Having laid the foundations of her business Mac&Ernie in 2015 before officially launching in early 2016. In just four months, the demand was there for her to quit her part time job to work in the business full time. Erika has been working in advertising and digital marketing for over 25 years and shares that practical experience and knowledge freely. Based in Warragul, Erika is well known for her generosity and authenticity and provides training that is smart, relevant and, most importantly, jargon free..
Tell us about your business and how it started?
I've always worked in the advertising and marketing space but thought when we moved to the country in 2011 I'd be able to move into something else. Co-started a farmers' market and, having no advertising budget, I set to work on the Facebook Page and loved growing that into a hugely successful promotional tool for the market. Then people started asking me to help them do the same so I did. After a while (and a lot of free coffees) I thought maybe I could turn it into a business, so I did. A few months later I was full-time in Mac&Ernie and haven't looked back since. That was early 2016. Most of the time I am in training mode - custom workshops and webinars for local government associations (LGAs), business groups, franchises, organisations, etc but I also build a lot of strategy and do one-on-one mentoring for individuals. I don't always work with regional and rural businesses, but I definitely try to because that's my sweet spot - helping to strengthen communities by strengthening local business.
What is your biggest achievement in business?
Honestly, every December I take a moment to look back on the year and just feel like I've achieved so much. It's hard to pick out one thing - but just keeping it going and successful is probably what I'm most proud of and is certainly the most challenging part of running a small business. I do have these micro-moments where a client does a Reel for the first time or sends out a great email and I know what went into it and what it means to them and that always gives me a super proud moment.
What challenges or hurdles have your faced in business?
My main challenge is myself and not being able to set adequate boundaries around my time and energy. It's a hurdle I jump every year when I skate a little too close to burnout.
What do you wish you knew before you started your business?
Oh so many things. I wish I knew that the most important part of owning and running a business is getting on top of the inner-work first. I find time and time again with myself and all my clients that the thing that hold us back is some weird historical or emotional baggage. It undermines people so often (especially women!) and puts some real brakes on being able to chase money or own success or feel comfortable in the spotlight.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business?
It's got to be the flexibility. I wouldn't trade anything for the amount of time I have with the kids and my ability to be able to support their sporting and social interests.
What is your next big challenge/project?
This year I started a new role alongside my business. I'm the program manager for the Gippsland Community Leadership Program (GCLP) a program that's been running for over 25 years and has around 700 alumni. I completed the program in 2017 and loved it and I just couldn't pass up the offer to run it. So that's my challenge at the moment - running the two roles concurrently.
I'm definitely calling on all my compartmentalising skills and it's leaving no room for procrastination (one of my superpowers). The leadership space has always drawn me in, whether in leadership roles myself or working with leaders on their personal brand and communication skills. Maybe I'll shift further into that space or maybe not... right now I am just having an absolute ball developing and facilitating the program.
What was your first big investment in your business and what impact did it have?
Paying myself a proper wage and being ok with that and being ok with needing to bring in more money to accommodate it. I think paying myself properly has been one of the key reasons I'm still doing this - especially as I'm 'on' 24/7 with a business like this. The moment it really impacted me was in 2020; we moved our kids to a private school and I mentally set myself the goal to at least cover their school fees each year. By the end of 2021 I had covered their school fees up until the end of their schooling. I'm not sure I've really said that in public before but it was an incredibly powerful moment for me to see that safety net grow so fast.
What do you love about your service?
The confidence and power it brings people to no longer feel left behind. Knowledge and skills in areas like digital marketing can have a profound effect on a business' success and I love being able to contribute to that success.
Who or what inspires you and your creative process?
I'm not sure I have a process. Actually getting off social media and going for a walk or spending time in the bush seems to be the only time I have a moment to think these days. I'm also inspired by my clients and people I talk to. They ask questions and have issues that inspire my content - I find that their questions are quite similar so I set about finding ways to help other people who might have the same issues.
What are your favourite work tools?
Canva, ActiveCampaign, Snapseed, Google Workspace, Notes App. I'm a simple gal.
In moments of self doubt, how do you build yourself back up?
I look at my reviews and a folder full of lovely feedback, and if I'm really down I talk to my husband or one of my friends and get a different perspective.
What is the best piece of business advice you were given?
Do the inner work. Find out what's blocking you and acknowledge it and fix it if you can.
How can women support other women?
Oh, in so many ways. A great way for women to support other women is to stop looking at each other like competitors and start looking for ways to complement or collaborate with each other. Be genuine and build genuine relationships with other business women and you will always be the better for it!
My pet peeve is when I hear that someone has said we are "in competition with each other" or "we have a conflict". It drives me a little bit crazy because I don't see the world like that and I don't like being dragged into someone else's issues.
If you’re looking for qualified and authentic help with your marketing strategy, social media skills and customer experience development, get in touch with Erika from Mac&Ernie.
You can also listen to the Small Town Business podcast with Erika - interesting tales and tips from brilliant and brave humans running businesses in small towns in regional and rural Australia.