How to 'shake the funk' while working solo

Blog image- in a rut.jpg

Small business ownership is a lonely old game. Even if you have a team around you, chances are you’re still going to have to continually kick your own butt to get things done. It can get really tiresome.

Ruts or ‘funks’ as I call them are something that we all get ourselves into. Some more often than others, some deeper than others. There’s nothing wrong with a funk - maybe it's your subconscious or your body’s way of telling you you need a day off, or you need to change things up. Whatever it is, it's the DURATION of the funk that causes the problems.

Sometimes I let myself get in a rut so bad that after a week or two the only thing that can shake it is the utter dread of a looming deadline or realising how far behind I have let myself get and now the funk is replaced with sheer panic!

I have since (a few missed deadlines and late nights later) found a few things that work for me to kick the funk. I also put out to our community to see what works for you. Behold Our Top 10 Funk Busters.

  1. Where would you rather be? Ask yourself this. Have a look around and realise that you are doing exactly what you want to do. You’re in this business for a reason. There’s a reason why you didn't take the easy job instead. Reconnect with that why and find your energy levels and motivation lifting.

  2. Brain down! Find something brain dead to do. Slow down, pick of some tasks that feel good to tick off. Wash your tractors, go through your receipts, sweep out the shed, get the filing done, an office tidy, whatever it is. Take the day to give your brain some down time and attack tomorrow with some renewed vigour.

  3. Blow some steam. Popular amongst the RBC community was finding some way to get out and about to literally shake it off. Go for a run, go to the gym, dance like a lunatic, whatever floats your boat a jump on the trampoline, a lick run, a shower were all suggestions from RBC community members.

  4. Watch your company. Got some people around you that love to come to the pity party? Or are particularly negative? Take a break from them for a little while. Nothing drastic just make sure you are seeking out company that is going to lift you up not drag you down for the next few days. They say you are the average of the five people you hang around the most, so bat above your average for a few days ;)

  5. Bust some barriers. Have a think about your self talk and your self image. What are some things that you think are holding you back at the moment? Challenge that opinion - is that really true? What are some examples where you have proven that image of yourself is not justified?

  6. Declutter. A cluttered mess and a cluttered mind go hand in hand. Take an hour to get your workspace in perfect order before you set about your tasks and see if that can bring some new thinking.

  7. Eat the frog first. This one came up a number of times when talking to RBC community. Whether it was planning, scheduling in tasks, getting over the hump of that task you’ve been procrastinating on. We all agree there’s some freedom on the other side of a good task schedule and some unpleasant tasks being ticked off the list.

  8. Change of scenery. Getting out and about. Can you work from a local park or cafe for the day? Or find a co-working space? A lot of people agreed on the Facebook post that getting out and about can kick the funk to the curb. Whether that's changing the work environment or getting along to a networking event that you think you don't have the time for.

  9. Phone a friend. If you’re in a rut, it might be a good time to touch base with your mentor or a friend thats great to bounce ideas off. For some even meeting someone new gives a jolt in the motivation stakes. Schedule a call or ask for that coffee. It could be what reduces the time your funk hangs around for. It's tough working solo without that sounding board. Seek it out.

  10. Planning. Last but not least planning. If you can’t shake that feeling of not getting anywhere, maybe try cracking out the Business Model Canvas and your 90 Day Plan and get some goals down on paper. Realigning with what you are working towards always works for me. And it kills two birds with one stone - you are revisiting your planning and goals as well as clarifying your priorities to kick any rut.

Any of these work for you? What do you find works best to get back to your productive and motivated self?

Small town economies- what's driving yours?

charters-towers-entry-sign.jpg

I grew up in the Charters Towers region. My family are agricultural business owners in an industry that I proudly wave the flag for, given any opportunity.

Charters Towers is a part of Australia that I adore and have boasted about to any poor person I’ve come across in many corners of the World.

It started as a mining town in the late 1870s, and blossomed into a diverse agricultural and tourist region.

Like so many rural areas across Australia, the Towers is battling on many fronts, namely drought, the decline of mining and the streamlining of traditionally labour intensive agricultural industries.

However, instead of calling it a day, people are becoming more innovative. They are looking for other opportunities to help their communities and economies. It’s hard not to notice the changes in the main street, namely the turnover of some shopfronts, but the stalwarts are still there and people are generally positive.

On one of my last trips home I spoke to a few business owners on how they thought their region was faring. I was impressed with their solution- based mentality. While it’s certainly not all coming up roses, they weren’t negative and had ideas on how the economy could be made stronger.

Economic education of consumers was one thing. It’s easy to promote the ‘buy local’ campaigns and hope that people stay loyal to the businesses in their town, but when times are tough, people often go for the cheapest option and that’s normally online or in a bigger, more competitive region.

Having said that, I saw on a Facebook feed the other day a conversation among locals about buying a fridge. One lady had gone to Townsville (the next closest centre) to shop for a new appliance. She was almost talked into a deal, but at the last minute called the equivalent shop in Charters Towers and found the price to be very competitive. So she went home and her money stayed in town. A terrific outcome that I’m glad she shared. Why isn’t it automatic to check local prices first? Especially when you would need to factor in quite a lot of transport costs?

