After a career in hospitality, Katrina Higham stepped away from the heat in the kitchen and turned her attention to a new venture, Katrina Higham Consulting, in 2007. Since then, she’s started various businesses exploiting her skill set. Here’s her story...
What were you doing when you decided to create your own business?
I was just married, no kids and was working over 80 hours a week and working for people that didn’t respect what I was doing in the hospitality industry. I wanted to be more than ‘just’ a chef. I wanted to be someone that was not only into the food scene but also out and about spruiking what I did and what I was passionate about.
I created Katrina Higham Consulting in 2007 when I wanted to show the skills that I had in the hospitality industry to help small to medium food businesses and show them how to increase their revenue by making changes to their staff, costs and general running of their businesses.
What inspired you to start the business? When did you officially start it?
So after KHC was running for a few years, we bought Windsor Deli in June 2009. After working for other people for so long, my husband and I realised the only way we were going to get further was to open our own place. Because I had been running Katrina Higham Consulting, it was an easy choice to buy a bricks and mortar store to prove all the work we had been doing with the consulting business.
What was your start-up cost? How did you acquire the money and what did you use it for?
Katrina Higham Consulting was $0. All the time spent in the hospitality industry gave me a really good springboard and my experience was a huge help.
Windsor Deli cost us over $120,000 to start. We got a loan and invested money ourselves.
What was the biggest obstacle?
Realising that I wasn’t invincible. In 2011, I fell pregnant with Eleanor and continued to work up until a day before Ellie was born. The hardest thing for me was that I needed time to be with Ellie and I couldn’t run two businesses and Ellie. I was only one person.
How did you rise above the tough days? Those days when people said no, things fell through or someone said they didn’t ``get it’’.
A HUGE glass of red wine at the end of the day. And a big sigh came with that. Alan and I would get home and fall on our feet and remind each other why we were doing it.
How long did it take for your business to become profitable?
We doubled Windsor Delis revenue in 18 months. We have now tripled the coffee sales since 2009.
What do you love most about being your own boss? What is the downside?
I love being the front person for the business. We had a customer whisper to another customer, “oh, she is the one that makes those awesome cookies. She’s the boss.” I think people like that make what we do worthwhile.
The downside is that you are the one that is relied on for EVERYTHING. Staff sick? You go in. Tea towels run out? You have to wash them etc.
How have you been using social media to grow your business?
Since 2009. We had no marketing budget, running on no money to spend and used it from the beginning. It was the most amazing thing we have done for the business and the best source of advertising for us. AMAZING!
How have you been using public relations to grow your business? What strategies have you used?
We have only used Alan and I and social media.
Who are your entrepreneurial role models? What's so inspiring about them?
I am geeky and love Richard Branson. I love anyone that has a goal and makes it happen. I love passionate people.
How have you acquired the skills and knowledge you have to make your business successful?
I keep reading. I read all the time or listen to podcasts or books. That is what I believe makes you successful. Listening and learning. Collaborating when you can also increases your business.
What's the best piece of business advice you ever received?
The worst thing people can say is `no’. Don’t be afraid to ask.
What is your favourite product/service that you offer?
Our cookies of course! Who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies?
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you want to do it, do it now. Don’t wait because you don’t want to be the one say “I wish I had done ……..”