Posts

10 tips to transform workplaces | Naomi Simson’s Blog

Check out Naomi’s latest post with 10 ways employees want to see their businesses improved.

10 tips to transform workplaces | Naomi Simson’s Blog.

Small Business: Keeping it interesting!

The great thing about this stage of business is that I get so much pleasure from every new development. This week my business cards arrived. So exciting!!! Next time you meet me ask for one – they look and feel great. Thanks to my brother Cooper at The Single Desk for the super design and Pink Gecko for the excellent job printing them, both at a very reasonable price too!

I like to promote other small businesses as I think small business is a fantastic thing. Hope Connolly, from Pink Gecko, mentions that there is so much more to running a business than her just being a great designer. I think that is why this is the first job I’ve ever had that I have not got bored in. Here’s a brief list of the things I’ve been involved in so far, and Stacey College hasn’t even celebrated it’s first birthday yet.

Research

Planning and development

Website design and maintenance

Administration

Social media

Photography

Accounts and taxation

Financial Forecasting

Designing marketing materials

Liasing with: my business partner, government departments, agents, potential students, graphic designers, potential staff, insurance brokers, teaching resource salespeople, community facility authorities, advertising agents, banking staff…

It’s just the beginning and I’m having a great time!

Sushi: Keeping it all together

Tonight I made sushi for the first time. None of the males in the house (3 including my not even 2 year old) would go near it. My daughter, who had inspired this crazed attempt at a new recipe in the middle of the week, gave it a 6 out of 10. “I’m hard to please,” she said trying to compensate for my disappointment.

The real story behind sushi making is I got an idea, and ran with it. Sushi! Unfortunately there were a few things going against it. Whenever I am learning something new my anxiety levels go up exponentially. Mid week and I was tired. I knew all the males in the house would not be impressed. The whole family has had the flu for the past week and we are generally a little run down. Instead of starting early in the afternoon, and having everything ready to go, I spent the afternoon working at the computer, then tried to rush the sushi when my 2 year old was tired, hungry, and yelling “chicken” over and over again. A headache sprung up, I began to yell, and the utopia of sushi quickly collided with the reality of a Mum overload.

That shouldn’t surprise me. The delicate balance of keeping it all together is a constant theme for most women. If only we had some of that stretchy seaweed to wrap around all the parts of our lives, and draw them into a nice neat sushi package. But no, we struggle away. Kids pulling in one direction, work in another, marriage, family, friendships, goals, plans, hopes…

Some days are a win. Some days we’d rather forget. Over all keeping it all together is mostly fun as I enjoy the mix of flavours in my life, a little squished and compacted by pressure, but a nice package!

I have been featured on Katie Raspberry’s Creative Blog about Business – check it out…

Facing Failure

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Maybe it was when I booked the rooms for our first classes? Or maybe when I started paying out money for insurance, business cards, advertisements and teaching resources? It’s been creeping up on me for a while. The possibility of failure looms ever closer, as I take the steps towards launching Stacey College from idea, to service.

Maybe you are the eternal optimist and don’t have to face these thoughts. Most entrepreneurs though have to face the possibility of failure. Now I’m not saying Stacey College is going to be a failure. Stacey College is going to work, I have no doubt in my mind. But there is a very real possibility that the first two classes we are planning, and promoting, may get no students. My business partner describes it as eliminating options. Thomas Edison famously declared,  “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.  While I am hoping that it does not take 10 000 tries to make Stacey College a success, I know that I must be prepared for this not to be an easy road.

Henry Petroski’s book argues that “time and again, we have built success on the back of failure–not through easy imitation of success“. Petroski is looking at the history of design, but his insights equally apply to so many spheres of life. As a bit of a perfectionist, I am not someone who has traditionally accommodated failure. And yet this new experience of entrepreneurship has freed me to take risks, to face my fears of failure, within an overall framework of positive thinking and determination to succeed in the long run. So as I stare possible failure in the face over the next few months, I will try to remember that this is part of the journey of starting something new.