Together with his business partners, Ben North employs 60 people under the Hollimans Group. It’s made up of six interconnected businesses. He says the region has barely scratched the surface in terms of economic development, but stopped short of saying exactly what he believes is in the pipeline.

Bernie Kruger has owned four businesses around town. An auto electrician by trade, he’s dabbled in everything from car parts, to a Subway franchise and now water point monitoring technology. Basically whatever has come up that’s a bit different and allows him to put food on the table. He also says he gets bored easily. A trend it seems in entrepreneurial circles.

Anyway, my three guests are much more adept at expressing their opinions- so listen to this week’s Beating Around the Bush podcast here.

And if you live in a region that should be highlighted, let me know! Send me an email at jayne@ruralbusinesscollective.com.au

Part Three- The changing rules of business.

And here we have it.... drum roll please... the final part of our changing rules of business feature. 

3. Access to Markets

The world is connected more than ever before and it's not slowing up. The good news is that connected people also means connected customers! When interviewing Jane Cay she said when she started her online shop to add to her physical store in 2009 her accountant humoured her when she said it should have its own balance sheet telling her that online shopping for clothing won't take off. Fast forward to 2017 and Jane and her team of Birds in rural town of Cooma are shipping over 500 parcels per day!

Connected with a click

There are currently over 3.7 billion internet users in the world. 40% of the world has an internet connection, in 1995 it was 1%! (www.internetlivestats.com)

And what we know about those users is also staggering. Facebook’s ability to target users based on their data usage and personal profiles is a layer of direct marketing that we have never been able to access before. So no matter what you niche you can find your tribe and a home for your product. Today an average home in Australia will have 13.7 connected devices inside its four walls! This is set to grow to over 30 by 2021.  We want to be able to solve out questions with a quick Google search, secure that coveted product from under our bed covers, and have real time directions spoken to us to get us where we need to go.

So whatever you have got - the internet will find it’s home. Your customers are suddenly not just a 60km radius of your towns main street. Everyone operates in a global market now.

Storytelling

Local is a firm trend that’s not leaving us anytime soon. The rise of Farmers Markets, branded produce, handmade marketplaces such as Etsy are all banking on the trend that the general public as a consumer are keenly interested in the origins of what they are consuming. They are also keen to find something that is unique to them. We love nothing more to tell the story behind our shoes when we are complimented on them, tell the story of how we discovered the wine and all about meeting the winemaker over dinner. It helps us stand out from the crowd and show how highly evolved we are with our conscious thinking and consumption (tongue firmly in cheek!).

This is where we really hit our strong suit. Local storytelling! Letting consumers see the family behind the carton of milk and get a glimpse inside the creative process of their latest art purchase. It connects us, it gives meaning. We have wonderful stories to tell and the benefits of doing this well reach beyond the realms of good business.

Storytelling is a fine art and there are many ways you can perfect your business story but if you haven't thought about your story and how that’s communicated you could be sitting on a quick fix you can implement to make a difference in your business today.

Infrastructure.

This is the missing piece of the puzzle. Access to markets in a physical sense is critical for efficiencies and realising new markets. There are many infrastructure projects to get excited about such as the Inland Rail. The Outback Way, Developing the North, Queensland’s Data Park in Toowoomba, and a surge in government interest in these projects is a positive step. But don’t think government is the only one that can deliver these projects to change your market access. The largest infrastructure project in recent times was built with private money. The Toowoomba/Wellcamp Airport is an incredible act of foresight and investment in our regions.

Wellcamp Airport outside Toowoomba in Queensland. 

Wellcamp Airport outside Toowoomba in Queensland. 

There is so much more to celebrate about our rural and regional communities and the business opportunity that is opening up. This is merely the tip of the iceberg. It's exciting times and I’d love to hear of your experience. What are you doing in business from a rural and regional area that 10 or even five years ago you didn't think was possible?

The changing rules of business- Part Two.

Yesterday I wrote about the changing way we do business- one of the main factors is how we access capital. 

Welcome to dot point Number Two! Access to skills and technology

Now of course the elephant in the room is internet access and not taking anything away from the struggles that so many rural and remote businesses have with getting access to good internet connections, this is improving and is something that when right - will provide massive acceleration for the number of businesses and the reach of those businesses in rural and remote Australia. However, despite a huge inequity in access to reliable fast internet throughout the country there are some things that once were a major impediment to business in rural Australia that now are available at low costs and increased flexibility.

Technical Skills

The rise of the ‘non-technical’ founder is proof that technical skills are just one component of a team and one that has become more accessible and not necessarily possessed by the owner of the business. Online tools that have been created by those with the technical know-how have helped us mere mortals fake some serious technical know-how! With online tools such as Zapier, Squarespace, Wordpress, Bubble and more creating websites, apps and every integrating widget you can imagine can be done in a series of clicks following logic instead of code. Apps such as Canva, Ripl, Fontly, have enabled basic graphic design skills to be within our reach to produce beautiful content and printed material more often than what we normally would.  

tumblr_m8fiqjcJuV1r9hets.gif

Communication

In the past, the reach of your work, particularly in the service industries, was your ability to travel and meet your client or customer. Travel is a huge cost for businesses that are having to meet colleagues and clients not just in direct costs but also in time. However over the last decade there has been an explosion in technology and software designed to help this process. This has had an impact across every industry I can think of. Perhaps the biggest in the training industry where workshops and training is taken online every minute of the day thanks to platforms like GotoMeeting and Webinar, Crowdcast, Zoom, Google Hangouts and more. Meeting a client isn't always able to be done face to face and tools like Skype, Facetime are now commonplace and a universal language.  

