, but having people disappointed because they can’t ever get their hands on what you’re making will lead them to look somewhere else. Be your own critic When you’re creating something there’s no one better to manage the quality than yourself. Creating something small and boutique isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but some people will absolutely love it. Holding yourself to your own high standards will keep your pride and satisfaction high throughout! Keep it fresh There is nothing worse than something that is meant to be fun becoming routine. Keep your business and your products fresh, change things up and challenge yourself as you go. You can take your customers, or clients, fans (whatever you have) on a journey with you, and the more you make new things the more likely people will be to keep buying. Don’t stray from your passion No matter what you’re doing, if you don’t believe in it you’re not going to give it your best. If you’re spending part of your valuable spare time on a side project you should have a passion for it. Your passion for your hobby will come through your work -  and it will be better for it.   No matter what you’re doing, whether it’s a hobby, a business or mix of both, it’s important to enjoy it. If you aren’t it’s probably taking something away from you and you should look for something else to spend your time on - you won’t be giving it your best anyway.  If you’re really good at your hobby business you will probably find yourself in a position where you consider taking it to the next level, maybe even full time. There are a things that will change if you choose to do that - it’s important you have a good idea of where you stand before you take any action. If what you’re about to do is going to change what you love about what you’re doing it might be the wrong decision. Remember - not everything has to make you any money, let alone a lot of it. Sometimes it’s great to have something that does ok financially, but makes you really happy!

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How I Started My Virtual Assistant Company From Networking

More than 9 months ago, I started on my own new career journey. While the nature and timing was not my own choosing, the path certainly was! While updating my personal profile on LinkedIn - I somewhat stumbled onto the Virtual Assistant Industry. What has followed since then has been a consistent journey of inspiration, learning and personal growth. Upon regular reflection, the thing that amazes me the most is the personal stories of the people I have met along the! Let me explain more…. To set off on the right foot with my new career adventure, I enrolled and attended a Cert I in Virtual Business Administration (yes a course dedicated to become a Virtual Professional exists). It was at this 2 day event, I met a few ladies that I am sure will stay firm friends for a long time to come. (You know who you are!) One of those new lasting friendships was with Jennifer. Like the other entrepreneurs in this article, Jennifer’s business has been created following her personal experiences. Through the experience of losing her dad and supporting her mum’s transition into a nursing home – Leave It With Me was born. Through her business, Jennifer supports family members who are struggling with the often overwhelming and confusing mass of paperwork. Back in my home town of Bendigo, I attended a ladies only networking event, also attended by Michelle. Michelle is mum, wife, inventor and business owner. Following a family members terrifying experience with drink spiking, she was inspired to invent a drink spiking preventative. The stories Michelle has heard in relation to drink spiking incidents is simply frightening for any parent to hear. Imagine waking up naked and alone in a stranger house, remembering nothing about how you ended up in this circumstance! Simply terrifying! I urge you all to read more about how prevalent drink spiking is and help Slip Me Not can protect your loved ones from such a frightening and life altering experience. Last month I attended and enjoyed a Publicity Princess workshop, presented by Kate Engler and had the opportunity to meet more inspiring business owners. Julie was one of these inspiring business owners. She is a breast cancer survivor who founded Perfect Again. Perfect Again Breastforms came from not finding the right external breast prosthesis in the marketplace following her mastectomy in 2002. Julie has created a breastform that fits her properly, is lightweight and goes unnoticed by those who are unaware of her medical & surgical history. Julie is now working with other women, post and pre mastectomy to give them a breastform that makes them feel like a whole women. How inspirational is Julie’s journey! It is on reflection, thinking of these ladies and their journeys that I feel totally blessed to have been ‘encouraged’ into making a career change. As I mentioned earlier, my personal growth and development has been extraordinary since making the decision to launch Executive Virtual Associate. I am excited about the many new faces I will have the opportunity to meet and learn from. I encourage you all to get out there and met new people – Network and be Inspired!  

