Felicity Little launched her first business, Little Me & My, specialising in art for children and personalised products, as a creative outlet from the mundanities of mothering three young children in rural Victoria in late 2013.
Her reputation grew, and by 2015 she was launching a separate arm of her business, LMM Designs, on the back of increasing demand for her graphic design and business support services from local businesses – farmers, accommodation providers, retailers and musicians in the region.
'I’ve always been interested in business development and love to see people bring their visions to life, it’s so empowering. The diversity and scope within LMM Designs allows me to work closely with individuals on something they’re passionate about.'
Early 2016 saw Felicity facing the new challenge of continuing her home business as a single mother, whilst maintaining mortgage repayments and everyday family expenses. To keep the money flowing she established Port Fairy BNB, a bed and breakfast and holiday house rental, from her 5-acre property.
Like all small business owners, Felicity became a business developer, administrator, marketer, finance manager and debt collector for all 3 branches of her business.
'The thing I found hard was valuing my services financially, invoicing, and chasing up clients for money. It’s deflating putting months of hard work and love into a job, and then not receive prompt payment.'
With 3 children under the age of 10, and 3 businesses, Felicity quickly identified the 2 biggest things holding her back: effective financial management and time.
'A big challenge is distancing myself from clients and their businesses emotionally. It’s difficult because I empathise with their start-up position. They need my services to grow their business, but until they do, it’s hard to spend money they are yet to earn.'
In May 2018 Felicity received an email from Moyne Shire Council about the Business Victoria workshops program, including 'Finance Fundamentals: How to keep cash flowing'.
'It immediately caught my eye as I was struggling with cash flow and the strange guilt and dread I felt every time I invoiced clients”'
The workshop acted as a pep-talk for Felicity, with some golden rules put in place soon afterwards.
'Upfront payment of 50%, seven-day payment terms, and 25% interest thereafter in the conditions were 3 of my biggest takeaways.'
The other nugget of gold was the suggestion to use a free online accounting program suited to her business model.
“By this point, I had changed invoicing programs 3 times, with varying degrees of success. I’d also looked at subscription-based accounting software but was reluctant to add to my already high overheads with a paid accounting system.
'Maybe the biggest thing was the encouragement and support I received at the workshop which assisted with a real mental shift that has saved a lot of time and taken the grief out of invoicing.'
Felicity also took up the offer of a free Business Victoria mentoring session and has since locked-in 4 pre-paid mentoring sessions.
'The quarterly mentoring is fantastic, keeping me on track financially, and allowing me to brainstorm business development ideas with someone who really understands small business.'
The business today
With almost daily enquiries and a growing waitlist, Felicity is confident she now has a full-time business ready to flourish, and a little more time with all her children soon at school.
'I only hope I can keep up with the demand. I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved to date, despite the challenges. It grew from nothing into something and continues to evolve. There is still so much I want to do. Time is my only enemy.'
With her improved financial management skills, Felicity has also been able to re-focus on the most important thing to her; playing a beneficial role in her clients’ business growth and development.
'I feel humbled and fortunate to live in a gorgeous township with such a supportive, thriving small business community. A lovely home that I can generate a side income from is an added bonus. Who knows what the future will bring, but it’s wonderful to know that I can create my own path.'