Case study: Biome Eco Stores
Tracey Bailey is the founder of biome Eco Stores. A fixture of Brisbane's business scene since launching in 2003, the eco-friendly stores offer simple, clean and waste-free products across four local branches, as well as online.
"We're doing our best to be part of the solution to the world's problems," Tracey observes, reflecting on the trade-off between operating costs and bringing toxin-free, sustainable products to the heart of the city's mainstream retail hubs.
"Our website was the first online eco store in Australia and I believe that when we opened our Adelaide Street store, it was the first eco store in a Central Business District anywhere in the world," Tracey said.
"We research every product very carefully before we bring it into stock as we know our customers are very conscientious...where and by whom it is made is a key value for us.
"Sometimes the most sustainable choice is not the most straightforward, but we demand that manufacturers tell us the whole truth."
What is your greatest business success?
The extent to which we've empowered our customers to make real changes to their lives and the environment. We calculated that the products we sold over the course of a year prevented more than 6.7 million pieces of single-use waste such as coffee cups and water bottles going to landfill.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have put in place systems we needed to support growth earlier. The earlier you can iron-out any inefficiencies in your business, the better!
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
When we launched 14 years ago, it was email newsletters but now it's definitely social media - it helps you maintain a more constant presence.
It's important to remember you'll often have to spend money to make money. Google was free when we launched, so you could get very high up on a Google search at no cost but now you pay for Google AdWords.
How do you stay up to date with the latest business information?
I carve out time in my day to read and attend industry conferences, especially those relating to e-commerce.
Where have you sought business advice?
I get a lot from attending conferences and the blogs that I read, especially Power Retail.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
Build up a nest egg you can fall back on when your business is fluctuating and be as efficient with how you spend your money as possible.
How do you manage risk?
At least once a year, do a risk assessment of your business. How it's organised, what your competitors are doing, your workplace health and safety...everything. This will help you put in place control measures to minimise those risks.
What value do you place in business plans and why?
They are really important, especially as your team gets bigger, so your people know what is expected of them and so that you can all recognise success when you get there.
For more information, visit biome.com.au