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Tune in to hear about:
- How taking the time to connect and engage with your audience will set your brand up for the long term
- Why collaborations with other businesses need to be organised in a genuine frame of mind
- How Business School for Mums filled in the gaps within Becky's business tool box
- The top learnings and challenges associated with setting up a directory based business
I've always wanted to do my own thing; I enjoy following my own path and making things happen for myself. I grew up in Wales in the UK and came to Australia 17 years ago, this is definitely where I call home. I worked in creative and brand consultancies for all of my 'corporate' career, which was fun, inspiring and fast-paced, but it was also demanding and exhausting at times. When I had my 2 beautiful children quite close together - there are just under 1 year apart - I knew I couldn't and didn't want to go back to that world. After a few years of being a mum and focusing my energy on the kids, I started to get requests from past clients and colleagues for design projects here and there. It grew to the point where I decided to make it official and started my brand and creative consultancy which has grown steadily over the past 4 years. Then when both kids were in full time school from the start of 2018, I felt that I wanted to up the anti, to test and learn some new business building skills. I'd worked with so many clients to help them create and build their brands and it was time to do that for myself. I had lots of little light bulb moments but when the idea for The Sista Collective started to take shape I knew that was something I could really get passionate about.
Connect with Becky
Flori Pyke: [00:00:49] Welcome to Episode 44 of the Brave Business Podcast. And today, you got myself Flori, driving the bus, and I am very excited to be in the company of actually one of our very own students, Becky Hughes. And Becky is a brand consultant is what she calls herself. But I prefer to call her more of like a brand ninja, like she's amazing within her own business White Space, and that's something she's been doing over the past four years. But today what we're talking about is something very exciting that she is about to launch, and it's something that we've been working on with her a lot within our program Small Business Pro, and that's called The Sista Collective, which is a directory exclusively designed for female owned service businesses. So huge welcome to you Becky. I'm so excited to have you here today on the podcast.
Becky Hughes: [00:01:46] Thank you Flori. You make me sound very glamorous when you use the term brand consultant. [laughs]
Flori Pyke: [00:01:53] It was like, well I thought ninja was a little bit more appropriate to be honest. Yeah. Because well I had the pleasure of connecting with Becky on the weekend for a Mastermind Strategy Day, and I felt like you were part of the team Becky. You were just like phwa phwa phwa It was like advice here left, right, center on all things brand. And it was so awesome. I was like Oh my God. She really knows her stuff, this woman like yeah. You stay over here on this side of the table with us. [laughs]
Becky Hughes: [00:02:25] I do get very passionate when it comes to conversations around brands. It's definitely my kind of what lights me up. It's my passion point. So, you know I do like to throw myself into those kind of conversations.
Flori Pyke: [00:02:40] Yes, I think it's great though because there is so much gold, and so much value that you can add, which brings me to, tell me a little bit more about The Sista Collective, because aside from being a beautiful brand in itself, because obviously it is you know you've put your magic hands on it, and it looks very beautiful. But aside from looking very beautiful, The Sista Collective is, as I was saying to you before we hopped on the podcast, it is so encompassing. It has so many aspects and facets to it, and it's something that I'd love for you to explain a little bit more to our listeners about, because being a female based audience I think you've created something that is really compelling, and will resonate with a lot of our listeners.
Becky Hughes: [00:03:20] Yeah. Look it's funny because The Sista Collective definitely has developed a little life of its own. I think because of the message, and what it's about and what it encompasses. I always kind of say to people now someone asked me recently that it's kind of being 12 months and 42 years in the making, because it's kind of I had the idea probably twelve months ago for The Sista Collective, and have spent the last six months really building it, and kind of getting off the ground. But it comes out of I suppose a lifetime of passion for me in many ways, around the female voice, and kind of supporting women in business in my brand consultancy. I work a lot with women in business, and just in life I see very often that kind of desire amongst women. And I think it comes very naturally to women to want to work together and connect with each other, but there's not necessarily the platform, or the mechanism out there to make that an easy thing for women to do. I guess the premise of The Sista Collective in its original idea was to create a directory, that was specifically for female owned and operated businesses, largely in kind of service kind of industries. So, I'm talking anything from trades like plumbers, and carpenters, to dentists, beauticians, photographers, graphic designers, across all kinds of industries, that would be kind of a central place where then female consumers, anybody could then go and essentially I suppose find their tribe, and form their village so those kind of go to services that they could find, and then always kind of build that relationship with. But it's very much about facilitating connections between women to allow, to make a choice to work together.
