Meet the board: Pamela Dorward from Australia Post Small Business Hive

Meet the board: Pamela Dorward from Australia Post Small Business Hive

In order to better get-to-know our members, we thought it was best we shared who we are are and how we came to Entrepreneurs Geelong.

Find out a little bit more about one of our board members Pamela Dorward below.

What was your first experience with Entrepreneurs Geelong?

The Small Business Hive sponsored a breakfast and I was invited to come along and speak on behalf of the Small Business Hive.

What’s been your favourite memory of an EG event?

There have been many and it is difficult to pick a favourite however a few standouts for me would be, Frank Costa, Dr James Campbell and Peter Wade. The insights into business and the journey taken for their business is always great to hear. We all face challenges and to hear how they overcome the challenges to grow their business is insightful.

Why did you decide to join the board?

I have been attending events for a few years now and I am impressed with the professional nature and format of the events. I believe in the ethos of EG and felt it was time to give something back to the community.

Tell us a little bit about your business/where you work.

I currently work with Australia Post at the Small Business Hive. The Small Business Hive is a co-working space for small businesses and a community resource for small businesses to obtain knowledge, training and assistance for their business. I have previously owned several small businesses in a variety of different industries. Working at the Small Business Hive I am able to share my knowledge and mentor businesses as well as provide a place for business owners to develop and grow their skills.

What’s your mantra as an entrepreneur?

Don’t judge your success based on the success of others. Success looks different for each of us. We all have obstacles of various shapes and sizes to overcome. Don’t compare yourself to others as you are a unique person!

What’s your biggest piece of advice for new entrepreneurs?

Believe in yourself and never stop learning. You may need to change your direction, product or service but never stop believing in yourself as an individual. Ask questions of others, find a mentor and learn from them.

When was the moment you felt most challenged as a small business and how did you overcome it?

Operating a business in a male dominated sector combined with raising a family had its challenges, however being adaptable and continually expanding my knowledge base assisted change. Creating a culture of being customer focused and using creative ways to show a point of difference built a strong customer base and allowed the business to grow.

Read more board interviews here, or find out more about the Small Business Hive here.

Greg Jury on his greatest business decision ever

Greg Jury on his greatest business decision ever

With volleyball running through his blood after playing elite level for Australia, Greg Jury took a leap of faith in opening Geelong’s first beach volleyball Centre after a call about a vacant block in South Geelong.

Ten years after first witnessing the vacant land the business is thriving, with previous experience establishing Vic Beach Melbourne and an understanding of the sport helping Greg establish what players wanted from the centre.

“I was passionate about it and I was coaching all the time, and that was pretty much the secret to me,” Greg says. “All I had to do was to have retention and make sure we had really good customer service and then all I did was live my life really.”

Located next to the well-established Geelong Basketball Netball Centre, you could assume establishing a clientele would be an easy process, however Vic Beach Geelong had to start relatively from scratch.

“It helped in the aspects that it exposed us to those who loved sport, but we really had to go out there and get that retention. We knew that was the secret. Giving our clients the time and giving them customer service they don’t often experience in other centres,” he says.

With all going well in the centre, Greg came across another business venture by pure chance – and one that would see him reach for international exposure.

“I was on my way back from an event in Japan and I was at a noodle bar and this guy pushed down on something and opened up a beer and I thought, ‘This was really cool’,” he says of his introduction to the product in 2003.

“So I bought one home and used it behind the bar [at the centre] and every time I used it people would say, ‘Where did you get that from?’. So from that we decided to import them as trophies and we would give them out at the end of the competition. At the end of that week I think I had about 20 or 30 people come in and ask for them.”

Greg Jury with our president Matthew Fletcher

Becoming aware of the products potential, Greg researched patents and branding in his first steps to bringing this product into the Australian market.

When someone from Repco approached Greg with the proposal of ordering 10,000 products, the possibilities of Bottlepops really came to light. And of course, the experience on Shark Tank in 2015 helped open the doors to the business even further.

“Originally our focus was in the trophy and sports industry, and now we’ve become focused on putting different heads on them to what we’re going into now which is going into licensing which is the main reason why we first went onto shark tank,” he says.

Now with a two-year contract with Marvel, Bottlepops is looking at breaking into the American market, with a clever ‘Mr.President’ creation bearing an uncanny likeness to the current President of the USA.

“We are doing this as a strategic thing to break into the American market,” he laughs.

With a clear vision for marketing and branding opportunities, the challenges for Greg personally lied in the numbers behind the business. Initially “over his head” when it came to figures, he taught himself, understanding the importance of knowing them in a business. “Those things are really important for shareholders,” he adds.

