While she admits there is no magic formula, Realise Business adviser Katherine Blizard does believe that developing a business plan and a strong business model are crucial. These elements together with having a clear vision of future goals, helped make her multi-award winning café Ampersand, in Sydney’s Paddington as successful as it was.

Katherine took over the ‘struggling’ café in 2006 and eight years later the sales went from averaging about $13,000 a week to over $32,000 – making almost $2 million a year. In addition, she opened a second store, expanded the staff from four to 46 and won the Restaurants & Catering NSW Winner for four years and the Restaurants & Catering National Winner 2012–2013.

“One of my favourite sayings is: ‘It’s not about being better; it’s about being different. Give people a reason to choose your business’. A common theme that has run right through my career is the ability to transform underutilised spaces, both hospitality and recreational into destinations of choice,” Katherine says.

With a background in teaching and a passion for assisting small business, the former National Telstra Women’s Business Awards Finalist has found her role as a Business Advisor a natural fit.

Over the last two years, Katherine has been able to help many clients build a business with strong cash flow and high profits. She prides herself on forging strong, trusting relationships with her clients, giving them direction on how to identify their purpose and set goals that will allow them to build their dream business.

Her skills and knowledge are wide and include advising on people management, improving customer service, implementing an effective QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) model and financial strategies.

Well-known as the engaging host of Realise Business’ Breakfast with an Entrepreneur events, Katherine says that she also encourages businesses to establish strong core values, such as the ones she established for her business – Care, Familiarity, Fun, and Knowledge.

“Everything I did in business reflected these values including the care of my staff and customers, getting to know my customers, working hard but having fun, and constantly learning,” she says.

She also believes that marketing, utilising social media, and networking as much as possible are also important to boost a brand and sales.

“I have found that businesses can be inconsistent with marketing. A website and a Facebook post ‘now and again’ is not going to make anything happen. Business needs a strong Marketing Strategy that’s consistent and communicates the right messages that will engage the customer,” Katherine says.

In addition to neglecting their marketing, Katherine also names the following as common mistakes she sees SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) making:

  • Starting a business but failing to track numbers, i.e. they don’t do annual budgets, they look at their profit and losses annually instead of monthly or quarterly, and they price their goods or services too low.
  • Not taking the time to understand and implement correct HR processes especially Employment Contracts. Good HR practices translate to better employee engagement, customer service and less turnover.

While her full-time role at Realise Business and her family keep her busy, Katherine does try to fit in a daily walk with her dog Lucy, and likes to cook traditional Greek food a few times every week.

She is also excited about her upcoming series of ‘e-toolkit’ guides, which outline the steps involved in buying and running a café successfully. In addition she is writing her first book: The Café Millionaire: how to start a café and make money fast, to give a better understanding of what it actually means to own a café and how to get the best deal and return on the investment.

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