With Paula Brand –
Paula Brand is Australia’s prominent Small Business Networker, she’s an Entrepreneur, single Mum, and as the Small Business Expos Founder and CEO she is enabling collaborative marketplaces that produce financial outcomes for small business owners.
“I’ve always believed small business is the cornerstone of the community and I don’t think we actually really take that seriously at all.”, said Paula.
For 25 years she worked in 12 industry sectors, growing industries across Queensland and Australia. In particular, she worked in the Computer Games industry right across the Eastern seaboard, implementing the first Diploma of Computer Games in Australia. Her ethos and passion have always been focused on implementing programs that provide economic outcomes and to develop industry sectors for the bene t of business owners and families.
Paving the road to small business success has not always been an easy one, having experienced two redundancies, she soon came to realise as an over-skilled woman in her 40’s that there was no place for her in a corporate environment.
She took this opportunity to start her own business which was the first computer repair business she had. The redundancies had afforded her the cash ow and her qualifications and industry experience gave her the skills she needed to succeed. “One of the major reasons why businesses fail in the first year is lack of cash ow. I believe you need to be able to fund yourself for an entire year to get your business up and running.”, Paula shared.
Today with the pressures of being a mother and running multiple Small Business Expos, Paula ensures that the expos are built around her life with her daughter so they can travel every year. “I am a single mother with an autistic child and
in actual fact the expos were built around our life. What is very important to me is travel and I log all of my travel before I log every expo. So, despite the fact that I have to go under consultation with 70 business groups, media, three levels of government in six regions – what does come first after all of that and reaching out to 250,000 businesses is my daughter and I.”, said Paula.
Paula is clear that Small Business Expos are not all about her – they are about the communities they are based in – the six regions and 250,000 businesses. Despite this, being the Hot & Healthy in Business Magazine cover girl is something she is embracing as an honour and recognition of the possibilities of what she is capable of for her 50th birthday.
She admits that she is not a fan of social networking events that have sprung up for women over the last ve years. She’s all about business to business serious sales conversations. “We do ourselves an injustice of our time and our money where we’re not producing proper outcomes for our businesses to grow.”, said Paula. She would like to see a cultural change in our business communities where women have proper sales conversations about their business. “There are hundreds of thousands of women who are hiding behind social media and thinking that’s going to be the be all and end all for their business. The last time I looked, we were still human beings and we still need to have face
to face conversations. It’s a real weak point for women that they are not having the same sales conversations yet due to lack of confidence and skills that men are.” She added.
“Fifty-two percent of businesses owned in this country are actually owned by women – I still think there’s a long way we need to go in order to actually be powerful in our business”
Paula believes sales skills, attitude and proper networking are the ingredients for success when it comes to Small Business Expos, along with your gut instinct – something women actually have more than men – the answers are actually within you.
A great strength of women in small business is the ability to collaborate she shares, “Women usually don’t have such strong egos as men and so women have the capacity to understand that if you collaborate together you can achieve so much more. Women – that’s their number one ability to verbalise – they love to talk, share and connect and I think that’s very powerful.” The Small Business Expos provide a collaborative environment with no competition to foster success.
She agreed it’s dif cult for small business owners to be everything in their business – it’s not humanly possible. So, it’s important to surround yourself with quality skilled people who are there for you. It takes experience to identify the right people to work with and to avoid getting ripped off.
Paula has built an impressive audience of 88,000 and believes that you build your tribe – your community of ideal customers and she works
on building that audience every day. If you don’t have your tribe, it doesn’t matter how great your idea is – it will never be seen, you will never be heard, and you will never be able to sell your product.
The Small Business Expos have not exactly been an overnight success for Paula, now in the fifth year they are about to go nationwide. It takes months of consultation for each expo, trust building, relationship building for one day events that last six hours. With her team of seven they make the magic happen. In developing the expos, Paula has learnt that it is easier to work with like-minded people and to use the concept of stretch – going beyond what they thought they could achieve.
In 2019, Paula’s team will train over 600 businesses in sales conversations on how to succeed from running an exhibition stand. This ensures skills transfer and the right mindset for success for small business owners beyond their stand at the expos. They are the only business expo that does this in the whole of Australia. Their mission is to pull more women out from social media and encourage them to go to the expos. Tina X talks have been introduced for women to have their own business talks, along with free brow bars and massages. It’s free to attend the expos – so you would be crazy not to! Their goal is to generate between $1.3M and $2M in sales leads from each expo – that’s developing the small business community by $10M!
Paula is not one to claim achievements when she shares why the expos were created, “These expos were built to feed my family. My daughter and I never forget that small business is the cornerstone of the community. These expos are grassroots held in the community to feed people’s families. If I’m feeding my family then I’m very happy along the way to feed 8,000 other families as well.”
In her dealings with Government, Local Government in particular, Paula has found it challenging to work with six different regional councils, all with different strategic plans and outcomes and some not understanding that business is no longer just a corner store business. “Business is fluid – it’s online, it’s franchised, it’s mobile, it’s home based.”, said Paula.
Here are Paula’s Top 5 tips for a woman in small business:
- Cash flow – you must have the funds
- Do whatever it takes – she used food hampers and op shops for years and took a second job
- LinkedIn – she has 11,000 contacts on LinkedIn which took three years to build
- Be wary of sharks that can rip you off
- If you suffer social anxiety that holds you back just go and do something about it