Little black dress conference speech.


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Little black dress conference speech.

  1. 1. May 17th 2010 Little Black Dress Conference Building and Empire – The Power of YOU. 45 min presentation by Cindy Luken (Right click to play if there is no player on the animoto file inserted.)WOW – that was 15 years of my life flashing by in a minute. The hardest partof that presentation was working out what to put in from a resource libraryof 50K + pictures and slides......that was exceptionally challenging as halfthe „stock library‟ were our family pics from 18 month living on an old Dutchbarge in France and I got lost in the memories.So, why am I here? I guess I have a story to tell, to share with you on how Ibuilt my first (mini) empire, took genuine time out to relax and re-charge,have a family (2 little ones) and now via the world‟s slowest startupcarefully shape a business for launch in Spring this year so I am in a positionto „build‟ my next empire and LIVE the life I love.And why are you here? I am guessing you want a successful business - a„vehicle „ so to speak that enables you to tick the boxes on your personal &lifestyle desires or you are already in one and want make it easier or grow itbigger!Let‟s go back in time, to 1996, to the baking days of Luken & May biscuits -for those you who have heard this story – my apologies – for others it isamazing what got packed in. It‟s been a trip down memory lane writing thistalk. I look back and think it was all a dream but I have a few trophy‟s, a rara resume and fabulous life long friends…not mention freedom!Where do I start?I always wanted my own business, I had aspirational dreams as a teenagerand saw it as the only way forward, somewhere off in the distance. We livedcomfortably, both my parents were teachers/ lectures and had a love of„collecting old things and restoring antiques‟, we had strong family values –we were always together. 1
  2. 2. I always loved food, eating. cooking. I new I wanted a career in that space –I wanted to be a chef but I wanted to go to Uni. So applied science - Food &Nutrition it was.Out of uni I worked immediately with Norma Willis of Just Nous catering inlate 80‟s to really „learn how to cook‟ – the food scene as we know it todaywas emergingin Australia – eg Neil Perry open Rockpool.I took the cooking experience back to manufacturers of food products – toSara Lee in NPD – creating, project managing. I had a foot in the factory,the LAB and consumer kitchen.Just as I was about to marry (commit 24/7) to Master Foods (Mars Groupcompanies) I met my husband to be …..that was the biggest eye opener andmost pivotal time of my life. He had so mastered living I knew I hadsomething to learn – he loved sailing , had his own business, and worked hisbutt off 9 months – but the other 3 he was sailing maxi yachts in Hawaii andSardinia, or trekking in the Himalayas. I had NEVER imagine that you reallyhad choice in life or could create or control your future to the extent hedid.A simple decision was made. Don‟t take the new position, move to Sydney,and „design alife I love‟ by starting my own biz. Needless to say wemarriednearly 20 years ago and have had a ball ever since!In 93 Luken & May started as a corporate catering biz with my partner friendSally May. She had 2 under 3 – it was tough with a conservative husband. Isaw what she would go thru to get to the kitchen or a job. I knew she feltguilty not being able to be there 100% for everyone.By 96, I knew a „service‟ business was not for me‟ and that I wanted to sella product off the shelf – something that could build sales without me beinginvolved every step of the way ….when everyone else was playing! Andbiscuits it was – Bite size Butterburst Biscuits - a less sweet alternative toChocolate to serve at boardroom lunches. Biscuits as a product were a lowrisk, high consumption offer. Idesigned and had made to my recipes andspecs sweet & savoury versions in catering trays and gift tins for the retail &food service markets. At the time everything was really boring or it wasmade in a kitchen without quality standards. So market dynamics, skills andpassions played into my hands.A private investor approached me, my partner was bought out and that wasit. I still remember asking my accountant why I would need an investor andhe said …..To grow quickly & reduce your risk. And grow quickly we diddoubling out sales each year after achieving $450K in year one from astanding start! I achieved my goal of turning over $5mio in 5 years – I stillwish I was money savvy enough to have set the BHAG as the bottom line nottop line! (but back then you don‟t know what you don‟t know) My husband & 2