Teamwork

Communicating with your clients remotely has become commonplace and in the last few years the same revolution has happened in working remotely within your own team. Remote tools and project management software has changed the way we work and opened up doors to collaborations and styles of work that can accommodate other sides of the world. This is huge for rural and regional Australia. In the past, living in rural and remote Australia may have come with a concession that the range of work is limited to a few industries and careers were limited to that which matched the needs of the community in which you live. Now (aside from reasonable internet access) there’s no reason why Betoota can’t be the home of your next Web Developer or even your personal trainer. Pointer Remote Roles has capitalised on this shift in their business model and working remotely is a very attractive option ‘the Sydney siders job without the Sydney siders rent’!

Project Management tools have become common place with even the smallest of teams (like us at RBC) are engaging with software such as Asana, Basecamp, Trello on a daily basis.

And for the last big reason how doing business in the bush has changed? Well, you'll need to wait until tomorrow!

The Changing rules of business - and why that's good news for rural and regional Australia

Times they are a changin’. Ask anyone that's been in business for a while and they will say the rate of change in the last five years is unprecedented. Look at your own behaviours as a consumer and chances are the way you engage with companies, the way you shop, the service you expect is vastly different from the way you navigated the world only a short time ago.

Whether you are a business that sells household products online or a bulk commodity producer for an export market - times are changing.

Perhaps the biggest trend we are seeing that is having positive impacts for rural and remote Australia is the dropping of the common barriers to business. This is seeing a rise in the sole trader or micro business. The Australian economy added over 1000 such small businesses to its population over the two years between 2014 and 2016. Taking the total number to 599,000 up from 572,000.  This number and the trends we believe are driving this increase are all good signs for rural communities all over Australia. This is Part One of a three part series of the changing rules of business. 

1.                   Access to Capital

Without doubt the biggest shackle for small business has been access to capital. Whether that's startup funds, overdrafts to meet cash flow sticky spots, funds for innovation activities or capital injections to fund expansions into profitability. Even with bank cash rates at such low rates it is still hard for small business to get the attention of the big banks. It's difficult for banks to profitably serve SMEs, globally they only account for 20-30 percent of total revenue and SMEs are beginning to notice they're not a priority. However the rise of alternative funding models has given some hope in this area.

Online lenders, Angel Investors, incubators, Government grants and crowdfunding have all emerged as options small business are actively pursuing.

Crowdfunding

Rural Business Collective accessed startup capital through a crowdfunding campaign on the platform Startsomegood in conjunction with startup competition ING Dreamstarter. Usually the domain of artists and the latest gadget idea, crowdfunding is now definitely a platform for all businesses to get involved in. Even farmers! Jonai Farm in Daylesford Victoria have funded two infrastructure builds through crowdfunding; offering rewards such as a farm calendar through to cuts of their specialty cured pork cuts. And even if you aren’t aware of crowdfunding most people have heard of the wildly successful FlowHive Campaign where a father and son team from Byron Bay raised a staggering $12 million!

Online Lenders

Another avenue that was once for a limited number of businesses that has opened its doors far and wide are the Online Lenders. The growth of online lenders has no doubt been driven by the small business market. The growing number of lenders tout fast turnarounds, seamless transactions and competitive rates. A quick Google search for options available to Australian small businesses directs you to a number of lenders such as Prospa, Waddle, FundingPro, GetCapital, Kikka Capital, Merchant Cash, Moula, SpotCap and Sail. A recent Financial Review article noted SpotCaps rise in popularity “Spotcap has lent $35 million to Australian small businesses over its first 19 months of operations, with the book growing by 450 per cent over the year to December 2016 as the fintech expanded its distribution capability through deals with broking networks.”

Angel Investors

In Beating Around the Bush podcast episode with RBC member Kris Trevilyan we got behind the doors of an Angel Investing deal table. Kris is a member of the well established and run Angel Investor group Brisbane Angels. Here they see regular pitches and approaches from startups and scalable businesses that have utilised their network of ‘friends, family and fools’ and are looking for not just the funds to grow but also the wealth of knowledge, experience and mentoring that comes with Angel Investing circles. Not something you get with online lending or alot of small business banking at bigger institutions. Angel Investment networks and individuals are starting to pop up in every state of Australia. Have a search around some of the aggregator sites to get a feel for what’s out there and what they are looking for:

angel website.jpg

https://www.australianinvestmentnetwork.com/

https://angel.co/?ref=nav

Incubators and Accelerators

Startup Incubators and Accelerators are starting to pop up all around the country in a variety of different sectors from Education, technology, Agriculture, healthcare, finance and more. Each with their own entry criteria and inclusions. Many corporates are also partnering with Incubators and Accelerators to uncover the next innovation activity they can work within their business acknowledging that innovation is more readily found in the startup space than in corporate offices. Incubators and Accelerators help small business “By providing mentoring, office space, professional services and finance, the incubator has helped many startups validate their ideas and achieve success” according to the Australian Governments Innovation website.

