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Cooking up the perfect work life balance

'I've attended every Small Business Victoria workshop and seminar hosted by Macedon Ranges Shire Council and have had an 'oh my gosh' moment every time! There's always something I can apply directly to my business.'
Rosemary Cimino, Spotted Dog Fudge

Top tips

  • Build a business that works with your other commitments
  • Create a marketing system that lets your business grow
  • Look to the future

Building a business that works around your family

As a mother, former bakery owner Rosemary Cimino wanted to build a business that would work around her young family. 'I knew the business would fit with family life, but to make it commercially successful we needed to position fudge as being trendy and accessible to everyone, particularly younger buyers.'

Within a few months of launching Spotted Dog Fudge, Rosemary’s faith in her business idea proved well-founded with new retail orders arriving each week.  

Working initially from home, Rosemary found the long days quite isolating, with her husband Mario only working on the business at night due to his full time job as a truck driver. Rosemary also knew she needed to invest in effective marketing to grow the business, but had no system in place to make this happen.

'This was a big challenge, the isolation hit me particularly hard as I had been used to a lot of customer interaction at the bakery - I knew how to sell locally, but marketing nationally was a totally different ball game.' 

Creating an effective marketing system 

'I've attended every Small Business Victoria workshop and seminar hosted by Macedon Ranges Shire Council and have had an 'oh my gosh' moment every time!  There's always something I can apply directly to my business.' Rosemary has enjoyed many networking benefits from these events, and made fundamental business changes, including to her social media effort and how she calculates the dollar return on marketing.

'I picked up some really practical tips at the Building Your Online Strategy workshop. It changed the way I use Facebook for the business, and our customer and retailer engagement levels have increased as a result. Marketing for Growth was a real eye opener. I even had the chance to put what I had learned into practice before I left the venue.'

Rosemary had previously provided free samples as part of her marketing effort. That night, when Council asked for 120 pieces of fudge for a trade mission, she asked what her return would be on this marketing investment.

'I don't know who was more shocked, the Council officer or me!  The result was that I provided the fudge at wholesale cost, and I now have a system in place that tracks the value of every marketing dollar I spend.'

Looking to the future

Spotted Dog Fudge has moved into separate premises and is on track to achieve its target of supplying over 500 shops nationally within five years, with direct online sales making up a small but growing part of the business.

'The Small Business Victoria workshops and seminars have really helped me to focus my effort and develop a clear plan. By the end of this year we’ll have over 150 retailers in three states.  And my cheeky question to Council on marketing investment could pay off with export enquiries from Japan, Dubai and India.' 

The future is looking very spotty indeed!

The result

By attending Small Business Victoria workshops and applying what she learned about creating a clear plan, Rosemary Cimino is over a third of the way towards achieving her business goal of having Spotted Dog Fudge available for sale in 500 outlets, nationwide.