Stories, ideas and tips to help women build fabulous businesses and to help you build your best business.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can’t afford employees? How about getting your customers to do the work for you? will sell over 1 million must-have too-cool t-shirts this year earning them something in the order of US$20 million in revenue.

Guess how many staff they have?


Yep, that’s right. Just 35.

As a very rough rule of thumb a business is doing pretty well if it employs just 5 people for every US$1million in revenue earned. Or, put another way, it’s a good business if every employee adds US$200,000 to the top line. employs just 1.75 people for every US$1million in revenue. Each employee adds a phenomenal US$571,000 to the top line.

So how does Threadless out-do the best companies?

They use their customers to do the work for them.

Customers submit t-shirt designs to the website, customers vote on the best design of the week and customers run a magnificent word-of-mouth marketing campaign.

The only thing that has to do is to print t-shirts with the winning design and sell them on-line (for about US$15 each).

My nibble is this: what can you change about your business to get your customers to give you a free hand?

And having built my own furniture (thank you Ikea) and assembled my children’s bicycles (thank you Toys R Us) t-shirt design can’t be that hard.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What does everyone know that I don’t?

I recently discovered the Ozganics grocery line -yummy yummy organic foods and sauces - and the story behind the business.

The founder Anni Brownjohn literally stumbled over a jar of American organic jam in her local Aussie supermarket. Because she thought it was complete madness that this stuff was being imported from half way round the globe she started a business producing an Australian version.

It was a lot tougher than she thought.

The ingredients were hard to find and extraordinarily expensive, and to top it off Australian’s weren’t even that bothered about buying organic food stuffs! (I should point out that Aussies aren’t complete philistines - this was a good ten years ago).

Even though the business is now a great success Anni says that she wouldn’t have started the business if she had known the difficulties ahead.

My nibble is this. Sometimes spotting a gap in the market can be an opportunity that is too good to be true. Being a pioneer is both expensive and exhausting. Maybe the reason that there isn’t a local presence in your market is that your would-be competitors are waiting for someone like you to come in and break the ground so that they can then glide in.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Are you too busy to exercise?

What’s the first thing that you are too busy to do? For me it’s exercise. Or should I say for me it was exercise.

After discovering “Brain Rules:12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school” by John Medina ( I am now going to have to find something else to be too busy to do.


Because according to John exercise is the closest thing we have to a magic bullet for our brains and:

we learn 20% faster immediately after exercise
exercise improves our brain’s higher-order functions (complex problem solving, reasoning etc)
we are best at decision making when our heart rate is up
we get better outcomes from business meetings when we hold them while walking at 1.8 km per hour (sounds funny but I think it works –I feel much more eloquent when I walk about while using the phone)
exercise will improve our long term memory

My nibble is this. I find it easy to be too busy on my business to get all hot and sweaty, even though I know how important it is to look after my physical health. But knowing that 45 minutes spent exercising will have a positive and direct impact on my business, well it’s a no-brainer.

Oh and if you are thinking this guy is just a quack you might want to know that he is actually a developmental molecular biologist whose work focuses on the genes involved in human brain development and the genetics of psychiatric disorders.

And he’s very entertaining. Take a look at his website (

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lessons from the leg wax

The other day I notched up my first one year anniversary with a beauty salon. While this might not sound like much of an achievement it has left me totally delighted.

After two decades of growing body hair I have finally found a leg, bikini, and eyebrow defuzzer which I actually like.

So while I was enduring last week’s leg wax I decided to work out what I liked so much about this particular Temple of Pain and Endurance. Here’s the list:

· It’s clean
· It’s convenient
· The parking is ok
· They stick to appointment times
· The therapists are friendly in a low key way
· The beauticians don’t indulge in inane conversation during treatments
· You get an aroma therapy eye pack while having your legs and bikini done
· It smells nice
· They don’t try to sell products to you

The interesting bit though is that I have no idea whether this beauty salon is expensive or cheap.

My nibble is that although beauty places are ubiquitous, individual salons are unique. So, be bold with your pricing - if your service and ambience are great your customers won’t notice the price; well not much anyway.

Of course I now spend a lot more time and money in my salon ( Massage anyone?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Being discovered

When I was growing up people got “discovered”. Kate Moss got “discovered” by a model agent at JFK airport. Naomi Campbell got “discovered” while window shopping in Covent Garden. The formerly voluptuous Sophie Dahl got “discovered” on a London street by the fashion maverick Isabella Blow.

These three enormously successful models were also girls that didn’t fit the model mould – Kate was too short, Naomi to exotic and Sophie, well, too voluptuous.

And they still got discovered; there was hope for all of us.

Fast forward to today.

If you are a jewellery designer/cake maker/ novelist you may get “discovered” by Oprah and unveiled on her show

If you are a dress designer you may get “discovered” by Nicole Kidman or Angelina Jolie and worn to the Oscars

If you are a shoemaker you may get “discovered” by Vogue magazine and become the next Jimmy Choo.

Interestingly though, people who get “discovered” are rarely surprised that they have been found. In fact the opposite is true - they have usually been working their little behinds off to make sure that that they get noticed by the right people.

So don’t wait for your business to be discovered. Work out who needs to find you and set about making sure that they do.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A daily dose of goodness

I can’t remember how I stumbled across this now, but I did, and I love it.

It’s called the Daily Good and it’s a free email service that delivers a little bit of inspiring goodness straight into your in box.

So every day I get to read a little story that leaves a big impact.

It feels good. It revitalises me. And it reminds me about what’s really important.

Check it out at