Business Growth and growing your business intelligence.

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written by Sarah Colgate

Business Tips for 2024 | Helpful tips for tourism operators

November 18, 2022

My Evolving Business Education

In my other blogs or on the website you will have seen that I created my first business when I was in year 4 at school. I didn’t realise I had created a business at the time. I just wanted some money to buy lollies so I picked up a few things we had at home that I knew my friends would like, took them to school and sold them. I didn’t have a grand plan and I didn’t have a supply chain, when they were gone they were gone so I had to come up with something else I could offer that wouldn’t run out.  That was water for Baptism. Check out my story.

I knew somewhere between 20 and 23 that business was what I wanted to do.I remember reading uni books or being at my desk studying when my mind would wander endlessly, thinking about business opportunities or ideas.  I loved reading the BRW rich list, reading the stories of business owners how they had made millions building their businesses. I would obsess over every detail of their stories.

In those uni days, I had a tiny ring binder with recycled paper in it where I would nut out all of my business ideas. At first, I did this just so I could stop thinking about them and focus on my uni work but then it grew. I would write down my ideas, I would draw my ideas and then the ideas would develop and evolve into small business plans. It got to a stage where I had so many I had to get a new ring binder and then proceeded to fill that as well.  I have no idea now if any of those ideas would have been the next amazon or google as it was just a hobby to me and a way of clearing my mind. 

I spent time reading biographies on business owners and entrepreneurs, I read every book I could on marketing with no money and start up businesses. All the while I had a full time job and was supposed to be finishing my degree. In the end, after 5 years at uni part time, I decided the real life experience I would get far outweighed the studying still required to finish university. So I quit uni with half a dozen subjects to go so I could get my real world experience. 

A family business of intelligence, starts with Mum.

For us business is a family thing. My parents, grandparents and my brothers have all had businesses. Some have been massive and some have been tiny but we love business, we share our experiences and all get involved when someone needs help. Never ask my family for business advise if you don’t want to hear it or take it.

My mum was a very successful business woman who owned a range of shoe stores in Lake Macquarie. I always felt like she had this innate sense for business or the knack for it. It seemed to just come naturally to her. From the outside looking in she took it all in her stride. Mum ran all her own marketing campaigns, created promotional and point of sales signage, served the customers, did the accounts and hired the staff, trained and managed them with such ease. She worked hard and whined about her staff from time to time, but I never really understood what was involved and what she had to deal with on a daily basis. Everything seemed to go to plan and she grew her single shoe store into a mini empire simply and easily from my teenage point of view. 

In addition to running her mini empire mum had endless ideas for businesses. I remember her friends greeting her and saying “What are you working on now Pat?” Because no matter what was going on in her life or business Mum always had a new idea to grow her business, expand her operations or start something new. I remember being in my early teens when my Mum and Dad owned a building company and roller door business that was huge. 

But my mum would still talk about creating a makeup store. Bringing all the major brands into one store, so women could go there and get everything from low cost pharmacy style makeup up to Chanel and Shiseido. Back then in the early 1990s, makeup was sold at department stores and maybe by some chemists but it wasn’t widely available and nobody had a good affordable range or specialists that didn’t look down at you if you weren’t their clientele. It wasn’t easy to buy makeup and get advice on how to use it. Youtube hadn’t been invented yet! So my mum in the early nineties had built in her head and on paper a concept store for the Sephora or Mecca of today. As a teenager the level of her thinking and her talents were lost on me. 

Business intelligence carries on to the next generation

I remember when my eldest brother got a job as the deputy store manager at David Jones in Elizabeth Street in Sydney. Not only were my family over the moon with happiness but my mum led endless expeditions to every retail store so her and my brother could educate themselves on  absolutely everything. They got ideas on how things were done, how merchandising etc could be improved, what product lines each store held, how they were marketed and combined with other products. It was a business and retail education for all of us. In my 20s, my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved to Perth. My mum and two brothers came to visit us. Of course we headed into Perth CBD, to the Hay Street Mall to check out the retail environment, 12 hours later we had seen every square inch of the department stores and retail shops Hay Street Mall had on offer. This was repeated on every single trip I remember having with my mum.

Business intelligence carries on to the next generation

There is only so much studying you can do! A business education is built in a business.

Unknowingly thanks to my family I was being educated on business practices from an early age. My first practice at running my own business or selling my own products was a MLM (multi level marketing) business called NuSkin. I met a guy in the Hay Street Mall in Perth one day on my lunch break. He told me all about Nuskin and how I could build a business from it. I was sold in an instant. From that I have had a lot of businesses, most side hustles while I was working, buying houses and paying bills and a few full time gigs.

Needless to say I have tried everything, the standouts, the money makers and of course the money pits. When I look down this list I have done alright and the journey will continue on with a new venture. 

  1. Nu Skin Cosmetics
  2. A bookstore (sold it)
  3. A bead importing business (sold it)
  4. A craft kit & book business 
  5. My first online business was a silver jewellery store on eBay, (sold it)
  6. Online bookstore 
  7. Hair accessories website (Contents sold)
  8. A self help website for women called Happy Women. 
  9. Marketing & website for small businesses. 
  10. Aquaduck Gold Coast (sold it)
  11. Aquaduck Airlie Beach then Sunshine Coast (sold it)
  12. Southern Cross Tours (sold it)
  13. Business consultation business – kicking off in 2023
Sarah Colgate - Increasing your business

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