Step 1: A plan of attack: will my idea fly?
Thea explains that it’s one thing to have a great idea but you need to work out how to make it a reality.
“Don’t be afraid to look for and reach out to experts in your field for advice or feedback on your business,” she says. “The support and advice I received from CGU to rescue Domuts has been invaluable. In particular, providing me with a business mentor, David, who has helped me formulate a clear business plan with key milestones, and advice on when to scale the business further.”
What to think about: Before you launch your business take the time to create a detailed business plan that covers your business structure, operations, and thorough analyses of your market, competition, and finances.
Tip: Visit https://www.business.gov.au/planning/business-plans for help and resources
Step 2: Perfect the product
At first, Thea developed her own recipes and sold Domuts to dog-owners at the local markets. To get her product into more dogs’ paws, CGU helped her find a food technologist to give Domuts a longer shelf-life, and to ensure she was adhering with government guidelines for both product and labelling.
What to think about:
- Does your product or service meet government and industry guidelines and regulations?
- What do you need to do to perfect what you sell?
Tip: Visit https://www.business.gov.au/products-and-services to learn more about the various requirements.
Step 3: Build a brand
Thea’s son Marcus came up with the name “Domuts” originally. Now she’s focused on building a brand around that name. This means working with marketing experts to develop everything from colours, photography and a logo to packaging, advertising material and a website that will tell her story to world.
What to think about: Don’t just stop at a name and a logo when creating your brand.
Tip: Think about developing a consistent colour palette, photography style and writing style that you can then apply to everything you do in public.
Step 4: Protect your ambition
Once Thea decided to go all-in and relaunch Domuts, she also needed to protect her ambition and give some security to all that hard work. She met with CGU who helped her navigate the small-business insurance packages and get cover that was tailored to her specific needs.
What to think about: How will you protect your ambition? Small business insurance can protect your income stream, your product, and your employees.
Tip: Learn more about small business insurance at https://www.cgu.com.au/small-business
Step 5: Test the market
Thea’s first batch of ‘donuts for dogs’ sold out immediately at the local markets, but that was only the first test. Making a Domut that is healthy and loved by pets is harder than it sounds, so Thea’s business coach David connected her with experts in product development and testing – including the toughest critics around: the pampered pooches of Sydney. (The outcome: “chewy tennis ball” and “dirty sock” flavours were a big hit, but “’postman’s ankle’ and “dog’s bum” didn’t make the cut).
What to think about: Brainstorm where and how can you test your product or service, before you invest in the big launch.
Tip: Choose places where your target customers hang out, but that don’t cost you a lot to participate. Local markets and online platforms are a great starting point.
Step 6: Launch that business
When Thea decided to launch Domuts the second time around – this time with help – she wanted to do it right and she didn’t hold back. After all, you don’t get a second shot at your first customers. CGU helped her invest in a TV ad to play during the AFL Grand Final which is about as big as it gets.
What to think about: You might not have the budget for a TV commercial but you can still think big.
Tip: Do some research to find out where your customers are (what are they watching, reading, doing?) then brainstorm the biggest thing you can do to get the most attention.
Step 7: Don’t do it alone
A great business idea will get you started, ambition and drive will propel you forward, but to last the distance, it’s important not to do it alone.
None of us knows everything about running a business, and experts can help fill those knowledge-gaps. Thea worked with David Stefanoff, a CGU-appointed business coach to help her navigate the day-to-day running of a successful business, including banking set-up, developing accounting systems, pricing decisions and account margins.
What to think about: Nobody expects you to be the expert. Depending on your personal expertise, you’ll need to call on experts for:
- General business administration
- Finance & banking
- Marketing & advertising
- Product development & compliance
- Sales & distribution