During one exhausting night working on the budget for her small business, Jones & Co founder, Jennifer Jones, decided to undergo a complete business transformation. After more than eleven years in small business she was feeling overwhelmed and she knew it was time to make make a change.
Jennifer started her first business Have you met Miss Jones in 2006 and opened her Bondi Beach shop which sells handmade ceramics, gifts and homewares in Sydney in 2016. The products are all designed in Sydney and handmade in small artisan factories in the Phillipines, Vietnam and Thailand. “Waiting 11 years to open was in a way kind of good. Because we have such a strong following. We wanted to be clever about it,” she says.
Previously, Jones & Co had remained a wholesale business selling to over 900 specialty stores in Australia and New Zealand and an online retail store.
“Everyone always asks you how many staff you have, how big your office is, how many stores you have,” she recalls. “That’s what you get caught up in. And that’s where I’ve been heading. Always grow grow grow! I really pushed the business two to three years ago. I invested in a huge office space and more staff.” Jennifer began hiring designers and administration staff, feeling that she needed to produce more brands and more products.
Jones & Co sell specialty handmade ceramics, gifts and homeware
“That’s when it dawned on me … all of these expenses are eating into the business. I began thinking; what if I cut down on office space? Do I actually need a 200sqm office and showroom? Maybe there’s a smarter way of going about this.” She immediately began brainstorming ways of approaching her business in a more cost-effective manner.
“I wanted the flexibility to be able to work from anywhere and not have rent and insurance, garbage, cleaners, internet and electricity bills and all that comes with a physical office. I thought … why do I need all this? Something had to change,” Jennifer explains.
When undergoing a small business overhaul, it’s important to re-evaluate your business model to ensure that the current model will support your plans for growth. For Jennifer, she wanted Jones & Co to be nimble, more modern and to embrace new technology. “Accessing computers and online platforms is so much easier nowadays,” she says. “Wi-Fi signals are free in certain public places. That’s exactly where I want to be.”
“I wanted the flexibility to be able to work from anywhere”
“There are so many traditional homeware companies who have been around for a long time,” she says. “But I want Jones & Co to be unique. For instance, you can check us out on YouTube rather than having to come into our store to browse our products.”
As part of her new business model, Jennifer is liberating her business from the constraints of an office. Instead, she is empowering her staff with the flexibility and freedom to work from anywhere. They will have their weekly meetings in different coffee spots around Sydney and conduct focus groups in a room in the Double Bay library in Sydney. Jennifer even urged her designers to work where they feel most creative – be it an art gallery or a bench under a tree in a park.
“I wanted the flexibility to be able to work from anywhere” – Jennifer Jones
“I feel so free. I don’t have to sign another lease or place another deposit in the bank,” she says. Her staff are also delighted by their liberation. The positive changes have breathed new life into the business and saved her business a significant amount of money.
Retail is a tough industry. It is constantly changing and evolving.“You have to learn how not to let fear stand in your way of making massive changes in a tough industry,” Jennifer advises. “I don’t want to be here next year paying $75,000 for an office space. It is a scary – but good – change.”
Jennifer and family enjoying special family time
Jennifer’s top tips for managing the stress of a self-managed small business:
- Meditate every morning for at least 20 minutes a day. Or find whatever relaxes you and helps your stress levels.
- It is important to build a network of people who are business owners. People who don’t have a business won’t understand the pressures behind running one. It is best to surround yourself with like-minded business owners who are in similar situations.
- It is incredibly important to be optimistic when starting and running your small business.
- Remember it’s an adventure. Hard times will come with it but you still have to enjoy the ride.