Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A young entrepreneur having a Monsta impact in the surf-wear business

Building a good business can be the pathway to fulfillment and freedom

One of the things that I really enjoy about this blog, is that I get the chance to connect with all different types of people who share my interest in learning how to more effectively run and grow a successful small business. People that come from different backgrounds - with businesses from a range of different industries, based not just here in Australia, but all around the world.

And so many of these business owners have stories about achieving success that can inspire us in our own journey - as well as lessons and tips they freely share which serve to inform and educate. Well, keep on reading folks, 'cause you're going to hear about a young man who offers you plenty of both!

Although business should not dominate our entire life - boy it plays such an integral role in determining our overall sense of well-being, don't you think? .…. We need to find a way to get the business part right and also gain satisfaction from what we are doing. Building a good business provides us with financial security - which in turn offers us freedom to choose the lifestyle that we want. When it all comes together,  then life becomes a whole lot more enjoyable.

And much more stress-free when we’re not worrying about whether we can pay the bills!

Yes, you're in business to make money - but what else?
There's nothing wrong with being in business to make money. To stay in business of course you need to be making more money that what you're spending…... But running your own business doesn’t have to be just about profits and making money - it can meet other needs as well. 

How you run and approach your business is a reflection of who you are – it reflects your values and your priorities, and mirrors what you stand for in your life.

And on this theme of values, this post features an interview with a remarkable young entrepreneur making his mark in the billion dollar surf-wear industry.
His name is Cameron Greenwood, and his motivation in business is to have a positive influence on the world and to inspire young people to follow their passion and dreams. And quite frankly, my gut tells me that within the next few years you’ll be hearing a lot more about this 22 year-old young man and his small business based in Melbourne, Australia, called Monsta Surf.

Cam Greenwood - founder of Monsta Surf
He is building an enormous following in social media (approaching 30,000 Facebook followers), and in the space of just a couple of years is experiencing a solid, consistent rate of growth in sales around the globe for his range of surf-wear, surf-boards and accessories. Here’s what he had to say about his experience so far ….

  • Cam, what was your motivation in starting your business – and what keeps you motivated now?
I had always been really interested in surfboard design and in 2012 I started making surfboards in a small storeroom in my backyard. In March 2012, I wanted to label my surfboards and thought of the name Monsta. My partner drew up the first Monsta logo and that’s how Monsta was born. On 7 June 2012 I created the Monsta Surfboards Facebook page. In the first year I was selling surfboards to my friends and through Facebook as well as starting to sell hats, hoodies and singlets.

I think I always had a dream to run a surf company but I didn’t really plan to grow Monsta to what it has become. It grew very quickly and I just went with it. In the first year Monsta had grown to 1000 likes on Facebook and it was then that I realized I had an opportunity to build Monsta into a business selling surfboards and clothing. A year later we had more than 15,000 followers

I saw that I had already created a solid following on Facebook and from this, was receiving a lot of interest in the brand and clothing. I believed I had the opportunity to grow Monsta into a successful business and I believed that it was feasible based on the interest around Melbourne and through leveraging the rapidly growing Facebook following. We  now have 25,000 active Facebook followers, with 30,000 projected by early next year.

I was driven by my passion to pursue my dream to create a surf brand that inspires people and was also influenced by the support from my close friends. After being part of a mission trip to the Huruma Children’s Home in Kenya in 2012, I set a goal to provide financial help with the education of these Kenyan children and wanted to achieve this through having my own business. A component of the annual profit of the business is now allocated to the Huruma Children’s Home through the Monsta Foundation.

Today, I am motivated by my passion to use Monsta as a platform to positively influence the world. I would love to bring cultural reform to the surf scene.

  • You were studying business and commerce at university ....... How does that compare to what youve actually learned running your own small business?
Everything I have learnt through my commerce degree has been very helpful for the business but the lessons and skills I have learned from actually stepping out and running my own business have been priceless. All of the projects I have undertaken for Monsta have taught me new skills, given me new experiences, developed new capabilities, grown my resources and networks, and has constantly challenged myself and the brand to grow.

I have currently deferred my course to focus on Monsta this semester - but I do plan to go back and study part time next year to finish my degree.