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How I started out building my own business

  Tell us about your business? Price Advertising is a marketing and advertising agency that likes to get the brief right. Whether it’s creating outstanding advertising for your business, developing ideas for your latest marketing campaign, establishing a new logo and identity for your business, or advising you of your media options for both print and online advertising, at Price Advertising we will ensure that your message hits the mark with your target markets. Every time. We opened for business in 1997 and have been going strong ever since. With many years of combined experience in the creative, advertising, publishing, online and printing industries, we can tackle any creative task - big or small. Being one of the smaller boutique advertising and marketing agencies in Perth, you will receive a personal and professional service from the people who run the business. Our aim is to develop a strong partnership with a select number of key clients. This will ensure that we have a close understanding of your business and are able to provide the best level of service. With us you’ll be treated like a big fish in a small pond.   Why did you start up your business? Having worked in a similar business for a number of years, I felt that the level of service and creativity offered to clients by the existing business wasn’t up to scratch. I felt I could offer a better service at a more affordable rate. What were the major hurdles you experienced when starting your business?   • Caution from some of the larger clients that my boutique agency could handle the demands and workloads of a medium sized business.   • Managing cashflow over the first few months of business operation.   • Gaining credibility in the business networks of Perth.What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting their own business? Be very clear of why you are going into business and keep this at the front of your mind – always! Incorporate this into your business plan and refer to your reasons for owning your own business regularly. What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business? I felt I could improve the marketing and advertising of businesses because I know that there existing level of supplier service was poor. How did your family and friends react? Family and friends were excited about the challenge ahead. My wife was anxious that our income would drop. In fact, it has increased.How has your life changed? I have the freedom to create a great work / life balance. I have had a much closer relationship with my kids because I have made a conscious effort to be there for them. Being the boss, I can pick and choose when I work and when I delegate to others. What is the vision for your business going forward?   The vision of the business is to be a boutique marketing and advertising partner of choice to a select group of SME businesses. What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your start-up?   You have to believe in your own abilities to succeed. You have to work hard. Surround yourself with others who are smarter and have different skill sets to you. David Price is a Director of Price Advertising, a boutique advertising and marketing agency in Subiaco, Western Australia. The Founding Director of Price Advertising, David is a Cambridge University Honours graduate with postgraduate business qualifications. David is also a qualified Secondary School Teacher. He has been helping businesses of all sizes with their advertising and marketing strategies for over 15 years.

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How Recycling Cuts Costs and Attracts Customers For Your Café & Restaurant

Running a small business is a difficult and challenging vocation, no matter what industry you’re in. It involves long hours, financial commitment and plenty of resilience. As I was enjoying my morning coffee today, I thought: Is there any field more competitive than the café industry in Australia? The Australian café sector is unique. Unlike other countries, our cafes have been able to keep the international behemoths such as Starbucks and Britain’s Costa at bay. Major cities in the US and Canada are dominated by coffee chains. We Aussies love to enjoy the different flavours and nuances provided by small, independent and dedicated traders. Not only are our coffee globally recognised, we’ve all become coffee connoisseurs in our daily lives.   Recycling – what’s the big hype?   When you run a busy café, bringing in sales and delivering great customer service becomes your number one priority. You would have implemented processes and systems to ensure everything runs smoothly. But have you thought about taking recycling seriously? Image source: mnn.com Although it sounds a trivial thing, I’d like to show you how a small environmental commitment can snowball into big benefits for your café or restaurant. By committing to recycling most of your waste, you can cut business costs, attract new customers and protect the environment. Firstly, recycling your waste properly can save you a significant amount of money, which will help your cash flow. Commodities such as cardboards, plastic, and metals are valuable with a huge international demand for these products. If you choose to dump your waste at a landfill instead of recycling, you will be penalised with a hefty tax. These taxes, called landfill levies, were put in place to encourage people to recycle. For example, dumping a tonne of waste in a landfill in Sydney carries a tax of c.$130. Commit to collecting all cardboards, plastic bottles and metal items rather than dumping everything into the general waste bin. Secondly, take a look down any busy street in any major city or suburb. You’ll see plenty of new cafes sprouting up all the time. If you’re feeling intense competitive pressure from other cafes or restaurants, recycling will help you stand out with your customers. Just ask yourself. Would you prefer to buy a latte from a café that dumped all its waste in a landfill or one that recycled almost 100% - at no extra cost to you? It’s not a tough question to answer for most people. 3 STEPS TO MANAGE WASTE IN YOUR CAFE Step 1: Work out what sort of waste you produce On a yearly basis, a typical cafe produce tons of cardboards (i.e. stock boxes and cup holders), plastic bottles (milk cartons, juice bottles, etc.), cans from soft drinks as well as organic waste from food, coffee, etc. By estimating what percentage of waste are derived from each item, you can easily arrange the required bins. For example, your café may produce 30% waste in cardboard (by volume), 30% in commingled recycling, 30% in organic waste and 10% in general waste. Cardboard collection – the blue recycling bin – is generally the cheapest and easiest to organise. Simply request a cardboard bin from your local waste supplier. Commingled recycling (yellow bin) is the next cheapest option and can be easily arranged in Aussie cities. You can put your plastic bottles, cans and packaging in this one. The next step is if you want to divert the organic waste such as your food waste from going into the landfills. You can organise for organic waste services in most areas. Put your food waste into the provided bins, and it will be treated in a variety of ways such as composting. Note: if you have space in your café, you could also consider a small composter on site and potentially use the compost for a herb garden, etc. Numerous cafes and restaurants are pursuing this strategy to enormous success such as prestigious restaurant Noma. Step 2: Engage your staff Achieving success in these endeavours really relies heavily on the commitment from your staff – basically to put the right waste in the correct bin. This is usually reasonably easy to do as many people are quite engaged in making a difference to the environment. The two things to bear in mind are that: a) it can save your business quite a bit of money as recycling is much cheaper than general waste going to landfill b) you need to make recycling easy by having the correct bins with the correct labels in your service location. If you make it easy for people to do the right thing – they generally do the right thing! Step 3: Tell your customers about it We are big believers in using your good environmental performance for marketing purposes – blog about it, tweet about it and try to engage your customers. You can put up posters in your shop showing how much you recycle – by percentage or volume and advertise your targets to your customers. We find this is a clever way to promote your business and attract new customers. It fits in well with the trends towards ethical sourcing of coffee and ingredients – and it can save you money also!  

