Taking the plunge ... Jacquie McLean.
Like many would-be entrepreneurs, mother-of-two Jacquie McLean was always too busy to pursue any of her enthusiastic ideas.
But the 36-year-old finally took the plunge with her 10th idea (giant beach bags that are low-cost, yet stylish) and created the aptly-named Project Ten. She's since sold 1500 of the basic, lightweight totes – not bad for a business that launched late last year.
What led you to believe that there was a market for your bags?
I started working on the idea in January 2012, when I was struggling to carry all of the stuff a family needs for a day at the beach. I wanted a giant bag that could hold everything, but not weigh much itself (and be stylish at the same time).
What was the first thing you did to kick-start your business?
The first action I took was to ask a friend (who could sew) to help me make a sample. Then I set about researching the designs I thought would appeal to a broad range of people. I found the supplier (in China) online, through a contact.
How did you test the market?
I didn't really test it; I did a small production run and went about telling everyone I knew. I also launched just before Christmas, which was good timing.
What has been your best marketing tool?
My best marketing tool has been word-of-mouth, closely followed by Facebook. I live in Geelong, which is a small town. That has its advantages when you want to spread the word!
How important has your online presence been in growing your business?
An online presence is paramount in this digital age. I always intended for my business to be online so that it allowed me the flexibility to work from home around my family commitments. It also allows me to reach a far wider audience. I have had orders from Singapore and the USA, just through the power of social media.
What's been the hardest part of starting and running a business?
I think the hardest part is keeping the momentum going with the business when your life gets very busy. Previously I've let life stop me from getting very far with my ideas, because I think 'it's not the right time' – but I don't think it's ever the right time … you just have to jump in and give it a go!
Your best time-management strategy?
It's tempting to process orders as soon as they come in, but some days, it might mean you are working 10 minutes in every hour, rather than concentrating that time into one hour after my kids are in bed (which is a lot more time efficient and less stressful).
What were you doing prior to Project Ten?
I was a stay-at-home mum for six years. Prior to that, I worked as an account manager for a Melbourne advertising agency. I have a Bachelor of Business and I have done a book-keeping course at TAFE.
What are your plans for the future?
I only have four products in my current range. I wanted to gain my confidence first before launching a large range. I have had a lot of feedback from people wanting a smaller version of my bags, so that's what I'm working on at the moment.