A natural journalist! Amber’s journalistic ambitions were first revealed in the mid-1980s when she used her electric blue boom box to interview family and friends. Her entrepreneurial inklings were not far behind, and in Year 2 she wrote, designed, self-published and sold her first magazine in the playground, aged just eight years old.
1. Can you give us a little background on your career to date?
After graduating from university in 1996, I was a daily news journalist, working predominantly in print newspaper and business magazines, reporting in Australia, Hong Kong and the UK. She also had a brief stint as an on-air TV reporter.
A move into the world of online communications was made when she pioneered a UK-based web site magazine, covering the Asian art, rugs and textiles markets that took her to New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Istanbul. In 2001, I returned to Australia to forge a career in PR and media relations management in agencies, working with household name clients in the business, consumer and government sectors.
I launched Bespoke Communications in 2007 and since then our client base has quickly grown to include major corporates, lifestyle brands, small business entities, artists and galleries, and not-for-profits. While small, we remain perfectly formed and highly efficient.
My web site is www.bespokecomms.com.au
2. Tell us about ……..how it each came to be?
My career is has been all about communications. That is all I have ever done for almost 20 years– so my path from student to cadet to senior journalist to PR professional was in many ways logical and not revolutionary for many in my field. Starting a business was though!
3. Can you talk us through any obstacles that you have faced in building your company?
- Finding and keeping the good eggs– I have found a stable of reliable, casual labour to ensure that the business is not burdened with overheads we can ill afford should a client take a break or I am on leave for a month with no work to do for staff.
- Being tough but fair – Hire slowly, fire quickly. That goes for clients, suppliers and employees.
- Match and aspire – For where the business is now, I have found the most suitable clients for my cash flow, profile and service capability are mid-sized firms or project of larger corporates doing new campaigns that demand an agile and experienced communications agent. It means saying no to clients sometimes. One man bands no matter how edgy, exciting or personally engaging that don’t have the experience with a PR agency, limited budget and a need for too much “hand holding” are more energy than reward.
4. Was founding your own business something you always had on the career agenda?
If you had asked me when I finished high school, the answer would be “no thanks.” I wanted to be a journalist and work for a major newspaper or TV network. End of story. But in hindsight my desire to achieve a lot at a young age both personally and professionally were certainly the building blocks to set up a business. Thankfully I did as there are so few staff reporter jobs any more.
5. What advice would you give to any of our readers who dream of starting up their own business but just don’t know where to begin?
- Do your homework on your idea and work out your cash flow early on as most SMEs don’t last five years for a good reason. I was holding down a full time job when I started my PR consultancy.
- Decide whether you want to be a partnership, hire a team of staff or remain a sole trader. It’s very important to also be clear to why you started the business – have a vision.
- Do not be dogged down by how you have always done things. Being innovative and nimble are all part of the modern business landscape.
- Listen to everyone but only do what is right for your brand
6. What has been the most profound thing you have learnt to date in your career?
Being the smartest guy or girl in the room is no guarantee of financial success.
7. How would you best describe your investment style in three words?
Cautious but not traditional. I own lots of great art (which to me is an investment of the soul and the future bank balance), have bought an investment property but still rent the space where I live and work.