My Mumpreneur Journey
Mumpreneur Journey with Susie Campbell
Creative, curious, outdoor type, fun-loving, curly-haired mum of 2 curly-haired boys
Your Business Name:Little Black Book Marketing
I was born to be practical and to think differently
I am passionate about happiness and being happy
I strive for fulfilment and happiness
I will never give up setting myself goals
My superpower is cutting through the fog, creating an efficient process and delivering on a budget
I believe common sense and resilience is powerful in business
Tell us about your family and where you’re from?
I consider myself somewhat of a gipsy; originating in the UK and living in all corners of it, I joined the Royal Navy and travel became a huge part of my life. When I wasn’t travelling with the Navy, I took off around the world during leave, choosing to explore the most unusual parts of the world, mixing with locals and soaking up cultures. I met my husband in the Navy and fast-forward to today; we emigrated to Australia in 2013 with our two boys, then three months and three years old and not forgetting our huge labradoodle! We now live in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and set off regularly in our campervan to explore our new home here in Australia.
What is your business?
My business is a fresh, cost conscious take on marketing strategies for businesses. We simplify marketing and bring more creative ideas and often less digital and online strategies to the table. As the name suggests, we love to build connections for growth and usually incorporate some form of partnership within any strategy. We also support businesses to reach the media to build their brand. The team and I are huge advocates of using free and low-cost strategies and before embarking on any, ensure you understand your numbers and can track and measure ROI and cost per lead.
What inspired you to start your business?
I pretty much ‘fell’ into business. I had begun helping a local business with their marketing, and because I used partnership marketing strategies, I quickly began to build a strong network. And being new to Australia with no connections let-alone friends or family, it was a super way to meet people and feel I belonged. And before long, I was referred business. I sat at my computer one evening and counted four clients and thought, I ought to do this properly! So Little Black Book Marketing was born! And what I now see is that my business found me and uncovered all my skills and passions and wrapped them all up into my business. It inspired me to use my love of people and business in a creative way and as a way of making money flexibly around my family with the capacity to go big!
How did you start your business?
With nothing apart from a laptop and a mobile phone. I didn’t have money to invest and had to work around kids until I could afford childcare. I grew from 1 day a week to full time within a year. I bartered, traded, swapped and shared. I had no website or social media presence, but that didn’t matter. I had enough business under my nose in my local area so why worry about being online! I went out, talked to people, met people, connected in the right places and because of my natural curiosity and love of all things innovative and creative, I soon had business coming my way. My connections began referring, and to date, all my business is from WOM and referral. I have never spent a penny on paid ads.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business?
Money. I started with zero investment as I didn’t have any and made the decision that my business must be profitable from day one as I was not going to loan money from anyone or ever go into debt. AND, the deal I made with my hubby was that my business would pay for childcare. So, my challenge from day one was maintaining a really close eye on the numbers and knowing my numbers intimately. If I failed at managing my money, my business would fail. Having a very strong desire to make money, knowing that returning to work was unmanageable, I had the strongest incentive to make it work! I am a highly motivated person and if I want something badly enough I will find a way!
How did you overcome this challenge?
I never spend unless I have made money and never spend more than I have earned so that I am always in profit. Once I had built a steady base turnover from a core of clients I sought the services of a business mentor with expertise in finances to allow me to take the step of taking on staff and outsourcing confidently. He was a game changer for me and all of a sudden my business took a leap forwards. I cannot believe I waited so long to take on staff! No more working until late or at weekends! I now use accounting software to stay on top of my figures too.
What has been the most valuable resource or tool that helped you advance your business?
People. Without a doubt. Both my connections and my staff have been the absolute essential resource in allowing me to advance. Look after them both, with respect, appreciation and as your most valuable asset and they will return it in spades.
What are your tips for increasing productivity?
Planning I reckon. I am at my most productive when I have clear, achievable tasks each day and I have to say, Petra’s accountability group is a great driver! I also run a Business Networking Group as part of Motivating Mum and we make each other accountable for our goals each month too. I am realistic with what I can achieve too…if I think it will take 1 hour then I triple it – you never know when your child will be off sick, a call comes in or staff are off. Always assess the risks and account for them. If you are always playing catch up, swamped and overwhelmed, you are less likely to be productive.
What is your favourite social media platform and why?
I think I am in love with Instagram! I love the power of an image and am discovering far more businesses more aligned to me through IG than any other platform.
Did you have any fears that were holding you back at any stage of your business journey?
Not a fear as such, but I had an issue around credibility. Having come from the Royal Navy where rank spelt out my capability by the stripes on my shoulder without any piece of paper to prove my ability, moving into civvie street meant I had to prove myself in other ways….no uniform to prove it! And the problem I had was I hadn’t formally studied marketing or PR – all my learning was ‘on the job’, and I felt that no one would take me seriously unless I had a degree/qualification. It took me quite a while to feel that I had proven my ability enough, not to concern myself anymore. I love learning and am constantly investing in my professional development. I now use results to demonstrate my value and feel far more comfortable with that.
What do you love about being a mumpreneur?
Well, it has to be the flexibility to have my own business and have time with and for my family when I choose. Having battled as an employee, desperately juggling family, a hubby working away a lot and no family around, I now see how I was merely surviving. And I was miserable. My business does not feel like work!
What business book would you recommend to read?
I rarely find time to read, but one that has stuck with was Duncan Bannatyne’s biography. I am not a ‘pink and fluffy’ entrepreneur, and I think my practical and direct nature, finds equally direct and practical advice most appealing. I related to Duncan’s approach to his businesses. My next books on my list are Simon Sinek’s The Why and Lean In. And I want to write a book…eventually…
How do you push through the difficult times and maintain motivation?
Deep breath, make a list, stay focused, exercise and eat well and maintain perspective – business is a challenge so expect it to be! Think – this is something I will overcome and look back on with a smile and the quicker I do it, the quicker I will be able to! And have a process for everything so that difficult times become easier as you can ‘flick the switch’, and the wheels will be set in motion to fix. And if you always have a plan to work to, I find I never lack in motivation. There is always something exciting to get my teeth into next!
How do you care for your wellbeing?
By eating as well as I can most of the time, prioritising sleep over work – if I am tired, I sleep and no longer push on through until all hours. I also try to exercise at least once a week but aim for 3 aside from daily dog walks! Again, one of my goals with the business was to build it so that I could afford a gym membership with a crèche and build in the time to go…I achieved this in Feb 16 and have never looked back. I now set myself fitness goals and am about to run my first half marathon this weekend!
If you had an opportunity to start over, with your current knowledge, what would you do differently?
You know what, nothing. I learned lots of lessons from a business I launched in the UK and so this time, I had very clear goals, understood the importance of my constraints and was also VERY wise with money. I feel very fortunate to have found such great team members, which for me has been crucial.
What is your top tip for any Mumpreneur wanting to start a business?
Don’t overthink the how just start and build as time and funds allow. Don’t worry about having the best or knowing everything, you never will. Prioritise your processes; they will pay dividends when you grow or need time off! Know your constraints and never compromise on them. If you can’t work on a Tues, then don’t. If you know you can’t attend breakfast meetings, then find alternative ways to network. If you don’t have money to buy a website, then don’t…there is always another way, trust me! Think what you can do not what you can’t.
A huge thank you to Petra Jones, a fellow Mumpreneur and genius behind the I Am Mumpreneur community. I recommend you check it out!