It was understanding the numbers that helped Greg and his business partner Stephen Brooks land a spot on Shark Tank and succeed in gaining a $150,000 investment from Andrew Banks and Steve Baxter.

“We couldn’t have ever asked for better exposure. We had the biggest two weeks of online sales you can ever imagine. It was a great experience,” he says before adding, “I am who I am today and better for it because of that experience.”

Read more stories and entrepreneurial tips here.

This article was written from the insights during Greg Jury’s breakfast event with us. Purchase tickets to our next breakfast event here.

Follow our adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet the board: Dion Matchan from Southern Cross Montessori

Meet the board: Dion Matchan from Southern Cross Montessori

In order to better get-to-know our members, we thought it was best we shared who we are are and how we came to Entrepreneurs Geelong.

Find out a little bit more about one of our board members Dion Matchan below.

What was your first experience with Entrepreneurs Geelong? And how did you hear about it?

I met Matthew (EG president) through Wayne Elliot at Netgain. I was doing a business planning course and Matthew came in and told us about Entrepreneurs Geelong.

What’s been your favourite memory of an EG event?

Meeting a range of people from those starting out to those who have been involved in business for decades.

Why did you decide to join the board?

I have been an entrepreneur before I even knew what that meant, and for the last 24 years have been running a range of different businesses. I become a trainer and facilitated the Certificate IV in small business management, then in 2014 I started my Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne in Hawthorn. I joined the board to help support Entrepreneurs in Geelong.

Tell us a little bit about your business.

I have done many things in my career and now is no different, I manage a Montessori Kindergarten in Torquay part time, home-school my four children and still do some consulting and problem solving when I can.

What’s your mantra as an entrepreneur?

Get better problems.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for new entrepreneurs?

Be self-aware, your business is limited by your beliefs and views of the world and many of your early problems will stem from these beliefs. If you are aware of this, you can grow as a person and your business will grow as well.

Who area few Geelong small businesses you admire?

The entrepreneurs I admire and whom inspire me daily are my wife who runs a Montessori Kindergarten in Torquay and my daughter who just bought Balmy, an organic skincare business and at 14 is learning all things entrepreneurial while also writing her book.

Read more board interviews here, or find out more about Dion’s business here.

7 “Time Sucks” That Hinder Entrepreneurs with Les Watson from Get More Time

7 “Time Sucks” That Hinder Entrepreneurs with Les Watson from Get More Time

Testament to his ability of managing time, within an hour of contacting Les Watson about this article, he had replied, sent the copy through and an image to accompany it.

Managing time can be one of the most difficult elements of working as an entrepreneur, so we thought there was no other person better to offer advice on the matter than Les.

1. Lack of Focus (lack of goals)

Goals help you focus. They keep “the main thing the main thing” (Stephen Covey). Keeping your focus on the main thing allows you to prioritise: to do the right thing at the right time.

2. Perfectionism

“It’s got to be perfect before I start/launch/show”. Does it? Trial and error is a good thing (in certain situations). Give it a fly. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you now have feedback on what to do differently, to course-correct, and do it better next time.

3. Not prioritising

Lack of priorities sees you doing the less important tasks at the most important time and sometimes running out of time. The result is that you don’t do what’s important. I use a simple A + B system. As have to be done today. Bs get done after the As. If you don’t get to the Bs, it’s okay. And some of the Bs of today will become As tomorrow. And that’s okay too.

4. Procrastination (putting things off)

Someone once said, “Don’t put off ’till tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today you can do it again tomorrow”. But most of the times that we procrastinate it is because of the things we don’t want to do: the tax, difficult conversations, asking for _____. I’ve found that when I get the unpleasant tasks done, it frees up a whole lot of energy to be creative and more productive. The five second rule is a good one in this case. If you think of it, do it within five seconds, otherwise it can turn into procrastination.

5. Fear of Failure

Some of the best achievers in the world also failed a lot. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” You would have to start again / people would laugh / you might lose some money. What’s the opposite? “What’s the best thing that could happen?” It’s successful / you achieve what you set out to achieve / you hit your goal / you make some money.

6. Doing everything yourself

There is a saying: “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Team. Create a team. You don’t have to put on three full-time people. You can start with outsourcing. Outsource your admin. Outsource some of your social media. Maybe Fivr is a method you could use to get some of the small tasks done on a tight budget. Virtual Assistants (VAs) will help with your emails. Get a mentor. Invite someone onto your team. If you haven’t done so already, check out Gen Harwood and the Greatness Principle.