  3. 3. I had simply worked out a number that would put us in a position of choice,I was young – so that seemed like a good idea.The „out-sourcing‟ business model I created back in 1996 was beyond ityears – but it was built out of a shear lack of capital and to manage risk –our small team focused on what it did best, spotting opportunities in themarket place and developing a range of over 80 products in close liaisonwith customers, we out-sourced manufacturing to 3 sites & “delivered it”via third party warehouse better than anyone else did.We had a multi-channel sales channel – nearly a third of the business waswith airlines, we turned over more than a mio in food service to hotels,convention centres, executive meeting rooms – places where our productwas given away. Here we just had to sell in – we did not have to createconsumer pull. We also were the queens of gourmet gifting at Christmastime, we were renowned for our beautiful packaging, we were the #1gourmet packaged brand in DJ‟s – one line alone, a little red cylinder sold50,000 units pa. We also exported to the Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK -Harvey Nichols & Selfridges and to Sainsbury and Tesco. We were sendingcontainer loads into The major supermarkets DC, we ran consumerpromotional campaigns from Sydney. I once calculated that we had made 30mio biscuits a yearWe used technology and market intelligence to its best advantage (palmpilots, internet, CRM, keeping close with customers and constantly providingnew and innovative products and services. Our business was all about thecustomer and WOWing them. Processes and systems were the backbone ofthe business. Innovation, agility & speed to market meant everything. Wehad a finely oiled guerilla marketing / in –house PR machine working – webuilt our reputation and credibility rapidly. Writes, buyers, consumersbelieved in us and our story. We attracted good staff - the mostpeople/employees we ever had in the office was 12.After 7 years L&M was sold, we knew we would always exit with a tradesale, but this sale was not fully planned. I had 2 main brands L&M and BiteME and be Spoilt – it was the supermarket brand that I wanted to sell as itwas time consuming to manage, I really did not like dealing with the buyersor selling to the UK as we always had so much money outstanding or tied upin stock and the numbers did not stack up as well as we would have likedbecausewe outsourced our manufacturing & merchandising and in thatchannel it‟s dog eat dog.We sold to Stuart Alexander, a 120 year old company that owns, imports,markets and distributes a portfolio of food and tobacco brands such asRosella, Mentos and Tabasco. They were cashed up and wanted to reducetheir biz risks by owning brands rather than just representing them. Theywanted the whole biz + me so we sold.Timing was ripe as I was pretty exhausted and had no idea how I was goingto manage to have kids + run a business. I lasted just over a year not being 3
  4. 4. suited to the „corporate‟ employee environment; the brand has since beensold to Byron Bay Cookies. It has not moved much.My focus in running L&M went through stages and each of these occurred ata different revenue level and hence had different needs. My fundamentalskill/role was being visionary in leadership & customer marketing. I pushedQA never settling for anything but A1 product – it worked – our brand meanteverything. I taught myself accounting from ground up and celebrated theday I put on a commercial manager. I was an operations nut having manuals,& reporting systems to standardise operating procedures (SOPs) making iteasier to work in. I loved “getting on the road” where I worked closely withend users & stakeholders to identify innovative „quick to market‟ productand business opportunities.Whilst doing all of this I sat on various advisory committees & councilsincluding the National Food Industry Council & Innovation Committeesproviding input on strategic and future issues. I was a member of the SmallBusiness Advisory panel to the Reserve Bank Board and have been an activepublic communicator in the media, at business forums, and in the educationand science industry sectors in general, having built my credibility thruhands – on experience. My foresight to combine my love of food with science& business was rewarded with an Honorary Master of Science from theUniversity of Newcastle. Our businesses unique skills – a combination ofcreative flair and analytical skills won us over 20 export, entrepreneur andbusiness awards including Jaguar Gourmet Traveller award for Excellence inProduce, the Australian Business "Success thru Innovation" prize and 19th &20th spot in BRW‟s Fast 100.These are the visual things – the things the person outside the biz see thatbuilt my empire…..they created connection, introductions – they gave uscredibility…and ultimately SALES.What is critical in this story is ….EVERYTHING STARTS AND ENDS WITH YOU. THAT IS THE POWER OF YOU.It‟s the way you think, your attitude, how you approach the job at hand,how you bring it together, how you feel about what you are doing. Yourresponse to hitting hurdles, how you shape your organization, how you keepit in order, inspire your stakeholders, those around you.You probably know by now, I have a simple philosophy LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVESo I have 5 simple but powerful thoughts on what kick starts your Empire. 4
