Last year I was lucky enough to be chosen to complete a Bizness Babes Business Course, designed to help mums forge their own path in the business world. The tools they gave me were invaluable. Below is a brilliant blog from a member of their team, I hope it finds those that need inspiration!
Business … do, I really have what it takes?
Ever found yourself asking this question? For most people this is where it begins and also where it ends. What sets an entrepreneur apart from the rest is not that they have ideas but they actually DO something about them. That is it. One tiny thing can take you from stay-at-home-mum to business entrepreneur, leading a ‘choose your own adventure’ life you only ever dreamed of.
My name is Samantha Jockel and for the last five years I have been a stay at home mum and business entrepreneur. It has been the most exciting, scary, fulfilling, frustrating and ultimately awesome time of my life.
I started contemplating the idea of business seven years ago when I was thinking about having children. I knew I didn’t want to go back to work and leave my kids but I also knew I would need more stimulation than looking after a baby. I have always been an ideas person with my fingers in many pies but just hadn’t made my own pies yet.
I decided I had to come up with an idea which could work with a baby in tow. My background was social work and community development and my superpower was making things happen. From a random thought in my head one day and a few encouraging conversations came my first business called Biddy Bags.
Biddy Bags merges the skills and abilities of crafting nanas with the design ideas of young fashionistas to create stylish, nana-made ethical products. Refer to www.biddybags.com.au for more info.
From setting up and managing Biddy Bags I learnt that I LOVE business and have spent the past three years experimenting with lots of the different potential I see in the market.
I currently run a large facebook page, sell products and services at markets, co-founded two social enterprises and run a consultancy business.
What I have learnt about running a business is that it is not about having a great idea as much as it is about a willingness and love of learning.
As Richard Branson said: “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming”.
I truly believe you can do whatever you want if you can be bothered the secret of business success is that it’s not necessarily about talent or a great idea but a desire to learn and grow and an ability to work hard.
What excites me the most is not what I have done but what I am yet to do. As a stay at home mum you are in the perfect position to experiment with small business and see if you have the ability to learn, create and work hard in business. You too can choose YOUR own adventure, live YOUR dreams and be in control of YOUR own life.
Three years ago I was lucky to be offered a job working with a social enterprise called Bizness Babes. Bizness Babes supports and empowers stay at home mums attempting to give business a go. We run free training programs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and have had over 400 women come through our program since 2006.
Some graduate Bizness Babes businesses include Sunny Mummy, Peppermint Magazine, Home Life Simplified, Seven Cherubs, Gregarious Peach, Greensacks, Maternal Instincts, Kiss it Better Bags, Seven Canaries, and the Karma Soap Company
The great thing is that YOU could add your name to that list. We are currently taking applications for our next round of courses. In order to be eligible you need to meet a couple of criteria outlined in the application form. Our Small Business Development Course is free to women who are unemployed, underemployed or marginalised in some way (see the FAQ on our website).
You can find out more about Bizness Babes and apply for our courses online at www.biznessbabes.com.au
Like our facebook page www.facebook.com/biznessbabes for regular updates, networking and inspiration.
And remember you are always in the position to CHOOSE your own adventure!!!!
Thanks to Bizness Babes, back to normal programming for next post!
Why is our educational system so backwards?
Hmmm – that was a controversial start wasn’t it! Jump right in, boots and all! WAIT – don’t comment yet, hear me out first, please.
Our education system is not up with the times. It teaches us algebra, teaches us to obey, to be malleable, that lunchtime is 12.40pm. But where is the encouragement of the entrepreneurial spark? Why aren’t kids truly encouraged to lead in the face of challenges where the outcome is not predictable? Our kids live sanitised lives, kept safe from failure, where even grades are banded so they don’t feel like they failed. Yeah sure, they can be house captain (I was, 4 times). Yep, they can lead a sports team (I was Softball Captain). These are great opportunities, but this isn’t business leadership.
I think of Tom Cruise in Risky Business – not the underwear scene (pause – take a moment ladies, enjoy the memory, whilst the male readers out there can choose their own cherished pictorial memory to pass the time).
I mean the Risky Business Future Leaders program. It feels truly inspirational to me now. I wish I had done something like that at school. Ok – not the hooker bit (but hey, there are many legitimate biz models at there at the moment which aren’t so far from what Tom did, and politician’s business requirements, well, they leave Tom for dead). Oops – I digress…… to learn about innovation, thinking outside the square (rather than being confined to a little box where a squared +b squared = c squared), to be encouraged to let go of the familiar and grasp hold of the new, different, unexpected, what a fabulous treat that would have been.
