NEIS PARTICIPANTS TALK SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS
Guest post from MTC Australia.
Jonathan Wang is a mentor in the NEIS program at MTC Australia. Recently, he sat down for a coffee and a chat with two ex-NEIS participants, Kate and Luke, that he had the pleasure of personally mentoring.
Luke O’Connor (above) is a ceramic artist and teacher who has won several accolades and held exhibitions during his time in NEIS.
Kate Leabeater (below) is the founder of Studio Oscar Lea. Her small business provides residential and commercial interior design services, interior styling, colour consultancy and editorial work and branding.
JONATHAN: How have you changed during your NEIS journey?
LUKE: I’m a ceramic artist but since doing the program other opportunities have arisen in the arts, for example selling sculpture, which is great because that’s the industry I want to be in. I think the NEIS program has definitely helped me organise my money and be more business-focused, even though I’m in a creative industry.
KATE: I think more about the decisions I’m making, and what the long-term effects would be on the business and the projects I’m working on. I’ve become more of a hustler! Having this door opened has made me see what I can achieve if I work really hard. NEIS has pushed me to go after things that I didn’t even think I’d be doing.
JONATHAN: What are your major business goals?
LUKE: My biggest goal for this year was to have my own solo exhibition. I managed to sell all the work which was great for a first solo event. Aside from the show my goal was to be able to make enough money to survive while doing something that I really enjoy, which has happened. It’s not all through sales; I’ve also picked up some contractor jobs teaching, for example this semester I’m working as a demonstrator at UNSW.
KATE: To build my business as a brand rather than just give the client a product. For example, some of the bigger design firms have built such a strong brand that when you see their work you know it’s theirs. I’ve spoken to designers and gone to industry talks and they’ve said they say ‘no’ a lot, because they don’t want to cheapen their brand if it’s not the right job. My goal before was just to get work; now I’ve got that, I want to build my work into a brand.
JONATHAN: Do you have any advice for future NEIS participants?
LUKE: If you’re thinking about doing NEIS have a good idea of what you want to do, and make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. At the end of the day you can only do NEIS once, so don’t waste it on something that you haven’t researched properly or something that’s not really you. Have a solid idea and go for it.
KATE: Listen to what they’re telling you. Sometimes you sit in class and think ‘when will I be able to use this information?’ but I learned quite quickly that you use it early in the business. It’s there to help you – let it. Go for it!
Interested in starting your own small creative business? To find out if you’re eligible for the free NEIS training program, use the postcode search tool to find your nearest NEIS provider.
This interview was provided by MTC Australia, a social enterprise giving people the inspiration, capability and opportunity to create a fulfilling life. MTC deliver the NEIS program throughout NSW.