  5. 5. 1. Recognise what you love what you do Why – you’ll be good at it! 2. Focus your efforts There are too many distractions. There is not enough time. 3. Do it well You‟ll stand out & get „runs on the board‟ When you‟ve done it well – you‟ll know - congratulated / praised / +ve feedback 4. Reap the rewards of confidence That you are on track. Makes you feel good. 5. Passion exudes It‟s a circle …keep feeding / building on inTo summarise the L&M years into a simple recipe ….these are my 10delicious take outs. 1. Clear Vision Simple and motivating. Well communicated. Never assume anything. 2. Business Model & Strategy Fundamental to develop the „perfect & profitable‟ company and operating structure. 3. Core attributes and Competitive advantage A business must know what it is good at & protect its space in the market. What differentiates it, is it sustainable? 4. Management & Communication. A strong boss leads & builds a strong team (internal &/or external) and together they make it happen. Build and use uniform and agreed methodology, processes and reporting systems. Have the right people doing the right job – incentivise team. Ensure the team think and act like business people. 5. Resources Good set-up and management of time, cash, people. Eg Centralise critical departments at source ie finance but 5
  6. 6. outsource non core activities to provide agility / simplicity / expertiseIt is not always about resources …focus and prioritisation is fundamental to getting the right job done on time and on budget. 6. Innovation Whether it be products, services, technology. Continually develop the businesses innovation capability. Be first to market and ensure it can be funded continually. 7. Market Knowledge Know your stuff so you can easily make decisions. Competitors. Sales History. Players. Customer/Channel/Market needs. Market Segments. Consumer needs. Drivers. Have mechanism/system for continual update and sharing info. 8. Reference Sites / Credibility (+ now, Social Media) Build upon successes (yours or others) to create a strong brand image. Knowledge, customer wins, awards, PR, referrals. Give better service than your competitors. Guarantee your products unconditionally. 9. Strong sales and market potential A market exists for you to generate revenue objectives and has room to expand without sacrificing profit. 10. Sustainable Growth Core proposition has good profit profile and margin structure from day one. Business has access to goods and services with minimal stock holding.Let‟smove forward ….After selling the business, I took a year or so off but kept dabbling andwriting business plans for my next venture. I was going to do this then thatwith this person & that. I was bit of a lost sole….my whole life was gone.I knew I should start having a family but my heart was not in it. Instead Ire-connected with a woman, Jane McKellar whom I met whilst running L&M.Whilst she was running Elizabeth Arden she‟d ask me to general manage aboutique brand she was keen to buy – the delightful bodycare brandARNAUD. I did and opened my eyes to the word of the beauty careindustry…..the margins and creation of consumer experiences. 6
  7. 7. It was during this time that my son, now 5 was born and the first seed tocreate a lipstick from skin nourishing food was planted. I put my foodscience hat on, researched extensively about how lipsticks were made, theiringredients and roles and started to experiment and formulate in my kitchenusing the beautiful foods we eat as ingredients.Because of the vast quantity of lipstick we apply and consume in a lifetime Iwanted this range to taste amazing, like nothing you‟ve tasted before andat the same time be good for you – like fresh& healthy balanced diet. Iwanted to differentiate my range, share my love of food and beautiful foodexperiences, I wanted it to sit in the world of food – of chefs, & deliciouslymoor-ish and healthy ingredients, not a glossy, gossipy over work celebspace or confusing and emerging organic – good for you, the world not tomention the done-to-death ingredient story etc.As I never wanted to work full time when I had little ones I took on the roleof mum with