This appeared in today’s Australian newspaper. – I thought that some of my answers might give more background on where we came from.
What was your first business venture and how did it perform?
Apart from trying to start a circus at eight years old, my first business venture was a freelance marketing consultancy called Bright Marketing. It was a very viable business and made money, but because it was a personal services-based business and there was only one of me, it simply wasn’t scalable. I was limited by what I was able to take on. So when the opportunity presented itself to start RedBalloon Days I immediately recognised its scalable potential and have thrown myself into it wholeheartedly ever since.
How did you fund it?
My marketing consultancy was self-funded out of my own personal savings but once it was up and running, its cash flow plus additional personal savings provided me with the funds I needed to set-up RedBalloon Days with its initial business partners. I had no start-up capital expenditure as I was able to use all of the equipment from my previous business and without that, I don’t think I could have done it. The first year was very painful.
What was the best business decision you ever made?
To close down Bright Marketing when it was doing well and focus on starting an online business, a medium I knew next to nothing about, with no idea of whether it would work and how I was going to pay the bills.
And the worst?
To outsource the design of the first ever RedBalloon website. As I was new to online, I thought it made sense to employ the services of people who knew more than I did. The first ever site was framed, had black text on a blinding red background and actually, as I have now been told, was paraded to technology students at TAFE by a lecturer who thought it the worst website he’d ever seen.
What was the best piece of business advice you ever got?
Run your business as you would live your life, staying true to your personal values. And above all be you.