 

Time for Holidays

We have just had a lovely holiday in Dawesville, just past beautiful Mandurah south of Perth. Exquisite beach, blue skies, luxurious apartment, relaxing with the family. We went to Cicerellos for dinner. Lining up in a busy restaurant with a huge menu I had a moment of panic trying to order for myself and the kids. I ended up with Chicken Parmigiana. As I sat down to my meal I was kicking myself. I mean, I like chicken parmigiana, and this was a really nice version of the classic, but who comes to one of the best seafood places in WA and eats chicken?! Note to self – I am not great in the heat of the moment, therefore a little thought before the event is always helpful.

Making vision statements, goals, and priorities all prepare for the sudden moments when a decision has to be made. Making family a priority from the beginning is important for me. My business partner has always said, if this ever gets in the way of family life, just walk away! I know that sounds pretty strong but knowing that he thinks this gives me the confidence to start the whole endevour. I certainly don’t mean that Stacey College will come a poor second to every whim and fancy of the family. I mean that business will never be a priority over family. I love the idea of running my own business so my kids can come in with me and see how the world of work operates. How they can learn the business and become a part of it if they want. How I can structure work commitments around family priorities. Of course at this stage it is mostly theory. But if I don’t have the theory in place before the business heats up I will just get swept away by the stresses of the moment, and family will probably suffer.

Free Money

I know what you are thinking. ‘It’s a scam.’ ‘There’s a hidden catch.’ ‘I’ll end up paying heaps in the end.’ Well the truth of it is that the Australian government wants more people to start businesses, hire people, and make the economy keep growing. In order to do this, they are more than willing to hand out FREE MONEY in the form of government grants. These grants do not have to be paid back, and are available for all sorts of reasons, including starting a business. The only work involved is doing your homework by contacting checking out the website and/or calling the Australian Business Financing Centre on 1800 791 780, and then applying for the cash.

Anyone got a successful grant application story to share? It would be great to hear from you.
I am thinking about applying for some of this free cash and will let you know about the process along the way.

Basic Gardening Skills for Business

I love how lessons learned in any field often translate to other areas. I enjoy gardening, but it has not always been so. My Dad, who is a keen gardener, just kept giving me plants until I finally stopped killing them. These are the first few lessons I learnt which I will apply to business.

(1) Plants need water: Business needs cash

Duh! Well you would be surprised how many plants I have killed by not watering them. Maybe some of you plant killers out there have done the same? Well how many businesses have gone under from lack of cash flow. It’s pretty basic, but that makes it all the more important. If you can’t make money you’re not going to survive. Your business might be more like a cactus that only needs the odd drip here and there, or it might be more like grass that goes brown and prickly after a few hot dry days! Either way, your business is going to need cash.

(2) Only the tough will survive.

I presume as you get more experienced in both gardening and business you are able to cultivate more delicate specialized creatures, but until then, I spend my money on plants that are tough! A tough business I would say is one that through research and preparation is deemed to have a good chance of success.

(3) If it’s dead (or dying) pull it out.

This has been a liberation to my gardening. Instead of having half dead plants littered across the yard depressing me, if a plant is not thriving it gets the boot. It may encourage you to know how many business success stories have in their past a multitude of failed businesses. It’s not until they find the right plant, for the right place that growth suddenly happens.

(4) Celebrate your successes.

One flower is worth photographing! Every success builds your confidence and knowledge base, and helps you to persevere. Even the ‘overnight’ business successes are usually preceeded by years of learning and dedication.

I hope you enjoy my flowers. In time I look forward to seeing my business flourish!

Inspiration: Naomi Simson founder of RedBalloon

The Australian today had an article by Richard Blandy. He says, ‘Business ownership among women is growing at almost twice the rate of business generally.’ Women are sidestepping the glass ceiling issue and taking the opportunity to shape their own work-life balance. He also identifies small business as a means of fulfilling ‘higher order needs’ (from Maslow’s heirachy of needs) as opposed to large corporations.