gusto, I‟d worked during sleep time, and 9 months later #2 wason the way. So was our plan to live on boat over seas for 18 months.When Ciara was 10 months and Karl 2.5 years we disappeared to France tolive on an 85 foot, 85 ton,100 year Dutch barge so we could be together as afamily as just live day to day… rather than racing around in the rat race. Wewanted to created a warm loving, explorative environment to bring ourlittle ones up in…..not to mention mummy & daddy having a wow of time.Before boarding the boat I had scoped out a „brand proposition‟ of “beautyfrom food”, created the logo luk (from my name –nice personal feel) andconvinced Australia‟s top colour cosmetic company to make the range forme. Packaging was sourced out of China via the manufacturers suppliers ( Idid not want something off the shelf – it had to be unique), my formulationconcepts were developed, the flavor menu that I created from pure foodoils applied, colours mixed off my colour spec and voila – first samplesmade. The range was put into stage 1 testing - packaging compatibility andstability testing …..all before we were on the boat! Talking 2009I had these wild dreams that I would „work‟ at night whilst the kids wereasleep – what else would I do moored up alongside a canal on a balmysummer evening. The work I‟d do was build a website, create marketingcollateral, organize production, outsourced logistics, social media,PR andstart selling softly softly. ……Funny thing tho, that mobile internetconnection was not fab barging thru the Loire or moored beneath Sancerrenor did the packaging pass its tests (& we could not figure out how to fix it)and who would have thought we would be exhausted at the end of the dayafter steering the good ship Imagine thru 10km and 10 locks, cycling 10kmto get food with a 10 month breast fed baby on your back and coming toterms for the first time in 20 years with having to clean!!…..not to mentionfinding it alittle challenging barging into a lock with 15cm of clearance oneither side. Think parking car at speed in garage with 15cm clearance to thebrick walls on either side. 7
  8. 8. To cut a long story short, after a few months of hopelessly co-ordinatingDHL couriers & HK suppliers and Melbourne manufactures enroute with thenext batch of failed samples…I gave in. Put my dreams on hold and did whatI should have done from day 1….had a bloody fabulous time.Turn the clock forward …to Feb 2011, we are home and its time for me topick up the lippy pieces but having a 2 and 4 year old in my full time careand my „can do‟ feeling a bit shot to pieces after being out of the game forso long….I sat down and mustered as much determination as I could to planhow I could build this empire and still be there for my kids. So I started ablog so I could take the time to pull everything together.First step wasgetting some time for me to think & plan and do. … first task complete - thekids went into in pre-school for karl - 2 x 6 hrs pw + Ciara to montesorri forare you ready 5 x 3hr slots. Hmm. As the saying goes …I am making my bedso I have to sleep in it!Now I could really get start….and let‟s put this in perspective I use to work12-14 hr days at least 5 days a week! So, shared online my business plan as Iwrite it – with the hrs I was „working‟ it took a couple of months, obviouslyat the same time I was „fixing‟ the lipstick packaging issues ….but let‟s notwreck a good story! You won‟t find in a textbook or online a version of a BPlike the one I wrote . If you are interested - it‟s on my website…!) I also set myself some goals like meeting JuliaBickerstaff of The Business Bakery and reconnecting with Suzi Dafnis. I newfrom experience if I did this – doors would open and I would start to feel likeI was taking baby steps in the right direction. And it worked – I was a panelmember on Koche‟s biz boot camp tx to Julia and Suzie did a videointerview on In her Shoes‟.I did bucket loads of webinars and listened to podcasts to get up to speedon the online world – social media, ways of working smarter, web buildingetc. helped my girlfriend set up her business …all whilst sorting thepackaging issues that took the entire year to fix.It was during last year whe all of this was happening that I realized it is allvery well to „Style your own dream biz‟ - work from home, sell via theonline marketplace, outsource your key biz functions but it can be ….verylonely despite you never seeming to have time to yourself as a mother. Youwrite something and guess what – there is no one to critique it let aloneimplement it besides yourself. So I started the Table of Fabulousness forlike-minded small biz owners and to be honest I have never really lookedback….but that is a story in itself.But I talk about all those people working form home because I think we areliving in a magical period of time for creating a new business…especially for„small fry‟ startups. The opportunities are endless because technology hasopened up the sales channel direct to the consumers door. Not only tocommunicate with (to inform, educate, get feedback, spread your brand)but to ship goods cost effectively. For a long time the brand creator hasbeen at the start of the chain – many steps away from the ultimate end user 8
