042: Grew 60-300% p.a. after her business partner exited 3 years ago and totally transformed herself and the business, landed a big investor from Shark Tank in 2015, expanded from 1 to 16 products and now launching in the USA (Rachael Ferguson)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

October 4, 2020

In this episode, I interview Rachael Ferguson, the Co-Founder, and CEO of SynxBody and the Founder of Elite Sports Podiatry. She’s also a podiatry industry expert who educates her clients and the community about common (and not so common!) podiatry-related complaints. In 2011, aged 28 and with a three-year-old, Rachael started a podiatry product business with her business partner while they were both still working in their clinics. On Shark Tank four years later, they landed esteemed business person Andrew Banks as an investor and mentor. 

In 2017, with sales still not cracking $100,000 per annum, her partner exited and Rachael totally transformed herself and the business. In the first year on her own, she grew sales by 300%, then 170%, and when COVID hit, that slowed to 60% to 70% per annum. Beginning with two full-time employees (The business partners), the business now has three full-time employees including herself. They funded the business with their savings and Rachael funded the transformation with some investment funds which she repaid in three months. The business started off with one product and now has 16.

She felt she had succeeded when within six months of taking full control of the business, she got into the biggest chemist chain in Australia, Chemist Warehouse. Rachael says the hardest thing about growing a small business is resilience, and the one thing she would tell herself on day one of starting out is, “Buckle up and prepare for the ride of your life. It’s going to be tricky and super hard, but be resilient” Put your hands together ladies and gentlemen, for Rachael Ferguson. Enjoy the episode! 

This Cast Covers:

  • Starting two businesses within one year and creating the best insoles on the planet.
  • The footcare company that made foot care products that went into the pharmacy business.
  • Manufacturing in China and selling through a diverse range of outlets all over Australia.
  • Struggling for the first six and a half years of the business being in the trenches and not getting paid only to turn things around and achieve huge growth in the last three years.
  • Learning how the business operates, hiring two main employees, and outsourcing to contractors in the US, Australia, UK, and different parts of Spain.
  • Soul searching to find out why the business wasn’t working and how it helped her turn the business around within six months.
  • Changing the packaging to be more competitive and diversifying into more products.
  • How adding incremental value led to an increase in orders.
  • Creating neutral insoles that are suitable for most foot types from a podiatry point of view.
  • The importance of a small business owner identifying where their demographic is before they come up with a marketing strategy.
  • Building the business on customer service by making sure they always deliver what their customers need.
  • How they bootstrapped using a combination of savings and loans until an investor came in.
  • Gaining from export grants and R&D grants from the government.
  • Being passionate about health, podiatry, and keeping people moving and on their feet.
  • The hardest year of her business growth journey and what it taught her.
  • The power of getting the marketing and branding right, and how a branding expert can help with that.
  • The challenges she had with inventory management and developing an effective system around it.
  • Creating products that help people and result in a lot of great feedback from customers.
  • How having a business coach positively impacted her on her entrepreneurial journey.
  • Why every small business owner should do the “Miracle Morning”
  • Focusing on hiring like-minded individuals who share in the business vision.
  • The value of investing in your employees and teaching them all you can do so they can do it too.
  • Constantly working on achieving some work-life balance through proper time management.
  • Making an everyday process of investing in her personal development.
  • How resilience can help in growing a small business.
  • The systems and tools they use to help with inventory management.
  • Why every small business owner should buckle up, prepare for the ride of their life, and stay resilient.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes: 

“In business, you’ve got to have resilience because it’s just not as easy as you think” – Rachael Ferguson

“You just don’t want your employees to feel scared about coming to you or thinking outside the box” – Rachael Ferguson 

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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