To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, we asked some small business customers from all over the world to share the highs and lows of their experience with aspiring entrepreneurs of the future. Today, we speak to Pascale Helyar-Moray, founder of Australian custom-jewellery brand, StyleRocks.
My business has evolved as I have grown, and I’ve picked up many war stories along the way. Here are my tips for anyone looking to start their own business.
Business can spring from frustration
The story behind my business came from an unexpected moment of frustration. I was pregnant in London with my twins and my husband offered to buy me a ‘push’ present. But I was so tired at that stage in my pregnancy, that the idea of walking up and down Bond Street wasn’t going to work. I needed an online alternative that gave me all of the options of a trip to the jewellers, with none of the legwork involved. At the time, I had no idea this frustration would eventually become the catalyst for StyleRocks. Pay attention to what frustrates you – your next business idea could be hiding within that source.
Everything takes longer than you think
Be prepared for everything to take three times as long as you expect. To partly mitigate against this, integrate your technology wherever possible. For example, PayPal is now integrated into our Xero feed, along with our bank transactions. This such makes a big difference. Instead of doing 400 manual entries, the whole process now has sped up by a factor of 10. It has been a game changer. Think about how you can build more efficiencies into your system.
Study your conversion rates and cost of acquisition
It really pays to spend time analysing all available data around these two factors. This is now a constant focus for me. If you invest the time in understanding this from the start, and staying on top of these insights, your business will benefit significantly.
Get creative with cash flow solutions
This is still a work in progress for me. Our cash flow is unique in that StyleRocks can get an invoice from six weeks ago, so that makes it difficult to book the cost against a particular item when sales go through. But we are working on ways to do this so that we can stay even more on top of our cash flow. See how you can forecast your cash flow as accurately as possible, to avoid unexpected ‘surprises’.
Be discerning about your marketing channels
I have spent a lot of time getting really friendly with Google Analytics to reduce our cost of acquisition. This has shown me which marketing channels work and which don’t – for us, at least. I strongly encourage any business to figure out their likely sales conversion funnel before the launch date; really have this down before you start. I wish someone told me that at the start of my journey.
Keep your standards high
Before I launched StyleRocks I knew I wanted the customers to be able to choose any combination – any type of ring, stone, metal and so forth. What I didn’t know then was that it would lead to three trillion (yes, trillion…) combinations on the backend. But I don’t regret this, it is what sets us apart. Have your standards, and stick to them.
It’s okay to change your idea of success
My definition of success these days is to have a profitable business that I can juggle with the children. Once upon a time I thought I might be out for world domination, but what matters so much now is to be able to drop and run if one of my kids needs me at school – this is worth its weight in gold. At the start of the journey I seemed to pick up that success was defined but how much capital you raise, but actually I don’t see it that way anymore. I don’t miss the hustle of those early years, I feel like I’ve come out the other side now. It’s okay to change your idea of success as you change and grow as a person.