Naomi Terese has run her own business, Fat & Skinny Catering, in Melbourne for 14 years. She did the Hustle & Heart program in 2016. Here’s Naomi’s story:

I’ve run my catering business, Fat & Skinny Catering, for almost 14 years now. I love what I do and really enjoy giving clients a great experience, but I felt like it didn’t matter how hard I was working, I wasn’t able to make any more money. I started the business as a lifestyle choice to support myself and my kids but the more years that passed, I wanted to step it up to the next level, as a single Mum with two kids to support.

I’d met Brook when I came to her Melbourne Blogging for Business course and liked her straightforward, practical approach to marketing, so I enrolled in the Hustle & Heart program to try to figure out why my business wasn’t growing.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I only completed the first of the eight modules – which is all about money. Thanks to that single Hustle & Heart module, I’ve just had the best Christmas period in 14 years. Because my profitability was so much higher, I made back the cost of the program 20 times over!

The money module did feel, as Brook put it, like diving straight in the deep end of the pool right at the program’s start. It was really difficult – not because the homework exercises were hard – but because it’s such an uncomfortable subject.

Talking about what doesn’t get talked about

Examining my beliefs about money really hit a nerve. But I do like Brook’s approach to talking about what doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. As the program puts it, we all have money baggage, which is made up of our socialisation around money and our response to that.

I loved the talk about money and how wanting to earn decent money was nothing to be embarrassed about. The difficulty is really to your mindset and a lot of this was unconscious. The money module brought up lots of beliefs about self-worth, values, generosity and being ‘nice’ or ‘kind’.

I’ve not seen the program exercises on revenue and profits broken down in that way before. The process was really easy, working backwards to figure out your revenue, profit, and financial planning. Through these exercises I figured out that 61 per cent of my revenue was bringing in just seven per cent of my profit. It was devastating. It felt like such a rookie error. I couldn’t believe I’d made such a mistake.

That’s why I didn’t complete the program – I got busy correcting this pricing mistake.

Average client spend increased almost three times

Since then, the average client spend with Fat & Skinny Catering has gone from $1200 per gig to $3500. It’s made a massive difference to the entire business and is such a huge relief.

I made several changes that helped improve our profitability. Although we specialise in ‘stand-up food’, people were wanting banquet and buffet options, so we brought that in. But most importantly, we offered fewer options in the decision-making process, which makes it far easier for people. We have different menus to cater to different needs and budgets, but these used to be in five different documents and I often only sent the highest priced menu to wedding inquiries.

We are still a mid-priced caterer offering quality food for excellent value, but I was making it too confusing and overwhelming for people to decide. Since consolidating those five documents into just the one document, people have started ordering the upscale packages far more regularly.

Best Christmas period ever

We had the best Christmas period we’ve ever had since I did Hustle & Heart – the business took more in that one month than in a normal year. And thanks to changing my pricing, for the first time in the last 14 years, I’ve been able to save significant money to help fund a move to new premises that will support our business growth. I’ve always had casual support staff for busy periods, but in the last year I’ve taken on one full-time staff member and two permanent part-timers in addition to casual support.

Now I’m on the hunt for new premises in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne that reflects our values, personality and style of our business. This place won’t just be a commercial kitchen – I want clients to come visit to eat! I’m looking for a commercial kitchen three times the size of my current kitchen, lots of natural light, and an office too. We’ll need to keep growing to support the move – I’m aiming to double our revenue and keep increasing our profitability.

Word-of-mouth marketing has been invaluable and I’ve got enough experience to know and recognize who our ideal clients are – and who they’re not. As well as blogging, email marketing and social media marketing, we’re concentrating on online advertising and SEO (search engine optimization). I’ve got plenty of ideas that I’m excited by – opportunities I see to deliver quality, fun and interesting food for excellent value. I’m really looking forward to the next stage of Fat & Skinny Catering and to redoing the program, live with new participants, this year.

The challenge now is what comes with growth – procedures, staff training and expanding our premises. Now that I’ve got my pricing sorted and more profits to invest, I’m sure I’ll get far more value out of the marketing, sales and promotions components of Hustle & Heart. The flexibility to have the program materials available for you to access at any time, and no expiry to use your one-to-one with Brook, is invaluable when you’re running a busy business (and life!)

When you’re self-employed, all the decisions you need to make day-in and day-out can wear you down. There’s a lot of stress and responsibility – as well as a lot of fun too. But it can be hard, for sure. Having the support of Brook and Hustle & Heart has been so valuable. I’m excited by the future and not nearly as scared. I’ve done my sums thoroughly for this next stage and the worst thing that could happen is I’d be embarrassed if I fail. Suddenly that doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

Are you ready to grow your business? Hustle & Heart is open for a limited time only. Check it out now.

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