THE 9-5 CORPORATE FACTORY ISN’T EVERYONE’S IDEA OF FULFILLMENT.
The allure of being the alpha and omega of your own destiny is certainly enticing and it’s easy to see why more people are chasing the freedom and fulfilment of the entrepreneurial dream.
At the heart of every successful startup is optimism. Forging together passion and aspirations, making your mark on the world. But the journey isn’t all rainbows and skittles and the entrepreneurial hustle can also be a gruelling journey of never-ending hours, commitment and persistence.
We speak with three of our region’s entrepreneurs taking on the challenges and reaping the rewards.
JAMES FALKENBERG OF JIM’S FISHING
Many ‘side-hustles’ begin as lifestyle ventures, developed with the purpose of altering an entrepreneur’s personal lifestyle and not for the sole purpose of making profit.
One local focusing on the rewards given to people that have a passion for what they do is James Falkenberg, of Jim’s Fishing. What began as a love of fishing has spawned a lifestyle venture creating content and working with sponsors across a variety of social media platforms, with plenty of perks along the way.
“I started the Jim’s Fishing page on Facebook in November 2017,” James said.
“The idea came on the back of family and friends suggesting I do so as a way of furthering my fishing persona.
“I have always enjoyed creating videos, so after setting up my YouTube channel I needed an avenue to share my vids. Before, I would simply share my videos and pictures on my personal Facebook page, restricting my exposure to purely friends and family.
“Using both Facebook and Instagram as a platform for sharing my content, they can now be seen by anyone with internet access. The popularity of Jim’s Fishing is growing with new followers and subscribers across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube daily.”
Having written for Fish & Boat magazine for a few years, James now has a regular column in each issue called ‘Fishin’ with the Captain’ where readers can submit their questions – not always fishing related – and James answers to the best of his knowledge.
“I tend to go by the saying, ‘work to live, don’t live to work,’ and throughout most of my adult/working life I have never really been money driven as much as I probably should have been,” James laughs.
“If you enjoy what you are doing then it’s not really classed as ‘work’ in my opinion. This makes it really easy to continue to improve and produce better content, especially when you’re having fun. If you aren’t enjoying what you are doing, why do it?”
As fun as it may be, James is still kicking goals: Mako eyewear are now on board with Jim’s Fishing, and he has also provided content for the team at Shimano Australia to use on their social media platforms.
“Just recently I was invited to the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) awards convention held on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“There I got to meet the who’s who of the fishing industry as well as checking out and reviewing the latest products. I was honestly like a kid in a candy store, surrounded entirely by fishing gear! I was very lucky not to be hit with excess baggage charges on the way home.”
James advises aspiring lifestyle entrepreneurs not to let the pressure of making money or getting free gear turn a hobby or passion into a job.
“There seems to be a stigma that only the best anglers are sponsored, so a lot of people out there are producing content that they don’t actually believe in, or false content, in the hope that a company may pick them up and sponsor them,” he said.
“It’s important to remember that this is what you like doing outside of work, so enjoy it. The moment you feel like you ‘have to’ do this and you ‘have to’ do that, then maybe it’s time to ease back a little and go back to enjoying your hobby. Don’t lose that childlike enthusiasm you had growing up whatever you do!”
As for the future of Jim’s Fishing?
“Just to share with the world the enjoyment that can be had outside on the water, experiencing life and all its pleasures,” James said.
“We are lucky enough to live in a spectacular part of the world, and in a world where it seems people are more addicted to Xboxes than tackle boxes, we need to get out there and enjoy it!”
CASSANDRA CHEISA OF HELPING HANDS
Townsville hand therapy business, Helping Hands, has flourished from a one-woman show to a multi-clinic practice with an impressive seven figure turnover.
A happily married mum of 2 children under five, Cassandra Cheisa is single-handedly proving that driven female entrepreneurs can have and do it all – successfully.
“After 10 years studying and working, I moved back to Townsville in 2006,” Cassandra said.
“At the time there were no hand therapy private practices operating, and no positions at the hospital. I had no aspirations to have my own business, and at that stage I really did not want to open my own clinic, but I loved hand therapy, and couldn’t imagine doing anything else, so I opened my doors so that I was able to continue this professional pursuit and fill my days helping people.”
Cassandra rented a room in a physiotherapy clinic, sharing their receptionist and outsourcing as much as possible to allow her focus to remain patient-based, but soon found it was impossible to sustain.
“I was working long hours, easily six days a week whilst still undergoing post graduate university study and accreditation to become a hand therapist,” she explains.
“It got to the point where I simply couldn’t continue with the workload, at which stage I employed my first therapist. Since then, things have grown steadily and organically, with an additional therapist on staff each year.
“We now have 15 staff members across five clinics, with revenue in the seven figures.”
