Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Armidale and started dating my now wife in Year 9 of high school. After we finished school, I got a trade as a chef, and we then travelled Europe where we worked at multiple locations, sometimes together and sometimes apart. One of the highlights of the trip was working for FIFA at the World Cup in Germany in 2006. After our time overseas, we returned to Armidale and started a family and now have two children. I then ran a few venues around town, including The Stro, bringing bands like Bliss and Esso, and The Potbellies to Armidale. After that, I decided to start my own businesses, the first of which was the Dairy Farmers franchise. Since then, I’ve owned about 6 to 8 businesses, including Gloria Jeans. Along the way, I’ve learnt a lot about systems, training, and personal development. When Gloria Jeans closed, I opened HustLe Co in Armidale Central.
So, when and why did you start New England Magenta?
At the start of the COVID pandemic, trade dropped off massively at HustLe. We had staff that I really valued and were good workers. I needed to cut costs, but instead of cutting their hours I cut my own hours and put the time into developing the new business. This enabled us to retain great staff. I saw a market that needed to be filled: businesses needed a platform to market their business. The planning behind this took about four months between print design, distribution, networks and finding clients. The first edition came out in November 2020.
What does New England Magenta do?
We are a local area marketing magazine that provides a cost-effective opportunity for all styles of business to build brand awareness and promote their business to our local community.
What makes Magenta different from your more traditional print marketing?
Magenta is a magazine so is able to be distributed directly to letterboxes. It does not fall into the junk mail category and does not get bundled with unwanted junk mail so it’s guaranteed delivery. We only allow one business from each industry to advertise, which means businesses are not competing within the magazine. We try to work with each business as a partnership to increase their business, instead of them just being a client transaction and us selling as many ad spaces as possible.
Another point of difference is we’ve priced it very competitively. We produce, print and distribute the magazine for the same price our competitors would charge just for delivery, so a significant saving making Magenta accessible for the smallest business.
What have been some of your challenges in starting a business?
One of the biggest challenges is managing my own time. I’ve learnt a lot about that over the years and got better at it. In the initial stages it was one of the hardest things to manage. Learning to manage people where they are , or current stage of life. You must manage each person as an individual, not as a collective.
What do you like most about running your own business?
I love the flexibility, especially the time I get to spend with my family. I also love having time to follow my passions with other projects, like writing my children’s books, The Adventures of Patcho and Izzy, which help equip children with financial literacy and help parents to start the conversation with children from a younger age. They are all free on Spotify.
What advice would you give a business just starting out?
Focus on debt reduction, if you have bought a business with a lease, you want to get that paid down ASAP. Invest in yourself: personal development through ongoing learning like podcasts and doing courses. I try to listen to three podcasts a day. Some practical advice would be to manage your BAS monthly instead of quarterly. From what I’ve seen, people are good at what they do but forget about their back-of-house paperwork. By doing it monthly, everything will be up to date. It also puts you in a good position if someone wants to buy your business. You have the figures right away. You should always be in the position to sell your business straight away. A great quote about staff is, what happens if you train your staff and they leave, what happens if you don’t train your staff and they stay? You must invest the time to train your staff well.
What inspires you?
Motivate is a better word, I think. Financial freedom is one of my biggest motivations. When you have financial freedom, it gives you the option to give more to others and spend more time with family friends and essentially do what you would like to do.
What is your secret for success?
Give to others without expectation of return and receive without forgetting.
What’s next for New England Magenta?
We are covering such a wide demographic, from children all the way through to adults, reaching over 21,000 people per month, so we are really focusing on a diverse range of content. Everything from fun games for kids and giveaways to editorials about business owners. We are really trying to support local events, so anything that is community focused goes in there without cost: we want to bring awareness to what’s happening in the community. We have special rates for start-up businesses that have minimal budgets. We also want to support local artists more by giving them our covers, which makes the magazine more interesting and gives local artists some exposure.