Small Business Feature: Elevate Design

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Launched in 2002 in Sydney Australia by interior designer Catherine Bainbridge, Elevate Design was created with the purpose to design and manufacture original high quality handmade textile homewares. Elevate’s collection now features an eclectic range of designs and has grown to include work from designers in Denmark, Sweden and France.

What’s the business advice you wish you’d received when you launched Elevate Design?

  1. Understand who your customer is before you launch. But also know that this will need to be an ongoing and necessary research project. Knowing your ideal customer will help you to make smart decisions, from which tools to use to how best to evolve your product or service.
  2. Keep or get a part-time job. It keeps your personal cash-flow positive, and will help you to keep your energy and motivation up.
  3. Trust your gut. Should I hire this person? Attend this trade show? Work with this business? I’ve made many mistakes in my business journey, and I’ve reflected – it’s often because I’ haven’t listened to my gut instinct.

What do small businesses need to master in their first year of business?

  1. Know your numbers. For the first few years, I looked after the finances myself using Xero. It was a steep learning curve, but taught all about the company set-up, intricate legalities and what to pay attention to.
  2. Now we employ someone to look after the books using Xero which frees me up to focus on running the business. Having learned the finances, I can understand in an instant exactly what’s happening, and communicate this really efficiently, meaning there’s a lot less back and forth.
  3. Integrate your financial apps so that you aren’t doubling up with data entry.

What tools, resources, or services should other small businesses look into using?

  1. These days there are heaps of Apps you can choose from, but first and foremost I always have a moleskine notepad and pen for all ideas, notes and lists.
  2. Xero – easily and efficiently access your books.
  3. Neto – An eCommerce platform that’s easy to work with and helps to keep my online inventory up to date.
  4. Envato – Great for sourcing help from developers.
  5. Sendle - has made delivery a lot easier for us with less paperwork and the even less time spent entering details online.
  6. Government grants – check if there are any grants you can apply for. I was able to apply for an export grant after doing some product design with a Japanese company.
  7. Local and State governments also offer courses and expos that can help motivate and inspire you you in new directions.

What do you love about Sendle?

Having Sendle integrated into my eCommerce platform, Neto, simplifies online sales and product delivery for small business owners like myself. For many years, I’ve dealt directly with couriers, which can be time consuming. The Neto-Sendle integration cuts out the duplicate work when placing orders, the need to meet minimum quantity volumes and time spent chasing up couriers on the status of deliveries. It also means I won’t need to pay a big postage sum upfront for pre-paid satchels or have my funds locked up in delivery coupons. It takes the friction out of my day-to-day and frees me up to focus on the business.

Images from Anne Black, Rosenbergcph, and Smaelta courtesy of Catherine Bainbridge, Elevate Design.

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