Flori Pyke: [00:05:15] Okay. I love it. And, I was hoping, like for me Becky I feel like you really painted the story for me, when you explained it to me in the context of your own story, with respect to your mum. Can you share that a little bit more, because that I was like oh yeah, I can totally see how this would have such an uptake.
Becky Hughes: [00:05:34] Yeah, definitely. So part of this has been about supporting women in business in general. Part of it is about supporting non-traditional industries, like things like trades, finance, the legal kind of industry, but I suppose a more personal aspect for me was my mum has been on her own, for the last 18 months. And yeah you know there are times where she kind of talks about needing to get someone into the house, to do some work, do some painting, whatever it might be. And I kind of always felt like it would be nice as her you know, the people who love her, be nice to know that she could, and I think she would feel more comfortable if she could reach out to a female. So, the final part and aspect of it was those women that might be a bit more vulnerable, might be on their own who would like to make an active choice, to seek out a woman to work with.
Flori Pyke: [00:06:26] Yeah. I think like I said to you there's so many cornerstones of benefits, that this directory and initiative, brings to women and that's just one. Exactly, and the previous ones like it's so all-encompassing and wonderful, and so timely. Speaking of which that you're about to launch on a very special day. So tell us a little bit more around that, and where you're at in terms of launching.
Becky Hughes: [00:06:50] Yeah. So been working in a focused way on the concept for the last six months, and I think I've put a lot of energy into the directory in terms of the concept, but also in terms of I suppose the practicalities of the platform. So, working with you guys one of the big things I did want to do is kind of my research, and understand what other directories are out there, what might be their challenges, what would the opportunities to improve that environment as a whole. And, a big thing is the website site, the platform, and kind of making that really user friendly, but also a really well presented thing, and that there's not a quick and easy fix with that, and that's kind of something I've learned over time. So, over that six months there have been lots of times I’ve thought I'm ready to launch, I'm not ready to launch. And then I thought I was ready to launch about two weeks ago, but then there were more things that I wanted to tweak, and perfect around the website, and then my husband actually said to me; You do realise it's International Women's Day in two weeks’ time? Of course! Of course, I would want to launch on International Women's Day. That is the perfect opportunity. So, it kind of went into overdrive two weeks ago today. That has to happen. I have to make that happen, because it's so perfect, for the story of Sista Collective. I think it's just very timely around those kind of conversations, about female empowerment, and the female voice, and kind of giving exposure to women in business. So, that's four days away now, and I had a Skype meeting with the developer last night, and kind of lit a little fire under him. [both laughing] And that's happening it's really exciting and it just fit. It's kind of almost like serendipitous, it kind of you know for all that work of six months, and it culminated on that day is just very it's perfect, and it's very validating in a lot of ways.
Flori Pyke: [00:08:45] Yes. I bring you back to what you said. You know I've been working on it and like you mentioned something around perfection, and that it was kind of you know, perhaps drawing out the launch date to some degree, and I always like to say like, which is you know a well-known phrase but it's so true. You know that done is better than perfect. And you got to just keep moving. Right? Because you know what, like the website all of it, you're gonna keep changing eternally, and I will be the first to put out my hand that we are internally changing things over here. As many of you might know. So, you know congrats to you. I think it's awesome and it's a testament to your hard work, because not only are you running you know a family, and you've got your other very successful brand consultancy, but then also you're about to launch another business. So, it's very exciting. And, I guess on that note I wanted you to share with us please. You know, I'd love to understand what wins that you have had to date so, how have. Can you tell us a little bit around how you've prepared for this launch, so to speak. If you've done anything in order to kind of build up the buzz what that looks like. I'd love to hear about that.