There is certainly some overlap in the services and support provided by Accelerators and Incubators however the defining element is the stage at which you enter each of the programs. Incubators are as the name implies - early stage. These are for new startups looking to validate and get their idea to market. Accelerators however are more for by comparison for the Adolescent startup. Concept has been proven and they have some traction and are looking to raise funds or take it to the next level by scaling to a larger market.

Government

Government at both a State and Federal level are starting to see the wins in investing in small business. The Government itself has claimed Small Business as the engine room of the country so it only makes sense that dollars invested in its development and success will return for the government. There are many programs out there for small business particularly those that are looking to implement innovation activities or looking to undertake any research and development in their business. The days where only non-profits could access the bulk of programs in the government are changing too with many programs open to company structures. Queesland’s impressive Advance Queensland programs are certainly leading the way for the States. Federally AusTrade and Innovation portfolios are doing great things also.

Join me again tomorrow to talk about the access to skills and technology.

Getting to bed on time is easier than you think

About two years ago I had a number of projects on the go and was as busy as a one armed brick layer. I found myself working ridiculous hours, late into the night because I felt like I owed the day just that bit more. There was always something urgent to do. Do you know the feeling?

Without a map every direction looks good.jpg

The kicker was that at the end of each month, quarter, year I couldn't really say I had made the progress that reflected the hours I had put in. I felt like I still hadn't given enough. It's a crappy unhealthy cycle. One day, I thought the answer to my problem was to get better with my daily scheduling. Not a bad solution, I always do work better under a very carefully planned out agenda. But when I sat down to put in all the things from my to-do list I had been working from I realised that there was about 65 hours worth of work that I was trying to fit into 30 hours of office time…. Hmm gee I wonder why I was strung out! So some rationalising needed to be done, some prioritising. This is when I took the best of what I read around the place, all of my favourite planners etc.. and put that into the context of my farm and family life and decided to implement my version of a 90 day plan. I call it the 90-30-7.

So by effectively turning the process completely on its head I have given myself some freedom, focus, and that long lost feeling of accomplishment back. *Insert Toyota jump here*

Turning the process on its head meant putting the to-do list LAST. And starting with the end in mind. Getting really clear on why the hell am I staying up to ridiculous o’clock and what did success look like for me. (Now this is a whole exercise in itself and we will be covering this on an upcoming #30DC for RBC Members.)

12 MONTH GOAL

Set yourself a 12 month goal. Whether you work seasonally according to your business, by financial year or by calendar year, it doesn't matter. But set a goal for a 12 month period and get it down in writing. Feel free to use our Goal Card Template for this to help you get down your Vision, Mission and Values, and more specifically your goals, financial targets, timelines and supporting behaviours.

Download our GOAL CARD template here.

Right, so you have that down. You’re pumped, and to be honest a little daunted. That's good, that's how you know you have the right goal. If it doesn’t daunt you a little then you have the wrong goals. There has to be something in there that you have never done before and quite frankly you aren't exactly sure how it's going to be done either. Otherwise your goal is nothing but BAU - Business As Usual. Nobody wants that.

So now take that goal and look at the focus areas and major undertakings that need to occur to make that happen. What targets do you need to hit financially to make that a reality? What has to change about your business as it stands today? Is that finding a new market, developing a new website, creating an improved production system? What resources will you need?

90 DAY PRIORITIES

Have a look at that list. Vomit in your mouth a little. And then prioritise - is there a chain of events that needs to happen here? What has to come first for the others to happen? What will provide the greatest impact? Greatest impact or greatest catalysts need to come first.

Map these out across your four lots of 90 days in a year. These will become your focus for the quarter. It’s a bit like that saying ‘how do you eat an elephant - one bit at a time!’. Your goal is the elephant, each quarter is a bite.

30 DAY ACTIVITY

So I hope you are starting to see where this is heading and it comes as no surprise that the next step is to look at your 90 days and see what you want to achieve in this quarter. It’s another building block and direct link to your goal for the year. You then breakdown that 90 day focus into three to four main key activities. This is what you are going to do for each month. Allocate them out and prioritise them. So in the Oct-Dec quarter - what are the key activities I need to complete for this quarter? What will I do in each 30 day block?

7 DAY ACTION

The last piece of this cascading plan is to take charge of your outcomes in the seven day block of time. These are the actions, specific tasks, things you can put into a calendar and diarise. This is the part where you can actually see that you might be able to pull this sucker off!!

This is also the part where you can see exactly how much you are putting on and what you need to give the ‘3D treatment’ that is to Dump, Defer, or Delegate.

I do the 90 and 30 day parts of this plan on paper but for the seven it goes straight into the Google Calendar. Some weeks this slips off the list and I don't get time to do it on Sunday night when I normally plan out my week. Those weeks are by far and away less productive and the weeks when I get trapped into my office until way past my bedtime. Once you have done the first steps the 7 day plan takes about 20 minutes. And it feels gooood!

