Having worked as a sole trader, or “solopreneur” as she calls it, Fiona Jefferies (pictured below) of Diva Works says it is a realisation of what her true value proposition is that saw an explosion in her revenues and profits.
“I realised I'd max out in terms of hours, and I was making myself sick trying to do it all,” Fiona tells My Business.
“I think, for too long, I was telling myself, 'You're no good with staff. I don't want an office, I just want to concentrate on what I'm good at,' which is the design side of things.”
Diva Works, which provides 3D marketing services for the property industry, has been operating since 2001. But a crunch point some 11 years later forced Fiona to sit down and do some soul searching about exactly what she wanted from her business and for her clients. It was from this self-reflection that a key revelation emerged.
“What it was, was really getting clear on what I actually did. While I do sales offices, build, deliver, design, all of that, that's the byproduct,” she says.
“What I really do is I relieve stress for clients, and once I really got clear about what I was very good at – i.e. relieving stress from clients – it then became pretty easy to work out [where my core focus should be].
“Wanting to be of service is a much easier point of guidance than 'I must have X amount of growth,' because if you're always chasing that dollar figure or that growth, or trying to sell for the sake of selling, I think your success could be somewhat muted and that's not what I define success to be.”
This realisation has helped Fiona to recognise just how important taking the plunge and bringing in additional employees are to be able achieve her goal.
“There's [now] 13 of us, a mixture of full-time and part-time, and from there, I've engaged a number of contractors to help me when the projects all kind of come crunching together,” says Fiona.
The result has been that Diva Works increased turnover from $326,000 in 2013-14 to $1.5 million the following year, and $3.1 million in 2016-17.
Having achieved this rapid growth, Fiona says she is now focused on a period of consolidation to ensure the longer term viability of her business.
“I think we know all sorts of businesses that we've heard of with this epic growth, and suddenly they go bust because they haven’t watched the other side of that where the costs have increased as well, and they're managing that. I didn't want it to turn into an expensive hobby, and just again, chase growth for the sake of growth,” she says.
“When revenue goes up, fantastic, but so does the cost of the business – with more insurances, my wage bill, having facilities, computers, a place that I rent for the staff as well, so you're constantly looking at the figures to work out how you're positioned, where you are making profit.”