Interview with Melanie Wood

melanie wood

Melanie is an independent consultant with Arbonne, which is a health and wellness internet marketing company. She currently lives in sunny Australia, after taking the plunge to move over a couple of years ago from Scotland.

You can order products from Melanie at www.melaniewood.arbonne.com or contact her via her Facebook page Melanie Wood – Arbonne Independent Consultant, where you can find out about free trials of the all product ranges and up to 40% on orders.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview Melanie, it is great to see you!

Can you tell me a bit about the business you are in?

My business is in the health and wellness industry. We are a network marketing company; we share an opportunity with people and we share products. It’s all about sharing so it’s entirely up to them if they want to come on board as a business builder or as a consumer of the products. We basically educate them on another way to make an income and another way to use pure, safe and beneficial products.

How long have you been doing this?

I’ve been doing it for over two years now, about two and a half years.

How did you get into the business?

My sister in law was talking about the products at a family meal. She spoke about how they didn’t have chemical, were gluten free and how much she loved them. She asked me to come along to a presentation in Glasgow to hear about the business and products. It really wasn’t something for me at first and after I tried the products, I loved them and that’s when I considered doing the business and that’s what I’ve been doing now since then. So, I jumped on board pretty much as soon as I heard about it.

How long do you spend on it? Is it a full time business?

No, I work my business part time, so I work my business alongside my full time job, around 10-12 hours a week.

How do you fit it in?

I do things before work, so dropping products off or meeting people for a coffee and telling them about the business, or making some phone calls/sending emails. The same after work; dropping products off, collecting products, so that’s during the week. At weekends I have more time to go to markets, hosting events, so those are the other types of things that I do; meeting people one on one about the business, doing group presentations or product drop offs, or phone calls and emails.

You’ve really answered this question, but why did you choose this sector? I suppose, because you liked the products?

Yeah, probably. It’s not something I saw myself doing was network marketing. It was the products for me because I had bad skin. The products really sold me in terms of what they could do for other people, if they had skin conditions. Also the income opportunity that’s attached to it, and that I would be able to help other people in their life as well.

What do you enjoy most and least about having your business?

The business comes with so much personal development; that’s the biggest thing for me. The opportunity to become a better version of myself so that’s probably the absolute most for me and being able to help other people in that same situation. To be able to coach and mentor people. I wouldn’t really say that there’s anything I least like or anything like that about the business because I get to meet new people. I get to help people with their skin conditions. I really do love everything about it.

Are there any aspects you find frustrating?

I think the biggest thing is probably the fear factor of picking up the phone or speaking to someone that you don’t know. In the beginning that’s really quite difficult. It’s not something that people like to do. It’s something you need to constantly keep doing to get over that fear. Sometimes I still get the feeling that I maybe don’t want to go out of my comfort zone and speak to someone because it’s maybe in their workplace and it’s busy. That’s the only thing but again, that’s about developing yourself through the personal development, so it becomes easier to do, that was mainly in the beginning.

You talked about how you came about the business, was it always your plan to work for yourself eventually or did that only happen when you found out about the business?

It only happened when I found out about the business. I love what I do in my full time job but it’s not what I see myself doing for the rest of my life but before this business, I didn’t know what else I could do to not have a boss. The business came into my life at the right time, because I didn’t want to work for somebody else anymore. I wanted more of a challenge, I wanted to be more financially independent.

How do you promote your business?

We don’t pay for advertising, so the business is me, so I’m the advertiser. It’s about me meeting people and building relationships with people, building up a client base of product users. I moved to Australia not long after I started so I don’t know people, basically its cold marketing. When I’m out and about having coffee or lunch, or going to the gym or other things I do, I meet people and I chat to them and see whether this is a fit for them and I ask them to come and meet me for coffee. My full time job is in childcare so there’s a lot of children with different allergies and skin conditions so then I’ll speak to parents and say, why don’t you give some products a try for a couple of days. It really varies, it’s all about asking people to come and hear about our opportunity or asking people to try products or to host an event. Again, just building relationships with people, sometimes for months before I even speak to them about the business.

Do you find social media effective?

