Jan 17, 2011

Your Business and The Floods

During times of such massive flood devastation it can be hard for us to focus on our business. We can feel guilty if we want to concentrate on building and growing our business bottom line while people are cleaning up from the floods, or preparing themselves for impending doom.

If your business is directly impacted by the floods you may be focusing on cleaning up before making decisions about how to re-establish your business.

Global accounting body CPA Australia is assisting businesses in dealing with the impact of state-wide flooding and has developed a disaster recovery toolkit offering guidance for businesses that have been affected by a natural disaster, both directly and indirectly. It includes checklists for re-opening your business and managing during times of financial difficulty, as well as tools to help reconstruct your financial records.

You might not have been flooded, but your business may be indirectly impacted as you rely on businesses affected by the floods for your business. If you operate a tourism based business, for example, your decline in business may have an impact on your cash flow for the next twelve months.

While it may all feel a little hard at the moment you do need to sit down and develop a specific plan for your approach to business recovery over the next 12-18 months.

For tourism based businesses, Adrian Caruso and Dr. David Beirman have put together a Tourism Crisis Recover Guide, to assist tourism businesses affected by the recent flood crisis in Queensland.

There is also a range of government assistance for small to medium businesses.

If you want to help a business impacted by the floods you can offer donations, volunteer to clean up, or if you have specific expertise, offer them at a discounted or voluntary capacity. Bizness Babes is supporting the adidem group through The Body Shop with fundraising and volunteer efforts.

In some way we are all indirectly affected by the floods across the country, and while it may be hard to think about your business during these terrible times, our economy needs business to be strong.

It is up to us to help lead the way to ensure the Australian economy remains strong while other businesses are recovering. We need to look at our business plans and see what, if anything, needs to change in response to the floods.

We can have empathy, but we cannot take our eye off the ball. If we are not directly impacted by the floods the best way to support the businesses that are, is to build your business as sustainable.

If you are a Bizness Babe and need to talk about your situation please contact your co-ordinator or me.

Vickie Burkinshaw
GM Bizness Babes

Picture above from the Courier Mail.

Nov 8, 2010

Spotlight On Melissa White - Elegant Cakes and Party Dates

Tells us a little about your business.

Elegant Cakes and Party Dates helps people celebrate the happy events in their lives with sweet treats. Anything from Wedding Cakes to Decorated Cookies, Figurines, Cupcakes and Birthday Cakes. Everything is designed and created in my registered kitchen using the only the freshest ingredients and lots of love.

Why did you want to run your own business?

I started taking cake decorating classes when my daughter Jessica was two.I spent hours practising when the children went to bed. I have always been independent and liked to do things my own way. Once I built up my skills, the idea of creating my own business seemed more and more the logical way to proceed.

The fantastic thing is, the children are now getting to the stage where they are old enough to enjoy decorating and cooking too. They love trying out new recipes and being involved in my blog. My husband is also fantastic. He has always helped, anything from making cake boards, to delivering cakes, he is happy to help anyway we can. So the whole family is involved and are very supportive.

What have been the challenges?

During the Bizness Babes course I had some lovely business cards designed and printed. I was only to be told later that it would be $2000 to use the images on my web site, so I had to rethink that. In the end, I think it was a good thing, because I have had to think really hard about how I want to represent my brand. Now I am really happy with my logo and own the rights.

My kitchen registration has also taken a long time. At first I was afraid to actually hand in the paperwork. It seemed like a big step. The actual approval hasn't been that difficult. I had already completed the food handling requirements and my food safety plan. I just had to get a sensor tap installed. The tap took ages to arrive from Singapore though. However, meantime it has given me a good opportunity to work on my business plan and clarify the direction I want to take with my business.

Where would you like to see your business go in the next year?

Developing a loyal customer base will be a priority for the next year. So I need to get the word out and let people know what I can do for them.

My focus will always be on design work, because that is what I love. That could be anything from helping a child design a cake, to making a masterpiece of my own!

The next five years?

A lot will depend on the way the business shapes up over the next 12 months. I would like to do some work with children. So Children's Cake Decorating Classes and Parties is something I plan to offer. I also really want to publish a book. An extension of the kind of things I do on my blog

What have you achieved since finishing the BiB course?

A brand new business with a vision and a future. A lot more confidence and belief in myself, thanks to all the support I have had, both from the BIB team and from my classmates.

What advice has helped you most?