90-30-7 has changed the way I do business and the way I run my week. It’s given me the confidence to say no to things that don’t align and also because I am acutely aware now of just how little time I do have!  Setting boundaries is key to protecting your energy as a business owner and community member and not to mention family member. Being clear about your intentions and knowing where to spend your time is critical.

Every 90 days RBC Members can tune into our 90 day planning sessions where we go through this process live online. It's not only a good prompt to make sure you do it at the start of every quarter but it’s also good to run through the process a few times with some guidance. Join us here. Members can also download the templates for this process in the resources section of the members portal.

Join the 90 Day planning session live October 2 11AM AEST (12PM EDST)

Do you run through a similar 90 day planning process in your business? What works for you?

 

Simone says: Australians need to value digital content!

Prolific creative Simone Kain has just taken out the Agri-Futures Rural Woman's Award National Runner-Up for her amazing work with George The Farmer. She was featured on our Beating Around the Bush podcast earlier in the year.

But we also asked her some questions about the creation of her business.

20151215-DSC_8958.jpg

In her own words…..
What opportunity or gap did you see that inspired this business? 

At the age of 19, I started my first company which specialised in graphic design and website development. This was quite unique at the time. If you think back to 1999, most businesses, especially in rural locations didn’t even have the internet, let alone a website. The main mode of instantaneous communication was fax machine. Luckily for me, being 19, I didn’t overthink these minor issues and the company ended up being a success.

Ten years later, I merged with my now business partner, Ben Hood’s agency and we became a full creative agency also offering television commercials. Our company is called Hello Friday and we work with organisations across Australia who are predominately associated with primary industries or education such as the Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia.

In July 2012, I was lying on my bed one afternoon with my eldest son, George, who was two, stretching out my massive preggo belly - which was full of twin boys. I was trying to find some fun farming apps or books for George to keep him entertained when his new brothers arrived. He was obsessed with the farm and any opportunity that he had to go with my farming husband, Justin, or to look at magazines with trucks, harvesters or tractors, he’d jump at it.

All that I could find was American or English stories that used different terminology - such as barn instead of shed - or field instead of paddock - and there also wasn’t one character who was telling sequential stories about life on the land.

At this same time, our local economy was slowing due to the global financial crisis and Ben and I had been actively thinking of new ways to bring in additional revenue to sustain our business.

And I thought, wow, there could be an opportunity here. So after speaking with Ben, we decided to create our own farming character in-house utilising our creative and marketing skills.

I’d always wanted to try my hand at writing a children’s book and Ben was getting in to his illustrations at the time so we decided to write and illustrate a story to potentially inspire lots of little farming kids across the country - and if we created it as an interactive story app we could then use the app in our folio to try and gain future app clients for our creative agency.

It wasn’t long into researching the first story ideas, that I came across the statistics with regards to lack of food education with children in Australia and it was then that I thought, not only does George need to be inspirational, he needs to be educational.

George the Farmer is a colourful children’s character whose main aim is to educate children about farming practices along with how food and fibre is produced. This is done through fun picture books, toys, music, performance, interactive story apps, videos and free curriculum-aligned teacher’s guides.

Biggest challenge making it a reality? 

Developing the app was a lot more challenging than we thought it would be. From making sure the code was glitch-free to rendering out assets for every different size iPhone and iPad screen it has definitely been time consuming. Another challenge has also been the waiting time from submitting our app for approval or even just submitting for different updates. But I think the main challenge with app development is the fact consumers don’t value digital products. Although we’ve achieved success with being regularly featured in the top books category on the iTunes store due to downloads or being listed in the top educational apps in the technologies section for Australia and New Zealand, consumer’s still balk when an app costs any more than 99c. We retail our physical books which are printed in Australia for $17 each. Our app includes two interactive stories, three songs and two mini games for $4.50. Less than a cup of coffee. It’s cheap! And especially so for the cost of production. I’m not quite sure how we can change consumer perception on the value of digital products, but it’s something that needs to be worked upon. 

Most satisfying moment so far?

It would definitely be during our performances when we’re watching the kids faces light up when they see George and when they dance around with us to songs like ‘We Love Beef’, ‘Harvest Hop’ and ‘P-O-T-A-T-O’. You can tell that they’re really connecting and enjoying learning. Last year we had a teacher from a small Victorian school use one of our free curriculum-aligned guides in her classroom. A young pupil to date had only written six sentences for the whole four months of the current school year. After learning about George and Ruby, she was so inspired that she wrote six pages of text — and it was all on planting a wheat crop! That was really amazing! We love receiving feedback like that from parents, teachers and the kids themselves.

What’s your favourite tip/app/hack that you use to keep on track?  

Trello is a great online management tool to collaborate with others. It’s really handy for Ben and I to use across our creative agency, Hello Friday, as well as George the Farmer, especially as we both work from different locations.

If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be? 

Kayla Itsines. For those of you who don’t know her she’s a really young fitness guru from Adelaide. I think she’s pretty inspirational as she’s very dedicated to her body, health and brand. I’ve been feeling out of my fitness/health groove for awhile, so I think if I were Kayla for a day, it might help me get back on track. Either that or it would kill me!

