Meet the Erin Brockovich of Australian SMEs

Category: Case Studies

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In this no-nonsense Q&A, Victorian-based Stacey Currie explains how, like her role model Erin Brockovich, she overcame an upbringing filled with adversity to become an inspiration to business owners everywhere.

With an upbringing that included being bought up in a housing commission, child sexual abuse, a teenage pregnancy, being homeless with two babies before the age of 20 and domestic violence, Currie could’ve been excused if her past sent her down a less than desirable path through adulthood. But instead of blaming life, she defied the odds and, through sheer determination and passion, turned the tables in her favour.

Now 32 and with five children, Currie is an author, speaker, and runs Signs’n’Banners, a successful brand printing business based in Carrum Downs. Read on to find out how, without a formal business education, Currie has overcome adversity. And then some.

My Business: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started in business?
Stacey Currie:
I wish I had of known that I had most of the answers within myself and didn’t waste time searching for the people I believed had the answers for me.

MB: What are your most effective work habits?
SC:
Arriving in my office each day and ticking off my list that I write each day at 1600. I write my list every day at 1600 so that when I arrive into my office in the morning I’m focused and know exactly what I’m doing. I have my clear bullseye.

MB: The most important person in my business is … because …
SC:
The most important person in my business is both myself and my partner David, because for me I am the marketing and salesperson which is the most important factor in a business. Dave is the machinery and brains behind the manufacturing. Together we both have the visions and take action to make it all come together. We focus our time on the bigger picture of the business; train our employees to “DO” the work while we work “ON” the business vision.

MB: Best business decision you’ve ever made?
SC:
To re-brand our name from Signs’n’Banners to Brand Print Australia. Signs’n’Banners limited us to only signs and banners – our clients assumed that’s all we did. I would visit my clients’ showrooms and notice they had A LOT of printing products that we didn’t actually print. I called them up and asked why they didn’t come to us for their printing projects and nine times out of 10 the feedback was that they didn’t think we did that type of printing. I then decided we needed to re-brand to align ourselves with our clients and what we could offer. Since we re-branded six months ago we have already won major jobs with large corporate clients worth over $100K and won clients we used to dream of having. That has been the best business decision we have made to date.StaceyCurrieLG

MB: What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in business? How did you fix it?
SC:
We got lost in the shiny sweet talking women who promised big things for us and the business. Employing a fraudulent employee. This lady was working for many companies claiming to be a sales rep and promised us HUGE accounts. We assumed she was only working for us and in the end we found out she was ripping off many companies. We lost quite an amount of money on hiring this lady and once I started to become suspicious we fired her ASAP. We had other people calling us to warn us of this lady and to fix the issue we now go deep into employing people. Checking their references, making sure they have home addresses and really doing thorough checks on our new employees.

MB: How do you delight customers?
SC:
We are all friendly in our company and just talk real to our clients. We send a packet of lollies with each delivery and keep in constant contact with our clients. We have clients come and visit us in our office just for a chat because both myself and Dave are just friendly people. Our business is not a boring, serious business; we laugh and joke around and make our clients feel welcome.

MB: Share your number one sales technique with us.
SC:
Get on the phone and talk to potential clients and when you win clients keep visiting them. Don’t ever think just because you have won the client that that’s it, be sure to visit them or just call them for a chat. My number one sales technique has been getting on the phone and ringing people.

MB: What’s your secret team-building tactic?
SC:
We share the vision with our employees, and we also keep our employees in the loop of the jobs we have won, the jobs we are quoting and all of the fantastic testimonials we receive. We give these to the guys and hang it up in the factory for them to see. We hang our KPI sheet in the factory, just to keep our employees excited and for them to share our business vision. We don’t hide much from our employees and I guess it makes them feel apart of our business

MB: Favourite piece of business technology? Why?
SC:
Our flatbed printer, because this prints so much faster, better quality and more price effective. We have won major jobs since investing in this printer; clients who we couldn’t win when we didn’t have it are now our repeat clients

MB: Best tip for managing people?
SC:
Just treat them like you would like to be treated. You need to find the fine line between boss and friend. You can still be boss but also friendly and joking, you also need to give constructive criticism when need be, you don’t need to put people down, just explain in a kind way and how they could better approach the situation. Having systems in place for us is a fantastic way of managing our people because if things are not going well we always look to the system

MB: Who do you most admire? Why?
SC:
I really admire Erin Brockovich. I just love that she was an uneducated single mum who never ever gave up her fight to succeed. She pushed through barriers, found the answers when she was told many times that she couldn’t do it and just believed in herself so much that she was able to succeed no matter what the obstacles were placed in front of her. Erin is an amazing role model for people to never ever give up!

MB: What’s more important in business: passion or preparation? Why?
SC:
Passion for sure, because if you don’t feel passion for what you are doing, you feel scattered, confused, drained and not focused. Living your passion has you waking up feeling on fire most days and just feeling highly motivated to face the day. I truly believe without discovering my passion at such a young age, I would not be here today

MB: What’s your favourite networking activity? Why?
SC:
It would have to be talking to business people who have walked the talk. I like to have a glass of wine and just sit and chat about business. I don’t like the big networking events as they’re not intimate and you have to just talk small talk. I like to talk nitty gritty, exciting stuff with people who are living their passions and are excited, positive people

MB: If someone gave you $100,000 and said “Invest this in your business by the end of the week – or lose it” what would you do?
SC: I would certainly spend that money on hiring a top notch sales rep and spend the rest on new and improved marketing materials.

MB: The Internet is a massively disruptive force. What’s your reaction to disruption?
SC:
I have allocated Facebook times and YouTube times etc. I get on, post my stuff and turn it off. I don’t google crap during working hours; I just get on with my list of tasks and once I’m finished then I reward myself with a sneak peak on Facebook etc.

MB: How do you foster and express creativity?
SC:
I just be ME. I don’t try to be anyone else and I incorporate myself into my business. All of my newsletters etc are just me being me. I don’t try to be something I’m not and try to be all professional etc; I have my professionalism about me but mostly I just let my realness be expressed.

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