About 4 years ago I decided I was over working in the corporate field, and wanted to do more with my career. Keen to utilise my studies and pursue a career in Marketing, I started applying to hundreds of roles, attending interview after interview, only to be told my CV wasn’t what they were looking for. So I decided I had to change tack. Maybe there was a way I could combine my passion for design and creativity with my knack for business, and start my own thing.
So, with $150 I started Saibu no Akuma, a lifestyle brand focused on re-building identities. I never saw it as business, more as an opportunity for me to create a practical resume that I could show what I know, and what I’ve learnt. So, with a rule of spending a maximum of 10 hours per week on the project, we’re now four years on and with a team of five, we’re recognised as a leading brand within the industry and have been featured across national TV, newspapers and countless blogs.
It may not be huge, but the lessons I learnt in running this business has helped me grow Weploy from three people to 16 people within 10 months and making a measurable impact for our clients. Throughout the journey I kept getting asked how the hell did you manage to do that whilst working full time, competing and teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, AND courting the most amazing girl in the world?
I am not claiming this is some kind of a bible to follow, these are just a few of the main things that I found worked for me, simplified down into 3 main points:
As a business owner you always have the choice on what to spend your time on. It’s all about working smarter, not harder. So whilst bringing on the most amazing team in the world, I often hired temps to come in and do our cumbersome administrative tasks so that we could continue growing as a business without being burdened by a mounding pile of stuff we didn’t want to do.
It's easy to get caught up on being "efficient" and running 20 different apps for Productivity...but they can very quickly become counter-productive, ending up with you just spending more time trying to organise your lists and update your apps. So i kept it simple and lived and died by my trello list. I only put what I felt were Priority tasks that absolutely had to be done on my list, and having three stages they were at: to do, doing, done. In doing so, I was able to focus less on trying to "stay focussed" and instead, power through the work I'd set myself at the start of each month.
Finally, I’ll sign this off with one last point. Being a business owner is hard, and it’s extremely hard to do it without a solid crew around you. It’s easy to go into your own world but one thing that I always remembered was what a mentor of mine said; “ask and you’ll often be surprised at what you receive”. There’s always help around - network, connect and share insights and you might just get some back in return. Sometimes people get too caught up in the pursuit of happiness, but forget about the happiness in pursuit.
I think back to when I was nearing the end of high school, and I didn't really have a clue what I wanted to do career-wise. I don’t think I was alone in that position. I started a course at Uni and then switched to another, I graduated, then all of a sudden was in the market for employment. I think quite a few graduates then and now, are left looking at a closed door with a sign saying “More experience needed!” It can become a vicious cycle.
When he’s not busy running around Fitzroy Gardens, or one of his four children, Robert is mentor and writer for Startup Smart, a committee member at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and is involved with numerous startups working with tech incubators and VC’s. Robert has extensive experience working with enterprises and small businesses in varying industries, and a passion for delivering value and savvy financial structuring at all levels of operation.
One of the biggest problems small business owners experience is lack of time. At Krigsman, we’ve identified a few ways of operating that are essential for us to achieve our overall goals and objectives and ensure we are working as efficiently as we can with our clients.
When we started Weploy 3 years ago, we didn’t really have any ‘job titles’, we just agreed that my job was to look after growth, and my partners looked after other parts of the business. One year in, we’d got some runs on the board and grew from four people huddled around a vacated bathroom shop, to over ten with a real office and real clients. Then one day over pho at lunch, the topic was raised and my partners appointed me as the CEO. And just like that, my life changed.