Eliza Ludwig is the Founder of Bread Budgeting Services and she is our guest on this episode of our podcast: So You Want to Start a Business.
Eliza started her career wanting to make farming sustainable using organic methods. During her Agribusiness degree, she decided to make businesses sustainable instead, by using ethical practices.
Since that time Eliza has worked in financial and management accounting roles, in a variety of industries (not-for-profit, financial services, logistics and Fast Moving Consumer Goods). She has supported logistics teams, sales teams, marketing teams and commercialisation teams giving her a broad and deep understanding of all aspects of running a business.
She started Bread Budgeting Services to satisfy her desire to see small businesses thrive.
She loves spending time with her family baking and gardening, struggles without her circuit classes, and sewing and travel bring her pure joy.
In this interview she talks about the importance of research and the role it plays in getting started in business. She has a very personal example from her business which illustrates this point.
Eliza has a strong financial background that includes a unique understanding of pricing. We talk about the importance of being able to ask the right questions at critical points in the evolution of your business.
Eliza has worked with many small and medium businesses so is extremely qualified to talk about starting a business both from her own perspective and from her client’s experience. She is really honest in this interview and this makes for terrific listening.
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The transcript of this podcast is below.
My guess is that you are here because you are curious about what it might be like to start a business?
Perhaps you’ve been wondering if you have what it takes? If your idea will work or even how much it actually costs to build a successful business?
I’ve written a book that can answer pretty much all your questions “So You Want to Start a Business” and you can download the first 20 pages at www.thestartupsteps.com
15 years of experience working with start up businesses are condensed into this book.
It’s your step by step guide to launch your business smarter and faster and I’m so excited to be sharing it with you and can’t wait to hear about your progress.
Are you ready to grab your excerpt? Click here www.thestartupsteps.com
Happy reading! Now here is the full transcript of the podcast.
INGRID: Hello and here we are today with Eliza Ludwig and she’s the founder and business consultant at a business called Bread Budgeting Services. Hello Eliza!
ELIZA: Hello Ingrid!
INGRID: So lovely to have you here, it’s a gorgeous Sydney autumn morning. And you are in Sydney as well aren’t you?
ELIZA: Yes I am and I am enjoying the morning too.
INGRID: Ok so let’s tell everybody what is your business? What is the business you are in please?
ELIZA: Ooooh, it’s hard to define. I am trying to come up with a good elevated pitch. I would describe my business as providing Strategic plans for small business with an emphasis on the numbers.
INGRID: So Strategic plans with an emphasis on the numbers. Ok Eliza I might just get you to back a bit away from your microphone – it’s a bit close. So tell me when did you start this business?
ELIZA: Hmm, it’s been in the making for a long long time. I first wanted to go into business about 10 years ago but various life changes come along and it gets put off. I was made redundant in May 2015 and as part of that I was a career coach and that was really when I transitioned. It’s hard to put an exact date as to when it first opened but I took my first client August 2016 so that’s a good line in the sand.
INGRID: So, it’s been the last couple of years. And why did you start your business?
ELIZA: Well I’ve always been passionate about small business. I’ll go into a local business, it could be a corner store, or the local café and I have all these ideas for things they could do to improve things or change things. And I’ve always wanted to help them. So that was why I did this – I wanted to support local business and I also wanted to be able to put the skills that I have – which tend to be the skills that others don’t have – around maths and finance and accounting.
INGRID: And a lot of people that are good at what they do, aren’t necessarily good at that side of the business.
ELIZA: Absolutely absolutely. I wanted them to understand it and make it accessible and learn to like it really.
INGRID: Sounds familiar. So what did you want from the business from day one? You wanted to help people but what was behind that in terms of what did you want the business to give you?
ELIZA: Hmm, well, I suppose there is that strong sense of helping local business and I am really passionate about communities, whatever community that may be. And so I really feel that businesses succeeding locally is a benefit to everybody who lives in the area. I suppose from my personal point of view – when I became a mother I started working part time, but all of the part-time roles are so dull cause I am not there so can’t do the time critical things so I wanted something more challenging then the part time role I was doing.
INGRID: That sounds like a very worthwhile combination of your needs and the client’s needs. Very nice. So, you said it took a little while you can’t put a finger on the date it all started. But when did you feel you had become a business, when did that become real? When was that point because different people have a different point – what was that point for you when the business felt real?