Yeah, I’ve been using it a lot more recently to get referrals. I ask my Facebook friends to post for me and putting them on their page to attract more people and to get into their network. I’ve got my own business page. I post a bit about my lifestyle and about the products and again, asking for referrals. I link Twitter to my business page, so I get a lot of followers from that, so it’s a really good tool to have in building a business.

Which method do you find most effective in promoting your business? Is it the one to one’s or social media?

I think with the business, it’s more about me asking people. With the products, I think referrals through social media is the biggest part of that, it’s probably quite separate.

How has working for yourself benefited you?

It’s gave me confidence and self-esteem, that I can actually go out there and do something else, but you don’t have to give up what you’re already doing to build a business alongside. It’s given me the hope that there is actually something else out there and you can build a business and become independent. It’s the personal development for me and being able to pick and choose when I work, rather than someone else telling me to. You’re taking control of when you meet people, when you drop products off and when you collect them.

What advice would you give someone who’s just starting up in any business? Is there anything you’ve learned the hard way?

I would say that you should follow the system, if there’s a system in place then you know that it works and I think to deviate away from that, like I have done in the past and it hasn’t worked. I’ve then went back to following the system. If it’s not a business with an infrastructure, find someone else that has that same business and follow what they’re doing. It’s about following the people who are already successful in that business is the way you’ll succeed.

Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

I see it getting to the point that I won’t have my full time job and also, giving me that time back and financial freedom and being able to help so many more people in that time. I can help them have more time to spend with their family, with their children. Helping people who maybe don’t like their job or they need some more income, building a team and culture who promote positivity and promotes helping everybody.

Do you see yourself expanding into other businesses?

Yeah, now knowing I can do this and I can go into business for myself, it has made me look even more into what I want to do. What I want to branch into is the personal development that I’ve learnt from the business, I want to take that further and help other people, in terms of public speaking and coaching.

Great thanks Melanie, you are certainly an inspiration and I wish you success in your current and future ventures!

Advertisements

Interview with Garry Mac

garry mac

The second interview in the series is with the illustrious Garry Mac. We are very excited to be interviewing Garry today!

Garry Mac is an illustrator, comic book creator and workshop facilitator. Last year, he founded Unthank Comics, an independent comic label producing his own work, Gonzo Cosmic, as well as a variety of other, many of which involve queer characters. He is currently working on a short animation for this year’s LGBT History Month Cultural Commission, which is based on a series of recordings of interviews done with members of the LGBTQIA community across Scotland. You can find more about Garry at:

garrymacmakes.wordpress.com
www.unthankcomics.co.uk
garrymac.daportfolio.com

Hi Garry, can you tell me a bit more about your business?

I am a freelancer, illustrator and artist and writer.

How long have you been working for yourself?

I’ve been working in the industry since 2009 and went full time freelance about 2 years ago.

What made you start working for yourself?

I  worked in call centres and recruitment industry for years and had fallen away from art. I didn’t enjoy working in this industry. When I got back into art in 2009, I realised that’s what I wanted to do.

What you do like most about your job and least?

I like the ability to work from home, the flexibility with hours and varied jobs. I like that I’m not repeating the same thing over and over again. The least is the lack of financial security.

Did you receive any help/start up?

No. I started off doing community art, and had some contact with a local organisation who help small businesses, but they weren’t very helpful. I mostly learned myself by searching online and asking questions. I mostly taught myself.

Who are your main clients?

Other people in creative industries, like writers, who would book me to do art for a comic strip and to do illustrations and general public, selling comics to them too. I have a mix of customers.

What methods do you use to promote yourself?

I use a lot of social media. I try and keep up to date, sharing progress, building network of creators. I keep my blog updated fairly regularly. I also attend comic cons and writers groups.

What do you like most about comic cons?

The ability to catch up with other creators; finding out how they’re doing and what’s going on.

Do you find them useful for promoting?

They are useful for promoting yourself to wider network of creators, not massively for a paying readership cause so there are so many things there. It can be difficult to stand out as people go for the names they know. I find other creators/editors etc. more useful.

What do you find most effective promote?

Social media. You have an instant and broad reach to an audience you would never be in touch with and can build networks through friends of friends. It is much easier and quicker than face to face.

What do you find to be the benefits of working for an employer versus working for yourself?

