“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?” That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes, I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn [...]
Interview with Kay Barney from Australasian Corporate Accommodation
Australasian Corporate Accommodation began when founder Kay Barney began offering fully furnished, executive quality accommodation for corporate clients in Sydney and Melbourne. ACA is now a successful outsourcing services company with a turn over well in excess of $1 million and more than 200 clients.
Where did the idea for the company come from?
In 1999 my husband was promoted to a position based in Melbourne. In a very short space of time, we sold our home in Sydney and relocated. Arriving in Melbourne, with my one year old son, I was faced with the daunting task of finding our new home. The process was incredibly frustrating, exhausting and disappointing. I realised that there must be many people who find themselves in similar situations and the idea for ACA started from this experience.
What gave you the courage to make the move into your own business?
I genuinely believed right from the start that there would be a market for my product. I knew what customers needed and, from my own experiences, knew that no one else in the market place was offering anything quite like it. I also knew that I had the ability to run a small business, as I had spent several years running one for someone else!
What has been the biggest hurdle?
The early months were difficult for several reasons. Firstly, I had to start from absolute scratch, with little industry knowledge and no contacts, suppliers or customers. Secondly, I was running the business from my home, pregnant and with a toddler running madly up and down the hallways while I called potential customers on the phone. It was incredibly stressful trying to juggle the two roles and I eventually moved out of the home office and into new premises.
What is your motivation?
I thrive on a full workload and the best incentive for me is satisfied and happy customers. We receive the bulk of our business on referral from existing clients and we rarely advertise so it's essential that every job is completed to the highest standards. There is no better feeling than knowing that the customer is completely happy with our product and service.
Who are your mentors, inspirational books or people?
I thoroughly recommend The E-Myth by Michael Gerber - reading this book changed the way that I viewed not only my company, but also my role within it.
How do you stay on top of it all and focused?
We are constantly planning and setting new and higher goals. I know exactly where I would like this business to be in the short and long term. I also know my own limitations and burn-out capability so I make sure that I have time away from the office.
Running a small business can become all-consuming at times, and there are certainly days where I feel overwhelmed. There came a point in the growth phase when I realised that I couldn't do everything anymore - and letting go of some things is hard for a control-freak like me! But, as I learned, it is essential to delegate if you are going to move forward.
What is your top strategy for success?
Set your goals high, then work out what you need to do to get there. I started my business just two years ago and never would have imagined I'd be where I am today. Presenting a professional image is essential and make sure that everything you do reflects a standard of excellence. Surround yourself with motivated people and look for inspiration in others.
Is there any advice you'd like to offer?
Good relationships are one of the key elements to the success of my business. I work really hard on my relationships with staff, customers, suppliers and industry contacts. All these people are crucial to the success of the business, so it's worth investing your time and energy in them.
Also, it is my view that superior customer service will make your business a winner. Little personal touches - a hand written note or a quick email to reassure that you're looking after them - will make a lasting impression. Most of our customers are large multinational companies, but behind every large company are individuals who appreciate excellent customer service.