8 minute read
I started my first business, Fusion Life, in 2012, with grand plans to dominate the Perth networking event space.
I had recently moved back to my hometown of Perth WA, after a 2 year working holiday in London. The plan was to begin my entrepreneurial journey and ultimately become my own boss.
My entrepreneurial juices were flowing.
But I had bills to pay… So I got a day job at a large mining company, with a comfy pay check.
I told myself I would only be in that day job for 6-12 months MAX before my business inevitably took off and I was living the entrepreneurial dream, not having to squeeze on to a packed train every morning, or answer to anyone but ME.
Boy was I in for a rude shock!
I ended up making rookie mistakes, spending way too much money for a start-up, not getting anywhere fast…
But I wouldn’t change any of it, because I have learnt a million lessons not just in business, but also about myself.
It has made me the person I am today, and the ambition in me to succeed even stronger.
So here you go… my 4 biggest lessons learned from the school of hard knocks. Always in the back of my mind when making any business decisions.
1. Be frugal in the start-up phase
I’m embarrassed to admit that I spent $10k on the original Fusion website, with an ongoing monthly fee of $110 for hosting. And the site actually gave me limited functionality, as compared to a WordPress site. Which I am running Fusion Ladies Events on now. Giving me full control at less than half the monthly hosting fee and NO initial start-up fee!
The fancy Fusion website, along with investing thousands of dollars on merchandise, business coaches, marketing materials, sponsorships and more was not ideal for a start-up.
Needless to say… my accountant shook his head in disbelief when I showed him my first year business costs… Whoops! 😉
Now my policy is to ask: am I likely to make money back if I spend this dollar?
That usually guides me in the right direction and cuts unnecessary spending.
With that in mind I closed down the Fusion Life website at the end of 2015 and am running the Fusion Events website on WordPress, which is only ~$40 a month, that’s a savings of $840 EVERY YEAR!
2. Solve a clearly articulated problem for a “starving” market
I was told a million times that you need to solve a specific problem for a niche target market if you want to be successful in business. When I first started Fusion, the business model was based on providing motivational & networking events (mind/body/soul topics) for young women in Perth.
Nowhere near specific enough, and no real problem solved…
Working with a Business Coach, helped me realise I needed to find a “starving” market for my events. Which eventually saw Fusion Events evolve into a platform for Perth #GirlBosses looking to form genuine connections and learn business skills, in an enjoyable setting, without the awkwardness.
When starting out you need to solve ONE problem people are DESPERATE to fix, for a very CLEARLY DEFINED market, and solve it WELL. Before moving on to anything else.
3. Be selective with paid marketing strategies
I spent thousands of dollars on advertising & marketing for Fusion over the past few years.
The biggest cost stands out as the EveryWoman Expo. Where I invested not just a couple thousand dollars but also 4 full days of my own time & energy sitting at the stall. At this point I was really just starting out and didn’t have a proper business model set up.
I was never going to get a good ROI (return on investment), and that can be a deal breaker for a new business.
The best marketing strategy when starting out, was word of mouth. I found that 80% of people who came to my events were ladies I had met through my own personal networking, or friends/colleagues of those people I knew.
If you’re going to engage in paid marketing, make sure you have a clearly defined goal, so you can measure success, and ROI.
4. You have to be passionate & genuine
It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s even ok to change direction in business if something’s not working. But if you lose the love for what you’re trying to do, or worse just trying to make a quick buck, people will see right through you.
When I first started out in 2012, hosting motivational events for new women to Perth was what lit me up.
As I evolved into the woman I am today, my interests & inspiration sources also transformed…
What really lights me up now is being surrounded by #GirlBosses forging their own paths, and hearing their stories over a cup of good coffee or glass of Sauvignon Blanc 🙂
So I took stock of my business and made some changes to steer it in a direction I felt more excited about.
I saw a gap in the Perth market – to bring together the growing generation of Entrepreneurial minded women in beautiful settings, prompting Fusion Life’s pivot to Fusion Ladies Events.
Throughout this journey of ups and downs, one thing has remained constant. The fire in the pit of my stomach to create something bigger than me. To serve others. To serve YOU, through beautifully designed events.
Your turn! What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business? Let me know in the comments! xx