To learn from trial and error, where the error didn’t mean a low mark, but a high mark for taking the opportunity and shaping it into success. How absolutely cool it would have been to be at a school where such programs were as important as writing the perfect essay on social culture in the 21st century. I am not saying in place of, but alongside. I haven’t in my life had many requirements to write a 5000 word essay since leaving school (the closest is my humble blog), but the trial and error, that has been a daily occurrence!
How great it would have been to emerge from school understanding how to write a business plan, and being able to identify cash flow problems. Instead I went to Bizness Babes to learn that, as a mum with an idea (well, it was just over 100 viable ideas at the time). Bizness Babes was instrumental in stoking the fire of my burgeoning awareness of the opportunities around me. In fact I blame them absolutely for the nagging bug that now sits on my shoulder, making me look at every action in my life to find the way to build a business out of it. Thanks to the WISE Foundation and Bizness Babes, I now see cash flows and risk analysis everywhere. I love it. The possibilities really are endless! I just wish I had been thinking this way 20 years ago, instead of now, as a mum with a family and a mortgage. But that is life, and I WILL make lemonade out of those lemons!
The lemonade of today (well – yesterday in fact, it came to me whilst dear Bethie Boo and I were out having a little girly fun), is a new entertainment concept I don’t believe has a place in the world as yet. I am very excited about researching it, it could be lots of fun and a great business for me to develop. There is already a business model to utilise, and it is a franchisable operation. Win, win, win. AND I already have a very cool name picked out that no-one has registered a dot.com for. Woo hoo – that in itself is like winning the lottery these days! Anyway – I will reveal more as investigations move along – stay tuned!
Back to my soapbox – education these days. I am not the only one disappointed in the educational systems of this world. I was reading Voyeur Magazine on a recent Virgin Australia flight, and was staggered at the number of mega successful entrepreneurs that had not completed a university degree. Some dropped out after developing their ideas and wanting to get moving whilst the iron was hot (aka Steve Jobs and Bill Gates), whilst others just could not deal with school regimentation (no surprise for entrepreneurs like John D Rockefeller, Richard Branson.) In fact, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, paid 24 young entrepreneurs $100,000 USD each to drop out of school and develop their ideas instead of waiting a few more years. He strongly feels schooling is not necessarily the way forward. That is a big statement – formal learning channels are so very important, and sometimes life experience just can not replicate the resources of an educational body. I would rather have an education system that meets the needs of kids and gives them the skills to be successful business people if that is what they choose to do. In an effort to alleviate this gap, some enlightened individuals have started utilising shared learning online as an open structure to nurturing these skills, I do hope it catches on. In the mean time perhaps I should also be looking into developing a private school with an entrepreneurship stream – hmmmmmmmm – quick – add that to my list of ideas!
I am off to do some research and chat to some entrepreneurs online, catch up again soon!
Mum was English, so I was brought up with good manners beaten into me.
Don’t chew with your mouth open, give your seat up to the elderly on a bus, don’t read the newspaper over someone’s shoulder, and never, EVER, EVER eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. Talk about taking the fun out of a morning bus trip to the city, you had to pretend you were Helen Keller!
Makes it hard sometimes. In business you have to be a bit ruthless, gathering intelligence on your target market in ways that mum would never have approved of because having to buy that data is very expensive, especially when you are talking about Gen Y – those untrusting souls.
So I send out surveys, and ask opinions of those Gen Y’s I know (and thank you all – I am very grateful and will repay you when I am a mogul). But it isn’t enough – I need more data!
So there I was yesterday afternoon – in between my day business school session (last one at Bizness Babes *sob*) and my MEGA evening course, on a train to the second location. It was later afternoon and a group of school girls got on and were standing beside me. Ah ha – my target market. Come here my pretties…..
Ok – that sounds creepy – forget that, I actually sat very still so I wouldn’t frighten them off and appeared to be studying the train line map intently.
Strangely, there wasnt a Smart Phone to be seen amongst the group of 8. Unusual….. but then they were very deep in discussion, so perhaps this was a social no-no in such circumstances.
I could hear mum in my head….. NO listening. And my replying “but mum – target market……. this could be a goldmine and its FREE”. My stinginess won out over ethics. That’s the Dutch bit of me – hehe. So I listened whilst I stared at the map, and made mental notes of what was worthy of their time. Haircuts, hair colours, weekend party and what to wear. Whether Lady Gaga ever wears normal clothes (LOL), had to concentrate very hard on the map so I wouldnt smile at that point. Then their talk turned to makeup – and why makeup for old ladies was so expensive……I figured they were talking about Clarins, Estee Lauder etc that old ladies like me wear…… I was just starting to feel depressed as they got off the train – a few more minutes of that conversation and I may have gone and bought myself a zimmer frame.