If it is going to be, it's up too me!!!

What advice do you have for others setting up their own businesses?

There is no set way of starting a business, you have got to do what feels right for you.

The Bizness Babes course is amazing!! Don't do it alone. Never stop believing in yourself and keep taking steps to reach your goals, not matter how small. Also don't forget to celebrate the little successes along the way....

Cake anyone!

Melissa White
Elegant Cakes and Party Dates

Nov 1, 2010

The Benefits of Networking – and Cookies!

Just back from an entrepreneurs networking event with guest speaker Gordon Slater, the man behind Byron Bay Cookie Company. And yes, I was hopeful of some free samples. We weren’t disappointed with loads of cookies to munch on. The company is now international and along the way they’ve bought other ‘cookie’ companies, Luken and May and Falwasser. But it started at a kitchen table and a market stall. Here are some of his pearls of wisdom:

• Segment your time and focus on the task at hand, then move on.

• Know that there’s a market for your business, do the research

• Keep a balance between the artisan/ creative side of your product but make sure it stacks up scientifically. They’ve managed to grow from handmade rough shaped cookies to a product that ticks all the nutrition and wholesaler requirements without losing their handmade look.

• Work with your market – don’t lose your branding and personality to suit other markets. Find solutions to recreate your USP no matter where in the world you’re manufacturing or selling.

• Make sure you have a high Adversity Quotient if you want to survive the tough times – you need to conquer your fears to be open to opportunities and survive the tough times because they do happen. But if you train your brain you have a good starting point for success.

And as I do at every opportunity, I used question time to ask his thoughts on the need for a business plan to the success of his business. He agreed that they are essential to success. Planning is essential and it allows you to put all the elements together that you believe you need to follow at that time – but he did qualify that with a quote “a plan is only good until you go into battle” – you still need to be aware and responsive to opportunities – stay entrepreneurial!

Program Co ordinator NSW

Sep 27, 2010

Spotlight on Pip Danrell - Corporate Mums

Tell us a little about your business?

The inspiration for starting my own business Corporate Mums, came from juggling the ever changing demands of three energetic children with a busy schedule and asking myself ‘there must be an easier way’! And so, whilst attending to late night feeds, I began designing a stylish range of time and effort saving planners & organisers for busy parents like myself. With the fantastic support of the Bizness Babes program, I launched Corporate Mums online in March 2010.

Why did you want to run your own business?

The desire to have the best of both worlds! I wanted a balance between ‘being there and not missing the important stuff’ for my children and being able to continue working and learning about small business. Working from home gives me the flexibility to do both. I spend less time commuting, it’s inexpensive, and I am only 5 minutes away if one of my children falls ill at school.

What have been the challenges?

There have been lots of challenges along the way! Initially, finding out what was required and how to set up a small business was challenging. Researching local government and business websites was critical but very time consuming. I was really excited to learn about the Bizness Babes program and the support they offered business mums like myself.

Other challenges have included, finding enough time each week to achieve what I want to with the business. With two children under 5 at home 3 days a week and a grade one daughter, there are days which I dedicate to working, and days which I dedicate to childrens activities. I have to prioritise carefully and work a couple of late nights to keep on top of things. I’ve learnt to be patient and accept what I can achieve at the current time, and know that in a couple of years, when all children are at school, I will have more time to make the business a success. I call the current years, the foundation years!

Where would you like to see your business go in the next year?

I would love to sell enough products to cover all business expenses including my wages. I am aware it usually takes at least 3 years to become profitable, and so am focussing my efforts on brand awareness and developing networks with other online and retail businesses.

The next five years?

I would love to own a profitable business, and have the Corporate Mums brand established in numerous interstate retail outlets. I am conscious of listening to my customers needs, and so hopefully the range of products will have expanded. Being conscious of technology users, I will also consider developing an application for iphone users.

What have you achieved since finishing the BiB course?

I was cheeky and used the BiB graduation to launch my business online! Over the last 5 months, I have been setting up the legal and wholesale aspects of the business. I’ve sought affordable promotional opportunities where possible and started talking with a few major retailers. I’ve enjoyed a few online sales, but recognise that I need to promote the range further to achieve this year’s sales targets. I’ve also been invited to guest speak at a couple of events which has given me more confidence in selling my brand.

What advice has helped you most?