7. Unfinished Tasks

Incomplete tasks create “brain clutter” and distract you from the task at hand. Take all those incompletions out of your head and put them onto paper. Place them in a trusted system so you know where they are, and then act on them.

If you’d like to find out more about getting more time in your day, or just to hear more of what Les Watson does, head to his website here or his Facebook page.

Time to change your approach to networking

Time to change your approach to networking

This article is written by Samantha Krajina of Geelong Women in Business.

As a Relationship Specialist, I predominately work in Corporate Workplace Training and often people would question the connection. How can a Relationship Specialist help me with my organization, or my team, or my clients? Almost immediately, they discover that it is in fact one of the most important elements to their business and its growth and success.

I like to look at networking, collaborating, supporting and connecting with other businesses as a relationship building exercise. And what’s the closest thing you can compare networking to? Dating. Networking is dating for business. For example, bring the focus of a man’s attention by encouraging him to go and talk to a woman that he is interested in, and the pressure is on. The amount of thoughts and doubts that are able to run through his head on anticipation and expectation over naturally engaging in a conversation are ten-fold and can be the undoing of interaction. We tell a staff member, or a friend, or ourselves to “go and network” we are essentially the friends of that man egging him on to go and chat to the woman.

We go into a networking event with the thoughts running through our mind that we want to talk to ‘this’ many people, we want to get ‘this’ many referrals, ‘this’ many sales… yet, we end up going to the event and talking to the one to two people we know. To compare this to dating, we are playing the short game.

In business, do we want to play the short or the long game? We don’t want short-lived quick business; we want long-term valuable and returning business.

I see so many people head to networking events in hopes to meet valuable individuals to network with, but leave disappointed. Their business is so important to them and they see networking as a fundamental to business success – which it absolutely is. But, they often fail and this is not because of the value of the group or the people there – it is for this exact reason and the perception and expectation people have on “networking”.

Desperate vs. Value-Driven Networking.

There are quite a few reasons that people want to grow their network, meet new people and develop new relationships, and just like dating, we can see a very obvious difference between those who appear desperate and those who are potentially a valuable connection.

There are people who review their business and think, “ok, I need customers, clients, referrals… I need to network!” so they shove their business in your face and we can pick them a mile away – this is very rarely an effective approach to networking. This is the short game!

Then there are other who look at their business and think, “ok, I have an amazing product/service and there are so many people who could benefit from what I have to offer and who I could collaborate with, and I want to discover the other amazing businesses and individuals out there who are also doing amazing
things” and these are the people who you can have a genuine conversation with – which is the most authentic and effective way to develop new relationships. People will remember your story, or how you made them feel more than whether or not they need/want your product/service. This is the long game!

You don’t need an event to network.

Going from a corporate career to owning a small business, I learnt very quickly that you don’t need an event to network. Every opportunity you have in engaging and interacting with people is an opportunity to network. As explained earlier, the most effective setting to network is an authentic one, and meeting people organically is the platform for a natural and genuine engagement.

N.B. Don’t forget social media! Just like online dating, social media is increasingly becoming a fantastic way to network and meet new people. It’s easy to connect and communicate with people on social media, and opening up a conversation about collaborating, connecting and catching up for a coffee can also be quite a fun experience. If you have trouble networking in person, this is a really great introduction and confidence builder.

Networking groups.

When it comes to groups focused on networking, too many of us focus on the strength in numbers. The real sign of a healthy and helpful professional networking group is who is there and how they communicate. Here are a few questions to discover if it might be worth giving the group a go:

Who is in the network?

Research shows that the ideal make-up of a network: “Part pack-rat, part librarian and part Good Samaritan.” The pack rat brings documents and resources collected over a long career that can be tapped to create new ideas and connections; the librarian brings the latest data and pertinent information; the Good Samaritan, though, might be the most integral player—she’s there to help out at every turn. This combination is the best balance of resources, information and good intentions to make a network not just functional, but beneficial to all members.

How well does the network connect with who it’s for?

Does the network get together on the first Wednesday of the month and operate with a policy of radio silence for the next 30 days? Many do, limiting networks and connections to within the confines of events. Especially for the younger members among the group, this can leave them unsure of whether or not to follow up with that brilliant executive they met. Will their persistence annoy her? Will she think they’re rude? Maybe better to wait till next month…

But healthy networks don’t limit themselves to monthly (or worse, quarterly) meetings. Look at what kinds of events and on-going projects are taking place. Look for focus groups that lead to research collaborations, grant applications, and proposals for joint books. Seek out meetings and projects that could entail a senior person working with someone more junior in a mentoring capacity. Joining a network that has professional associations means that the connections can share and enhance common goals, goodwill, commitment, and interests.

