We share the secrets of four small businesses making big money from what they love doing.
1) Embracing sustainable, fair trade materials has made Elk’s products and messaging standout from the crowd.
In 2004, Melburnian Marnie Goding founded Elk alongside husband Adam Koniaras. At the time, Koniaras was running his own bespoke fine jewellery store, but as their Scandinavian-inspired designs took off, the duo had to make a choice. 10 years later, and Elk’s jewellery, clothing and leather bag line are sold by more than 1000 stockists with the business employing 45 people.
The brand has even partnered with UNICEF and is the largest Aussie small business contributor, having risen over $150,000 by requesting for a donation at the end of each purchase on the website and matching every donation.
“UNICEF has been blown away by the donation and they are looking to roll-out the model to other businesses,” they said.
2) “I first saw the internet in 1995. I realised it could change the world and I wanted to be part of that.”
Martin Hosking, together with friends Paul Vanzella and Peter Styles, turned Redbubble into a $59 million design marketplace. They were among the first to think about how the internet can serve creative artists as the primary market on a worldwide basis.
“Each product on Redbubble is for a single customer and the distribution model could not be any leaner or smarter,” Hosking said. “Our artists are designing everything from artworks about extremely obscure evolution to physics or mermaids.”
Coming out of the GFC, Redbubble had a period of very strong growth as the eCommerce trend started to take off. Now the brand is concentrating on boosting growth through establishing user-loyalty and repeat customers.
“Our engagement with users is now about more than just the transaction; we want people to have a great experience,” Hosking said.
3) The Outware team’s considered strategy helped take the $9.2 million app business to new heights.
Outware founder Danny Gorog believes he and co-founders Eytan Lenko and Gideon Kowadlo had a very measured, considered strategy right from the early days that helped them achieve success. As the team witnessed the rise of the iPhone during 2007, they quickly realised the possibilities for the app space and decided to fill it.
“We decided the best approach to the industry was to actually go and get some jobs and develop apps for other people. So we learned how to make apps,” they said.
“We would try to plan out what each of our next short term goals were going to be and fulfil them.”
4) “You have to seek balance in your life. You need to recharge your batteries as, if you are an entrepreneur, you are driven.”
Celebrity Chef Maggie Beer runs Maggie Beer Products in South Australia’s Barossa Valley region and employs 100 staff, but balancing work and life can be difficult when you’re running a small business turning over $20 million a year.
“To be an entrepreneur you have to have something unique, have a lateral mind, be persistent and have an optimistic nature,” Beer said.
“In every business there are things outside of your control that are really difficult to manage but you always try to do better.”