Boss Lady

How to start a business from nothing in your garage: dos and don’ts


Owning your own business is never going to be easy. Between taking risks, working long hours and investing in the unknown, it’s hard to know when you’re on the right track. Business is always going to be slow at the start and it’ll always test your passion, strength and drive. The best way to cope with the uncertainties is to understand thefundamentals to starting your own business and the hard work that will be involved.

Zina Richter, co-owner of Orbis, a small Australian owned family business, shares her advice on what to expect when you start your home business.

1. Expect to be challenged

There is always a risk when starting your own business, especially when you have to make the decision to leave your secure job for a dream that might not work. Some risks can be huge, leaving the future of the entire family, even the stability of your children in the midst of the unknown. Family and friends will often voice their concerns, and it’ll test your determination to succeed.

Persuading retailers to trial our products was one of the biggest challenges we experienced. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into gaining distribution for our products and we were constantly door knocking, cold calling and just being persistent.

TIP: If you are passionate about your brand or product, don’t give up on the dream despite what anyone tells you

2. Expect to work long hours

The first few years of running the business are always going to be incredibly hard and long. Many think that working long hours constitutes as a few extra hours beyond the 9-5 working day. In reality, you’ll end up living and breathing your work and you’ll also find yourself spending all hours of the night working behind the scenes.

TIP: Be passionate, but don’t forget to take some time awayfrom your work to gain fresh perspectives

3. Failure isn’t an option

When running a small business, you end up finding yourself investing all or nothing. Many people invest their whole life savings or dive into financial risks despite knowing the consequences of their actions. During the first few years of our business, we set up shop in our backyard, we worked all hours under the sun, we were constantly packing boxed, we were cold calling retailers, arranging face-to-face promotions, and we even had our children and parents helping us.

Failure definitely wasn’t an option when we had so much on the line. We believed in our product and we worked and worked until we saw results and with every new order, it was an amazing achievement and we would celebrate.

TIP: Failure isn’t something you should be scared of. You should use it as a force and celebrate every win that you get, because it means failure is one step further away.

4. Be agile and adaptable

Being agile and learning to adapt are two key lessons we learnt when developing our business. We learnt that being agile was essential to success but we also knew that we had to remain true to our brand. Engaging with our customers on a regular basis helped our brand not only develop its unique identity in the market, but it allowed us to understand the adaptability of the products in the mind of the consumers. For example, our Tough Hands specialist hand cream for those suffering from a skin condition was actually being used by tradies and gym junkies so it allowed us to pursue the brand in different directions.

TIP: Using feedback is the foundation for brand agility and adaptability and it will help your brand grow and accommodate the needs of your consumers

5. Silver linings do exist

‘Never give up’ almost seems like a generic term now, but when you’re packing boxes in all hours of the night and getting rejected by retailer’s time and time again, giving up often seems like the easiest option. Our future was dependent on whether or not our business was successful or not and that’s why we never gave up. Every missed opportunity, every time a retailer would tell us no, we would work even harder and search for that better opportunity. Nothing comes easily, a silver lining never falls into your lap, you have to work hard and perceiver even if it seems like you’re going around in circles.

TIP: In every missed opportunity, is a chance for a better opportunity to come along. You just have to know when it’s time to take the leap

About Zina Richter

Orbis is a small family Australian owned business, with very humble beginnings. We started the business in 1998 out of our home garage and spent several years putting in the hard yards (working long hours, packing boxes, calling on retail stores and doing face-to-face promos). Everyone had to help, including our parents and two young children at the time. IT was slow going at first, but we were always optimistic that our passion and vision for formulating quality and high efficacy products would eventually pay off. Today, Pynith and Zina Richter are still at the forefront of product development and market research, and are still very much hands on, running the company with their children and a dedicated team committed to delivering new and innovative products, reliable skincare information and surpassed quality to customers. For more information on the DU’IT range go to:

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