ELIZA: Yeah I got a bit of cold feet and oh my gosh I can’t really do this – and I put the brakes on. Then I just started to change tact. So what am I going to do? I am not going to try to focus on getting my first client first – I am going to try and get together with other small business owners. So I started running a group with a group of small business owners that I knew. We got together on a Sunday afternoon over a cup of tea and talked about some stuff that was going on in our business like ‘my sales are really down this quarter and I don’t know what to do about it’ and things like ‘I am building a website how do I go about it’ or ‘what accounting package should I use?’ Without the pressure of having to make money from that because it was sponsored by myself, it just made it a nice transition into it. And I knew when I ran that event this is me, this is me, this is where I am going!
INGRID: That was a real tribute to your community to invite them to talk about what they were doing.
ELIZA: It was exciting and so many things I just didn’t know about so it was great to get other people’s ideas as well.
INGRID: So you wanted to help your customers, and you knew they needed your help. So how did you know that your customers would want what you were offering? That your business was viable and you would get customers, or clients really to come on board?
ELIZA: I talked to lots and lots and lots of people beforehand. My husband said you probably shouldn’t really tell so many people what you are doing. And I was like……well, I got a lot of useful feedback and I ended up changing tact, I was going to do financial stuff as well as business, and then I decided that I didn’t want to do that. I was talking to people – I also had a career coach , as part of my being made redundant, and she really took me through the process and she was her own business as a career coach, she could help me see what some of the pain-points might be and how to tailor my services to that. Yeah, I think talking to people was probably the main one.
INGRID: It’s a really interesting dilemma between telling people your idea to get feedback about whether it’s the right thing, and not wanting to tell too many people. I hear that sort of thing quite often when they are starting a business. The reality of starting a business is that everybody will bring their own personal style to whatever they do – so there is really room for everybody isn’t there?
ELIZA: I read a really good book by Ben Angel called ‘Flee nine to five’, and he takes you through a bit of a process and he helped me to realise what my unique offering would be – it was really helpful and it was certainly something I hadn’t thought of.
INGRID: You can offer something quite unique and that’s the way you operate.
ELIZA: Yes exactly.
INGRID: So I guess you weren’t setting up something that was elaborate, but you do need a website and you needed to get marketing collateral together. So as much information as you are willing to share Eliza, and you don’t have to reveal too much personal information, but how did you fund your business in those early days?
ELIZA: Yes it’s a good question. I was very lucky that I was made redundant so I basically…..I was lucky in so many regards, it was perfect timing and the payout I received, it wasn’t much, but it was enough to cover the laptop printer legal fees, insurance, website. All up it was probably only 5-10 thousand that I needed to spend and that was over a couple of years so I was lucky. I haven’t gone over that and there isn’t massive setup fees.
INGRID: No there’s not alot, and once your clients start paying you money you start to have an income that allows you to pay yourself.
INGRID: How do you find your customers? You mentioned you walk around your local area and you do some networking, but how do people find you?
ELIZA: That’s been interesting, I actually found most of my current clients through my daughter’s school – there’s a lot of small business owners in my area and their kids go to my daughters school. So I either knew them directly or they have been introduced to me through people I have known. I also spoke with the economic development officer in my local council and he pointed me in the direction of someone who wanted to collaborate. We are in the early stages but that will be my next round of getting new clients.
INGRID: You talked about reading a book and working out what your niche was and what you were going to offer. As part of that did you work out what your ideal clients are? So , you have your ideal avatar, and does that match with who you met through your daughters school?
ELIZA: Yes yeah it does. It’s interesting because I live in the inner west there is quite a sense of community here and a lot of similarities within the area which is probably true wherever you live, so my avatar is creatives, or people who are not necessarily financially minded, but have brilliant businesses that I think should foster and grow. And all my clients seem to fit that avatar – I’ve been very lucky.
INGRID: I’d like to suggest that Eliza it’s not luck – when you create that avatar that is who you attract and who you connect with – and it doesn’t mean others can’t work with you but it does mean that you have a group of people who meet that avatar.
I’d just like to change tact for a bit – I’ve had a look at your website and it’s pretty fantastic with lovely colours, the bread, and the dough, and you have a pricing strategy there. Modules and prices – how did you come up with the pricing strategy? Not the actual amounts, but the process behind the strategy.
