The 5 Things You Need To Make Your Business Idea Happen
At our Melbourne Drive School event, our four speakers share the essential things you’ll need to make your business idea happen. And, trust us, you won’t see “money”, “experience” or “a business plan” listed.
Coming up with a business idea is comparatively easy compared to actually making that idea a reality. After all, there’s so much to consider and so many things to organise just to get your business started: a website, ABN, business name, bank account, social media profiles, the list goes on. And while all these practical considerations are important, you don’t guarantee business success just by having a website.
The Cusp partnered with Toyota Yaris to bring together four successful business owners for a discussion about the essential things you need to take your business from idea to reality. Lee Crockford – CEO of Spur Projects – hosted the discussion between panel members: Thankyou Group co-founder and Commercial Director Jarryd Burns; Declan Lee of Gelato Messina; and PROJECT ROCKIT co-founder Lucy Thomas.
Interestingly, not one person mentioned money, experience or a business plan as an essential component of their success. Instead, these are the things they did credit with making their business idea happen.
Having an idea for a business is one thing, but having the passion to keep going in the face of setbacks, doubt and massive financial hits is something else entirely.
Jarryd Burns is a co-founder of Thankyou., a social enterprise that turns ordinary supermarket purchases into life-changing access to water, food and sanitation in developing countries.
When the idea for Thankyou. first came about, the team had absolutely no idea where to start. It was “amateur hour to the max”. All they had was a belief in their idea and a passion to make a difference. And that passion came in handy when the company had to recall their first shipment of bottled water only a few months after starting due to an issue with the labels.
PROJECT ROCKIT, a youth anti-bullying initiative that hosts workshops in schools, was started by Lucy and her sister Rosie when the two were just out of university and neither of them had any experience running a business. Lucy says the idea of combating bullying was all they needed to get started. Once they figured out their purpose and the means of presenting it to students they “really just Googled the rest.”
When you first launch a business, there’s a temptation to try to be everything to everyone. But all our panellists agree their success came from keeping things simple and focusing on their core purpose.
“If you [run your business] as honestly and genuinely as you can, you can’t stuff up,” says Declan.
He explained Gelato Messina has focused on providing quality gelato and desserts, using the best ingredients they can get their hands on. He says this hasn’t always been easy (sourcing the best pistachios in the world can be an expensive and time-consuming process). But by staying true to their simple mission of making the best gelato in Australia, they’ve been able to grow despite a less-than-robust marketing strategy or a comprehensive business plan.
#3 Innovative thinking
Innovation is about being willing to adapt and change – not just when you launch your business but even more so as you grow and gain success.
“If you just sell the same thing in the same way over and over again, people get bored of it,” says Declan.
But innovation doesn’t just mean introducing a new product or delivering it in a new way. It also means thinking of new ways to tackle problems when you come across them. When Thankyou. first started, the bottled water industry was dominated by big brands with even bigger marketing budgets. Jarryd says it was difficult to get their brand taken seriously because they refused to spend money on advertising campaigns when those funds could be better spent creating wells in developing countries.
They had to think differently in order to get in front of the big stockists. So Thankyou. launched a viral marketing campaign that mobilised their online community to create demand and convinced 7/11 to stock the brand across their national network.
When it comes to starting a business, there’s a lot of hard work, late nights and experimenting until you get going, and it could be months or years before you start to make a decent profit.
The majority of businesses fail because of a lack of cash flow. So as well as being focused on growing your business, you’ve also got to be prepared to do other work to keep the lights on and the fridge full.
It was three years before Thankyou. made enough money to pay the founders a wage.
“You do what you have to do to make ends meet until you can draw a wage,” says Jarryd.
Everyone agreed having support was vital to success, but that support came through in different ways.
The PROJECT ROCKIT sisters were able to access structured networks and mentoring programs like The Foundation for Young Australians, B School and The School for Social Entrepreneurs. Whereas Thankyou. accessed mentors and advisors, allowing the team to learn from people who’d been in the industry for decades.
Lee from Spur projects said he thinks getting input from a range of sources can be very beneficial, adding that one CEO he knows strives to always have three mentors at any one time: “Someone who’s older and more experienced; someone who’s kind of at the same level; and someone who is under 25[-years-old] for that perspective.”
Meanwhile, Declan says he values the experiences of other business owners. “I genuinely like to meet other people in different fields and I love talking about their business and finding new ways of doing things.”
All of the panellists agreed the best support came in the form of their team, friends and family. “You just need someone to have a laugh with, to be silly,” says Lucy. “Failing that, there’s always cats on the internet.”
Watch our wrap up of the night here, and if you’re in Brisbane, you’re in luck – we’ll be throwing a Drive School event there next week.
Nell Casey writes about all things small business and content for creative brands building a presence online. She’s on Instagram @nellcasey_creative and wants to know #whyistherenoflamingoemoji