Becky Hughes: [00:09:49] Yes, look I think I knew from when the idea really kind of took shape, and I knew that I wanted to sort of make it happen, that that kind of lead time to launch would be reasonably long. But, I saw that as an opportunity a. to invest in the platform. But b. to start to create the discourse around The Sista Collective, and in many ways to kind of make it a really authentic discourse, because I wouldn't spend that six months talking about the product, and essentially selling the product. So, I really spent that six months on social media, just having a really I suppose objective discourse around female empowerment, and just kind of introducing the really uplifting voice of the Sista Collective, and just connecting with the audience in that way. So that has been a real positive and I’m the first to say that I haven't got a huge social media following, but in many ways that's been very intentional. I get what I have got is an audience that is very engaged. And, I said at the beginning that they've, Sista Collective is kind of taking on a life of its own, and there's a very I suppose motivated inspired audience around it, that are constantly in touch with me. When's it coming and what can we do to help. And so that has been, I suppose a unconscious win for me, that I’ve been able to spend that time creating this really authentic voice and I've been able to then use that time reasonably wisely you could say. And then the other thing is a big part of the Sista Collective is the idea of collaboration, and that idea of kind of women coming together, to support each other, lift each other up. So, one thing that I did do a few months ago was reach out to some of the Business School for Mums community, but also my own network, because I wanted to create some e-guides. And, the e-guides would be centered. One was centered around business, one was centered around just general life. And, I invited 12 different business owners to contribute their 10 hacks. So, we had some lovely ladies, experts in SEO, email marketing, finance, lots of different topics. And, kind of brought that together into an e-book. So, that was really positively received. So, that was kind of me saying it would be really good to build a community that once I do launch, I've got that kind of warm community to launch to. And I remember, I was talking to you Flori and I kind of had set my goal. I remember it specifically that I wanted to get 30 leads. I was going to spend three hundred dollars. [laugh]
Flori Pyke: [00:12:31] And, what happened?
Becky Hughes: [00:12:32] Well, maybe talk about it later. But, one of the big things for me was kind of drawing on your expertise and Business School for Mums around things like Facebook advertising. I was very green in that area. So, I did a lot of work with you and listened to all of your content around Facebook advertising and you know put together my little ads and did my test. And I remember, I think it had been two days, it's gone well past that 30 downloads target, and in the end with the spend I ended up with I think it was well over 350 downloads of that piece.
Flori Pyke: [00:13:08] For how much money?
Becky Hughes: [00:13:11] Less than three hundred dollars I think I spent about two hundred and eighty dollars.
Flori Pyke: [00:13:14] So your cost per lead was under a dollar.
Becky Hughes: [00:13:16] It was under a dollar. Yes. I didn't really know if it was good or not until I kind of said to you this is actually really good.
Flori Pyke: [00:13:24] I almost fell off my chair. I was like holy moly.
Becky Hughes: [00:13:28] And, I think that was a really big learning for me because you know the idea of lead magnet you know, again that was the area that I'm... It's funny, because I've also spoken to Anna about this, is that I knew what I didn't know and that was one of the reasons I engaged with you guys. So, I knew my areas of expertise. I knew what my inspiration was for The Sista Collective. But I also knew, that the areas that I needed expertise and input and education. So, the lead magnet was a big one for me and kind of... But what I learned personally, was the lead magnet was a big investment. It was a big investment of time, lots of people came together to contribute. I used a lot of my design skills to kind of bring it together, but I'd had so much feedback from people to say thank you, it was such a good piece. We so often download these kinds of things, and it's a bit of an anticlimax. You have this real, this expert expectation about what you're going to get into your inbox and doesn’t always live up to that. So, I just felt like it aligned with The Sista Collective in that it was a genuine collaboration, but it was also very generous, and it was very authentic in the insight and the information that it shared. So I was very proud of that, and that was a real kind of a learning and a win for me that it is worth the investment of time. There were times I was like, what am I doing? This thing is taking too long, but it help me connect with some amazing women in business, who have contributed to it, and it obviously delivered the results.
