In many ways, I am an accidental entrepreneur. It does not run in my family so was never in my DNA or overtly encouraged, to be honest. My parents didn’t own their businesses and I was always of the view I would not either. Until I did.
That is something I have not been able to do. I have two sons now 12 and 9. Of course, it was a different time in the era my parents raised a family some 30 years ago — many families need and want to have two parents working from a financial perspective alone, although many women, including me, have made a conscious choice to remain working because they value what doing career-focused work means even beyond paying the bills.
And it sounds ideal – to have your own business and work your own hours – but most entrepreneurs will tell you that philosophy is a fallacy. Yes, there’s flexibility, but there’s also a lot more responsibility and in a small business you’re not just ‘large and in charge’ you must do multiple jobs, especially in the early days.
My own business story over the past 15 years is not as remarkable as others, but it has been adventurous and continues to evolve. However, it’s my story and maybe one other can relate to it?
As Oscar Wilde famously said: “The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.” How true.
I officially started the first version of Bespoke Communications on 2 December 2007 with one client and $1000 in the bank. It’s interesting how I recall the date so clearly. Prior to that, I’d had an awesome career in journalism and PR – working overseas and in Australia – a career many would envy. But eventually, there was the ‘call’ that many entrepreneurs speak about – the desire to really stretch me and go it alone.
I had not set out to become an entrepreneur or business leader, and the first year was hard yards, long days and nights, and not much cash flow – the way one-man bands often are.
But there are powerful lessons to be learned in those long days and tight cash-flow months. It’s amazing what you can create on a shoestring, and even today my business remains lean on staff – we use freelancers and contract out parts of bigger jobs sometimes.
We survived the magical “five-year mark” when only two-thirds of small businesses remain open for business And then I took a break, started another entity, and worked in-house for a time. Now as Pty Ltd business that is 15 years old, my first baby is older than my first born child.
So, in an effort to encourage others to join the wild ride of entrepreneurship, here are my top six take-outs for you to ponder, no matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey.
Be true to your values and have the courage to make the big and small changes. Any business you run has to make money but has to be more rewarding, exciting, and fun than working for someone else.
If you wanted to have me share more of my business learnings or have a chat about communicating your story, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and drop me a message.
With the digital revolution in full swing, and even more so since the pandemic hit us, business is facing a time like never before: one of disruption and unprecedented change. The key to navigating this change successfully, according to communications expert Amber Daines, is finding – and expressing – your authentic voice.
The way we do business is definitely changing, at an incredible pace, in an increasingly competitive global environment. Mainstream media is just one offering amongst a proliferation of social media and online channels … Audiences too, are less attentive, and more often than not, they’re in a different location.
On the face of it, building a strong brand with longevity looks like it is getting harder unless you have a billion-dollar budget. But this is not necessarily so, says Amber Daines, Founder of Bespoke Communications & Media Training Pty Ltd – success lies in mastering effective communication.
“On many fronts, technology has made communication impersonal, so now, more than ever before, it’s important to make sure that your communication is personal, and the only way to do that is to be personable,” she says.
As the founder and head communicator at Bespoke Communications, Amber works with scores of leaders, offering a range of services including media training and public speaking skills. In the past decade, Amber has trained more than 5,000 people to be confident writers, speakers, and presenters. She has worked with some well-known brands as they aim to remain firmly, tweak their messaging or completely reinvent themselves.
“I encourage clients to be brave and confident,” says Amber. “But most of all I encourage them to be their authentic selves –to find their own voice, their unique message, and to express it clearly and concisely.
This is so critical in this day and age as audiences become more discerning – and know when someone is for real. Plus they have the power to scroll on, move to the next listing on Google, hit the button on the remote, and plenty of choices available. You’ve got mere seconds to grab attention …. And then you have to be able to hold it.
Amber says this comes down to having a compelling message, a call to action, and a “what’s in it for me” (WIFM) factor.
“This is where a professional communications consultant can really add value, along with tailoring the message to suit the circumstance without diluting the brand.”
With almost 20 years of experience in communications, including print and TV journalism, PR, and marketing, working in Australia, Asia, and Europe, Amber set up Bespoke Communications in 2007 with about $1,000 in her bank account – a testament to how passionately she feels about communication, and the real need to help companies get it right.
“When you put yourself out there and a PR strategy goes well, the rewards are amazing and the bottom-line results for the business can be phenomenal – but the opposite can happen in an instant too if something goes wrong.
“It’s so important for companies to have a communications advisor, and I don’t necessarily believe that it’s good to have these skills in-house, because people get ‘too close’ to the issues. Independent advice, from a partner who knows the business, but is just one step removed, can really offer a fresh perspective and new ideas. Another benefit of using a consultancy is that you can choose the services you need, and only pay for what you use – this really suits smaller companies that don’t always have big budgets,” she explains.
Amber’s passion for start-up Bespoke Communications has paid off and now counts big and small businesses across a range of industries as well as government departments, start-ups, and worthy causes as its clients.
“Most business leaders consider that they don’t need PR and communications help unless they’re initiating a big project, but I believe that now, more than ever, it’s important to engage with a communications partner across all business activities.
Social media has empowered many organisations to become ‘DIY’ PR professionals – this is a good thing because it means that messages can be sent immediately, changed, and updated,” says Amber. “But it’s important that underpinning this ability to DIY are some fundamental communications skills, and a strategy so that key messages are reiterated at every opportunity,” she says.
“We all have good communication skills, but in this day and age, to stand out in the marketplace you need to have great communication skills. One thing that’s really exploding at the moment is audio and video communication – people have less time to read, but they can watch a video while they’re waiting for the kids to finish soccer training, or listen to a podcast while they’re preparing dinner, or working out at the gym … it’s important for businesses to embrace these audio and visual platforms as part of their communications too, or the simple fact of the matter is that they will be left behind.
“When I interviewed successful CEOs and business leaders for my book in 2015, I realised that good communication skills can be easily learned. The same holds true today. What I know from experience is that when solid communication skills are put into action sincerely, with personal style, then each and every one of us has the ability to become an incredibly powerful influencer.”
Amber’s best-selling book ‘Well Said: How to be heard in business and generate real influence’, is a must-read for all leaders. It is available for purchase here.
For a conversation about professional communications help for your business, contact Amber.