Many people dream of leaving the rat race behind and investing in their own business venture, however, while creative businesses concepts are touted at the pub or over the dinner table, many of them never see the light of day. This is unsurprising given the risks involved. It can be a tough decision to give up a steady income for a project that requires a significant investment of time and capital with no guarantee of success. For every story of SMB success or failure, there are plenty more people who are interested in setting up their own business venture but don’t know where to start.
However, budding entrepreneurs should remember that Australia has a buoyant SMB community, with 96 percent of Australian businesses falling into the category. A myriad of these local success stories are making waves not only in Australia but also in key international markets. Over recent months, Lenovo has partnered with some of Australia’s most inspirational SMB owners to discuss the challenges they have faced, the lessons they have learned and, most importantly, their advice for the next generation of Australian businesses owners.
When Kelly Baker-Jamieson approached banks with her idea of selling edible floral hampers she was turned away. However, coming from an entrepreneurial family, Kelly was undeterred and invested all of her savings to set up a business with her sister Abbey. Since 2005, the duo has grown from its initial store in Brisbane to five stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and even Auckland. The company employs a team of 25, has a database of 70,000 customers, offers more than 100 products and is the winner of three Telstra business awards this year. Kelly’s lessons for people who want to follow in her footsteps are:
- When starting your new business venture, it’s important to take risks. Don’t just sit there and wait for opportunities to arise. Take the leap of faith that will kick start your new career. Also remember that everyone makes mistakes – you never get it right the first time. Eventually it’s these mistakes that make you stronger and wiser.
- Rejection is something that we need to deal with – it fuels the fire in making you successful.
- Be authentic to who you are. Edible Blooms is very aware of what it stands for and wants to attract people who match those brand values. By doing this we have created a positive business culture.
- Always have fresh ideas. It is important to keep innovating. Stay up to date with the latest technology, develop new product concepts and keep coming up with new options for customers.
Shoes of Prey
Shoes of Prey are an online store that allows women to create bespoke shoes using unique website technology. Married couple Jodie and Michael Fox and long-time friend Mike Knapp recognised a hole in the women’s shoe market and saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was so appealing that the three of them gave up high-flying careers to start the business – and Shoes of Prey was born. In two years, women across the world have designed tens of millions of shoes and the business is now present in five countries. The team has drawn its success from following these mantras:
- Make the decision to do something and just do it. If you hesitate, it can not only change your perspective and hold you back, which could easily change the direction of your business.
- Plan, but not to the point of inaction. You must do things before you are ready to do them. Don’t set your goals too big too early. This will only lead to disappointment if they aren’t met. Be realistic and plan appropriately to what you know is achievable.
- Believe passionately in what you are doing. The highs are high but the lows can be excruciating and you will need faith to achieve your end goal.
Crust Gourmet Pizza
Crust Gourmet Pizza has revolutionised people’s perception on fast food over the last decade, creating gourmet, healthy menu options that have seen the business grow dramatically. Co-founder and MD of the group Costa Anastasiadis, was a young, aspiring soccer player who travelled to Europe to follow his dreams at the age of 19. After playing professionally in the UK and Greece, he returned home to help his family out of its business debts. Crust was born from a gourmet deli which morphed into a pizza place. Costa together with his cousin and co-founder Michael Logos have grown the business to more than 100 stores across Australia and aren’t slowing down. Their top lessons for people thinking about setting up their own business are:
- Dream Big. If it’s not something you dream about, you’re never going to care or work hard enough to make it come true.
- Bust your ass and work hard. If you’re not working hard for your dream, why would anyone else do so? You’re in control of the outcome.
- Fall in love with what you do and be passionate. Your own business is something you need to dedicate your time to and throw yourself into whole heartedly if you don’t love it, you will end up hating it.
- Embrace failure and learn from mistakes made. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, provided you learn the appropriate lessons from them so they’re not repeated.
Small businesses are the heart and soul of Australia and there are thousands of success stories that have succeeded as a result of the passion and hard work behind them. While it can be terrifying to move from dreaming up a concept to actually taking the first steps to set up your own businesses, there are many people who have travelled the same path and are happy to provide insights and advice.
For more insights from Lenovo SMB ambassadors see: http://www.domachine.com.au/
– Sara Palmieri is Senior Marketing Manager at Lenovo.