Flori Pyke: [00:14:52] Yeah. Well and also just as a testament to what you just said in terms of helping you to connect with all these women in business and also getting the buzz and the word out there, I know you know categorically, part and parcel, when all of us sat there around that Mastermind Strategy table on the weekend, Mikala saying, who's another of our masterminder saying to you, I saw you everywhere Becky, when you launched that lead magnet. It was like I went on this website and I saw you there, and then I saw you on a blog, and I saw you here, and I saw you there. So, I mean that's it like you obviously, were very strategic about leveraging it. And I love that you brought together all of these different experts who then in themselves marketed it for you, right? [Becky agrees] And I know that a lot of those people had, in some cases you know small audiences, but some had established audiences which was of great benefit to you. And this just goes back to you know the whole principle of if you don't have too much money to spend on your market on your marketing, if you don't have much to put behind paid traffic, you can always leverage other established businesses with established audiences. And that's exactly what you did as well as mixed it up with a bit of paid traffic and you know here you are in a position where now you can launch to a pool of great leads, you know which...
Becky Hughes: [00:16:14] Definitely. Look, I'm a huge believer in collaboration, and I think if you enter into it with a really generous spirit, a really authentic intention in mind, it can do really great things, and it can really you know, if it's the right kind of brand fit as well, and it can do really great things for everyone involved. I think it just then in many ways it elevates you a little bit out of that kind of really sales conversation. [Flori agrees] That you're not talking about yourself as a brand, that you're kind of talking more broadly, and you're offering something that kind of is more far reaching.
Flori Pyke: [00:16:51] Yeah. Well it goes to that whole concept of creating content as the vehicle to connect with your audience versus pumping sales messages down your audience's throats, right? Where you can create something that's compelling for your audience that they find valuable, that's going to build that sense of trust and relationship and credibility with your brand. And that's exactly what you did. So, I love that. And, eventually at the end of this episode by the way, is that lead magnet still live? Like can people still... [Becky agrees] Okay. You'll have to share the link if you don't mind at the end, because I just heard so many praises shouted about that lead magnet, that I'm sure a lot of the listeners would benefit from downloading it as well for the businesses, for the small business owners who are listening. Now what about, so we've talked a little bit around you know wins that you've had to date, in terms of establishing and setting yourself up in the strongest position possible to launch. But what about challenges. Have you had any challenges to date, and you know what's got you through them? Any insights here?
Becky Hughes: [00:17:53] The challenges are definitely, you have already touched on some of them. I mean one of the challenges is obviously having a business that takes up an existing business, that takes up my time. And you know, that I still need to dedicate that time to. You know, that the long term purpose of The Sista Collective is that it becomes a far reaching go-to platform for women in Australia. But it also doesn't take away from my dedication commitment to White Space. So, there's definitely been a challenge there, and it's sort of a two way street because all of my knowledge, and my skills from White Space are what have informed, and made Sista Collective possible. And then, I find myself wanting to spend all my time on Sista Collective, has been such a passion project. But, I've got to try and balance that off. And, so that's been really hard and I've been lucky that I've got a very supportive partner, who you know has definitely given me the headspace to kind of throw myself into it in the last six months. And, you know that's probably one of the only ways I could have done it. And then, the other one, the big one is around the website, you know having knowing that that for me is a really central part of it. That user experience for me was something I was really committed to. So, I wanted to create a really powerful brand that would speak to people. But I just knew that also had to deliver at a practical level, and that the businesses that listed should be presented in the absolute best light, and look really great on the website, and that website should do justice to them. And that it should be really easy to use and really easy to search. So that has been only a challenge in the sense of the investment of time. I wanted it to happen as quickly as possible, but I had to just hold myself back, and say no it's worth the investment of time to get that right. So what I have learned is there's nothing off the shelf that would deliver what I feel a directory should do. There has been a lot of work in customizing, an investment of time and money to the point that I wanted it to be which is a positive. And I'm glad that I've done that.
Flori Pyke: [00:20:08] Yeah. Out of interest Becky, what platform are you using?
Becky Hughes: [00:20:12] So the website is based in WordPress. It was based on a theme. So, most directories are you know, there are people out there who have built themes that are directories, but from my experience I would say that I don't think any of them work just as an off the shelf solution, or there certainly aren't optimised as an off the shelf solution. So, it's WordPress based. I love WordPress. I'm a big fan and you know in my in White Space, we build a lot of websites in WordPress for clients. It's a really good platform for many reasons, SEO being one of them, but that in the back end is very easy to use and easy to edit. So it's based on WordPress but we've done a lot of custom code, which I'm no expert in. So, that's definitely a learning for me is to allow the experts in, in the areas that you need them to be. Don't try and DIY everything because you just can't. Not if you want a really professional outcome.