ELIZA: Yes well I wanted my business to support other businesses so I wanted it to be accessible, and I didn’t want it to be priced at a level that people couldn’t access. I have 3 different levels, and one is a DIY template service, one is a workshop service with a bit more guidance but not necessarily one to one support, and I have consulting which is one to one support. My thinking was that it be accessible to different people with different needs. In terms of the templates I really priced them to be accessible, now the workshop and the consulting, I sort of worked backwards in terms of the income I needed to cover my costs, and then finally I did do a quick check at other similar professions such as bookkeepers and accountants to make sure I wasn’t way over or way under what they were charging. I used that as a bit of a yardstick.
INGRID: It was a very well thought through strategy and different pricing notions. So another question I have is what is your exit strategy? (Both laugh) Lots of people don’t have one, so its fine. But people start businesses for lots of different reasons but do you have one, and if so, what is it?
ELIZA: I’d love to say I have an exit strategy and I heard you question to another person about that on another podcast, and it got me thinking……….but I’ll have to do some more research about that one. I don’t know, it’s in the back of my mind but I don’t know. It is a hard question.
INGRID: Maybe I need to do a webinar on exit strategies and what they are?
ELIZA: Yes (laughing) that would be helpful.
INGRID: Yes, it is something we should think about. Are we building an asset, or is it to sell or is it to just see us through to a point? There are some family businesses that go on and on and on. I was reading about a family who runs a pawpaw business that has gone on for generations and generations – over a 100 years old 4th generation of the family is running that business. But these days people start their own business so having an exit strategy is something to think about.
So, let’s have some reflecting questions now. Eliza what is one thing you really wish you’d done differently at the beginning?
ELIZA: I think I really wish I’d stopped procrastinating – this is actually something I need to keep reminding myself off. I keep myself very busy but I think it took me about 18 months to get a website and it was all the fun stuff, but I didn’t actually say ‘come on Eliza you really need to get some clients and some sales’. I think that stuff builds your confidence and gives you some feedback but I could play around with the website forever, but ultimately unless I am getting clients I don’t know if my services are going to be required or helpful. I also wish I’d gone to more events. I am a bit of an introvert so I find events hard, but every time I’ve left one I meet inspiring people like yourself and I come away feeling inspired by people doing amazing things. I really wish I’d done more of that earlier as well.
INGRID: And you may not have anything else to add but I have a different question, and it’s really a case of what do you wish you had known from the start? That’s a different question from what you would have done differently. What is something you wish you’d known?
ELIZA: Yes, I wish I’d known more about IT. I mentioned my website, but I just had no idea about a web platform, a host, a domain name, linking my email to my website, it just blew my mind. I found it so hard to get my head around and I didn’t know who to ask. So I had someone to develop my website, and she was ok, but not overly helpful.
I really wanted someone to sit me down – I am an accountant and I wanted someone to show me the process and how it all works. It’s still a little bit beyond me. I think that is probably the main thing. There is still so much I don’t understand. Someone asked me do I use google docs and I had no idea. That is a half day of research to work out what it is! (Both laughs).
INGRID: I remember something I was on, and I had no idea what it was. Someone asked me do I have a presence on something I had no idea what it is….so I said, ‘probably not’. You’ve given me an idea for another webinar actually. (Laughing.) So you’ve mentioned a few people you’ve been working with but who has been of greatest assistance in helping you, apart from yourself? You don’t have to say exactly who but just the essence of the person…who has been of greatest assistance to you with your business.
ELIZA: I suppose basically my career coach and I have to mention her above my husband. I had been talking to my husband about this for years but try as he may he didn’t give me that final push to do it. Whereas I met with my career coach every other week and she held me accountable. I think that she would be the first one to help me – and my husband didn’t quite understand when I said, ‘I’m just really scared’. He said but you’ve had performance reviews before. But she was able to say to me – everyone thinks that, just keep going. And that freed me to keep going. My husband and my mum have been huge supporters of me doing this. My husband supported me financially and hasn’t bat an eyelid when I work weekends. And my mum, she’s been my cheerleader from the sidelines.
INGRID: Those mums are pretty terrific, aren’t they? This sort of leads onto that and you mentioned performance reviews and anyone who has worked in corporations know they are an interesting experience. But who has given you feedback – useful feedback to help your business grow?
ELIZA: That is something I am kind of lacking. I know what some of my pain points are but I am sure there are others who know a lot more – and feedback is something I need more of either from my workshops or my social media channels. My husband has been great at feedback – he’s from a similar background – but his feedback is probably more technical around how I lay out templates as opposed to the small business side of things. I have some surveys to send out to past and current clients to get a bit of feedback and I hope that I get some feedback from the workshops I run. I wanted to get to a critical mass where people aren’t too embarrassed with me being able to attribute it to them directly. I want to get it out to a big group directly.