What is the culture of the group?

If the network operates under a culture of support, it means that any frustrations and disappointments will be heard in order to resolve problems, lend support, and provide assistance to overcome any frustrations and prevent burnout. If the networking group isn’t a place where you can share your concerns, even your frustrations and defeats, then it may not be the most fostering environment for
your career aspirations.

The most important part of a group’s culture is acceptance. A good networking group should always be complimentary and come second to your business and life. If you’re unable to make an event for a number of events, only to arrive back to questions and disappointment of your absence, it’s missing the whole concept of its purpose. Networking and developing an encouraging group of relationships are there to support one another in business and life, and when “real life” happens outside of the networking group, the collective must be flexible and supportive.

Written by Samantha Krajina from Geelong Women in Business, contact her on samantha@geelongwomen.com.au.

See more of what Samantha does with Geelong Women in Business here or attend one of our networking, breakfast talks here.

Meet the board: president Matthew Fletcher

Meet the board: president Matthew Fletcher

Matthew Fletcher isn’t just any old board member, he’s actually one of the first. Getting involved in Entrepreneurs Geelong in its infancy, Matthew is one of the founding members and is the president of EG.

In order to better get-to-know our board members, we thought it was best we shared who we are are and how we came to Entrepreneurs Geelong. Find out a little bit more about Matthew below.

What sparked the idea to create Entrepreneurs Geelong?

The precursor to Entrepreneurs Geelong was a group set up by Aamir Qutub out of ICT Geelong called Geelong Entrepreneurs. I was fortunate enough to be the guest speaker at their second event, and became involved not long afterwards in the organising group. It was a great initiative, but very much focussed on the tech community and events were fairly organic. After one event a friend of mine, who also attended, encouraged me to take on the group and expand its reach and influence. As a result of this, I was able to work with some of the organising committee, as well as some others to form Entrepreneurs Geelong as a not-for-profit association.

What was your role in the early days of its creation and why did you decide to get involved?

I was fortunate to be elected President of the fledgling Entrepreneurs Geelong and I count it a privilege to still be President to this day. We set up Entrepreneurs Geelong as an association to give us the ability to have checks and balances to the group.

How has EG evolved since the very first event?

There has been so many things that have changed with EG, and so much has stayed the same. The most exciting thing probably is to see how the wider community has changed since we began. Last year saw the launch of the Geelong Entrepreneurial Ecosystem map  – an initiative to give entrepreneurs an understanding of the resources available to them and something that EG has been a driving force behind. It’s also been great to see things like the establishment of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year category in the Geelong Business Excellence Awards, and that one of our guests, Jake Munday, was the inaugural winner. It’s also exciting to see how we continue to evolve, and at the heart of that is to serve our members and the wider community to become more entrepreneurially minded. We endeavour to be overtly collaborative, so we’re excited to see how we and other organisations can continue to work together to help the entrepreneurially minded in our community.

What’s been your favourite memory of an EG event?

After being there from the start, there are so many memories. I know the palpable excitement of the first event was fabulous and I’ve enjoyed all the guests – with all their varied experiences and histories. Probably one of my favourite memories is of the one event I missed due to illness, because the team just made it happen and it was hugely successful!

Tell us a little bit about you.

I’ve had a really eclectic career. I have three successful business failures which has given me some fantastic life lessons and an understanding of the business side of the entrepreneurial coin. But I’ve been in big and small business, worked in community groups, I’ve spent time in Federal Politics as well as in the public service. Right now I am General Manager of a consulting firm helping people understand government grants – so I work with innovators and entrepreneurs every day. Having been in Geelong for 21 years, I often joke that I’m almost a local, but my wife and I decide regularly that Geelong is home and the only place on the planet we want to raise our two kids.

What’s your mantra as an entrepreneur?

Having a long history of entrepreneurial endeavour across so many different areas, I have many mantras. But as an entrepreneur, as a leader and as a person, my key mantra is to treat others as I would want to be treated. Hopefully I get that right most of the time!

What’s your biggest piece of advice for new entrepreneurs?

Firstly, I want people to realise that entrepreneurship is not only about business, it’s across every part of our community – whether it’s small business or big business, education, not for profits or even government. But if there was one thing, one piece of advice that I think I’d like to see resonate across the spectrum, it is ‘Be Brave!’

Read more about other board members here. Find out more about Grant Ready here.