Even the most successful entrepreneurs have faced the same challenges that all start-ups are facing today. And who better to give tips on how to overcome said challenges than those who have experienced it — and succeeded.
We talked to a range of creative Australian start-ups who shared with us the one piece of advice they would give to help you steer your new business into the right direction.
Here’s what they said:
Lisa Messenger: CEO of The Messenger Group and Editor-in-Chief of Collective Hub
“Ensure that first and foremost you and your team members have a clear understanding of your 'why'. Once you have this, you will develop your passion and purpose, which will drive you forward and help you overcome all obstacles that may come your way. It's important to remember that there will always be tough times in starting a business and many moments where you feel overwhelmed and like you want to give up, but as long as you have your ‘why’ written down and firmly in your mind, you will overcome any challenge and ultimately succeed.”
Fabiola Gomez: Founder of LUXit
“Start-ups require the mentality of going your own way and carving your own path in every aspect, so listen to your intuition and make the most of the challenges along the way. As you shape your business, you'll be evolving as a person too, so it's important to work on yourself as much as you work on your start-up, draw on your past experience and skills in this new venture and never stop learning. While we often hear about the start-ups that find immediate success, the reality is that it's a marathon, albeit you'll be sprinting much of the way!”
Elizabeth Abegg: Co-founder of Spell Designs and The Gypsy Collective
“Leveraging new media and embrace change. Social media has been one of the core drivers for our growth and continues be such an incredible resource for our marketing strategy. Keep your social media feeds visual, with quality, interesting, authentic imagery and of course be adapting to new landscapes. The media landscape is changing so rapidly and adapting to that change quickly has become essential for our business. Instagram recently launched their new stories feature and we had to drop everything and make sure we had engaging content on there straight away! It’s not uncommon for businesses now to have a whole social media team so they can keep their finger on the pulse. I still run a lot of the social media myself but have started to get my team to help me with different aspects of it so I can keep up! It’s a 24 hour job, especially when you have a global following.”
Cherie Barber: Founder of Renovating for Profit
“Don’t get bogged down in the day-to-day activities of the business. Business owners should step back and be the entrepreneurial thinking behind the business. Their role should be about identifying where revenue streams can come from and what new products need to be created, now and into the future. When you constantly create new products, you leave your competitors in the dust. You lead the market, not follow it. When you’re bogged down in the nitty gritty of the business, especially on administrative tasks, your time is wasted. Delegate those jobs to other staff members so your time is freed up to where it will serve your company best.”
Bethany James-Best: Founder of James Said
“I think most people underestimate the costs involved with a start-up business. Even the most detailed business plan can’t factor in the unknown and there will undoubtedly be expenses that you would not have considered. There are some people who are just happy to make a living from their business but if you're like me, then you’ll always be thinking of making your business grow and grow. This expansion and growth comes at a price and your business will need more cash flow to fuel that growth. Many amazing businesses with so much potential run by fantastic owners who fall over due to inadequate cash flow. You’ll need to ask yourself how much financially are you willing to sacrifice in the beginning and for how long? Don’t be afraid to take on investors, the extra cash certainly improves the business's chances of survival in those first crucial years.”
Yosi Tal: Founder of Designer Rugs
“Perseverance in life and in business is one of the most important factors of success in business. The business world can be unpredictable, and no doubt presents many challenges that will make you want to give up, but my advice is always remember what made you start in the first place. It’s not going to happen overnight; success takes time, patience and hard work. After 30 years in an incredibly competitive industry, I’ve learnt how important it is to push through the challenges, to always think of new and innovative ways to differentiate yourself from the market and simply persevere, as you will be rewarded.”
Megan Ziems: Founder of Grace Loves Lace
“Invest in yourself. Your own time and commitment is your biggest investment and biggest asset. When you have a start-up, it's crucial for you to know absolutely everything about your business, whether you're experienced or not. From the big picture to all of the finer details, get in there and do it and own it. I am a big believer in doing it very organically from the start, using your own money and your own time. Keep your day job at the start; use your weekends, nights, and any spare moment you have. And be prepared to grow with your business by asking for advice through learning and talking to people.”
Ben Lawry: Founder of Art Club Concept
“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow by never stop learning. Education is the most important vessel for achieving growth and success – make it a priority to consume information on a daily basis as there’s always a lesson to learn or an idea to be sparked. To increase your impact within business and leadership, focusing on personal and professional development is a must. This will ensure you always have the drive and determination to commit your life to perfecting your craft.”
Dean Jones and Audrey Khaing-Jones: Founders of GlamCorner
“Move fast, break things. When you're building something you love and are extremely passionate about, it's easy to get bogged down in too much detail at times. This can cripple the momentum of an early-stage business that's moving into high-growth mode. So you need to learn to let go of this mindset and be comfortable with things getting done that may be 80 per cent to your liking, rather than getting far less things done at 100 per cent to your liking. So don't be afraid to thrash around and possibly get a few things wrong, because on balance you'll find you'll be more productive overall.”
Pauline is a Sydney-based journalist for Domain and is frequently featured amongst various Fairfax Media mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.