Nikola Willis is a marketing consultant, with a core focus on helping small business owners identify their Vision, Mission and Values and clarity on what their niche is. So If you’ve hit a sales plateau in your business, she will help you get back to basics and focus on what makes YOU different and then get this message out to your perfect customers, those well aligned with what you offer.
She founded NW Marketing ‘The Small Business Cheerleader’ and when COVID hit had to totally pivot her offering.
Here’s our chat with Nikola.
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
There was definitely a turning point for pivoting my offering over the last 12 months.
A lot of soul searching came about during COVD-19 (as I’m sure it did for a lot of small business owners). My main client base at that point was Shopping Centres and with the pandemic affecting this sector hard, a lot of my consultancy work dried up. I had to sit back and think about how to pivot my offering, based on the skills I had at my disposal.
I had a couple of clients who were tradies and I had found it really enjoyable to work with them and to help them grow their businesses, so I decided to really focus on this sector and look to how I could use my 23 years of experience to help them discover clarity in their marketing message and to reduce the overwhelm they were feeling thinking they had to try and do it all (without it being their zone of genius).
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Know your figures!
A lot of small business owners get into it as they are good at what they do. But a lot of the time they are not natural ‘business’ people and once they grow to a size where they need to scale, dramas occur as they are not on top of their numbers and run out of cash very quickly.
I found this happened to me and by taking on a business coach it allowed me to work through these issues as they came up and having an accountability group of peers also kept me on track and gave me a chance to vent with people who knew where I was coming from!
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
Author Mike Michalowicz.
I was introduced to him by my business coach and starting by reading his book Profit First. It was a game changer for how I looked at my business cashflow and the concept of paying yourself first. His subsequent books all relate to running a small business, including themes of systems, scaling and identifying your core niche. This is what inspired me to really develop this side of my business to bring these concepts to my clients.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
Your offer does 80% of the heavy lifting.
Business owners can spend thousands of dollars on marketing, be it on Facebook ads, Google ads or print, but don’t get any real return on that investment. They think it’s the actual medium that’s not working, but in the end it’s their offer that sucks or they are promoting the offer to wrong people.
Getting a great offer out to people who REALLY are interested in what you have is what we all should be aiming for.
What do you think your key to success has been?
I have found my success is due mainly to being authentic, my real self, and actually listening to people. Not talking at them or over them, but actually really taking the time to listen. This in the end allows you to really find what the problem or issue is they are having in their business, whereby you can then offer the right solution for them.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
That ah-ha moment!
I love knowing that what I am doing is making a difference. To work with a client who is so overwhelmed and has no idea where to start with marketing their business, to then working with them for even as short as an hour and seeing the light bulb go off above their head as they achieve clarity is why I do what I do and is the joy of being an entrepreneur.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
This digital and social media agency in Melbourne has been my go-to during this pandemic, as the way their female owner (and the rest of her female staff) have shown up with transparency, empathy and support for all other small business owners has been nothing short of amazing. With their office being in lock down since March, all staff working at home and her having to run a business whilst homeschooling 2 children it was a real and raw rendition of what being a female entrepreneur is all about during this trying times.
What do you do for encouragement or to be motivated?
This past 12 months I have taken to really using podcasts and audible business books to keep me motivated and to encourage me to learn and try new things. I have explored so many different topics in all matters of business (and life) and have found that this has enable me to keep pivoting and trying to find what it is I want to really dive into next with my business.
What makes your business unique?
Like I have mentioned before during this interview, your offering is what makes you stand out from the crowd and allows you to be able to market to your perfect audience. I have found I don’t want to be the normal digital agency or normal marketing consultancy, I would love to be more than that – so really make a difference in the lives of small business owners. My vision being to ‘Bring clarity to, and reduce overwhelm for, every small business owner in Australia’. I am passionate about stopping the constant worry, confusion and overwhelm a lot of people feel when trying to market and grow their businesses. This comes from getting the basics right for them so they know what their Vision, Mission and Core Values area, what their niche is and finally who their perfect target audience is. Then comes the advertising, not before!
What keeps you up at night?
The overwhelm I see in small business owners.
I do worry quite a lot about the large amount of small business owners out there who are struggling, not being able to pay staff, feeling like failures, trying to do everything themselves. Especially with all that is going on in the world at the moment. The mental health of those struggling in this realm really affects me and keeps me chugging along trying to reach as many as I can, with the hope that I can listen, show empathy and provide them with clarity and a way forward when it comes to bringing in new customers.