Hey there, I'm Kerry
I'm a born and raised Aussie, with the accent to prove it.
My journey snap shot
- Grew up on a small farm
- Left school and moved out of home at 16
- Opened my first business at 22
- Closed that business 18 months later in Debt
- Flipped from being in Retail to Office positions
- Sponged everything in small business for 10 years
- Moved from the office Coffee Fetcher to Business Manager
- Worked for a new Airline for 2 years
- Co-Operated a successful online storefront - side hustle
- Studied Bachelor of Graphic Design
- Completed Cert IV in Accounting
- Became a Qualified Bookkeeper/BAS Agent
- 2011 launched Zinc Business Solutions Pty Ltd
- 2020 started my first Podcast
READ the full story below!
Things I LOVE 💙
With little education, I was going to work my way to success!
I grew up in a hardworking family, my parents taught me if you want something in life you need to work for it.
I was not academic in my teenage years and decided to leave school before completing year 10. I got a full-time job in a local supermarket and found mentors in my managers at an early age.
My friends from school and I grew apart and I focused on working hard to prove that I could build a career from nothing. I then job hopped in the retail and manufacturing world for about 7 years when I landed in a toxic workplace where everyone was just a number.
I opened my first business at 22!
It felt like the right time to start my own business and what better way to do this than with a business loan and a high rent expense in a shopping center cafe, right?!
Obtaining 1 month rent-free to renovate, this quickly turned into a 3-month journey past Xmas peek trading and a last-minute dash to open in January. For shopping centers in Australia not only is January quiet as the money has been spent on Xmas presents, but it is our peak summer and everyone goes to the beach. And this shopping center wasn't quite a beachfront property!
I also need to mention that this was before coffee was trendy. Cafe's were survival stops for caffeine addicts getting their morning fix and the odd lovely elderly friends stopping for lunch during their weekly browsing/shopping trips.
Things weren't working!
After about the 1-year mark of trading, things were looking bleak at best. The Xmas had come and gone again and the boom that I forecasted just didn't happen.
I then tried new menu items, brought in specialty donuts, packed with jams and creams. These were popular but had a much lower margin than other items. I also introduced a few hot food items for the lunch-goers and sadly, this is when the trouble really started. You see, right behind me was another cafe, and he had complained about my menu changes. The center management, in short, advised me to cease and desist on any items that were not approved by them.
I then went backward and forward to them with menu suggestions, most of which were not approved.
In a final effort, I set a meeting with center management and advised if my menu wasn't approved I required a 50% rent reduction to be able to continue trading.
I knew I had the upper hand as my space was vacant for a very long time prior to me moving in. So I knew they would prefer to see some rent than none.
The menu was once again declined but the rent reduction was approved for a 6-month window.
It was all too late!
Sadly this came too late. Without the menu changes, making ends meet was difficult and actually looking impossible.
I took a Sunday job in a local retailer to try and bring in a few more beans to stay open. After a few weekends of testing, I made more money working a Sunday than opening the cafe.
I was very stressed and frustrated, now working 7 days and week and still not seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Another point to make, this all took place in pre-social media times. There were a few forms of local advertising available, radio, newspaper, people handing out flyers, and not much else. The signage inside was very restricted, a countertop chalkboard was all we could do to advertise specials.
I couldn't afford the radio or newspaper and to be honest I felt defeated trying to think of anything else.
The biggest thing looking back now is my lack of business finances. Once bills got behind, it felt like I was trying to dig myself out of quicksand.
After paying rent, the loan, a tiny payroll, and the key stock suppliers, some weeks there just weren't the funds for it all. I started robbing "Peter to pay Paul".
I didn't have the skills to even try to work my way out. It all seemed too hard and too late and I almost think the defeat was too far gone mentally to even try.
I admit I made so many mistakes. Starting in such a competitive space. Paying a premium rent. Getting a loan for the renovation. I started the dangerous game of Jenga with no realistic plan or practical forecast.
After 18 fast months, I closed the doors and walked away from what seemed like an overwhelming debt hanging over my head.
As if a failing business wasn't enough!
Towards the end of the business, I'd also put an end to my marriage, I'd moved out and was pressing the life reset button to start over personally as well.
Having only personal possessions and a car, I found part-time work quickly in an effort to set things straight.
Now let's go back to that debt. This was haunting me, it was in my every thought. I felt on edge constantly that someone might come and take my car or my bed or even the final clothes on my back.
I sought no council, I had no one in business to turn to and I was too ashamed to even speak to my parents.
I found a local company that handled bankruptcy and I didn't hesitate. They assured me that everyone would get taken care of and I wouldn't have to think about it again.
I am certain they would have told me all the 'cons' to the action as well. I knew what I was doing, I was taking the only road out that I could see and saving what little bit I had left to my name.
The great pause!
My life then went on hold for 7 years. I couldn't get any credit. No mobile phone plans, no chance of replacing my car, nothing could happen without me having cash.
This also meant housing was very restricted. I remember going through a real estate agent for a rental property and sweating bullets that they might see my credit rating and decline my application. Lucky this wasn't how they worked, or I would have been homeless.
This was a blessing and curse at the same time.
It gave me to opportunity not to make more mistakes. It gave me the opportunity to seriously hit the reset button.
But at the same time, the scar to my name loomed over me instead.
Let's step forward now!
Fast forward 7.5 years and I recall the first time I applied for any kind of credit, post-bankruptcy ending. I was so scared it was still going to be on my file. I'd had the official letter to advise me I'd "done my time" but there was still concern over applying for a mobile phone plan.
Shortly after that I applied for a position at the Airline. Upon being accepted, the next phase was going through the ASIC (Aviation Security ID Card) application process. I'd not been ASIC assessed ever, so part of me was concerned the bankruptcy might show up on that which might mean I wouldn't land the, at the time, "dream job".
Although I'd 'done my time' it still haunted me for the next 3 years afterwards. You know that form that says, "in the last 10 years, have you?".
I'll never forget passing the 10-year mark and feeling so relieved I could say NO to all of the questions without having to carefully read them and give them second thoughts!
It was hard, but I made it!
They say you can't keep a good woman down.
20+ years have passed and an amazing journey of business sponging.
From the receptionist to data entry, to the office manager, and right through to a business manager.
So many industries, retreaded aircraft tires, plumbing, importing and exporting, truck dealership, and even used cooking oil into bio-diesel.
The last decade has been spent as the Director of Zinc Business Solutions, as both a physical and virtual CFO to many clients across product and service based industries.
I've also assisted clients with websites, graphic designs, systems and processes, social media, and HR services.
Finances, Coffee, and Podcasting have filled my cup, and being able to help others has always been my true calling.
I hope my story shows you just how far we can come if we truly believe in ourselves and don't give up.
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