How do you switch off when you go home? 

I work from a purpose built home-based office so I do find myself in the office at night after the kids are in bed. But I really do enjoy what I do so I’m fine with that. If I don’t feel like going in there, I love to have a glass of wine on the couch and kick back with a bit of Netflix! Socially, I love food and cooking so generally if I’m in relax mode, I’m hanging out with friends and family enjoying lots of delicious food and wine.

Best business advice anyone has ever given you? 

Have a go. There’s been a couple of times when I’ve really wanted to reach out to someone and ask for advice about what we’re doing or help from someone and a mentor said to me, ‘Why don’t you just ask them? What do you have to lose?’. And it’s true. The worst thing that can happen is that they say they’re not interested. It’s not the end of the world. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask. You move on or… you get persistent!

What’s your goal for the next 12 months? 

We want to keep broadening George the Farmer’s reach. We know that kids love him and Ruby when they meet them. We just need to give them the opportunity to connect. We’ve just started workshopping getting George and family on to television screens in a more permanent way in Australia - and abroad. My dream is for kids across the globe, when they think of food, they immediately associate this with agriculture. And through George and Ruby, Australia will then be known as the number one destination for beautiful, clean, green and safe produce. 

 

Simone and business partner Ben with George the Farmer. 

Simone and business partner Ben with George the Farmer. 

RBC Partners with Pointer Remote Roles

It's hard not to get excited when you meet people like Jo Palmer. There’s a buzz that surrounds people that are having a go at something adventurous, ambitious and so damn well needed. Pointer Remote Roles is one of those projects. The premise immediately clicked. Jo and I both know that the untapped skills and capability in the bush is staggering. Every town is filled with partners and friends that have followed on this journey to live in rural and remote Australia in search of giving their kids the country upbringing they had, or getting into the family farm, or trying a rural area as a way to jump up the ladder faster than what's possible in the city. Typically these sorts of decisions usually has what is called ‘the trailling spouse’. The one that goes with the partner for the move and then has to creatively rethink how their skills can be utilised.

Enter Pointer Remote Roles.

The modern day office is changing and the case for remote working is becoming clear. The rise of contract work or the ‘gig economy’ is also giving rise to what Jo Palmer sees as a new age of opportunity for people wanting to live in rural and remote Australia. Pointer Remote Roles aims to match roles that are suited for remote resourcing to the talented and skilled residents of small towns and farms Australia wide.

Rural Business Collective has a policy to recruit 100% of roles within rural, regional and remote Australia so I could immediately see the user case for my own business. It’s exciting to find somewhere I could find candidates that are specifically interested in working remotely. For the broader Rural Business Collective community, small businesses entering into any growth phase can tap into this pool of talents ranging from Social media through to bookkeeping, administration support and anything in between.

So we are excited to announce that RBC and Pointer have partnered to offer all Rural Business Collective members a special rate so you can try the Pointer experience to grow your team virtually risk free!

Here are some words from Pointer Remote Roles Founder, Jo Palmer on the offer for RBC members:

“Pointer aims to provide another avenue for employers to secure professional candidates for roles. We understand that startup stage and small business is tough and when you are ready to take the next step and engage or employ staff, it can get tricky.

We have established a rate to offer businesses who are in the early phases of business and are

looking to put on contractors, freelancers or part time staff. For a flat rate, you can advertise your role with Pointer and we will send you profiles of our candidates who meet the criteria. If we don’t have someone, we will find them! There is no commission to pay when you employ one of our candidates.”

  • Advertisement of role on Pointer until role is filled or 6 months

  • Pointer actively seeking candidates for roles

  • Unlimited candidate profiles (matching criteria) sent to client

  • One payment 

This is a great opportunity for RBC members. If you would like to know more please get in touch with either Fleur or Jo directly.

Fleur Anderson, Founder Rural Business Collective hello@ruralbusinesscollective.com.au

Jo Palmer, Founder Pointer Remote Roles jo@pointerremoteroles.com

 

Activating healthier rural communities

ginny stevens.jpg

Having many balls in the air is part of life for most small business owners. The moving parts of a business, as well as day to day life always has its challenges. But I have to have some extra admiration for Ginny Stevens.
She is the CEO of Active Farmers- a group aiming to build stronger and more resilient communities through better physical and mental health.

Ginny believes that people are healthier, including their mind, when they are active and eating well.

She’s a perfect example, agreeing to be interviewed by Fleur from the Wagga Wagga maternity ward with her two week old twins. I’m not going to lie- the thought of new born twins is exhausting enough- let alone answering questions about your business with a microphone in her face.

But it was perfect- listen here as Ginny talks about how she’s got up to 20 regions signing onto her program. And she’s desperate for more trainers to be involved in the rollout. Contact her via her website- www.activefarmers.com.au

Is your bank balance your indicator of business success?

green-dollar-sign-clipart-green-dollar-sign-4.jpg

In this land of startup hustle, spending money to make money, and any other cliche that comes to mind it's easy to get distracted.