Simply ‘Don’t lose sight of the end goal’! Running a small business is hard work. It takes discipline, high levels of motivation and the ability to believe in yourself. It’s critical to keep informed of who your competitors are, and find out what your customers really want. I take the approach that I must achieve at least one small task in the business each day. That way, I’m always moving forward.

What advice do you have to others setting up their own businesses?

Apply online to be accepted onto the Bizness Babes program! It is an incredible resource and offers fantastic support to those who want to make their business a dream a reality!

Corporate Mums

Sep 15, 2010

Advice From A Babe - The Value Of Networking (Part 3)

Networking is about developing relationships. Sales are frequently developed through these relationships. Networking events provide the opportunity to expand your contact list and create and nurture quality relationships. Every networking event has the potential for new business leads, gaining business knowledge, gaining research, improving your business presentation, public speaking opportunities and valuable resources for yourself and your clients.

Think you don’t have time to network? Think again. By not consistently widening your circle of contacts and acquaintances, you may be limiting your chances for success. If, as it is said, that the average person knows 250 people, and each of these people know 250 other people and so on, this means for each person you meet, you gain access to a pool of thousands. So the odds are very slim that you would not find a person, who would be a source of information,

Try to focus on quality contacts versus quantity. My approach is to make between three to five new contacts at each event I attend. It takes time to build relationships with people. Meeting someone once is rarely enough to bring you business. On average people will need to connect with you 4-5 times before they see you as being trustworthy.

Keep your mind open to any possibilities. You may not walk away from an event with a string of new clients but the power of networking lingers on. I have had people contact me that I met more than 6 months earlier that had kept my details. This may just mean that they have no need for your services or products at that time. Also importantly, look beyond that person being a potential client, a good referral source is equally if not possibly more valuable. A good referral source is someone who interacts with your target market on a regular basis

Enjoy your networking experiences and you will gain a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Wendy Tadokoro runs bi-monthly networking events on Brisbane’s north side.  If you would like details, please go to www.meetup.com/Business-2-Business-Brisbane

Wendy Tadokoro
Organising Works!

Sep 2, 2010

Spotlight on Natasha Kelly - Piper + Lily

Tell us a little about your business?

Piper+Lily create handmade vintage-inspired children’s clothing jewellery & accessories. Each item is made in a limited run or is one of a kind & made using eclectic vintage, end of run or reclaimed fabrics – no matchy matchy stuff in the Piper+Lily range!

Why did you want to run your own business?

I wanted to be able to do something creative that I could do while looking after my girls. I now realize that it’ not that easy to work from home! I think I’ve always wanted to have my own business but never really knew what I wanted to do. I figure if you have to work you may as well work for yourself!

What have been the challenges?

Definitely finding the time to do everything (or anything for that matter!)! Between looking after my 2 girls, ‘home duties’ & working part-time there’s not that much time left for anything else! Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to do anything! And finance!

Where would you like to see your business go in the next year?

I would love to see Piper+Lily become a well known brand in the handmade market, with consistent sales & loyal customers!

The next five years?

I’d love to see Piper+Lily stocked in some high end children’s boutiques across the globe!

What have you achieved since finishing the BiB course?

Since finishing the course in May 2010 I have retailed at my very first market, started my own website  & had Piper+Lily featured on some big kids fashion blogs such as Kid Independent, Kid Style File, Handmade Kids & Chic Mama & Baby.

What advice has helped you most?

There’s not one piece of advice that stands out – but I got a hell of a lot out of the BiB course! I guess one piece was not to undervalue my time!

What advice do you have to others setting up their own businesses?

Find others that will support you in your business venture. The other is stop procrastinating & just do it!


Aug 11, 2010

Spotlight On Lisa Humphries - Joy and Me

Tell us a little about your  business?

Joy and me is all about event inspiration! We have had almost 20 years experience conceptualizing, planning and implementing all types of events including corporate, charity, private and conference. Joy and me brings this knowledge together in one place, our special online portal is designed to inspire! We are also available for varying levels of 1:1 event inspiration including themeing, inspiration boards, planning and execution.

Why did you want to run your own business?

I have always been a very self motivated and independent worker throughout my career, I consider myself highly organized and feel that all of my experience and skills come together nicely in my own business. I am also a new Mum, so the flexibility and time with my baby is essential.

What have been the challenges?

Finances are a challenge for me, especially as a single Mum. I do work part time as well, in order to meet my financial obligations. Otherwise I see the process of going into business as a positive challenge!

