Stories from other business owners like you, to share their inspirations, challenges and triumphs!
Adam Fawcett, Editor and Photographer from the authority site, OzDressage. A lover of all things dressage, his perspective as rider gives his articles an insider edge. OzDressage is one my marketing channels, and as a business owner, I find his understanding of my need for a return on investment for my advertising dollar refreshing for a media outlet! Here’s his story:
Where did the idea for your business come from, and when did it start being a business rather than a hobby for you?
I had always wanted to own my own business, but was never confident enough to follow through with any ideas, but after increasing work commitments and a few bad falls halted my dressage career a few years ago, I was looking for a way to stay connected to the sport that still gave me the creative outlet I enjoyed when I was riding.
Around this time I began to realise there was a gap in the market for a dressage news website targeted solely to an Australian audience, and that’s how I came up with the concept of Ozdressage.
I initially ran the site as a hobby while I continued working full time in an office as a law clerk, but when I attended the World Equestrian Games in Normandy last August (I sold my horse to get there!), and saw hundreds of other equestrian journalists making a living in the industry, I realised I could do the same if only I had the guts to finally back myself.
By the time I returned to Australia I had resolved to leave my job at the end of 2014, and I began full time with Ozdressage in January this year.
What was your biggest challenge while still in start up mode?
Building the website! My entire business is online and I had limited knowledge of web design at the time.
I knew I was going to have to invest hundreds of hours learning how to create the kind of site I wanted, because I simply didn’t have the funds to pay someone to build it for me.
That investment in time is now starting to pay off, as I’m now able to use those skills to build websites for other equestrian businesses – and crucially, teach them how to maintain it.
What is your biggest challenge right now, and heading in the future for your business?
Managing my time when you are a sole operator and responsible for running every aspect of the business. When I worked in an office job, my entire day had a structure and pre-determined tasks I was expected to complete.
Now that I’m responsible for every task in the business, I often find myself overwhelmed. Aside from the content creation and being available to drop everything as soon as there is breaking news or a press release comes through, there’s marketing and promotion, accounting, newsletters, social media and the hours of research that needs attending to, and there are only so many hours in the day.
I’ve helped that situation by trying to achieve a few key tasks each day, ensuring I only concentrate on one task at a time, and learning to say no when required.
The future challenge for me is working out a way to grow the business – hopefully with the addition of paid correspondents – so that I can provide diverse news coverage across Australia that touches on the different issues in each state, which is often hard for me to canvas adequately when I spend the majority of my time in Victoria.
What is the one thing that you wish you had done differently in the early stages of your business?
Set up procedures, policies and templates for the day-to-day management of the business before I began – everything from article formats to invoicing, marketing materials and stationary – rather than trying to do them on the fly, which only added to my stress load at the time and could have been avoided.
Equestrian media faces the same challenges as all other media outlets in the digital age – readers want access to the latest news now, and they want it free.
I know if I look at my personal Facebook feed, within half an hour there might be another 10 news stories released concerning the dressage world. This is not just an issue faced by traditional print media – as an online news site I face the same issues of relevancy, and it can be a constant battle to stay ahead of the pack.
I feel there is too much reliance on press releases in equestrian media and I’d like to see more journalists like Astrid Appels and Sarah Warne at Eurodressage and Neil Clarkson at Horsetalk who constantly provide sound research and in-depth journalism on important issues concerning the dressage world.
In the coming years I believe it will be the journalists providing unique insights into the sport’s current topics who will see the greatest growth to their readership base, and that’s where my focus is for Ozdressage heading into the future.
What does “Success” look like for you?
Simply being able to use my passion and skill sets to create a living for myself in the sport that I love.
Although this idea of success sounds like a simple one, the execution is – quiet frankly – bloody hard work. But I really wouldn’t have it any other way!
What is your biggest tip for other small business owners in the first few years of their own businesses?
Keep a strong check on your mental health. It should always be a priority in your life anyway, but I found that when I went out on my own, I really needed to monitor it closely.
Acknowledge that it’s ok to allow yourself time to step away from the business for short periods if you need it – like an employee who pulls a sickie when they feel run down, you need to give yourself the time and permission to do the same for yourself.
I’ve done it a few times now and I always come back refreshed and motivated, and I now know it’s a vital component to helping me grow my business – and hopefully remaining sane while doing it!
Founder and editor of Ozdressage, Adam has competed up to Prix St Georges level and qualified for State, Nationals and major CDIs, giving him a unique insight and empathy into competing which he brings to his writing.
A member of both the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Adam has been an equestrian journalist for the past 14 years and launched Ozdressage in January 2014 to fill a niche market for regular online dressage news with an Australian focus.
You can visit the Ozdressage Website here: www.ozdressage.com
And connect with them on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/ozdressage