As the Owner/Creative Director at Social Ocean, Kirsty helps to find creative marketing opportunities through events and digital. With a passion for creating experiences, branding and content, Kirsty has a DIY Marketing philosophy. With over 20 years in corporate event planning she’s your go-to for recognising out-of-box event strategies. Since starting to use social media, Kirsty’s built, managed, grown, trained and mentored others in key social platforms. And has built Facebook pages and groups in excess of 10,000 members, managed Celebrity accounts and trained hundreds of people to use social media for promotional purposes.
When did you start your business?
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
A messy redundancy style job loss, left me without a job on the eve of returning to work from annual leave. Great jobs in marketing that don’t require travel are hard to come by (at that time), so I decided to wait to find the right fit before applying for any jobs. Within a couple of weeks I had friends/peers reach out to me for help with conference management, administration help & graphic design. Next minute I was an accidental business owner, needing an ABN to invoice for my support/management.
What are you most excited about in your business?
I get so excited about clients who come to me with brand new business ideas. They are so new they sometimes don’t have a business name yet, but are thirsty for knowledge about marketing – as well as needing branding, design, websites & social media support. It allows me to be outrageously creative when parameters are yet to be set!
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
The business part. Just because I know how to run an event, or what buttons to press to make pretty pictures, or publish content does not mean I know how to be a good business owner. I’m not great with numbers, I’m not great with sales, and I do poorly in loads of really important tasks that can make or break a business – just like everyone else.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
Do it! There are less scary ways to start a business that don’t require you to resign from work to start. I think that’s what stops a lot of women from stepping up with their idea or passion. You can raise a hobby into a business. You can side-hustle it. You can prep assets and research you need before “going official”. As long as you’re taking steps to get it going, you’ll progress. Once you know you’re going to be starting a business though, get connected to the local business community in your area. Creating friendships and connections in business is the best thing you can do for learning and sharing information about being a business owner.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
Several of my friends had participated, nominated, won, sponsored or spoke at AusMumprenuer Awards/Conferences before. And when one of them nominated me this year, I decided to put myself out there and enter.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
I really enjoyed hearing about the marvellous work mums in business are doing around the country. There’s no way I’d find out about a lot of them due to them being from other states and territories otherwise. It was hugely inspiring to meet them and hear their stories.
What surprised you most about the awards?
How many awards there were!!!
How did the awards help you in your business?
I think a lot more of my personal friends are now aware of what I do in my business than they were previously. That means that by talking about my business away from my business community I’ve opened myself up to more referrals. Because I have B2B business services, this isn’t something I would have a purpose to do so much normally.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about entering the awards?
Entering awards where you become a finalist and a winner gives you several long term opportunities to include as part of your marketing, profile raising activities and expanding media reach. I’ve only just won the award, so these are yet to start for me. But from winning industry awards over time, tapping into the awards community can bring many positive outcomes for you. Having peers to be inspired by as an outcome on it’s own is a beautiful feeling.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
The best thing about starting my own business has been the people I’ve met, learnt from, and friendships I’ve gained. I know that I’ve matured – not that I was young when I started my business, but I feel as though I’ve matured as a women in business. I known that I’ve become a leader within my business community and that I’m confident in my ideas and creativity – but prior to starting my business there’s no way I would’ve realised that by now, if at all. Plus the hundreds of people who have come into my life, that as an employee I would never had the chance to meet, make me very grateful.
One of the ways I’ve managed to meet so many of those people, was through Founding a local business networking group 5.5 years ago. I felt like I needed more education about being a business owner, and there wasn’t a group in my area who was doing that at the time. So I started it for myself! Over 110 events later, leading the group with two events per month with another local business owner has taught me so much about how to be better at business. There’s a direct correlation from this group to my confidence and knowledge base as a business owner, and I know that’s the case for many of our members too. I’m really proud about Ocean Network (the business group).
In the last couple of years I started Ladies Who Long Lunch events after thinking about running professional events for women in business for many years. I ran the first event the week we went into lockdown in 2020 with a couple of friends, but of course that momentum was lost. At the end of 2021 I tried on my own again, but lock down effected that too. It was that point one of my friends who’d volunteered to help me with one of those 2021 events, said she’d be keen to help me if I wanted to get it going once we were clear of major health concerns. And in 2022 it happened. We’re now hosting quarterly long lunch events focusing on fun ways to put self care on the calendar regularly.
What’s happening next in your business?
I’ve had a 5 year goal on my long term outlook for quite a while, and it’s about 18 months from the deadline I gave myself to produce. It’s for a product to support DIY marketing that I know would benefit me.
What are your big plans for the future?
My BIGGEST plans for the future is to have a multi-purpose space accessible by all different types of business and industry groups. It’s a hybrid space that I could use for myself of course, but also be a resource for many businesses in my region. I don’t want to share too much about that public, because I don’t want someone to take my idea and do it before I do!