When you start a small business you’re usually following a passion and the last thing on your mind is the practicalities of actually running the business. Most small businesses tend to develop through a trial and error process, but being smart about your future and establishing a brand from the beginning will help you grow your business quicker and in a manageable way.
Linda Vojkovic, who established The Naturalcare Company on the NSW Central Coast several years ago, is a great example of how creating a brand rather than just selling products can give you the lifestyle and business that you always wanted.
Starting a Successful Business From a Happy Ending
When you have a pet (in Linda's case a beloved horse) that has been given a less than positive survival prognosis from the vet, and there are no prescription drugs to help, your first reaction is usually is to accept reality and let nature take its course. Instead, Linda turned to herbal therapies which improved the wellbeing of her horse dramatically and ultimately saved its life. Inspired by the abilities of natural healing, Linda took this passion to a whole new level and started her own business.
"My vision was to provide a full comprehensive health care service aimed at helping the owners and trainers of animals, and the animals themselves," says Linda. "I work closely with traditional doctors and veterinary surgeons to find the most appropriate treatment, for the best outcome," she adds.
The Naturalcare Company has been successfully trading since 2004 and Linda now manufactures a range of products from her home on Sydney’s Central Coast. These products are available via her web site, local markets and shows, and include gels, lotions, creams, shampoos and conditioners.
The Challenge of Dealing in the Unknown
Operating in a niche market and specialised area meant Linda was faced with many challenges right from the start.
"Many people are not even aware of how effective natural herbal remedies can be and often only rely on prescription drugs," says Linda. “Being a small business owner, finding a client base and getting my brand out there moving forward was my number one priority."
One of the main issues for The Naturalcare Company has been branding and image. "It is hard to look professional and credible when we just manufacture from a small home office," says Linda. Linda's biggest challenge overall is standing out amongst the myriad of similar products in the marketplace.
The new Avery Branding & Merchandising range has offered Linda a perfect solution for her packaging needs. The Glossy White Oval Labels and Textured White Arched Labels are ideal for labelling Linda’s products, many of which are packaged in plastic bottles and jars and are used outside in the elements. The Textured White Arched Labels are wet-resistant and have the ability to stick to a variety of hard surfaces meaning they won’t peel off when exposed to elements such as water, and colours won’t run when wet.
Linda can create her labels using Avery Design & Print Online. She can use her own logo and the free web-based software to design customised labels for the individual products and then print short runs of labels as she needs them, anytime and any day. “Outsourcing my printing has never been an option as it is too costly,” says Linda.
The Advantage of a Strong Brand
And, when it came to establishing her brand in a perception sense, she worked hard at her relationships with local vets and medical practitioners, has ensured that she has all the necessary credentials and has never made outlandish claims about her products, as can often be the case in her industry.
"I'm not a 'mad herbalist' at all," she says. "I believe that everyone has a choice in how they decide to treat conditions either in people or animals. My products definitely help certain conditions but I don't advocate their use in isolation and completely accept that my customers should consult with their vet or medical practitioner."
By taking a smart approach to her branding Linda has been able to multiply her first year earnings by 10 and establish herself within a very saturated market.
Right from the beginning she set down her brand philosophies of quality and delivery, established her professional qualifications and worked with the people who can help her business rather than against them.
Her online sales model has allowed her to increase her sales while she sleeps and because she is consistent about her branding in terms of the values that her brand represents, not just how it looks, she has never had to discount her products and continues to grow her business with an established market of repeat customers and referrals. Even though her products are not the cheapest available she has established a loyal customer base that continues to grow because her consistent approach to the look of her brand and her brand values creates trust with her customers and potential customers.