Four years after starting her virtual assistant business Little Miss Useful, Nicole Hammett, with her husband Dave, has launched Picasso Media Group, which helps small businesses with their WordPress, social media and search presence.
She talks to StartupSmart about her new venture, which officially launched last week.
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Why did you decide to start a new business?
We’re essentially splitting the business in two, taking over all of the marketing activities I did at Little Miss Useful, with Little Miss Useful remaining primarily as a virtual assistant. We’ll keep that business going to help out with administration tasks.
My background is events and marketing and I’ve self-taught myself everything. It was initially a hobby and I had no idea how quickly it would grow. I was full-time within 18 months and it has grown beyond expectation.
The use of social media and WordPress has really grown among small businesses. I think there is a big future in WordPress so I want to offer something specifically to clients on that side of things.
What will the business offer?
It will create WordPress sites for clients, from five pages to 15 pages, as well as e-commerce to existing blogs and sites, social media and SEO help.
It’s aimed at start-ups, as I’ve been through all that and know what it’s like to operate on a small budget. There will be a $495 package, which gets you a five-page site in a 10-day turnaround time.
We work with clients to populate content and we offer copywriting and hosting services as needed. Clients on retainer will be charged on a certain amount of hours per month – from five to 15.
Won’t most small businesses want to do all of that themselves though?
Some do, but a lot of businesses find it overwhelming and need expertise to help guide them through it.
Some aren’t sure what they are doing, while others are time-poor. A huge percentage of small businesses aren’t even online. More and more are seeing that this is the way it’s going, though.
What point of difference do you offer?
There is a lot of competition out there but I get plenty of clients from referrals and they find that they get both quality and value from us.
We make business fun, while others are a very structured. We try to keep it unstructured so that clients can be creative and have some fun.
I’m a huge believer in being upfront with clients. I have a great relationship with clients and if I think an idea isn’t any good, I’ll say so. That’s where we are different, I think.
What are your targets for the business?
I get around three to five enquiries a week and I’m converting about 90% of these, so I don’t need a much higher rate of growth, or I will have to take on a member of staff.
We may branch into business coaching in the future. We’ll have to see how it goes.
How has the business impacted your home life?
I realised that I was too busy on Little Miss Useful and needed full-time staff. My husband was sick of commuting three hours to his corporate job Sydney and we thought he should give it a go in the business.
We thought that he couldn’t work under the Little Miss Useful brand, so it made sense for him to look after Picasso. I’m working across both.
That’s a pretty brave decision, financially speaking.
Yes, it was a hugely difficult decision, especially as I’ve just had our second baby. Dave was giving away a large corporate income but we did the numbers and if it works, it works.
But what is plan B if the business doesn’t succeed?
He will go back to his corporate job. I know it’s a huge risk and people think we are crazy, but he wasn’t happy where he was and we have to give it a go.