sme-advice
If your business can identify and promote its point of difference from your competitors then you’re on the road to success.

Karen Justice purchased the business now known as Just for Pets back in 2009. She believes it was “very bad business decision”, but since then she has rebuilt the business into a successful retail chain now turning over more than $10 million.

The business has grown by more than 500% in the past three years.

Just for Pets won the Australian Marketing Institute’s award competing against the likes of Coca Cola, Kmart and IBM: They had millions of dollars in their advertising budgets, but we had a budget of $300,000,” Justice said.

“I have enjoyed the challenge of turning it around, being successful, and giving our retailers some brand recognition.”

If your business can identify and then promote its point of difference and offer a better customer experience than your competitors then you’re on the road to success, Justice advises.

“Everyone’s kept awake by money – that’s a given – and we’re always monitoring cashflow, but our competitors are fast moving, multinational and multimillion dollar businesses.

“They can be very arrogant. They’ll literally plonk alongside an independent pet store. It’s very tough out there,” she says.

Profile your customer

Digital agency Artlivemedia was founded back in 2014 by Michelle Bourke. Within two years, the business has grown to turn over around $1.3 million and has even nabbed a number of high-profile clients, including IAG Insurance and Public Transport Victoria.

Bourke explained how she’s built a fast-growing digital agency and offered her advice for future entrepreneurs.

“Sales is something that does not happen by itself. Particularly in this business, when you’re talking about tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, businesses want to talk to a very senior person,” she says.

If she had her time over again, networking would have been a priority earlier on in the piece: “I look back and I think I could have gotten to where I am now five years earlier if I thought strategically about my networks a lot earlier in life.”

Before you quit your day job to start a new venture, Bourke says you should do solid research and question whether people are actually going to buy what you sell. What target market needs your product or service and is there a big demand?

When working at Telstra for many years, Bourke observed that many agencies lacked a true understanding around customers’ expectations.

It’s vital you know your customer inside out and understand their pain points and motivations. 

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