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.

Meet the board: Christine McCure from BKM Print

Meet the board: Christine McCure from BKM Print

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 Christine McCure below.

What was your first experience with Entrepreneurs Geelong?

I attended the Bennett Merriman breakfast in November and was instantly impressed with the quality of the event. I have been to so many networking events over the years all across the country and none of them have provided as much value as I found this event to.

And how did you hear about it?

The wonderful Stephanie Beitzel, CEO of Technology Geelong introduced me to Matthew Fletcher and the rest is history.

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

So far I have enjoyed it all. Everyone is really friendly and supportive. Both Bennett Merriman and Shane Young have been really enjoyable and insightful guests to have.

Why did you decide to join the board?

I have been in business for 11 years now and I find myself often meeting people at the very beginning of their business journey. I joined the board because I wanted to be able to give support to those driven enough to take the jump from being an employee to an entrepreneur. It’s a wild ride but a very rewarding one.

Tell us a little bit about your business.

I founded BKM Print in 2006. BKM Print specialises in the highest quality printing and cutting edge graphic design at affordable prices. Over the years I have developed an online print ordering system that is ideal for multiple-outlet businesses. It includes the ability to edit artwork online and send to print within custom branded storefronts. Over the years I have worked with national franchised brands including Shingle Inn Cafés (55 stores), Salts of the Earth (25 stores), Stellarossa (30 stores), Blow Dry Bar (8 stores), Coffee Club, Jim’s Bookkeeping & Coles Myer’s chain of hospitality venues.

What’s your mantra as an entrepreneur?

Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise – Ted Turner (Founder of CNN).

I’ve lived by this mantra for years.

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

Never say no!

Some of the best opportunities I have had over the years have been from saying yes to jobs that aren’t so straightforward. I think many entrepreneurs get offered work but decline it as it seems like it isn’t directly what they do day-to-day so it seems too hard. Often those opportunities expand your business offering and in turn increase your revenue.

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

I think the early days of business are often the most challenging because you don’t know what will happen next. Often there is a lack of solid confidence and it is easy to be rattled. I started my business and then the GFC hit and many businesses that were similar to mine could not remain solvent. I was nervous but determined not to have that same fate and sought large contracts to ensure my longevity. It worked!

Times of expansion or relocation are also hard. I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne four years ago and it was tricky as I had to ensure enough systems were in place in Brisbane so I could remotely manage staff and contractors from Melbourne. I had to take a big step back, look at the business as though it wasn’t mine and brutally make changes. Whilst this was one of the hardest things I have had to do whilst being in business it is one that I am grateful happened as my entire business model changed for the better.

Who are three fellow Geelong small businesses you’d like to shout out?

Elf Squad is a completely voluntary organisation that I am a part of this year. We are collecting donated toys, treats and tech to donate to 109 families in need this Christmas. Donating trees are located at Creative Geelong. Please please please donate 😊

Uncle Donut….. need I say more. These guys have brought the most delicious donuts to Geelong and I can’t get enough of them. The ultimate meeting snack. It is safe to say if I have a meeting with you – I’m bringing Uncle Donut with me.

Salts of the Earth at Newtown – thanks for keeping us well over the winter! If you haven’t tried salt therapy yet – make sure you do!

To find out more about Christine and BKM Print head here or follow the business on Facebook

Read about our other board members here.

Meet the board: Amanda Sherring from Fresh Take PR

Meet the board: Amanda Sherring from Fresh Take PR

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 Amanda Sherring below.

What was your first experience with Entrepreneurs Geelong?

Earlier this year I attended the Pete Forras event as the media after doing some coverage with the publication I was working at, Forte Magazine. From that first experience alone I met several new people who genuinly wanted to connect and felt really welcomed. I instantly wished I had a business card then and there to hand out to complete the networking experience. The breakfast was definitely one of the best I’d had at a networking event too.

And how did you hear about it?

I first heard about it through my previous job as mentioned above. I hadn’t yet entered the entrepreneurial world myself but was looking at starting my own business, so it served as the right time to attend such an event and networking opportunity.

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

I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation we had with James Campbell. I haven’t had much experience in the science business world, so I found it really interesting to gain an insight via the breakfast. It just showed too that you don’t have to be in the industry to benefit from the talks too – I’ve since been to each one and have learnt something each time.

Why did you decide to join the board? 

I loved the set up and the instant welcoming nature of the events, so didn’t hesitate in becoming a part of that. I could also see how I could offer my services to Entrepreneurs Geelong so was happy to put my hand up to be part of such an incredible network for Geelong.

Tell us a little bit about your business.

I started Fresh Take PR about six months ago after leaving my full time job as editor in chief for Forte magazine. I offer content creation, social media management and publicity specifically for musicians, creatives and small businesses. To sum it up I just love creating and working within the media realm and creative industries. It’s been such a joy and I’ve loved working with all the small businesses since founding Fresh Take PR.

What’s your mantra as an entrepreneur? 

‘Do what fuels your soul, not what fills your wallet’.

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

Always remember to look after yourself. Working for yourself can at times be quite a solitary experience, and it’s really important to keep yourself in check. Make sure you don’t overwork, you socialise and treat yo’ self every now and then!

