‘HOW DID YOU DO IT?’
Everyone has a story and mine is one of perseverance and determination
I’ve lost count how many times I have been asked ‘how I made it’ in the world of business.
If I am completely honest, and some of you will think that its insane, but, I never did have a goal to be successful with JAW. I woke up one day fed up with ripping my hands to shreds from my training and set out to make something to help my blistered mitts feel better.That is all, and the rest is history.
I have a background in both accounting and the hair and beauty industries, which has helped a lot. The knowledge I have regarding business setup and the day to day bookkeeping of financial transactions is something that most entrepreneurs lack, so I am extremely lucky to have this in-built in my psyche.
JAW is my second attempt at being a business owner! At the young age of 27, and with a newborn baby girl in toe, (4 weeks to be exact), with the help of my parents I went and brought myself an established Hairdressing Salon on Qld’s Sunshine Coast. With big goals and a gun-ho attitude, I set out to be one of the coasts biggest and most lucrative hairdressing salons. During those 8 years, I achieved my goals and experienced glimpses of what it is like to be a successful business woman in todays world. I also experienced what it is like to make mistakes, and from those mistakes, lose everything!
Words cannot express how gut wrenching it is to one day be a prominent figure in the public eye, to the next being stripped of all you own and love, left naked in a world of critics and cruel accusations. Lets just say, you really do find out who your true friends are during an ordeal like this, and its not many..
It took me a good 6 months to show my face in public again, and to actually be able to look at myself in the mirror with other than hate in my eyes. The disappointment I felt about letting my family, staff and business acquaintances down was overwhelming and somewhat consuming that the shame became an all too familiar friend.
I did eventually pick myself up, dust myself off and climbed out from underneath the rock that was protecting me and decided to enter the big wide world again, with one goal - Never would I ever enter into business again and Never would I ever employ staff again. Famous last words.....
The next 2 years saw my confidence grow and my passion for perfection was evident in my 2 employed roles I held at the time. I still did not openly discuss or let on what had happened in my recent past which led me to once again be enter the workforce as employee at another business persons enterprise. I was still ashamed.
So how did this all come about? The crazy idea of making a business out of peoples shopping habits was how JAW was established. My fitness and social outlet was CrossFit and at that time in Australia, there were no business’s or brands directly involved in the sport in Australia so obtaining all of the bits and bobs for everyday training meant - importing from the USA.
JAW’s original purpose was a ‘Shopping Service’ for customers looking for particular items from an international destination. I would shop for their products and charge a small fee for service and that was that, JAW - Just Another WOD was born!
2011 was at the forefront of the digital ecommerce with the world turning to online shopping. This meant that I needed to be up with the Jones’s and provide a platform for my customers to find me. I had to build myself a website, eek… Along with this came, logos, images and the list goes on. I was completely out of my depth, how the hell was I going to do this? I certainly didn’t have the money to pay someone to build a website, that was just not an option so many nights were spent researching the web on how to build websites and how they actually worked. The age of blogging and finding other peoples experiences and/or instructions on how and where to go to make my website a reality, was zero. I had to learn it all myself and I did.
I still have my very first website that I built with the help of Weebly and their extremely user friendly platform. eCommerce and Shopping Carts didn’t exist so my website consisted of a series of Pages with Custom Buttons created in the backend of PayPal for my online customers to choose what they were after and add it to their cart. PayPal became my best friend. I still run a very active PayPal account today, it remains to be the most trusted payment portal worldwide.
It wasn’t long before my customers loved the items that I was able to bring into Australia for them, that my name became popular very quickly throughout the cross training community. It was then that I started taking my business to my customers via a pop up shop as well as online. This also proved to be a massive hit.
From here my range grew and the angle of the business changed to become an branded online store with a physical pop-up shop at hundreds of cross training events all over Australia. I was still working part-time and my husband (partner in crime) full-time, so 24/7 were my usual hours. What I didn’t realise at the time was, I was building my brand off the success of other major brands already in the marketplace. A very unintentional but extremely clever way of exposing my name to thousands of customers online and in person.
I didn’t and to date still don’t have expectations of my business. I figure if I don’t expect an outcome, if it doesn’t eventuate I cannot be disappointed. I have small goals and take the necessary steps and risks involved to achieve those goals, but no expectations.
Some have paid off and others not, but to have learned from these experiences is crucial and makes you a better business person. Some of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to listen to your customers and identify your point of difference. Ask yourself ‘what is it that I can give to my customers that my competitors can’t?’, this alone is one of the key factors in any business. With this answer you have your very reason to exist.
Another is to ensure you are prepared to make changes and grow with your business. Identifying what is needed to continue to succeed and survive is extremely important or your business could become stagnant which in turn eventually will have an expiry date. Make sure you look at how you can continue to improve/revamp/reinvent your product/brand to survive the years ahead. Think outside of the box...
So, in answer to your question ‘How did I do it’, I honestly can’t tell you there is no secret to success or any one way of making it in the business world. Know your business, know your point of difference, have some small goals, make necessary changes, grow with the business, identify your customer needs and most importantly be prepared to take risks, put in the hard work and don’t sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day, what we consider to be failure is just the very opposite, its a lesson to run with and embrace. What lessons are offered to us in our lifetime are priceless and its those lessons that mould us into the people we are today.
Be grateful for all you have, because it can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye!