Latest posts by Renae Bunster (see all)
- 5 Good Reasons Why You Should Not Start A Business - April 17, 2019
- 5 Reasons Why Your Brand Is A Piece Of Shit - April 10, 2019
- How To Have A Successful Business In 4 Easy Steps - April 5, 2019
I’ve boiled down 9 years worth of business experience in to 4 simple steps, because who has the time to follow more than 4 steps these days? Save time, money, energy, heartache and learn it all in one Soapbox article. Because if it’s not easy, it’s not worth doing! Lets get started.
Step 1 – STOP looking at ‘Business Motivation’ pages on Instagram
The endless stream of hypocritical business advice permeating the feeds of business inspo pages will get you so pumped up – and then confuse the hell out of you.
I picked these off in about 5 minutes. Some were right next to each other on the same page:
Do you see what I mean? There are two distinct trains of thought that come through with success and business inspiration pages on Instagram.
“Work till you burnout bitches!”
“It’s easy, you don’t have to work very hard”
So which one is true?
Both of them are, but you have to do them in the right order! Allow me to prove it to you in steps 2 to 4.
But for now delete that shit off your phone. It’s a waste of your energy. Actually stop looking at anyone on Instagram who’s #livingthebusinessdream and filling your mind with bullshit. Stop comparing your day to day grind to someone’s edited, filtered and fillered highlights reel.
Oh my god that’s so inspiring!!
Step 2 – STOP listening to anyone selling a book or course that simplifies business. Release all notions of it being easy. Give up any business you are trying to start “the easy way” by buying someone’s course, programme or ‘templates’.
The “it’s easy and fun” message was what inspired me to get on the entrepreneur path way back in 2010, before Instagram was even invented.
Back then I read a book – Tim Ferris’s 2007 work “The 4 Hour Work Week.” In it he blows apart our traditional life plan — working gruelling hours, taking only a couple of weeks holiday a year, for decades to save money in order to relax after retirement, when you’re probably too sick or tired to enjoy it.
He presents a mouthwateringly easy case that you can retire now and start enjoying life away from the daily grind if you create a “lifestyle business”. One where you do minimal work but make enough to pay your way through life, away from the dreaded rat race.
A 2019 equivalent would be spruiking products via Instagram, affiliate marketing / MLM crap, just being an “influencer”, or my favourite – sell stuff on Amazon and become a millionaire just like this Perth Mum did!
In 2010 I got sucked in to this new notion and decided I wanted to be on that hammock with Tim. I set about developing and launching a print on demand personalised children’s book that was a world first concept and a market leader in the space. You can design what the child looks like and choose adventures the child can go on based on what they like, or what you want them to like.
By late 2011 we set off travelling the world as digital nomads with our little business that was all dealt with online and the books printed and dispatched by someone else back in the UK or Australia. While it was an awesome introduction to running an online businessand was great for Margarita money in Mexico it was never going to support us in our lifestyle in boom town $14 pint Perth.
I soon made the most shocking discovery about business that Tim Ferriss never mentioned — in order to grow profits you have to keep pouring money in to a business?! Creating new books and finding new customers online required more money.
But I want to spend the profit on Margaritas?!!
We ran the business by just selling the one book we’d made for a few more years, spending the profits on sweet Perth beer and then sold it on to our Aussie printer who loved the concept. He was making a killing printing the books for us and it was a great add-on for his established photo book shop. He’s still selling them now if you want one go to their site.
Me and my booky wook
Step 3 – Put LOTS of actual WORK AND SWEAT in to a business. Welcome to struggle town, Gary Vaynerchuck is your mayor!
In 2015 when we sold the book business I’d already been making hot sauce for 3 years and had realised I was on to a bigger winner than the book. People were passionate about hot sauce, and they bought it over and over. Unlike a book where we had to find a new customer every time we made a sale, using Google Ad words and a credit card.
So from 2012–2015 I hustled my guts out. Cooking hot sauce myself in my kitchen and packaging it up and sending it out every day. I sold face to face at festivals on long, hot, sweaty days. I delivered sauce to stores, got feedback, collected emails, debt collected, joked with customers. I found out what made them tick and what they wanted in a hot sauce and from my social media pages.
It was hard work. I was collapsing in to bed exhausted every day, in a way I never did when running the book business. I was living the Gary Vaynerchuck “hustle lyfe” before he’d even invented it and made the whole thing hashtaggier than #blessed.
Yes Gary, my lord and saviour. All hail Gary Vee, all hail Gary Vee.
At this time I’d forgotten about old mate Tim Ferris and his namby-pamby hammock laptop lifestyle. I was too busy hustling. And fascinatingly I still didn’t even have Instagram on my phone.
In late 2014 after finally taking on board all of the feedback I’d gathered from 3 years of gruelling face to face selling, I invented a hot sauce called Shit the Bed. It was so hot I thought no one could possibly eat it, and no one should want to with a stupid name like that. But they could and they did and not only that, people thought it was so funny that a photo of it went viral on Facebook. My business blew up overnight.
I was literally drowning in orders and no amount of hard work with my 2 bare hands could extinguish the endless thirst of people wanting to shit themselves.
I was working as hard as possible but my time and energy was limiting the amount of money I could make.
I realised if I wanted to make something of this opportunity, I’d have to pull the Tim Ferris rip cord. Stop working so hard doing it all myself and automate processes and farm work out – do business “the easy way” again.
Step 4 – Work smarter not harder. Give struggle town the finger and buy that hammock you saw Tim Ferriss selling on Instagram
Farming out jobs to contractors and automating a business costs money. Money I didn’t have. So in 2015, I ran a crowdfunding campaign to put in place the processes to automate the cooking of the sauce and the dispatch through third-party logistics and getting a supermarket distributor who would now take a cut of my sales.
The fruits of my labour
I used the crowd’s money, rather than taking on all the debt myself. I worked smarter not harder!
Thank Jeebus it was a success. I raised 250k AUD. I finally got out of the kitchen, mail room, and my car and my time was now freed up so I could concentrate on the fun part of my job — the online marketing and developing new products. All of a sudden I wasn’t sweating in the workshop anymore and instead I was lying in the hammock with my laptop…. But oh great now there’s a fricken newborn baby in here too. Shit.
I hustled at a few more food festivals in 2016 and 2017 but I started to notice an annoying trend. Less people were coming out and people were spending less money anyway. But the biggest thing I noticed — more and more people would say to me:
“Oh I love your sauce but I already have some at home, I bought it from my local IGA supermarket.”
The success of my distributors had put my market stalls out of business — and I was stoked! More time in the hammock here I come.…
The last festival I did I was pretty bored so I set up this photo for a bit of funny content for my social media. It went viral after it was picked up by a funny photo sharing site online and was shared extensively across Instagram and Facebook. I became a hero to everyone who’s ever done face to face selling at a festival. People were tagged far and wide:
“We should do this on Saturday”
“Wish I could do this but would get fired LOL”
“I would taste this sauce and I would fuck off”
“Brilliant marketing. I want this sauce”
I made a load of online sales in Australia and the USA off the back of it. I made more money online that day than I took using my hands, energy, and charm at this “premier” food festival that I paid thousands of dollars to “promote” myself at. I had worked smarter rather than harder again, to promote my sauce and made way more money in the process!
This was the final wake up call I needed to confirm that the future of my business was lying in the hammock with my laptop and not sweating it out face to face anymore.
I had to give up the crutch and habit of working hard. Just like smoking crack, it was a habit and giving it up took confidence and guts and a leap of faith (I assume. I actually haven’t given up smoking crack yet).
Don’t worry we had a lot of fun along the way…..
2018 marked the first entire year that I didn’t do one stall at a market or festival. Not once in 2018 did I convince someone having an otherwise nice day that a bowel liquefying hot sauce is what their life was lacking. So what progress did I make when I didn’t have to focus one iota of effort away from my hammock?
It was my biggest year yet. My sauce was featured on Hot Ones, Huxtaburger rang up out of the blue and asked to put my sauce in all their stores nationwide and in a special BunsterBurger and I finally picked up a major nationwide distributor. I also found the time to create and release two new products that I’m really proud of: My Hot Sauce Making Kit and Posh BBQ — a barbecue sauce that is changing lives.
So it’s that easy! To recap the 4 steps:
1. Stop looking at Instagram and listening to false prophets.
2. Give up on that “easy online business” bullshit.
3. Throw yourself in to hard work to establish a new business (it took me 4 years).
4. Quit the habit of “working hard” and trust in “working smarter” in order for your business to grow and evolve.
That’s what I did. Try that.
9 years later I’m finally on the path I set out to be on in 2010, sitting around tinkering on the laptop for a few hours a day from anywhere in the world. Working smarter, not harder.
Although I’m not much of a ‘Digital Nomad’ these days. I’m more of a ‘Digital Homebody’ now coz there’s a fricken 3-year-old in the hammock smearing honey and Play-Doh all over it.
We all want to be that classic Instagram E-preneur, barely working, going to the gym, writing a book, recording a podcast, living your best #blessed life.
But unfortunately, you have to Gary Vee the shit out of yourself until you get there. Which doesn’t make for the best Instagram feed. Trust me, the people who’ve made it all sweated to get where they are. So be wary of those who say it’s easy: “if you just pay for this course….”
Hope that rant made sense. I’m trying to script a talk about the evolution of my E-Commerce store. I have gone completely off piste but I enjoyed recalling this journey.
If you read this far and learned anything please give me a thumbs up. But if you’re paralysed by the fear of looking ‘unprofessional’ by visibly engaging with an article of this nature then give me some love over where you won’t be judged by that bint from HR who already wants to get rid of you:
Featured image: Unsplash