  • How have you approached marketing your business? ........ You have amassed quite a significant following on Facebook in a relatively short time, what is your approach to leveraging social media in your marketing?
The way that I approach social media is quite different to most brands. I build personal relationships with Monsta’s ‘tribe’ of followers who take ownership of the brand and spread the word. Most brands use social media with selling being their inherent interest. Basically I use our social media outlets as a platform to share a unique view of the world.

Over time, I have learned to focus on what makes a great, provocative and engaging image while aligning images with the interests of our target customer. I’m very proud of the strong presence Monsta has on social media and we really do have a ‘tribe’ like following with advocates from all around the world.

  • What advice would you offer to young entrepreneurs?
I’m passionate about doing what you love and having a red hot crack. I think it’s great for young people to follow their dreams and to not settle for a lifestyle that does not fulfil them. There will always be many challenges and there is lots of things that I wish someone had told me before I launched Monsta. So here are ten tips for the young entrepreneur who is about to enter the battle field:

-     Do what you love: Don’t start a business simply because it seems like a great business idea, do it because you arent passionate about it and its what you love. Business built around your passions and strengths will have a greater chance of succeeding. Yes, creating a profitable business is very important, but its just as important that your work is fulfilling. Think about it, you spend most of your life working, so you may as well love what you do!

-     Lead with character: Do what is right because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of the cost to you or your business.

-     Focus on your niche: One of the most important factors in building a successful business is the ability to stand out from the many competitors in your field. One of the best ways to do this is by focusing and catering to a specific niche. Being more specific will help you stand out as well as attracting and marketing to the right audience which will save a heap of time and money. Juggling multiple projects or ideas will limit your productivity and effectiveness. When starting out, do one thing perfectly, not lots of different things poorly.

-     Take calculated risks: The best part of being a young entrepreneur is that you are young and aren’t responsible for much. This is the time to take risks, but make sure you have done your homework before you spend last years wage on your new venture. If you don’t calculate, your business will eventually fail. Projections, strategy options and plans must be in place to avoid making a wild decision.

-     Know your limits: No one can do everything, so don’t try to be a one man show. Surround yourself with mentors and advisors who will help you become a better leader and business person.

-     Stay lean: Scale down pricey plans and large expenditures when starting out. It is very tough to borrow money and it is quite stressful having a big liability so if you need large sums of money to launch your venture, go back to the drawing board. Simplify your business ideas to start small and then refine your concepts as you go.

-     Take advantage of social media: Social media is one of the most useful tools for advertising your venture. Not only can you build up online relationships with your customers but it is also very cost effective and a measurable way of advertising.

-     Keep innovating: even if you think your business or product is perfect, there will always be room to improve. Once your product is out there, you must continue to improve, expand and develop what you’ve created. This is how you remain competitive.

small business-     Treat people with respect: Success is defined by who you are and how you treat the people around you ...... In particular I think, how you treat the people that you don't need anything from and the compassion that you show, when no-one's watching. For me, that speaks louder than the car you drive or the clothes you wear or the balance of your bank account.

-     Stay healthy: As lame as it sounds, you will be much more productive if you take good care of yourself. Entrepreneurship and start ups are not a 9-5 job, they are a lifestyle and once you become passionate about your venture it will be with you until all hours of the night. I remember having nights where I would be working on a new idea until the sun came up but trust me, you will burn out and make yourself less productive in the long run. Eat right, exercise and prioritise your time for your loved ones and yourself.

Finally, what are your future aspirations for the business?

I believe that God has blessed me with Monsta in order to use it as a platform to positively influence the world. I have lots of dreams and ideas tucked away and I am hoping that one day our foundation can raise enough money to take the kids of the Huruma Childrens Home surfing down the coast of Kenya!

Ultimately, I want the brand’s legacy to be reflected in the lives it influences and I am super excited to see what the future holds.

Thank you to Cam Greenwood …… I’m confident that this young purposeful man will achieve his goals – and that his story will be an inspiration to other young people who want to make a difference. And by the way, you might be interested in this article "Are You Playing To Your Strengths"  and if you're looking for some tips on starting your own business "How to become an entrepreneur"

About the interviewer
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a training business in Melbourne, Australia.  He is an experienced management coach with a passion for helping people achieve their goals in life and business. You can find out more about Brian at his Google + profile