Maria Anderson has 20 years of marketing experience and is a certified practicing marketer with the Australian Marketing Institute. She has a Bachelor of Business in Marketing, a Financial Services Diploma, and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.
In 2008, Maria founded Sustainable Marketing Services. The firm is dedicated to helping other businesses accomplish sustainable, long-term success. Maria and her team deliver practical, reliable and results-oriented integrated marketing and public relations strategies to businesses across the board, from public-facing companies to non-profits and B2B organizations and more.
In 2009, the firm was recognized as the Redland City Chamber of Commerce Best Emerging Business of the year, since then it’s gone on to rake in awards and nominations, including the 2016 Redlands Hall of Excellence Business of the Year, 2016 The Australian Small Business Champion Awards (Business Services), 2014 Redlands Hall of Excellence Business of the Year.
Maria is also passionate about boating, and is a member of the Volunteer Marine Rescue Jacobs Well. She’s currently pursuing a Coxswain qualification. She loves walking Lily, her border/kelpie cross, on the beach in Cleveland, Queensland.
Maria’s Advice For New Business Owners
- Start by understanding your market and your potential clients. Build your product or services around your target markets. Find out what challenges they face (in your area) and see if you can develop a service to solve that problem. We create digital strategies and manage the build of websites for clients because they don’t know how and don’t have the time. I didn’t expect this to be a service we sold.
- Build a client-centric business where you build services around your customer’s needs. Stay close to your customers. Phone them regularly. Survey them. Listen to them. It’s a great way to develop ideas for new products and they will stay with you for longer. Some of our clients have been working with us for 8 years because of this approach.
- You aren’t a bank — if your customers don’t pay them after a certain amount of time, put their accounts on hold until they do. They’ll value you and your services more.
3 Pieces of Advice Maria Wishes She’d Benn Given When She Started
- Don’t wait until everything is perfect – just get out there and make improvements as you go along. Despite your best efforts, during your first year of business, your brand strategy and marketing messages are going to evolve. Start today!
- Know when to let clients go. Sometimes we’ve worked hard to keep clients for years because we thought the revenue or brand was important. In hindsight, I can see they were no longer a fit and we should have proactively looked to replace them earlier.
- Make sure you pre-sell in price increases. Many of our clients have been with us for 8 years, 6 years and 4 years. We didn’t always pre-sell in the idea of annual increases in revenue. Over the last 9 months, we’ve exited two clients. We now see this as an opportunity to both bring our rates up to market and also make sure we explain to clients that there will be some minor increases each year to reflect CPI. Imagine not increasing your prices for almost 10 years (like we did). Shocking, I know, but we learn from our mistakes.
Skills and Knowledge Areas That Maria Recommends Business Owners Get Acquainted with Quickly
I’ve always been committed to investing in knowledge and making continuous improvements. A sustainable long-term business needs to be strong across a variety of skills/knowledge – branding, marketing, products/services, customer service, team management, financial management, systems and processes, and innovation.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Since launching my business in 2008, I have been committed to continually improving the business and deepening our skills and knowledge. And that has worked for us. The market moves fast – it’s easy to fall behind quickly. This May, we’re celebrating 10 years in business. When I look back from where we’ve come, I can see that the continuous improvements have really paid off.
As a start up, you need good skills in product/service selection and development, marketing and financials. If you don’t have a good product/service, you won’t sell anything. If you can’t market your business, you won’t sell anything. And if you can’t manage cashflow well, well you won’t be around for long.
Be easy on yourself. You don’t need to be perfect or even better than your competitors in year 1. just make a commitment to continue to refine and eventually outpace your competitors.
We asked Maria what problem being a HerBusiness member solved for her. Here’s what she said:
“Joining in 2008 when I launched the business, I initially undertook the mentoring program which was amazing. At that point, it gave me the confidence I could do it.
I’m involved in groups with men and women. I get something very special out of HerBusiness. I don’t feel alone in running a business. I know I can ring HerBusiness if I need some help and they’ll do their best to help me.
The quarterly round tables are great. The ability to bring along some of my bigger challenges that I haven’t been able to solve myself and get feedback from a table of women really gives me a different perspective. The roundtables also help me stay focused. It’s too easy as a business owner to get stuck in the everyday business activities and stop working on the business. And when you stop working on the business, your business starts to slide.
The collaboration and the knowledge available via HerBusiness is really amazing. I don’t think there’s any topic/question/challenge that HerBusiness couldn’t help me with.”