We are lead to believe that the game changer in your business is going to be your content, your launch strategy, your marketing, your UX design, your strategic partnerships, your unique value proposition, but at the end of the day the simple fact remains - the oxygen your business really needs - is cash. Or more than that, profit.

In the age of the entrepreneur it doesn't have the same ring to it - but good old-fashioned business rules still apply and being in control of your finances puts you at a better chance of being on the right side of the alarming small business failure rate. Small Business Advisor and RBC 30 Day Challenge Mentor Maurie Hill says ‘you’d be surprised how many businesses out there use their bank balance as their measurement of business performance’.

Being in control of your finances is true empowerment. It gives you confidence to make decisions and to put the important things first.

September is going to be the month when you can tackle all of these things head on with our next 30 Day Challenge. Our 30DC takes participants through four guided lessons on a selected topic with an expert. Rural Business Collective runs 4 30 Day Challenges for its members per year as part of their annual membership plan.

For this 30DC we have teamed up with Maurie Hill from the BusinessGP to deliver a 30DC on ‘Running Your Business By The Numbers’. Maurie has an amazing breadth of experience from multi-national corporates through to micro-businesses in the middle of the Northern Territory! Maurie has a true passion for helping people understand the fundamentals of what makes their business tick and the numbers to keep an eye on and the results that he gets from the businesses and families speak for themselves. As Maurie says ‘running a business this way is so natural to me now I don't know any other way!’ Throughout the 30 Day Challenge you will get insights into this method of running your business by the numbers and hear stories of the outcomes that he and his clients have achieved together.

The Challenge includes four audio lessons delivered along with a weekly worksheet. Each of these lessons will cover an aspect of business financial management, an activity to complete and then an opportunity to connect with others participating in the challenge to share questions and experiences.

The four lessons are:

WEEK 1 - WHY manage ‘BY THE NUMBERS’ – there are many reasons

WEEK 2 - All about PROFIT – fuels success and satisfaction

WEEK 3 - CASH is King – the oxygen of business

WEEK 4 - HOW to manage company finances – important and easier than you think

Each 30DC is valued at $199 and is included in our Annual Membership plan. Interested business owners and entrepreneurs wanting to participate are invited to join RBC before the commencement date of September 4 2017. Current members can opt in by RSVP on our member invitation or emailing hello@ruralbusinesscollective.com.au

Hatching a cracker of an idea

Kylie Stretton with some of her "girls". 

Kylie Stretton with some of her "girls". 

When you pull up in the Clancella Downs driveway, it’s obvious the owners, Kylie and Shane Stretton have put their heart and soul into the property.

Kylie has recently started a pastured egg business to run in conjunction with their beef operation. But it’s the benefits to the soil health of their property which is the main motivator.

The couple bought the 100 acre block outside Charters Towers around six years ago and by all accounts, it was in a pretty dire condition- everything from the pasture, to the house and the back lawn.

Besides running a livestock agency and, looking after their cattle that are spread around the North Queensland area on agistment, the Strettons are striving to make the most of their small acreage and improve all facets of it, down to the flower garden beds.

The Cllancella Downs egg brand has been Kylie’s project and she’s taken to it with gusto. She’s got 30 hens in a Chicken Caravan surrounded by an electric fence, that gets moved around the problems areas of the property. She knows it’s going to come with challenges, especially when summer rolls around and the temperature soars. But she has mitigated the risks, and it’s all systems go.

Anyway, their story is brilliant, and you should listen to it here, on our Beating Around the Bush podcast. The part where Kylie talks about the success she’s had with direct marketing and harnessing the magic of social media to play in her favour is particularly interesting.

I've done all the dumb things - reflections on the first year of RBC

I've done all the dumb things - reflections on the first year of RBC

When you launch a business via a crowdfunding campaign it's almost in reverse. You have to go public and start rolling a little bit before you normally would. I was lining up for the leap but someone gave me a little push. I heard it being likened to throwing yourself off a cliff and making the parachute as you go down. Couldn’t agree more!

As I think about the past 12 months there are some smart things and some really dumb things I have done.... 

RBC welcomes Advisory Board members

The RBC Team is growing. This week we have appointed our Advisory Board. As a business owner I have always been a big advocate for having a group of advisors and getting some outside perspective on your business. And in what can sometimes be a lonely pursuit, two heads are always better than one. I have always enlisted the support of business coaches and mentors to help me keep on course and stretch further than I thought I could reach.

For Rural Business Collective, this is certainly true and a big part of appointing an Advisory Board was to keep us thinking big. It’s pretty easy to get bogged down in the day to day of creating content and websites, which payment wall to use, responding to member requests, pitching member stories and the list goes on. However, if we are going to achieve what we set out to achieve and that’s to make a significant difference in creating a culture of entrepreneurship in the bush and become Australia’s leading community for rural and remote entrepreneurs, we need to make sure we are looking to the big picture. I think most business owners can appreciate this and in one way or another have a similar function in their business.

The second reason that I have enlisted the support of this amazing group of business brains is to broaden the voice of RBC. When I start to plan out the five to 10 year vision for Rural Business Collective it becomes something that has a life beyond me as a business owner and founder. It becomes property of the community. The Advisory Board is a way of engaging the community as the army of architects and advocates that will help us reach into the far corners of rural and remote Australia to find amazing stories, entrepreneurs and communities.

