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Entrepreneur Advice for Small Business Success

26 October 2021

Entrepreneur Advice for Small Business Success

Starting and growing your own business at the kitchen table has many challenges. From start-up costs through logistics, to finding the right people to support you as your business grows. There are a few rules to remember when setting out on your own.

Start small 

Belinda Robinson and Felecia Tappenden met when both had small children and worked in the baby supply industry on Sydney’s northern beaches. The pair remained in contact, and while on a walk one day, came up with an idea to develop and market a serum for thinning eyelashes.

Rather than spend their own savings, they built a website and started an Indiegogo crowd-sourcing fundraising page. They described the product they were developing and promised reduced prices to those who invested early. The pair raised $20,000, which was enough to produce the first batch of their eyelash enhancer, CanGro.

“That first capital raise paid for the first batch, which paid for the second, and on and on,” Felecia says. “Now we’re a seven-figure business that we run from home.”

Start local, go global

Family and friends were essential in getting the business off the ground. “We have five children between us. Our kids were packing orders, and my husband helped with the website,” Felecia recalls.

“When the local paper got hold of our story, that’s when things really took off,” Belinda adds. “So we had a lot of local community support.”

When the factory, warehouse and both business owners’ homes are all within 15 minutes’ drive, supply chain interruptions and long waits for products are problems that the CanGro founders have been able to avoid. After starting with just one product, they have now developed several lines and the business continues to grow. “People seem to like that we’re Australian-made,” Belinda says.

When the local paper got hold of our story, that’s when things really took off
Belinda Robinson
Co-Founder, CanGro

Job satisfaction 

“We can be around for our families as well as work, and we don’t spend half our days travelling to and from an office,” Belinda says.

“And because we started our business with a fundraiser, we had a customer base to talk to. It’s not like selling a bike, where you’re unlikely to sell another one to the same customer. When it’s a lash serum that you run out of after three months, we could go back to those early customers as say, ‘Hey! We hope you like it, do you want to buy more?’”

The most satisfying part of growing CanGro has been the glowing customer reviews.

“My favourite part is when we get customers who send emails or reviews saying thank you so much, you’ve changed my life. Or elderly ladies who are using our collagen and their skin is glowing. Helping people feel more confident in their own skin is great,” Felecia says.

“So many of our orders are from repeat customers, and that gets me excited,” Belinda adds. “We’ve got a really loyal base. We have one customer in America who’s up to her twenty-first order, and frequently I’m filling the twelfth or fifteenth order for a customer. That’s a really nice feeling.”

Belinda and Felecia describe themselves as their target market. “The older, wiser generation,” Belinda laughs. “From 35 to 60.”

Any cautionary tales? “You need to know all your costs,” says Belinda. “And you can’t be good at everything. Do what you’re good at and get the experts in for the areas you need it.” CanGro retains the help of dedicated marketing and PR agencies that are experts in the beauty industry. And a good bookkeeper and accountant are essential, say the founders.

Felecia agrees. “You really need to know your costs,” she says. “And make sure you have adequate insurance.”

Do you need insurance for your new home-based business? If you’re in QLD, NSW, ACT or TAS, NRMA has a range of products available for small and medium sized enterprises.


australian small business