Flori Pyke: [00:21:07] I think that's such good advice. And, also it's just like you know is it worth your time to figure this out. Probably not you know and then to not do it very well, because you're not an expert in it. So, I think that's really sage advice. And, Becky in terms of obviously you know you've been in the program with us for a few months now, and I would love to hear, you've touched a bit on how we've been able to work together, and I think one of the things that in particular I love that you took six months to launch, and that you did do your due diligence. And, I know you know Anna and I often spoke of you in the forum, our personal coaching forum, and how detailed you were and we could tell you were very avid student while before we had the pleasure of meeting you, bit of a standout student. So, I'd love to understand from your perspective, how you feel that our program Small Business Pro has helped you, to get to where you're at now at this stage with Sista Collective.
Becky Hughes: [00:22:09] Yeah, look I would say that I was definitely a, I'm a short-ish time student, but a long time stalker of Business School for Mums.
Flori Pyke: [00:22:18] I love the honesty. I feel flattered. Thanks. [both laugh]
Becky Hughes: [00:22:23] I have definitely kind of watched you guys from afar, and then I got involved in one of the challenges around about the towards the end of last year. And really kind of snowballed from there. I could really like I said just now, I knew what I didn't know. I knew the gaps that I needed to fill for The Sista Collective, to for it not to be a side hustle, for it to be a really serious thing. And I didn't want to treat it that way. So, I definitely felt there was insights in that sort of things like Facebook advertising, sales funnel you know, when you guys talked about those kind of things, I was like I know that I need that. And so, that kind of I suppose motivated me to get involved. And, when I did I was just overwhelmed by the level of content that was in Business School for Mums. So, that has been a big thing for me in moving the Sista Collective forward, is being able to delve so deeply into all the aspects of what I needed to do. So, in no way did I ever scratch the surface when I was doing my competitor research, when I started to build out my sales funnel, when I got into email marketing. It was because of the input from you guys, that I started to use Active Campaign which has just been an eye opener for me. I can describe myself as an Active Campaign addict now.
Flori Pyke: [00:23:42] Isn't it? It's like addictive. I totally agree. It could be like Addicts Campaign. Anyway. Yeah. [both laugh]
Becky Hughes: [00:23:50] And that in itself has really you know, again I sort of knew what I wanted to do but I just didn't have all of the tools to do it. So, you guys have helped me in that respect, to build out those tools, and those practical steps. But I think for me as well it's just being much more at a bigger level in terms of mindset. It's been really you and Anna in particular, so driven, so motivated, around your own business moving so fast all the time, and it's kind of very inspirational to be around that in many ways. It's kind of like you know motivated, inspired people lift up the people around them, and having worked by myself for a lot of time, to just be in that environment is very inspirational.It just keeps you pushing forward. And, that kind of definitely rolls out into the Facebook group as well, the private group. Without a doubt, one of the most welcoming, authentic, engaged groups. I have so much from that group. People are always willing to contribute, always want to just give each other a big cheer, and it's always really, really positive. So, I've taken a lot from that as well.
Flori Pyke: [00:25:00] Awesome. I love it. Well Becky, look thank you so much for your time. I love that you can now openly share all this goodness that you're, by the time this is released, have launched, no pressure, with The Sista Collective. [Becky laughs]
Becky Hughes: [00:25:15] Otherwise something's gone wrong.
Flori Pyke: [00:25:18] So, on that note for our listeners, because I'm sure a lot of our audience will be chomping at the bit to check you out, and understand firstly where they can download that lead magnet, but also you know how they can benefit from not only using the service, but potentially also listing with you, if you know they are a business which I'm sure they are. Tell us a little bit more, around how they can become a part of this directory and the community that you're creating.
Becky Hughes: [00:25:44] Yeah. Look, so in the spirit of creating that community, and I really want people to feel a sense of ownership over The Sista Collective and feel part of it as well. So to launch, I'm launching with three months free so that all businesses can list and try it out if you like for free. There's a dashboard behind the Sista Collective, where people can get more information and manage their listing and pick up inbox messages from leads, so they get to try all that out.