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How to achieve your best

Achieving your best is a personal thing. In the same way that success for you really should be defined by your lifestyle, family, financial and other goals – rather than what society says success “should” be – being “your best” works the same way. And from a work perspective this applies whether we are considering being your best in your business or someone else’s business. We know that measuring success simply by material possessions isn’t very holistic. Clearly there are other very personal things like health, happiness, peace and love that count as much or more. And if we fall into the trap of defining “achieving your best” as how close we can get to being the “perfect” man or woman” i.e. being the perfect provider, parent, carer, partner, friend or even global change agent, we go down the same slippery slope of unrealistic standards and expectations (cue Superman or Superwoman Syndrome). So what is the secret to achieving your best when it is so different for everyone? I think Leonardo da Vinci was on to something when he said “Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.” In every person is planted the seed and the capability to make a difference. This seed is your purpose, mission, calling, genius or life’s work…  And when you say yes to your calling and start taking the appropriate action, you attract the resources so you can keep doing it. There is a revolution happening right now – the “Greed is Good” mantra of Gordon Gecko is now very hollow. There is a definite shift in global consciousness and awareness - away from greed, win/lose competition and accumulating for accumulation’s sake towards authenticity, integrity, compassion, connection and being of service. Everyone is part of this shift, some more conscious of it than others. Within this context work stops being “work” and becomes simply the way you want to spend your time. It inspires you, gets you up earlier and keeps you up later because it revolves around your personal values and aspirations. It also tends to be the place where you exhibit your genius. It frees you up to work on the areas of weakness that are holding you back and it also helps you play to your strengths so you can work in your sweet spot - to get into flow. This is the place where you can achieve your best. And working at your heart’s desire, at the best you have to give, will often be your greatest source of profitability - financial, emotional and spiritual. How much more personal can you get? Here are my Top 3 specific strategies to be your best: Resist the urge to be a “Superperson” and trying to live up to someone else’s unrealistic standards.  Keep a holistic attitude about being your best and about success. It’s all very personal. If in doubt, see #1 again. Invest in your growth. Get a mentor/coach/advisor, ideally someone who understands you but is also different from you. Also look for people who are further down the same track that you can learn from, model and be inspired by. Remember, the definition of a blind spot is that you can’t see it! Having someone to show you the way really helps. 

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