  9. 9. – selling via wholesaler and retail doors…locked into seasonal windows,forced to dice and slice their A+P spend in a certain way, picking up Sale orReturn policy. On the flip side, the competition is and will get tougher asthe entry barrier is lower and it is harder to build credibility, not to mentionsingle rather than bulk orders – the latter is managable tho by having amultiple channel strategy.With this short direct sales channel we also have cost effect ways ofreaching our consumer via social media, using amazing and cheap pay-by-the-month (if at all) online tools such as CMS or Social CRM, Google Apps, e-mail marketing providers like e-weber and mail chimp, websites created inminutes, and busy connecting destinations like Pinterest, You Tube,Tumbler, etc etc. And not only can we outsource manufacturing andlogistics, we can outsource ANYTHING from design to virtual assistance.All of this is relatively easy to use but it can be a time waster and justbecause you are at your computer all the time it does not necessarilyreflect in interest or sales being created. There are many many businessthat have a fab „shop‟ fronts or followings that are NOT making money.AS you can tell - the circumstance under which I create my next businesshave changedsubstantiallyto those of the Luken & May days. I am creatingthis biz with my eyes wide open and my check list in hand, I know what Ineed and what I am good at, what I don‟t want and what I am rotten at.I have a short term goal it‟s simply do what makes me happy, gives meconfidence and sets the wheel in motion. It‟s not a huge goal like $5m in5yrsit‟s just to…..create a small business that runs profitably on 15 „child free hrs‟ pw with<$2000* start up fund netting $1000pw by end first years sales.That‟s it – the stick is in the ground, I can manage this. (and just so youknow – that equates to 100 lipsticks pw with an annual GSV of $250K.)The first step of building an empire is ALWAYS to work out what youpersonally want ….in dollars, time and circumstances. This shapes the sizeof your business, what you sell and how. With young kids not yet in school Iknew I needed to phase the business,Phase 1 - set thisrealistic first year goal– to work 15 hrs a week, be there forthe children, to keep the stress levels low so I am a happy mother and wife.Phase 2 is when both kids are at school can ramp up andPhase 3 is all about having a business that allows my husband to stop beinghands on his businesses. 9
  10. 10. The over riding need at any stage is to set up a business that can be runfrom anywhere in the world we as a family can do what we want…where we want. In other words freedom.What‟s key therefore is the setting of the circumstance to build thefoundation and framework for the business so you can grow.When I wrote my business Plan I put down 14 key business objectives.To: 1. obtain gross sales of $250K year 1 with a net profit of 20% - in other words pocket $50K after tax. 2. Find a product / sector where COGS run below 25%. ie gives room to move / promote / sell via second party or give deep discounts to drive volume. 3. Enter a sector / industry with high sales potential – ie sell product that is in demand. 4. Breakeven on startup or @ latest within 3months and produce residual income 5. Stage business growth and investment with potential to achieve $10m gsv pa i. Stage 1 ( year 1) $250K - self funded & managed, organic growth, key accounts &/or sell direct ii. Stage 2 (2-3 years) $1m iii. Stage 3 (3-5 years) $10+m 6. By think this far ahead it means that the business has the potential to grow: to increase the return, sized to sell or able to license the brand 7. How? Build a strong & flexible business model & product offer / contract manufacturer that scales up easily. 8. Keep product range simple – limited number of SKU‟s or categories & NPD if possible…the latter can be pushed back to the manufacturing lab. 9. Stock – keep at minimal levels – which means small production runs. <10% turnover. Stock turns at 10 pa 10. Have a product with a Min 12mth shelf life 11. Cashflow: ideally get paid b4 shipping stock – hence attractiveness of selling direct to consumer. This can be balanced with some chunky sales with terms of<30 days. Push for Creditors > 30days on 12. $2000 start up kitty. Hence need to pre-sell. (note am stay-at-home- mum- don‟t want to put financial strain on family with my desire to run own biz). I have already broken this objective by purchasing packaging stock before pre-selling…but my samples were too woeful 10
