Recognised as an industry leader in manufacturing at the Women in Industry Awards in 2018, Anna is an example of how hard work, determination and a passion to help others can lead to success.
She gives us an inside look at how she started her business and her entrepreneurial journey to date.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
I was running my first business, a small health food cafe, and also working as a personal trainer on the side, when I noticed cafe customers and PT clients both starting to avoid the high carb foods. I did some research on lower carb diets, and tested it on myself. I felt amazing after a very short time, but had one problem, I LOVED my peanut butter toast and didn’t want to miss out on that each day. After talking to my customers, I realised I wasn’t the only one and that many people struggled to give up bread. That’s how our original product Protein Bread was born.
What did you want to be when you left school? Did you study?
As a child I always wanted “to have a cafe just like McDonalds but healthier”. It took me 10 years after leaving school to bring this dream to life. As fate would have it, when I finished school I moved to Sydney just wanting to work and gain as much experience as possible. I ended up working for Maccas for 10 years progressing through the ranks up to that of regional manager. I never went to uni, I was always much more hands on “just do it” kind of personality! I think uni is great if you have a particular goal or career in mind, but I don’t believe in studying for the sake of it.
What was your initial marketing strategy, and how has it changed?
Honestly, I didn’t have one. I observed the very early stages of the low carb movement, got curious, saw a huge demand for this product and simply got to work creating it. You learn as you go, and my approach has changed a million times over the past few years however I believe marketing simply comes down to listening to people and providing what they want and need, communicated in a way that excites and encourages them to interact with you.
What do you think was the biggest mistake you made in business?
Not trusting my gut!!! I always know deep down when something’s not right, it’s so easy to be influenced by others and start to doubt yourself. I’ve allowed situations to go on and decisions to be made that I should have definitely objected and stuck with my instinct. Sometimes it’s hard when you just know, but don’t have “evidence or facts” as many people need that. I suppose the lesson here is it’s your business and if you want to say no without justification you can.
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
Not overinvesting at the start. Doing what I could with what I had, building up demand then taking it from there. This philosophy has stayed with us the whole time, and has really made us question all decisions and create a strong foundation. We are proud of the fact that up to this day, we are still 100% self funded.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Trust your gut and be guided by your instincts and feelings not the current reality.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Self awareness/emotional intelligence
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
Michelle Bridges is my number one, she’s lived her passion since she was 14, not been swayed by trends or fads, and has helped millions to feel their best. She calls it as she sees it and makes no excuses! I admire everyone who stays true to their beliefs in this day and age when things are so fickle and each week there’s a new trend or fad (especially in the health & fitness industry!)
Other than your business, what other hats do you wear?
We just had our little girl Lily, who’s now 8 weeks old, so she is definitely keeping me busy and teaching me to be even better at prioritising and making the most of each day!
We just recently had a small sea change, moving down the coast from Sydney, and I love being closer to nature! I love building our veggie garden and making improvements around the house.
We get up around 4am most days to avoid the traffic on the drive to the office, so like anything, you make sacrifices and decisions about what’s important to you.
What is your favourite thing to do in your downtime?
I’ve never really had “hobbies” as I seriously love what I do at work, so that’s my passion and what I spend most of my time and energy on.
However my other big love is bikram yoga which keeps my body and mind strong, flexible and peaceful!
What is your favourite app?
I’m not really that into technology or apps but I do use Insight Timer which is a guided meditation app, and the other one I find handy is Genius Scan which turns a photo of a doc into a PDF and emails it out.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
Definitely outsource but with the clarity and clear communication about what exactly you want the end outcomes to be, otherwise you’ll be disappointed. However you can’t outsource your vision or dream, that’s always your responsibility!
Describe/outline your typical day?
I’m at work 2 days a week at the moment (because I’ve just had a baby!), so on those days I’m up at 4am to get ready and on the road before traffic hits! My work days are usually pretty full of meetings with the team, suppliers and my business partners to keep us all aligned and moving forward. We usually get home around 6pm which means long days, however that’s not a problem when you’re passionate about what you’re doing.
My days at home are when I spend more time thinking about the business, future direction, observe the general movements in society and spend time on social media, interacting with customers and seeing what people are talking about.
What motivates you?
Knowing the impact we’re making on so many people’s lives, helping them to feel their best by reducing carbs in their diet whilst not feeling like they are being deprived or missing out.
I believe everyone deserves to feel amazing, with endless energy and passion, but the majority of the population are far from this.
How do you generate new ideas?
I have a naturally curious mind, and always ask myself why, why, why about everything, so I’m lucky in the sense that ideas have never been a problem. I never accept “that’s just the way it is” and challenge everything in my mind. Out of our biggest “problems” come the biggest, best ideas.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The flexibility to craft my position at work and life in general to be exactly how I want it to be. Of course we still have to do stuff we don’t love sometimes but overall I feel quite fortunate (but have worked hard to achieve this!)
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I think Carman’s (the muesli brand) has done an amazing job, standing the test of time whilst stay true to their values and building a huge brand and company in such a competitive space. I love Carolyn Creswell’s stories about her early days and the struggle it was, but her tenacity and determination paid off.