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

Over-working myself has always been a problem, but when you own your own business you’re the only person to hold yourself accountable. Early on I had to learn to be strict with myself on working within set times, otherwise I became overworked and the result was work that wasn’t my best.

Who are three fellow Geelong small businesses you’d like to shout out? 

Definitely Allira from She Takes Photos. Being another woman who’s set out on her own business venture, I really admire Allira for taking the step in re-branding and a new business risk. She’s also 100% out to help her customers. Courthouse Youth Arts are going from strength to strength every year and lastly, I can’t not give a nod to my music background. The Barwon Club have hands down hit the nail on the head when it comes to live music in Geelong, and it stands as one of my favourite venues in town.

To find out more about Amanda and Fresh Take PR head here or keep up to date on Facebook or Instagram.

Read about our other board members here.

Meet the board: Tammy Walters from Mirrors PR and Events

Meet the board: Tammy Walters from Mirrors PR and Events

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 Tammy Walters below.

What was your first experience with Entrepreneurs Geelong?

I was involved in Entrepreneurs Geelong back when it was operating under its former name, Geelong Entrepreneurs, and in its infancy. My first experience after the rebrand was attending the breakfast with David Chaffey of KBB Digital, which made me realise that I didn’t know anything about the entrepreneurs in our backyard! It kickstarted my interest in homegrown entrepreneurial stories.

And how did you hear about it?

I was working with coworking space, StartupCloud, and exploring the entrepreneurial space when I was invited to attend a meeting with Aamir Qutub about his vision for the networking group. I immediately jumped on board to bring his vision to life. When Aamir decided to take a step aside, Matthew Fletcher contacted me to be involved in revitalising and growing the Entrepreneurs Geelong community.

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

Every breakfast that we have been host to has been an opportunity to learn, discover and grow, but my favourite memory is when I was the showcase local entrepreneur for the In Conversation Breakfast with Jake Munday. Not because I was able to talk about my business and myself, but because I felt valued as a member. I have never been asked as a business owner, “What can we help you with?” without the sales agenda attached. It was the moment that I realised I was part of a community that actually cared for the success of all of their members and they were there to help me, support me, and celebrate with me!

Why did you decide to join the board? 

The vision and mission for Entrepreneurs Geelong spoke to me as a business owner and event manager. I have attended way too many networking events where you are bombarded with elevator pitches as soon as you enter the room. Entrepreneurs Geelong aligned with my values of building relationships, giving as opposed to taking, and offering education through high quality speakers. I joined the board to contribute to building the success of the organisation and further highlight entrepreneurship in our fantastic city.

Tell us a little bit about your business.

I established Mirrors PR and Events at only 21 years of age with a vision to promote Geelong business and music to the world. Mirrors PR and Events specialises in public relations, marketing and event management for start-ups, established businesses, musicians, fashion labels and lifestyle brands. In operation for three years, we have gained local, national and international coverage for our clients in credible publications and media outlets, launched businesses, brands and musicians to award-winning, major success in their markets, and worked with big names, including Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Apprenticeships Employment Network and the Australian Breastfeeding Project.

What’s your mantra as an entrepreneur? 

Passion produces the prize.

When you truly love something and believe in what you’re doing, that’s when you have the most success. When your effort doesn’t feel like work, that’s when you’re working in the right space. When you’re passionate about your work, you will never give up!

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

Surround yourself with people that believe in your purpose! They will lift you in spirit and in business growth.

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

In the initial stages of my businesses, I felt like my age made business owners and potential clients question my knowledge, skills and ability. I had a moment of being overwhelmed and questioned why I went into business in the first place. I quickly learnt that I would let my work speak for itself and that I didn’t want to work with anyone that didn’t value me for my ability and discriminated against me because of my age.

Who are three fellow Geelong small businesses you’d like to shout out? 

A big one to watch for 2018 is Courthouse Youth Arts. They are doing some great things for arts, music and youth in Geelong so check them out! A & B Music have been around for 32 years and are doing incredible things for our local music scene. Owners, Bill and Anne van Parreren are so passionate about music and it shows through the services they offer, the staff they hire and the culture they create. Geelong Fashion Runway have big things coming in 2018. This is a socially conscious organisation that raises money and awareness for many different health foundations and social issues through runway shows.

Find out more about Tammy Walters’ business here, or follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

Read about our other board members here.

Meet the board: Jac Bowie from Soar Collective and Darling Don’t Panic

Meet the board: Jac Bowie from Soar Collective and Darling Don’t Panic

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 Jac Bowie below.

What was your first experience with Entrepreneurs Geelong?

I went along to the Bennet Merriman event and was impressed how polished the event was. Also loved the interview style – it’s nice to delve further into the nitty gritty of the speakers business experience, highs and lows.

And how did you hear about it?

My good friend Stephanie Beitzel from Technology Geelong.

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

Just being welcomed and meeting so many new faces at my first event. It’s nice to know you can turn up by yourself and feel comfortable!

Why did you decide to join the board?