But it was a huge win – and a great insight into uncensored interests of my target market – info that is critical for Toldyah. I think I might go ride the trains for a week or two from 7.30-9.30am and 3-5pm and gather more intelligence. ASIO would be so proud of me.
Let’s just hope I don’t get picked up as a stalker!
What? Why would I do that? Of course, I am assuming you are old enough to know what the clap is………check HERE if you don’t LOL.
No, it’s applause I mean. A big, rowdy acclamation that you guys are the BEST!
HUGS FOR EVERYONE
Pop open the champers, drop the net of balloons and streamers.
AT 6a.m. THIS MORNING WE TICKED OVER 1,000 VIEWS FOR THIS BLOG.
There’s a long way to go still. And many more posts to be read (if you have a topic of interest, let me know BTW). And we have launches to plan for: Toldyah website, mobile app, etc. But it’s a start!
Make Me Famous – the Facebook page is up and running…… please join it and pass on to your friends. If you know anyone who uploads videos they can link on this page to help spread the word. Let’s make people famous!
Toldyah – Facebook and Twitter pages are up and running, although on slow burn at the mo.
MEGA – has honed my pitch (more refinements to be made but am loving it right now).
Bizness Babes – has the bones of the business plan sorted – will be in a final draft at the end of today!
Things to do:
Source funding to build website and mobile phone apps
Develop and launch viral campaign
It’s getting closer now – so soon you’ll be able to say “See, I Toldyah”.
Have a BRILLIANT DAY.
Planning, planning, planning……..
Yep – honing the business plan. Hard but valuable work. ‘Cos it’s in the planning that the strengths, weaknesses and gaps become clear. And boy have I found gaps LOL. But filling them has been a lot of fun and made a better end product to offer.
But I have also some strengths which have been confidence boosters.
The weaknesses – well – they were clear from the start hehe. A Mum with a Quality and Innovations background working an IT startup……. I can hear you laughing. (Ooooooooooooooh look – a clue to what I am doing! Stay tuned – the next few blogs have more clues coming up). First one to guess correctly will become Toldyah’s Chief Entertainment Officer (a joke really – unless you actually want the job?).
The financials is the scary bit. Working on those right now after 3 days of Financial Business Planning at Bizness Babes last week. Hmmmmm – anyone got a spare $100,000 to get me over the hump until the business turns a profit? Yes?????? Fantastic – just write your cheque out to the Toldyah Nigerian Scam account………. Of course if Mssrs Gates, Branson, Page, Ortega (Zara), or other members of the squillionaires club are reading – happy to accept donations or investment options!
Well, time to get back to the business planning – got to get it ship-shape so I can go beg some money to complete the dream and make Toldyah THE place to be seen. Let me see 200 + 600 equals….. where’s that excel spreadsheet?
Be gentle today dear readers, it’s day 4 without coffee for me.
I’m not the greatest caffeine addict – only 2 coffees a day and rarely ever a coke. But that morning wake up cuppa, and the evening wind down slurp after kid in bed are my little treats, little hugs of happiness to congratulate me for making it through the day *grin*.
And for 4 days they have been missing. Aaargh. You see – Gastro-Gate on the weekend was bad, and I am SCARED to go back to it. Whilst my tummy still bubbles away menacingly the coffee machine is staying firmly switched off. I look longingly my special Monopoly man coffee cup – a gift from a friend to remind me that THIS year I was going to make Toldyah a reality and become a squillionaire. But no coffee today…..
Alrighty, snap out of it woman – enough moaning about caffeine cravings….
Time for some work! MEGA is tonight – must get prepared and be ready to push forward my ideas, need to get Toldyah developed properly.
So let’s take stock of where we are:
- We have the concept – which is undergoing transformation via MEGA to make it a better business proposition.
- We have the business planning underway via BiznessBabes course
- We have the business name
- We have domain names and logo
And there endeth the lesson………. I need to get a website designed. And I need to develop a launch plan that will have billions of people flocking to the site the instant I launch it (should be easy shouldnt it….). Today I will work on the rules and requirements for the website, and the mood board for the look of the business. Fantastic – that’s my day planned – how about yours?
Fingers crossed that by 4pm when I jump on a train for the city I may even be able to grab a Gloria Jeans coffee……….. And that means tomorrow I may even be able to have some of that poor abandoned easter chocky!
In the words of the great Homer Simpson: Mmmmmmmmm, caffeine and chocky.