Jodi was doing bookkeeping for a big accounting firm, but never got to see her family. “I like people, not papers, so I wanted to find a way to help people understand how their accounting affected their cashflow.” In 2011, Jodi started a bookkeeping business with her simplified spreadsheet program ‘easybooks’ for small businesses. This gave her an in-depth understanding of the challenges small business owners faced, particularly with marketing. Her clients were hard-working people with years of experience, skills and qualifications who had to constantly fight against bigger competitors with massive advertising budgets for exposure.
In 2013 Jodi’s business, along with many other small businesses, was being lost at the bottom of new digital search engines. She wanted to find a cost-effective way for local small businesses to come together, support each other and be “found” online. She created Trading Mate, a national online business directory that supports and promotes small businesses with 0-15 employees. Trading Mate encourages community building and connections through monthly events, where businesses can present and promote their knowledge to provide others with upskilling opportunities.
Jodi signed up to the Digital Solutions program to better her understanding of online security for the Trading Mate social media profiles, and to add a Facebook pixel to the website. She reflects her challenges were very much digital – “(coming from) the older generation and learning new digital technology is challenging with online information, search functionality and browser platforms changing all the time. Having someone to talk you through the process, sitting down and telling you which buttons to push is more valuable than having an online video. Don’t tell me, show me.”
Jodi was paired with expert advisors Renee Dembowksi (website and app development) and Nicky Jurd (social media), and attended two in-person workshops, and three one-to-one advisory sessions. “Renee has an abundance of knowledge that she is willing to share and assist with. Nicky made things simple for us – instead of throwing a lot of information at us, she’s very good at talking us through things and was able to assist us with what do to and where to go.” It can be hard for small business owners to give up time in their daily schedule, however Jodi reflected that the learning opportunities and affordable cost of these sessions made them highly worthwhile.
Attending in-person programs allowed her to access in-depth, step-by-step support around specific processes, and this was knowledge Jodi could pass on to her own business network. “The fact that we were able to come along to the in-person program and sit with the presenters, open up our laptops and they could show us – go here, click that… You’re not only finding answers to your own needs, having others there asking questions gives a comprehensive understanding of processes you may need to consider. The presentations and interactive groups provided invaluable learning support that were so affordable, everyone in small business should enrol!”
Through the program, Jodi was able to learn more about her website. “There are a lot of people with websites who don’t have access to their information – understanding that it’s your website, you’re paying for it, you get to have access to the information. A lot of small businesses with websites find their providers have limited their access and the less they know about managing it, the more vulnerable they are to being at their providers mercy. They’re sometimes being forced to pay unconscionable amounts to do a fix or an update.”
As a result of the Digital Solutions program, Jodi was able to update her Facebook profile security and privacy, implement a Facebook pixel on the Trading Mate website, and learn about writing website copy and linking socials to improve SEO.