When you work for yourself, you don’t have to answer to anyone else; you obviously have clients you want to appeal to but ultimately it’s up to you. You can carve out your own destiny for yourself. The benefit of being with employer is a regular wage, holiday pay and sickness. You don’t get this with freelance unless you put it by.

What would you say are the most frustrating?

Probably a client who micro manages. Who wants everything to be exactly how they want but is offering your creative mind. It makes me more weary of the client I take on and I tend to find out more about them beforehand so I don’t end up in that situation.

What advice would you give someone starting in comic industry?

Don’t go freelance immediately, don’t take on any big jobs when working. Start with short scripts/strips and save money and keep it for going freelance.

How do you respond to critics?

I’ve never had that, most people are more interested by the fact that you work for comics. On the odd occasion, I have, I just ignore them.

How do you combat down times, when there’s no work on the horizon?

I often panic and then calm down and try to diversify. I supplement my income with article writing for blogs.

Where do you see your business going/what are your plans?

In 10 years I want to be a fully independent creator who has the ability to have my work published at a very high level by major publishers. I want to have a large readership and be financially secure, so I can afford to do this for a living for the rest of my life and get the ability to experience the rest of the world.

Thanks for your time Garry and if you want to find out more about Garry Mac’s work, be sure to click on the links!

Interview with Adam Richard Jones

adam richard jones

In the first of our series of interviews with business owners/freelancers, we chat to Adam Richard Jones who runs a successful Web Design, Graphics, Photography and Social Media business across Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire. Adam also works remotely to support other businesses in the UK. He is based in Worcester and you can find more information at www.adamrichardjones.co.uk.

Adam is an extremely motivated and enthusiastic individual who started his business at a very young age. We are excited to hear all about his experiences.

Thanks for taking busy time out your schedule to join us today, Adam.

How long have you been running your own business?

A: I’ve been running my business for nearly 2 years this September. I started my current business at the age of just 19, it was the perfect opportunity to get building my business whilst I didn’t have many commitments.

What made you want to work for yourself?

A: Mainly because I didn’t like working for other people – I could always see a better, more time efficient and effective way of implementing tasks. Obviously the other benefits of being self-employed are: the rewards of hard work and customers that are happy.

What do you think are the advantages/disadvantages of being a business owner?

A: I think the main advantages are you can pick the hours you want to work, usually those hours are longer than people in full time employment, building a brand and getting work constantly can be really difficult if you aren’t committed.

The major disadvantage is never “not working”, the lifestyle of a young business person is slightly different to those who are at studying or working full time. You cannot switch off because your business is part of you…you always check your emails whilst on holiday or before going to bed.

What do you find to be the most effective way to get business?

A: I find that the most effective and cheaper ways of getting business is using social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn (due to my business being a Business-2-Business service).

What other methods do you use to get more business?

A: I always try and keep in touch with past clients and make sure they are happy – that’s how word of mouth becomes one of the most important tools. I don’t do much paid advertising (apart from the odd advert on social media platforms). A new idea that I am just starting to use is putting case studies of past clients on my website – so people can see what others are saying about me.

Who has been the most supportive of your business?

A: My parents and grandparents have been the most supportive people to have alongside for support. People tend to be a little concerned when I first started my business however the expansion of it has surprised many.

How have you handled criticism?

A: You sometimes get people who say “there’s loads of photographers, there’s no money in it”. I don’t just offer a photography service, but we work with commercial clients mainly – it’s all about building up a working relationship and standing out from the crowd…I usually point that out.

I think when I first started my main criticism was my age – people didn’t look very sure of trusting a 19 year old to supply a good quality of service. I sort of flipped that on its head, using my creativity to try and break the mould. Positivity is my main way of dealing with criticism.

What tips would you give people who are just starting up?

A: If you are thinking of starting up – don’t delay, research, research, research into your industry, the legal aspects and understand everything you need to know. Work out budgets and plan ahead for no profit the first year of trading.

For people my age – I would say…don’t hang around and wait for 5 years’ time. If you don’t have many commitments then it’s a certain advantage to start now whilst you don’t have financial ties!

Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years? Do you see yourself opening more businesses in the future?

A: In 5 years’ time, I want to see my business continuing to grow and expand, working with larger clients and more local small businesses. I won’t be content until I have multiple businesses under my control, with my sights set on opening a hotel and caravan park business in the near future.