  11. 11. to be calling on corporate promotional & gifting companies and 5 star hotels/ spas. 13. create an outsourced, streamlined and easy self managed business that can be run without regard to location 14. never compromise or fail on quality, reputation means everything. Service better than competitors. Build success on success of others. Reward those who help.Further on during the planning I added that ideally my biz will also do thefollowing things…1. Sell products not services: Why? Input hrs don‟t limit sales potential. Can easily systemise sales process and scale up. How? Design unique product/s and have them contract manufactured2. Have no employees: Why? Need flexibility & privacy to run home biz, keeps overheads & headaches down! How? Outsource services when needed – pay for what‟s needed.3. Can be run from anywhere in the world: Why? Gives flexibility, not tied to desk. Very practical & inspirational! How? Utilise online technology – orders, communication, stock control etc, Outsource key functions and ensure sales service is not physical.4. Will operate in the Food, Beauty, Health &/or Wellbeing sectors. Why? This is where I have experience and can LIVE WHAT I LOVE. How ? Hunt for gaps/opportunities.So in a nut shell MY Business strategy is to….set up a home office with a local, outsourced virtual assistant or office andby outsourcing the infrastructure cost, risks and constraints inmanufacturing, build an easily scalable technology & marketing savvybusiness that focuses on building intimate and purposeful relationships withconsumers.And my Brand offer, launching in Spring 2012 is a reflection of my beliefthat if you feed your body with delicious and healthy food „inside out‟ whynot look after your skin „outside in‟ and use products made from the foodactive goodies your skin craves….starting with your lips. My first collectionis …..A delicious menu of 7 creamy soft demi lip colours and lustres that nourish,hydrate and your protect lips. The range has been inspired by the beauty infood – it sensory, nurturing and nourishing qualities. It‟s a collection forwoman like me who care about what they put in and on their bodies and 11
  12. 12. don‟t have time to apply lipstick in front of the mirror….. but they still wantto feel good and be seen totake care of themselves.It is a delicious guilt free treatto be used at least 50% of your „lipstick‟wearing time because it tastes, looks & makes you feel beautiful…it‟sa„quick lick‟ of colour and gives you a healthy, fresh-faced effortless look!The base recipe is packed with essential fatty acids, vitamins A,C and E &antioxidants to keep lips smooth, soft and illuminated. The flavours ortastes such as Orange & Juniper, Lime, Ginger & pink Grapefruit are madewith pure food oils, expertly blended and the shades are soft, mellow pinksand browns made from all natural and healthy enough-to-eat colours –there‟s no carmine, no tin, nothing artificial, no preservatives. 100% natural& lip delicious.My beauty philosophy is simple…. food is the essence of a beautiful woman –it gives you that secret ingredient to feel, look & be fabulous in the skinyou‟re in. I have started the luk beautifood „beauty kitchen‟ where I sharehow to cook for beauty wellbeing so you can be inspired and find easy waysto care for your skin from inside out through the foods you eat and cook – soplease pop over to my “beauty Kitchen” be available online direct to consumers or via variousbeauty &gourmet food / cooking portals. The stick price will include P&H. It will be abeautiful experience whenit arrives in the post. As I mentioned I amapproaching corporate gifting companies, 5 star hotels so I can get somechunky „trade‟ sales. I am not doing retail doors at launch or in the earlyyears – so please if you can introduce me to anyone or are interested inrunning a promotion please let me know.To entice consumers to buy, I have created a Tasting Plate of 6 items offthe menu. In your goodies bag there is a card with the to please sign up so these can be sent to you in Spring. Theinformation I am sharing is limited because I want there to be a surprise anddelight factor! Go to that is it….pop by my blog and get behind my kitchen bench with me andsee what happens in Empire #2!Thanks for listening to me, I hope you got a few tasty take outs! And thankyou to Janine and the Little Black Dress Group who invited me here today.Cindy LukenCEO (Chief Everything Officer)luk beautifood + Table of 12
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