After nearly 40 applications we have selected a team of nine to take us through this first term of the Advisory Board and we are really pleased with the mix of skills and experience on the Board. We set out to enlist a good mix of big thinkers, rural community understanding and small business experience and we have got all that and more!!

The Advisory Board will receive a report from me each quarter against some of our key goals and milestones and twice a year we will meet face to face to spend a day working on Rural Business Collective strategy and getting input and valuable discussion from the group. Our first meeting will be the end of August.

I sincerely welcome our new team and you can read more about each member on the Advisory Board page.

Cherry picking for last minute presents!

RBC's Jayne Cuddihy with Fiona McFarlane from cherrygift.com

RBC's Jayne Cuddihy with Fiona McFarlane from cherrygift.com

Fiona McFarlane is a poster girl for self-motivation.  

Featured in this week’s Beating Around the Bush podcast, Fiona’s already running the family media and marketing business, is the national chair of the Skal tourism body and is incredibly active in the Cairns community as a business mentor and public figure.  

So of course she started another business, cherrygift.com, an SMS gift voucher service.

I laughed when she said her startup was born out of guilt (she had forgotten a friend’s birthday and wanted something to send to her as soon as possible) but she’s tapped into an incredible market of online gift giving available on SMS.

In this podcast, Fiona talks about her business, the importance of networking and the tricks of the trade when it comes to working from home.

Listen here to our conversation.

Regional Australia in ABC's Life Matters' spotlight

RBC's Fleur Anderson was a guest on ABC Radio National's Life Matters program this morning- highlighting the exciting new era for small businesses in the bush. 

If you missed it, listen here. 

She was joined by the inspiring Joanna Palmer from Pointer Remote Roles. Jo is based out of rural NSW and has recently started a business matching recruiters and employers with the best candidate for the job, regardless of where they live. 

Interviewed by Amanda Smith, Jo and Fleur make a wonderful team on the airwaves, and it's worth a listen.

Rebel's Blooming Success!

Imagine arriving in your new town of Lightening Ridge in New South Wales, in 50 degree heat and realising there’s no air conditioning in your apartment. And the windows wouldn’t open.

Then starting work at your new job as the local newspaper editor, with no previous journalism experience. And as it was in the days where the photos for the paper needed to be developed off film, realising that for your very first paper, someone had lost the photos, and you had to drive the 354km in the pouring rain to Dubbo to make deadline.

Not only did Rebel Black take all of that in her stride, but she fell in love, put roots down, successfully started five businesses, and has travelled the country as a healthy living/ raw food advocate and motivational speaker.

In the latest Beating Around the Bush podcast, Fleur Anderson uncovers some of Rebel’s best kept business secrets and an amusing and honest insight into what happens behind the scenes when you become addicted to starting small businesses.

Rebel’s latest venture is The Rural Woman, a virtual online marketplace for women in regional and rural parts of Australia to showcase their skills and products. ‘Bloom Where You are Planted’ is her catchcry, which of course should resonate with all Rural Business Collective members. Be sure to have a listen wherever you get your favourite podcasts.

Tall Poppies take centre stage at PitchFest

The Tall Poppies breakfast at PitchFest always draws a crowd, this year's Toowoomba event not being an exception. The panel, facilitated by Australia Post's Rebecca Burrows included Diana Somerville from Regional Pitchfest, Joy Taylor from Canvas Coworking and our very own Fleur Anderson. They discussed everything from seeking out investors, maintaining relationships with mentors and how to successfully run a business in regional and remote areas. 

Deciphering the corporate speak with Bronwyn

 
 

When you start a business, generally your enthusiasm is at peak level- you love what you do and are sure other people will as well.

The reality is that sometimes that fades, you change direction, or you move onto other things.

Or sometimes you don’t and your business can continue to thrive. Bronwyn Reid and her husband, Ian Rankine have been in business for 30 years, and when I spoke to her recently for our podcast Beating Around the Bush, her passion for what she does and the industries they service hasn’t dwindled in the least.

Bronwyn and Ian are environmental consultants and after a stint overseas, returned to Emerald in Central Queensland to service the agricultural, gas and mining industries on concepts that really were ahead of their time.

They rode the ebb and flows of the various markets and gained a huge knowledge of working with big companies and corporations which are vital to small businesses. Listen here to get some of her tips! 

Or better yet, why not make contact with Bronwyn on her blog?

Sprouting AgTech’s most promising innovators

I met Sam Trethewey at the amazing 400M forum recently in Toowoomba. The forum brought together a huge cross-section of people from the AgTech community- innovators, farmers, bankers, technology gurus- it was almost overwhelming. But more on that later. 

Sam is the General Manager of Sprout X AgTech Australia, the first accelerator program for this industry in Australia. Their mission statement is to ‘identify, fund and accelerate AgTech’s leading startups’. 

You can’t help but get excited when you talk to Sam- he’s very passionate about what he does and excited about the kinds of startups they are producing. 

Listen to our interview here.