Hi! Tell me about you and your business.
Hiya! My name is Kelly and I am the founder of Daily Orders, a Veteran-Owned business based in Victoria, Australia.
Daily Orders is a gloss acrylic planning board (aka sexy looking calendars). The board allows people to never miss an appointment, bill payment or sporting event ever again.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The story starts while I was on maternity leave in 2015 with our second child. I was contemplating my future after spending (at that time) 12 years in the Royal Australian Navy. My husband was traveling a lot at the time, and I was becoming frustrated that I couldn’t keep track of his flight movements. Managing two kids was hard enough, let alone trying to figure out where he was.
I needed a planner that I could look at, at a glance, while I was in the kitchen and be able to see everything that was going on for the week. I was sick of having paper lying around everywhere and pens that didn’t work.
Coming from the Navy where everything is very procedural, starting your own business is like having a bowl of spaghetti tipped all over your table.
I couldn't find a product anywhere that fit my needs, so I figured I would bite the bullet and start a business to see if it would work.
I discovered similar products created overseas, validating that my idea was a legitimate business. I was also aware that people liked to write on splashbacks in their kitchen for something quick and easy to write on. I knew the product could be easily created - I had seen some cafes using liquid chalk with blackboards to promote their menus.
With a commerce degree, I had some idea of how the business world works, but starting a business yourself is a lot different that whan you learn in school. My husband and I had started a few businesses together before so that background helped as well. But since he was away, I got the chance to start the business largely by myself which has helped me feel proud of my achievements.
Daily Orders was the first product we have created (our previous businesses were service-based). With my risk-averse nature, I had to make sure the product was of the highest quality to not disappoint our customers.
Describe the process of creating the initial version of Daily Orders.
Well, I can tell you, it was (and still is) a huge challenge. Coming from the Navy where everything is very procedural, starting your own business is like having a bowl of spaghetti tipped all over your table. You have no idea where to start. Everyone has advice, and everyone is an expert (or so they claim).
My research started by finding prices of acrylic sheet nearby to my hometown. There are numerous acrylic suppliers so that was easy.
The next challenge was finding a business that could supply, fabricate, and print the product. This was a little more challenging, mainly because I wanted a competitive price. Once I found the right supplier, I supplied them with the initial designs and they converted them into the correct format for printing. Nowadays I create my designs and outsource to a freelancer to PDF them for me.
I did a ton of research into cost and pricing, and whether to have it made here in Australia, or in China (marginally cheaper here). I also spent a considerable amount of time determining the best economic order quantity in order to both be a reasonable price for me to pay, a reasonable price to charge my customers, as well as a reasonable amount of stock to store in my garage!
Starting up is all about learning what your risk profile is. For me, my risk profile is very low. We started with $10,000, and I have not once had to take out a loan to support the growth of the business. I will say though, that despite my husband’s pleadings, I have never done a business plan! I have a relatively good understanding of my cash flow (I have a Business Degree with an Accounting major, so that helps) and I plan accordingly.
I never order more stock than I can move, always order a small number of a new line before fully committing. I’m also a big fan of pre-orders for new line items as it allows the business to become fully aware of the interest in the product line before committing.
And can't forget about the website! Oh the initial version of the website, whilst horribly embarrassing and ugly to look at, still converted. Each version of our website has been built on Shopify, but when I upped my game to a paid theme, (and learned some tricks along the way, like the use of external apps) conversion rates were a lot higher.
Growing my brand’s personality, through my personality has certainly helped convert. I am who I am, and my website is quite conversational. I think customers recognize themselves in my text - it helps builds a relationship.
We've built Daily Orders with a newborn and a 3-year-old, only being able to work around 8 hours a week on it. It has been hard, but it is proof that it can be done, and done at a profit.
How have you attracted customers and grown the business?
My primary method of marketing is Facebook Ads.
At last look, I have spent $38K on Facebook ads since I started, and made $210K from those ads alone. Although I have been experimenting a lot with FB ads, I try to remember my main goal - to build a relationship with my potential customers.
One thing I have learned from James Tuckerman’s Not So Freaky University, is "not to propose on the first date". For example, don’t just put a Facebook ad out there asking people to buy buy buy, because chances are they won’t. It takes something like 12 impressions for a person to be familiar enough with a brand to trust them enough to make a purchase. You need to provide them with something useful, explain how the product will benefit them, and then direct them to your site - all in different ads. Then you need to retarget them through your Facebook pixel. If you haven’t heard of this, you need to get on it ASAP. Most of my conversions have been through retargeting.
I have also engaged local celebrities who are relevant to my niche, who have promoted my products through their channels. Additionally, I have created ads using their images and endorsements to provide social proof to potential customers.
I have tried print media, a high-end home design magazine, but I have had no conversions from this method.
Joining Facebook groups where my niche (Mums 25-44) hangs out has also been a huge source of growth for me. Subtlety is key though, when people ask about how to menu plan or how to keep their busy family organized, I often pop up with a comment to say, perhaps one of my boards could be useful, and post the website.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently?
I would probably back myself more. I am very risk-averse and lack confidence in my ability to succeed. With a more positive attitude, I probably would have done a little better.
How have you dealt with competition?
As planners are a dime a dozen, we have a lot of competition. We like to differentiate ourselves for the following reasons:
- We are a veteran-owned business, owned and operated by a Mum with limited time, which indicates that if I have enough time to raise two kids and create a successful business, then the planners must work!
- Large, easy to clean planners that are in your face and challenge you to achieve your goals (because they’re out there for everyone to see, not hidden in a diary).
- We pride ourselves on our customer service (and our reviews reflect this).
- We provide value for money. Paper calendars are forgotten about come February, but our planners will be used day in and day out because you WANT to use them!
Where you are at now and what are your plans for the future?
We started with weekly planners and have now moved into monthly planners. We’re looking at annual ones next - we just need to get the dimensions right.
Right now, I’m consolidating my current niche and also looking to expand into corporate collaborations. We are also looking into shipping overseas, but at the moment, the shipping is quite expensive, so I’m trying to look at my options.
I'm also aiming to have $500k per year revenue.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use Shopify for our site - super easy to update and change themes as we need, with plenty of apps to customise.
For emails, we started off with MailChimp for email marketing then moved to Activecampaign because MailChimp wasn’t offering enough features. After a number of months with Activecampaign, I was tired of how long it took to create campaigns - the response rate of the program was very slow - a long time between a click and an action actually taking place - we moved back to MailChimp as their automation features are now a lot better.
Influential books, podcasts, or other resources for your business?
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Test your market before you spend thousands on creating a product nobody wants. Find out whether your market actually wants or needs the product, then create it.
Don’t be afraid to give it a go, but know your financial boundaries. There is no point putting good money after bad.
Where can we go to learn more?
Check us out on our website www.dailyorders.com.au, or find us on social media at:
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started.
If you liked this story, join our mailing list for new interviews every Tuesday.
Interested in sharing your own story? Find out how!