Flori Pyke: [00:26:14] Wow that sounds amazing.
Becky Hughes: [00:26:16] And, there's no commitment to kind of continue your listing. It's just I want to give people the opportunity to just get a view on it. So, that's the first thing to make it kind of very easy for people. It's really easy to list. You only need a handful of things. It should be all the things you probably got on your website anyway. Little bit of blurb about your business, images, and away you go.
Flori Pyke: [00:26:36] How long would it take to create a listing out of interest like approximately?
Becky Hughes: [00:26:40] I should know this very well because I've created about a hundred or so testing it. But I would literally say it would be a five minute process.
Flori Pyke: [00:26:48] All right. Like too easy. [Becky agrees] You'd be silly not to. OK. Got it.
Becky Hughes: [00:26:53] I think one of the things that I definitely, is I'm very passionate about is I will say there's a real person behind the directory and a big thing for me is to support all the businesses to get the best from. So, as a designer I make sure the images are sized correctly and that nothing is going to look distorted and maybe make it suggest a few pointers around the copy. So, it's not just throw it up and let it live. I want that to be a more personal kind of process.
Flori Pyke: [00:27:20] Yeah. I think that's so great by the way, because it enables people to get better results, right? Which is what everyone wants that.
Becky Hughes: [00:27:27] That's all I want. There's no point in it existing if it doesn't do. So, the website is thesistacollective.com.au. Sista spelled as S I S T A.
Flori Pyke: [00:27:38] OK. Yeah. And what about your socials? Where can we find you on socials?
Becky Hughes: [00:27:42] So on Facebook and Instagram both just thesistacollective lower case all one word.And, then the e-guide, the business hacks e-guide, you go to thesistacollective.com.au/bus-hacks.
Flori Pyke: [00:27:59] Too easy. So, H A C K S. Yeah.
Becky Hughes: [00:28:01] Or you can get it from the home page. If you go to the homepage, there's a really easy click through to go and download it.
Flori Pyke: [00:28:08] Ok. Awesome. I love it. Thank you so much. Now for our listeners don't forget to check out the show notes, you can pop over to our website, at businessschoolformums.com/podcast. And, Becky before we part, I'm totally going to put you on the hot seat here but have you got a bit of a parting thought for our listeners? So, maybe you know a tip or, some sort of quote, or something that you believe kind of summarises what we've talked about, or where you're at in your business journey that our listeners would benefit from.
Becky Hughes: [00:28:35] I have, and I was asked this question quite recently funnily enough. So, there's kind of two things; The first thing is something that I've learned particularly from Business School for Mums, and that is now my kids are sick of hearing about it. The idea that you've always got a choice, and I love that idea you've always got a choice to how you approach things, the attitude you have when you wake up in the morning, how you choose to interpret other people's responses to you, or how you choose to approach a challenge. It's been a really positive thing for me. And then the other thing comes from more my childhood I guess, but something I've carried with me through my whole life. And that is I used to have a little weekend job when I was 13 working in a little cafe and my dad picked me up one day, and I could see him talking to the owner of the cafe, and I'm like oh no this can't be good. And, then after we got in the car and I was thinking what has he said, what have they said? And he said to me I'm so proud of you, Becky. I just had such amazing feedback about your work ethic. And he said you know what? If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. And, I just that has always stayed with me through life. Everything I do, I can hear those words. That’s kind of how I approach everything. And, it's so true.
Flori Pyke: [00:29:50] You just painted such a vivid picture, I was like taken to the cafe. Yeah. I love that. And, how impactful I don't know if there's any like words. No no that's true. I've had some words stick with me from my parents, and it just goes to show you how molding childhood is hey and the messages and the guidance that we receive, but I think that advice is so wise, and going back to the choice element. Gosh! I couldn't agree more with you. I think when you can harness that reality, you just approach everything differently, don't you? [Becky agrees] It impacts everything. So, thank you. That those are some awesome awesome parting thoughts. Now ladies it's been a pleasure Becky. Thank you so much. I've really enjoyed chatting with you today. And for our listeners remember be brave in your business.
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