INGRID: Yes, clients are a great source of feedback and they help shape what else is coming. Given you work in businesses, but partly from your own experience what would you recommend to someone who is starting their own business? What would you say to them – what sort of things would you tell them?
ELIZA: I’d tell them to do a lot of research first. I am a bit of a dreamer and a questioner so I love the research part. I am a member of a lot of Facebook forums for small business owners and a lot of people get on and say they aren’t selling or whatever. But if you go and look at their product and their pricing and there may be many others who also sell the same thing. So, it’s just going to be a competition of who knows you, so maybe you need to slightly alter what you are selling.
I think I mentioned earlier that I want to do specific strategic planning with individuals, budgeting, and things like that – but when I looked into it, I discovered there are 2 organisations already doing that. One was a national company and one was a free service through the Government. So by doing a bit of research on line I was able to save myself a lot of heartache further down the line and then I could look at other options. So I’d say research is very important.
INGRID: Yes and making sure somebody wants what you are going to offer.
ELIZA: That goes back to my earlier point of talking to people and see if they are interested in what you offer.
INGRID: Now let’s talk about you Eliza. What are the key characteristics that make you successful in your business?
ELIZA: Yes I think because it’s a service, my financial background. If I didn’t have that I couldn’t help businesses with their financial planning. I was also a pricing manager and that is something people struggle with so that is a second asset.
I did mention before that I am a questioner so I ask a lot of questions so I get the full picture from my client. I also don’t believe in doing stuff that doesn’t need doing – but I also question things when people say something can’t be done. I will ask them why isn’t it possible? Is it because you’ve never done it – or is it against the law, getting to extreme case. I’ll question alot.
I am also very organised – being a one person band you have to do everything, but I’ll make sure this day I’ll do marketing, this day I’ll do client meetings, so all that helps with the workflow. I make sure it continues with a process around all that needs to be done.
INGRID: Oh very nice. So you bring a unique set of skills that make you very important to your clients. And as you communicate that through your communications and your blogs, that makes you very valuable and where finances are involved, people need to feel they are in good hands. Let me clarify, you don’t do bookkeeping, do you?
ELIZA: Actually, I am doing a bookkeeping course now because it’s continuous work, as opposed to helping clients with one off jobs that come and go.
INGRID: So, your background is like mine, corporate accounting. The global strategic perspective not the nitty gritty of the accounts.
ELIZA: Exactly. Yes.
INGRID: Eliza just to finish up, is there anything else you want to add about your experience with your business? I know we talked before the interview about the name of your business is there anything you’d like to say about that? Any anything else you’d like to say to someone else starting a business – or someone starting consulting or to help others? A lot of us just want to help others and that is our business idea. I really appreciated your time today but anything else you’d like to add?
ELIZA: My business name – I worked in a bakery throughout high school and Uni and I loved it actually. And I am not gluten intolerant so I still eat bread. But one of my business tag lines is simplicity.
I love the simplicity of bread, the naturalness of it, and that it can sustain us. Bread has also been colloquial for money in the past, but this is about bread being simple and natural and nurturing and able to grow, and it’s also about money. So that is how I came up with the business name.
INGRID: That’s a lovely story about your name. it’s a great part of you and your business story. And you always knew that would be your name. Thanks Eliza – I’ll put some links to your website with the show notes and thank you so much for your time.
ELIZA: Thanks Ingrid it’s been great talking with you! Bye.
I’m Ingrid Thompson and I’m a Trainer and Business Coach and the Founder of Healthy Numbers; creator of online training program “So You Want to Start a Pilates Business”, Host of the popular podcast “So You Want to Start a Business” and author of much anticipated and soon to be published book “So You Want to Start a Business”.
If you are thinking about starting your own business you may be interested to take our Business StartUp Readiness Quiz, click here to take the quiz.
“So You Want to Start a Pilates Business” is an online program especially for Pilates Instructors who are keen to create their own studio. While it says Pilates in the title this program covers Business and Marketing Basics for anyone starting a business in any of the health and wellness professions: Yoga Studio, Dance School and all businesses related to Acupuncture, Nutrition, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Chiropractic, Osteopath, Kinesiology and other similar modalities…..
Do you need help starting and growing your business? Please give me a call on 0450 212 882 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eliza Ludwig is the Founder of Bread Budgeting Services and she is our guest on this episode of our podcast: So You Want to Start a Business.