Where would you like to see your business go in the next year?

I would love to see my online space grow in terms of visitors and advertisers, I would love to see Joy and Me become one of the leading authorities on event inspiration.

The next five years?

I would love to employ a young and dynamic team of event assistants to execute the events that I continue to conceptualise.

What have you achieved since finishing the BiB course?

I have created my online space, gained much confidence, created a business plan and commenced active marketing of Joy and Me.

What advice has helped you most?

The personal support and building of my confidence has been the most valuable aspect of the course.

What advice do you have to others setting up their own businesses?

My most valuable and personal piece of advice would be to ‘be kind’ to others along the way, there is nothing more important to me as a business person and Mother than kindness.

Jul 19, 2010

Bizness Babes Fan Page

We are taking our own advice, and now have our very own Bizness Babes facebook fan page.This will provide us with another way to share business ideas with you, and further promote your businesses worldwide. We are happy for you to ask questions and share your own business advice here. It will also provide another way for you  to network with other Bizness Babes nationally.

As we are discovering there are many Bizness Babes graduates who have started their own business pages. Well done! We have managed to track down a few of you. If you don't find yourself already listed in our favourite pages please add a link in the comments section below. Your business will be added asap.

Feel free to invite any other Bizness Babes to become a 'fan', or anyone else you think may be interested in what we are up to. This page is for ALL fans of Bizness Babes !

image above,  MixtapeZINE - another terrific BiB graduate business

Jul 7, 2010

Biddy Bags is a Finalist!

Congratulations to our wonderful Brisbane trainer Samantha Jockel for being one of  only three finalists for The Sunrise Business Builder Award. Go Sam! If you don't know Samantha's business go and check it out her website here, and see why she has every chance of winning.

Samantha will be appearing on Sunrise  tomorrow morning, Friday 9 July.

Jul 6, 2010

Photographing People - It's Not That Hard!

Last week I went along to a photo shoot with Natalie of Miss Dish. We were both asked by young photographers Kohii to allow the use our product for a photo shoot.

I'd seen Kohii's work on Facebook and really liked their style (that's how they found me too), so I agreed. I went along to the shoot because I thought I might learn a thing or two, which I did. Before this I found the idea of photographing my jewellery on real people completely daunting, but not any more!

Things I learnt (about photographing people/models outdoors):

1. Lighting - An overcast day is best. I knew this before, but it really sunk in during the shoot. There were no unflattering shadows, and the models (and products) were evenly lit as a result. You can't always predict the weather, so early morning or afternoon are best. Avoid the middle part of the day, and the resulting harsh light.

2. Location - There are endless possibilities for outdoor locations.  It is important to pick one that fits your style and  product or service.  A children's playground (perhaps early morning when children are unlikely to be there), a park, a garden, or even a car wreckers (like our photo shoot location)! There are lots of great locations, that will be free to use, all it takes is a little imagination, and sometimes asking permission.

3. Take lots of photos - Take many more photos that you think you will need.  Try some several different angles too. Digital photography allows for this. You don't want to spend all that time and effort to find out that you 'nearly got it', when you look at your photographs afterwards.

4. Models - For this photo shoot experienced models were used. Of course you may want to hire some, otherwise friends and family are often more than willing to help.   

5. Planning - You'll get a far better result on the day if you have planned ahead. Do some research before hand on your location, and through websites and magazines for good photography, for example. That also means trying on outfits beforehand with accessories and make-up, not just on the day.

6. Cross promotion - Why not get together with other businesses and do some cross promotion? You may make wonderful clothes, but you know someone (perhaps another Bizness Babe) who makes great bags that would be a terrific match, and would really enhance your product and photographs. Maybe then you can both use the photographs on websites, blogs and for magazine submissions, giving credit to each of you. That will increase your overall chance of exposure.

Cameras are something I haven't mentioned (both Natalie and Kohii used quality SLRs) , because at the end of the day good equipment will help, but what is most important is good ideas. A good camera won't help you with that.

Of course this may all seem too hard, or you'd  rather hire a photographer to do it for you. Perhaps you do need more professional shots. I do have a few thought about hiring a photographer (also learn't on the day), but I'll leave that for another blog post.

If you have any other thoughts, or tips please add them in the comments section below. I know I for one,  have a lot more to learn!

photo above, by Natalie Mayerhofer, photo set up by Kohii