So I have begun reading “I want what she’s having: the experience of creating a pleasurable business”, an ebook by Naomi Simson, Australian female entrepreneur, founder of RedBalloon.

I’ve used 7 of her points to then reflect on my own experience so far with Stacey College.

(1) Extract what you’ve learned from past experiences to help you now.
This is something that I’ve really been enjoying about starting my own business. Everything that I have done and experienced in my past, seems to be helpful in shaping what I do now. Skills as diverse as photography, youthwork, being a ‘check out chick’, customer service, research, marketing, cold calling, have all been helpful. My experiences as a student, a mother, a wife, a consumer are all helpful to draw on as I shape my business.

(2) ‘NO’ provides opportunity to find an alternative way.
Already I have found this to be true. As we are struggling to find a premises I have come up with a plan to create a web of services across Perth that will eventually work in with a building and ‘hub’ in the city. It will be a great beginning with less overheads, and a way to begin to learn the business through hiring staff, renting spaces, and fine tuning courses.

(3) Business is just a game and its ok to inject fun into your day.
Two important and very different teachers of mine have championed this same principal of ‘fun’. The first was a theology lecturer, the second my trading mentor. The lightness this philosophy tries to bring sometimes clashes with the intensity and passion of a student or worker. We like to think that we are indispensable, and that brings with it a certain heaviness. ‘Fun’ on the other hand still feeds on passion, but a passion that knows that this opportunity may only be for today, that I could be helpful and of service somewhere else, and that life doesn’t demand perfection, but engagement.

(4) Make full use of the technology available to you.
Perhaps this is why GenY is the breeding ground of many entrepreneurs. They are willing and able to adopt any new technology that allows them to do the job better, more efficiently, more creatively, or just in a way that it hasn’t been done before. For those of us who are more technologically challenged (I am only a GenX, yet that means I remember a time before the internet and when having a mobile phone was a luxury not a necessity) it means diving in and learning, and learning about learning. It’s funny how the more you learn, the easier it is to learn more. Because once you figure out how to figure out a new technology, you are a little more confident, and a little more able to know where to look for help, and a little more understanding of the processes involved. Little bit by little bit. That way there will always be something to learn – because the new technology just keeps coming.

(5) Why have talented people if you have no intention of listening to them or nurturing their initiative?
This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I’m sure most of you would testify to jobs you’ve had when you have been neither listened to or nurtured. As a leader I don’t want to be intimidated by the skills of my staff, neither do I want to assume that I know better than them about everything. Surely if I hire talented people, I want them to contribute.

(6) You have great people being unproductive if they don’t have the tools they need.
‘A bad worker blames his tools’ is the phrase that comes to mind. And yet, without certain tools a job cannot be done. My husband is one who has taught me to invest in quality tools. Firstly they do the job better, and secondly they last longer, and usually end up costing you less in the long run. There is nothing worse than a talented teacher wasting all her time fighting a photocopier, or a salesman trying to use a payphone.

(7) It’s not the size of the budget that counts. It’s what you do with it.
This is great to hear for me – because I don’t have a huge budget. Like most start ups I am more time rich than cash rich. And it’s good to recognise this. A lot of things you can do for yourself, and bigger companies only outsource the work because they have too much else to do. Making my budget count means making wise decisions, being creative, making the most of what is available out there free.

So that is what I got out of the first bit of Naomi’s book. Please let me know what you think.

Stacey College linked to Facebook

Welcome all my friends and relatives to the Stacey College Blog. This is my personal account of the creation of Stacey College starting from March 2012 looking forward to our first classes in 2013. Follow along the journey of registration, finding a property, marketing, building a business. It is a big learning journey for me, and should be a fun story to share with you all.