Cat Brown has hustled hard, overcome the doubts and stuck to her vision to create and grow her business SIMPLIFY ME. Cat pauses for a few minutes to share her story tips, and challenges with HER DRUM
What is your background?
My background is in real estate (I have nearly 10 years experience in residential property management). Part of my job was business development which included listing properties for lease & advising clients on how best to present their property to get maximum return on investment.
SIMPLIFY ME started as a Professional Organising business & all my business was word-of-mouth. Clients would get me in to de-clutter, some would ask if I could make their home look good for sale & my answer was always “yes” (I would figure out how I was going to do it after the fact)!
Before I re-launched mid way through last year I was ready to call it quits. It was all too hard. I had only a handful of jobs over several months & the hustle had worn me down. I was ready to go back to corporate life when I decided: I have to give this one last shot. I invested in a new website, copywriting, a professional photo shoot, business cards. My attitude shifted from “gah, too hard” to “back yourself, hustle hard, get this working”. I found my “why” (offering an end-to-end service to clients preparing their homes for sale) & started hustling with a new found fire in my belly. I started getting more and more work & was able to quit my casual retail job & dive in head first full time into SIMPLIFY ME in September last year. SIMPLIFY ME has been in business for 4 years in July!
How did the idea for SIMPLIFY ME come about?
It was actually my mum’s idea! She said “Cat, you’re so good at organizing everyone/everything – there is a business idea in this. You have a skill. People will pay you to do this for them”.
What motivates you?
I really love what I do. I love the feedback from my clients. And let’s keep this real: I am highly motivated because if I don’t make this business work, I have to go back to corporate & I’m not prepared to do that!!! That is why I work so hard every day. The hustle is real!
What do you love most about your business?
Variety. No two homes are the same. Every home has its challenges be it what we have to work with or who we are working with! I love thinking on my feet. I love seeing my vision come to life in front of my eyes. I love it when my clients are so obviously blown away by what we have created. I also love all the different, amazing homes I get to see inside.
In one word, characterize your life as a start up/ business owner?
Who has been your greatest inspiration? Why?
Sara & Amy Chamberlain from The Real Estate Stylist.
The girls are such hard workers, they hustle so hard & their business is a huge success. In my opinion, they’re the best in the business. They came into the industry & shook things up. Sara & Amy have both given me so much of their time & have mentored me in my business over the last couple of years. I am forever grateful for this.
Where do you get your creative energy from?
When I walk in to a room I picture how I can make it look better & flow better: removing clutter & personal effects. Removing pieces of furniture that don’t need to be there. Changing the way a sofa sits or the direction of a bed to open up the room. Moving pieces around the house. What might not work in one room will work in another. We specialise in working with our clients pieces & can hire them additional pieces only if they really need them.
What was a watershed moment in your business journey?
Backing myself – taking the leap & quitting my part time retail job in September last year to commit full time to SIMPLIFY ME. Finally working out exactly what my business offers (in doing so, standing out against everyone else) & having clients on board who see the value in what I have to offer. Purchasing stock. Taking out a lease on a small warehouse & buying a van!!!
How is running a successful business different to what you may have thought it would be?
I didn’t realise how much stress & pressure I would put myself under to make my business work. Sleepless nights thinking about whether I have chosen the right artwork for a room. I have always had the vision that SIMPLIFY ME would get bigger than just me & now that is happening & it’s amazing yet terrifying at the same time! Sinking hard earned cash into my business (investing in stock) to grow my business was never the original plan. Now that I have a warehouse & van … I sit back & am so damn proud of myself for making this happen!
What do you struggle with most as a business owner?
Stress! Trying to fit everything in. Juggling the whole working mum & work/life balance thing. We have 2 beautiful boys Oli (7) & Henry (5) so the whole parenting thing can be a challenge when you get home from a full on day exhausted! The whole mum guilt thing is very real!
Also, if I look at my calendar & have nothing booked in next week for example … instantly my inner critic kicks in like a smack in the face “you have no work next week, your business might not work”. It’s learning to ignore your inner critic.
What’s next in store for you and your business SIMPLIFY ME?
We’ll be sourcing more contractors & more stock to keep up with demand. I’ve just purchased a van which will make life so much easier! I’ve got a great team who work with me & I know the end-to-end service we provide will only be more in demand as we head into the manic Spring selling season. I’ve got some exciting collaborations in the pipeline also so watch this space!
Given your experience, what (three) pieces of advice do you have for women starting a business?
- Back yourself! If you have a business idea, just go for it. What have you got to loose? Work a casual job to support yourself if you have to & spend any spare time on growing your business.
- Hustle! Contact everyone in your network. Ring your clients every week. Meet face to face with clients where you can. Just do it!
- Surround yourself with amazing people. Reach out on social media to people who inspire you. Meet them. Work with them. Work for them. Collaborate.
Any destination – where could we take you today?
Byron Bay please!!!