I could recognise the opportunity to add value, from a tech/marketing and membership view.

Tell us a little bit about your business.

I own two businesses, Soar Collective (regional women in business network) and Darling Don’t Panic, wedding styling & planning business. Before this I founded Business in Heels.

What’s your mantra as an entrepreneur?

You can have it all, but never at the same time.

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

Try. It might work, it might not, but the experience and lesson is worth the risk.

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

Leaving the comfort of a full time wage in radio recently to return to working for myself has been rewarding, but scary, and we’ve had to sacrifice a lot to do it. It’s been a few months of building, building, building. The return can take a while, the key is to keep at it and stay focussed!

Who are three fellow Geelong small businesses you’d like to shout out?

Technology Geelong and Elf Squad, I’m really proud of what Stephanie is working on.
ArroHQ – meeting Lulu has been lovely, I’m looking forward to re-igniting Soar Collective there.

Find out more about Jac Bowie here, or find out about Darling Don’t Panic here and Soar Collective here.

Read about our other board members here.

Five tips to writing a great press release for your business

Five tips to writing a great press release for your business

Without a background in media and communications, tackling something like a press release can be one of the most challenging aspects of operating your small business.

The challenge is certainly worth overcoming, as a good press release can gain your business free publicity and take it to the next level in terms of exposure.

Thanks to one of our board members, Amanda Sherring of Fresh Take PR, she’s run down a few tips on what to do, and not do when writing a press release.

1.Keep it simple

One of the biggest mistakes in approaching the creation of a press release is overcomplicating what should be a simple process. As soon as a press release exceeds more than around one page (or 450 words) it can instantly lose its appeal to journalists and editors. These days they simply don’t have the time to read a “novel”. 

Instead, opt for a one-page press release, covering the need-to-know details of what you’re trying to promote. Think to yourself, have you answered the 5 Ws and H? Who, what, where, when, why and how? These elements are a journalists’ bread and butter for writing a well-formed article and all you really need to include in your press release.

Add in a great picture, a quote from someone noteworthy and contact information if the journalists should need any further details and you’re done.

2. Apply the seven newsworthy elements

One of the first things taught to journalists and that sticks with them for life, is the seven newsworthy elements of a story. Whether it’s a conscious thought process or not, any good journalist will be able to analyse a story pitch and either accept or deny it based on these seven principles.

Familiarise yourself with them as they will help you shape the content and angle of your press release. If you can incorporate multiple, even better!

Impact – People want to know whether this will affect them. Can it change the lives of Geelong locals?
Timeliness – It’s called news for a reason—because it’s new information.
Proximity – Is it happening in the town of the publication? Perhaps there’s someone involved in the project who came from where the magazine originates? Try to find a local link where possible to the publication.
Human Interest – Perhaps there’s a passionate or interesting story of how the business came to be. A complete career flip? Or maybe a sixth generation taking over the business?
Conflict – Hopefully this won’t apply to your business, but perhaps there has been conflict around its creation.
The Bizarre – Is your business a bit unusual, maybe you’re a luxury cat hotel or you make coffee mugs out of terracotta pots. Work to your strengths and know what will pique a journalists’ interest.
Celebrity – Do you have a celebrity edorsement? Or perhaps a business partner with a public profile?

3. Make it easy to action

With less and less journalists helping to shape newspapers and magazines than ever before, their time is precious. Occasionally, great stories are missed because publications don’t have the man-power or budget to chase up professional photography, an interview or finer details to a story.

Increasing your likelihood of getting picked up by journalist can be done by wrapping it all up into one neat little package. More often than not, the easiest way to do that is to set up a Dropbox folder with all the press assets a journalist may need to complete the story. Set up a document with a Q&A on someone relevant to the business, include any hi-res images, a logo and any other media content relevant to what you do. In the press release itself, include any links, dates and contacts that may be needed. A handy tip is not to include these as attachments, as some email accounts have thorough junk mail filters and emails with large attachments simply won’t make it through.

A little extra time on your end can make all the difference when it comes to success after sending out the release.

4. Google is your best friend

With the ease of everything online, if you get stuck at this point there’s easily room for help. A great piece of advice on actually writing the press release, is to approach it like writing a news story. Pick up your local paper and have a look at the structure of a general story, and try to replicate it with your press release.

Google can be of equal help simply by looking up press release examples – but be wary as there are good and bad examples out there.

A simple tip at the writing stage is try to keep paragraphs to no more than 30 words. Include a quote and generally the press release should be around 4-7 paragraphs long to fit nicely onto a page with an image.

5. Personalise it

While you can’t personalise a press release per say, it’s important to make sure the press release is written to suit the right publications. Does the language and content suit who you’re pitching it to? Make sure you’ve familiarised yourself with the publication before hitting send.

When you get to the final stage of hitting send, make sure you’ve included a lovely, polite email addressing the editor or journalist direct with a personal touch on what you’re hoping to get from sending them the press release. Where possible avoid ever sending to a generic email address, as more often than not it gets lots in the inbox and all your hard-work will only have ever been seen by you.

Stay tuned for more handy editorials on advice for small businesses.

Find out more about our board members here.