Learning to sign up clients like Uber, pivot the business, and build a workforce across Australia and New Zealand are just a few of the lessons Melbourne entrepreneur Jacqui Bull has picked up in the past three years.
Since launching Sidekicker with her co-founder Thomas Amos, they’ve built it into one of Australia’s fastest growing flexible workforces delivering staff on-demand to entrepreneurs and small businesses right up to larger enterprises.
“At a macro level I always wanted to start a business and own a business,” Bull told SmartCompany.
Today, Sidekicker boasts more than 3000 “sidekicks” and the platform is completing more than 1500 jobs a month. Each job can involve as many as 100 people and an average hourly rate for a hospitality staff workers is $30.
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Sidekicker also recently celebrated the launch of its Melbourne headquarters and have set up operations in Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland in New Zealand.
But through it all, Bull says their main focus hasn’t shifted.
“We’ve always focused on growing at a manageable level without dropping the ball on customers,” she says.
Keep your customer in heart and mind
From day one, Bull says she and Amos built their product with the customer at front of mind.
She says it’s one of the key drivers of Sidekicker’s success.
“For us it’s about proving a product that is great and does what they need, providing good support to make sure if anything goes wrong or if the customer needs anything we can solve that for them,” she says.
As Sidekicker continues to grow, Bull says building a high quality workforce of Sidekicks that are available on-demand whenever a client needs temporary staff remains their highest priority.
“Deliver on your promise in the first place [and customers] will stay with you,” she says.
Work with the big players if you have something great for them
When Sidekicker first reached out to Uber to see if the companies could work together, Bull says the team did it the traditional way.
“We basically approached them in a direct sales manner,” she says.
After introducing themselves, Bull and her team then focused on what their potential client needed.
“It was getting in touch, letting them know what we do [and] working with them to identify their staffing problems,” she says.
Sidekicker was then able to quickly respond and adapt its tech to deliver on Uber’s staffing needs.
This approach paved the way for Sidekicker’s glowing client portfolio, which includes other larger businesses including Sofitel and Airbnb.
Always, always deliver value
For the owner of any new business, Bull recommends seeking out clients you can deliver real value to.
“Start by drilling down on everyone in your city [and] in your industry and talking to all of them,” she says.
While it’s great to aim high, Bull says there’s no point on knocking on the door of Uber if the product or service you deliver is of no value to them.
“Those businesses they have specific needs, areas and challenges,” she says.
Commit to the hard yards and be patient
With Sidekicker being her first business, Bull has been on a steep learning curve throughout the past few years but her most critical lesson boils down to two things.
“Commitment and perseverance,” says Bull.
“It pays off.”
“Your product won’t go bang and get adopted as soon as you launch. You have to really commit to the whole thing not just [the] first month,” she adds.