Cassandra has since found being a business owner hugely rewarding on many levels.
“I like knowing that my business helps so many people each and every day recover from upper limb injuries or conditions,” she said.
“But I also get a lot of fulfilment from knowing that I am generating a livelihood for 14 other people and the benefit that then has on their families and the community as a whole.”
The flexibility and autonomy the role provides Cassandra as a working mum is also an advantage.
“For the most part I am able to choose when and where I work,” she said.
“Currently that means I work three days a week which allows me to have quality time at home with the kids (Tommy, 18 months, and Lucy, nearly 4).”
Cassandra also cites her husband as her biggest supporter.
“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my husband to vent to about the issues that are unsettling me,” she said.
“He is very good at putting things into perspective and separating fact from fiction so I don’t make mountains out of molehills,” she laughs. “As an accountant and business advisor, he’s great to bounce ideas off and inspires me to get my head around the numbers, which is so important as those numbers grow.”
Despite her success, Cassandra said she is “generally living out of my comfort zone at all times, which does mean living in a constant state of mild (to moderate) anxiety.”
“As the business grows, so does the pressure, continuing to meet the high expectations I put on myself back in the early days when I was the only one seeing patients,” she added.
It’s probably no surprise, then, Cassandra’s top tip for budding entrepreneurs is: “don’t do it alone.”
“There are so many avenues for getting quality advice, coaching and peer support nowadays – whether it be face to face or online,” she said.
“You don’t need to reinvent wheels – seek mentoring from people who have been there before, enrol in education, read books, listen to podcasts. Be open to opportunities and think positively. Look outside your industry for ways to innovate and celebrate the wins along the way.”
MICK DEVINE & ALEX LEWIS OF CALXA
When it comes to money, you don’t want to make mistakes – especially in business. One app created in Townsville is helping businesses around the globe take the guesswork out of budgets, cash flow and KPI reporting to better manage their money.
Calxa began in 2008 – the brainchild of CEO Mick Devine and Head of Marketing Alex Lewis. From a home office in Townsville, the team used a graduate developer from James Cook University until the scope of the project grew and they needed to recruit additional skills from overseas.
“Back in 2008 there was no local incubator labs or tech community,” Mick said.
“Our friends used to ask us for computer help not really understanding tech and the idea of developing software.”
Designed with not-for-profits (NFPs), small businesses and accountants in mind, Calxa allows NFPs accurate board reporting, complex grant acquittals, department and project budgeting and managing SCOA, and enables businesses quick and easy cash flow forecasting, financials for loan applications, ‘what if’ scenarios for planning and reporting for growth.
From building the business across Australia and New Zealand, Calxa currently has built a base of over 2,000 users and 150 consulting partners that sell and train their customers. Since the release of a cloud-based app, Mick and the team are shifting their focus globally.
“We recently started integrating with Intuit’s QuickBooks Online – the largest software provider in the world – and from this we are seeing a growing number of customers filtering through in overseas locations,” Mick said.
“We are now actively planning our global strategy through digital marketing and partnership channels.
“We’ve been trying to extend our in-house marketing team but haven’t quite found the right people. We’ve been looking to add SEO specialists, digital marketers and content writers but finding skilled marketing talent locally has been frustrating. We haven’t given up yet and are working with local universities and engaging in less traditional recruitment methods.”
Mick said they had multiple attempts to get the current team together.
“While we have skilled designers and developers in New Zealand, Argentina and Ukraine, head office continues to be housed in Townsville.
“We run research and development, customer support, sales and marketing teams locally.
“We are in the process of setting up Calxa Europe – that’s part of our global expansion and will enable us to extend our support coverage across multiple time zones.”
The team also plans to work with accounting software vendors like Xero and QuickBooks Online to help them move into the UK and USA markets, and have released complementary new software.
“With our plan to expand our offering to the small business market, we’ve released The Invisible Accountant last year,” Mick said.
“It links to MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks Online to extract the latest figures and automatically delivers a set of management reports to the owner’s inbox and won the 2018 iAward for innovation.”
It was the second time Mick’s team had won the award, winning in 2012 for the Calxa app.
They also won the 2016 Australian Not-For-Profit Technology Award, with almost 1,000 not-for-profits using free Calxa software to help run their organisation.
“Not-for-profits have the most complex financial reporting requirements across all business,” Mick said.
“They have to acquit funding, they are governed by boards that require regular reporting and they are accountable to their donors. Our donation program helps the smaller not-for-profits who have the same complex requirements as their larger counterparts.
“We make their work easier, cutting down their time spent on reporting usually from four days per month to just a few hours.
“When we measured our customers’ time-savings, our social impact amounted to over $12m annually (based on reporting stats published by the sector regulator, the Australian Charities and NFP Commission).”