Jolly Solo taps into the idea of the annual corporate Christmas party, but is aimed exclusively at solo business operators and very small firms.
Now in its second year, the Sydney-based event is a joint effort between Janna Fikh, owner of Fletcher Tax Accountants, and Leah Klugt, owner of The Golden Goose Design Studio.
Fikh and Klugt created Jolly Solo “to bring together small business owners who would otherwise miss out on the fun and interaction of a big Christmas party”.
Klugt talks to StartupSmart about creating a business concept solely for the silly season.
What inspired the idea for Jolly Solo?
We realised that as solo business owners in our first years of having our own businesses, we were going to miss out on Christmas parties.
Since 95.6% of Australian businesses are small, with 62.7% not employing any staff, we knew that we were not the only ones who would be missing out.
We wanted to create an event for solo and micro business owners to celebrate what we have all achieved through the year, as well as meet other business owners with similar issues and concerns as us.
As soon as we mentioned our idea for Jolly Solo, the enthusiastic response from soloists all across the nation confirmed that we were on to something.
How long did you work on the business before you launched it?
We worked on the idea of Jolly Solo for around three months before our first event last year – Jolly Solo 2010. This year, we also spent around three months planning the event.
How did you fund the business?
After a bit of initial investment from both of us, the idea of Jolly Solo was formed. The event has been a non-profit event with strict budgets in place to cater for the targeted market.
With Janna as a co-founder, our finances were always in order and overspending was out of the question.
We also benefited from having sponsors who offered their services free of charge, including Good Business Consulting, Jilske Photography and Octoply.
How do you promote the business?
The business is heavily promoted via social media as well as local and national media coverage (online and print).
We also benefit from word-of-mouth promotion from our fans and those who attended Jolly Solo in 2010.
Some of them went so far as to promote Jolly Solo 2011 in their company newsletters, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and more.
How many staff do you have?
The event is organised by the two of us, along with the help of some amazing sponsors in terms of marketing and online tools to spread the word.
What are your revenue projections for 2011/12?
To date, Jolly Solo is a non-profit business.
What are your points of difference?
Jolly Solo welcomes both male and female, solo and micro businesses, with a strong emphasis on keeping the event a “people’s party” rather than being a branded corporate event or being used to promote our own businesses.
We gain attendee feedback through surveys and testimonials. These are a strong indicator of what people loved and what we should amend for the next year. This leaves the attendees in control of how they want their party run.
What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The greatest challenge so far has been keeping to the budget with so many amazing ideas and offers available to us.
We like to keep the ticket price in a range that isn’t out of reach for solo and micro business owners.
Because of the relaxed networking available at the event, we’ve actually had many comment that they’ve made their ticket price back in the first week after the event.
What’s the biggest risk you face?
As the brand awareness and therefore the event grows, we are conscious of maintaining the same fun, friendly feel to the event.
We keep telling the Jolly Solo attendees, “We want Jolly Solo to still remain your Christmas Party where there are friendly faces and worthwhile meet-ups”.
So being conscious of size, while keeping the original feel, is important to us.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Not really. Each year the event has run we’ve been thoroughly happy with the result, and customise any feedback for the next.
We are really looking forward to Jolly Solo 2012 and all the adventure it brings.