Lessons Learnt from Running a Small Business
Small Business Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and business consultant Chrissy Crust at She Inspires Business CentreChrissy Crust joined the She Inspires Business Centre as our first consultant, sharing her expertise with micro and small business owners on how to make the most of their businesses.

I first met Chrissy at a product launch at Vivo Cafe and we hit it off from the very beginning, easily talking about business, families, life and everything in between. From there the business and personal friendship grew and I've been delighted to have Chrissy join the business centre and to share the journey of making our own dreams realities.

So I thought you'd enjoy finding how what makes this fascinating and kind hearted woman tick and learn from her experiences so you can flourish.

What do you enjoy about having your own business with Chrissy Crust Consulting?

I enjoy any opportunity to share skills and knowledge and empower people to achieve above and beyond what they believe they can do.

With over 30 years working in a wide range of industries in various size businesses, and most recently helping over 200 women learn the steps to starting their own businesses, the time seemed right to continue on that path.

I'm now working with a wider section of the business community, focusing on the small, micro and solo entrepreneurs who need a fresh pair of eyes to help them see what's working and where they need to make changes.

Who inspires you?

Angela Vithoulkas has been a catalyst for so much of my business success. She was one of the first supporters of the not for profit organisation I managed. And through her I've met so many of the people who have helped me along the way. We first met at a women's networking Christmas Gala over 7 years ago. And in that time I've seen her evolve and grow her business and her success in a multitude of ways that I continue to learn from and be inspired by.

Do you feel you find a good work/life balance? What works for you?

I'm a Libran so balance is all important to me. I spent years searching for it until I realised I didn't need to have balance and it was an unrealistic expectation. Being able to commit to going full steam ahead when needed, followed by rest or something equally rewarding was more in line with my habits and my needs.

Removing the guilt when I was working a lot meant I could completely focus on it knowing I had something to look forward to when it was done. Within that I make sure I have time plotted in for all the parts of my life - family and friends, work, wellbeing - and fun.

Who are your favourite business mentors and authors?

Top of my list will always be the incomparable Anita Roddick. I feel incredibly privileged to have spent time with her, both working in The Body Shop for over 19 years, and also to have spent time with her personally. She was a powerhouse of energy, inquisitiveness and fun. Business was certainly unusual in the early days of The Body Shop and she broke ground incorporating social responsibility within a retail business.

During my time with The Body Shop I was fortunate to be invited to launch Bizness Babes, a not for profit program offering disadvantaged women new choices through small business training. Vickie Burkinshaw was the General Motivator, creator of the inspiring program, as well as workshop facilitator. If I can have a fraction of the passion Vickie has for small business I'll be happy. And we shared many brilliant days together with Anita Roddick. We often discussed how proud Anita would have been to see the change we were making in women's lives.

At the end of last year I was made redundant from my wonderful job and career. The first person to call with an offer of support was the delightful Hacy Tobias. Not only is she a very savvy business woman with a very huge heart, she also generously gives and supports Lou's place, a shelter for homeless women in Sydney. After her own redundancy and the life altering choices she's made since, she put it all into a book, 'The Diaries of a Corporate Princess' to benefit everyone facing a similar fate.

Do you find working with startups, micro and small business owners particularly rewarding?

They're the fastest growing sector of the Australian Business Community. They're creative and solution focused even when they're not in what you'd think of as traditionally creative industries.

When you're small you initially need to wear lots of hats and I admire that ability and love helping them achieve what they set out to achieve with guidance and support.

What do you love about having your own business?

Creating the direction and being responsive to changing it. There's no red tape and no sacred cows at Chrissy Crust Consulting, every decision is based on my business plan and goals and how best to achieve my long term vision. And the choices I make to get there can alter if a better or new solution appears.

Being accountable to myself. There's nothing more powerful to keep me from procrastinating and over thinking.

And the flexibility. The days when I can fit life around business make it all worthwhile. The balance is important and understanding that each day isn't the same: the hours, the content, the pace. It's my choice and my attitude that's going to make it a good day or otherwise.

What has been the most challenging experience of having your own business?

Doing what I'd been teaching for years! They say those who can't do teach. Having my own business has made sure I flipped that statement right around. I know the steps but when you take them they often take longer than planned. There's no IT department and no PA, it's all me. Solving problems, keeping data bases and company information up to date, looking for solutions to both in the most time effective way is an ongoing challenge while the business is growing.

You're based at the pop up She Inspires Business Centre, what do you find rewarding working from there?

Make your content marketing work for your business

The opportunity to collaborate with like- minded small business owners who all bring different skills and expertise to the centre. The She Inspires Seminars are always informative with a high standard of speaker - and they're fun. Any opportunity to network is fine in my book.

How do you think home based business owners can minimise feelings of isolation and connect with like minded others?

You can never never underestimate the power of networking for small business. Finding the right fit for your needs, and they will change over time, is important so you get value for your time invested. Set realistic expectations before you go eg I aim to collect two business cards and connect with the owners the following morning on LinkedIn. I may take more but I want two that are going to bring something either to me or to my business - or both.

What are your 5 tips for creating an effective business plan?

1. Be clear about your vision - it's the standard everything else is measured by, the compelling reason why you do what you do. And it helps your team and supporters engage with you and your goals.

2. Do your research - it never stops, you should always be up to date with trends and factors that impact your business. Making wild assumptions is dangerous to business, making educated assumptions based on research of your market, your competitors, your prices and more is going to give your business the best chance to succeed.

3. Budget time and money for a good marketing plan - you need to have a plan to be noticed. It's not enough to launch the most beautiful website in the world if no one is going to find you in amongst the multitudes. It's easy to ignore a budget and just 'do some marketing'. A budget will allow you some freedom with creating a mix of campaigns to target your best promotional times and activities.

4. Do your numbers - you either love them or hate them. But they matter - a lot! Get help if it's not your strength. You need to be a little bit optimistic and a little bit realistic. And have plan b just in case.

5. Write for your audience - That may mean multiple versions. It has to meet the criteria for funding if that's what you need. It should be inspiring to you and your team if that's who it's aimed at, make it relative and user friendly.

Meet Chrissy Crust

Meet Chrissy Crust

Chrissy Crust is a small business consultant, coach, facilitator and mentor. With over 30 years experience in a wide range of industries and a lifetime passion for sharing knowledge and facilitating change, she works with owners and entrepreneurs with services specifically tailored to the small end of town.
 
Most recently, Chrissy spent 7 years managing Bizness Babes, a Social Enterprise which taught over 200 women the steps to small business start up and helped launch over 80 new business ventures.
 
Chrissy is passionate about helping micro and solo entrepreneurs get started, manage growth and transform their businesses to achieve the success they deserve.
 
Contact her now for a complimentary business call - let’s talk about the good, the bad and the opportunity.

Join Chrissy on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
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