MelissaBehrendHR On Call

Melissa Behrend originally started her business when she resigned from the company she had worked for for 7 years

Here is what Melissa shared about running her business:

Q. How long have you been in business?

HR On Call has been established since 2003

Q. What did you do before you started this business?

I worked as a National HR Manager in the corporate

Q. Who are your main customers and why do you enjoy working with them?

My main customers are small and medium sized businesses who need help with aspects of managing their people e.g. poor performance or workplace grievances or want to ensure they have the necessary HR policies and procedures that comply with the current legislation. I love w orking with my clients, they are inspirational, entrepreneurial, savvy and are happy for someone to help them.

Q. Did you have any business training before you started?

I have business training in the form of a Master’s degree, and budget responsibilities in previous roles, but no whole of business training.

Q. Describe your business and products/services you offer.

My business is a HR consulting business, solely focused on the SME’s. The products I offer are: employment contracts, policies and procedures, performance management frameworks, and other framework required to manage hr risk and comply with relevant legislation. The services I provide mostly are: supporting business’s manage grievances and complaints, managing poor performing employees, training, award interpretation and application to my client’s business.

Q. How many hours a week do you work in your business?

Between 20 – 30 hours.

Q. What kind of online and offline marketing do you do and which is working for you?

You have to be very specific about where your target market is to choose the correct marketing channel. For my business I have found Yellow pages advertising beneficial, writing articles for online business communities such as Saavy SME, and free listings on the likes of smartlocal and true local beneficial. I am trialling B2B flyer adverting at present

Q. Do you use social media as part of your marketing?

Most of my business growth has been organic growth, however. I have tried twitter, facebook etc, however, once again, be very specific about your target market and how they would search for you or be aware of what you are offering. I have done this is the past, but have not done so on a regular basis recently as I am focusing on more targeted marketing.

Q. What mistakes have you made in running your business and what lessons have you learnt from those ?

My first biggest mistake was in design and creation of my website. I have now revised this 4 times and each time I have learned from my past experiences. Websites do need to be updated regularly, ensure you are clear with the outcome you want. When I first started out I was scared to do things myself and handed over a lot of management which was costly. Spend time on specifying what you want, as the old saying goes most of your time is spent in the planning and the rest is for the doing.

I also paid a lot of money to a “SEO expert” who when I evaluate what I got for my money, probably 10% was beneficial the other was ‘talk’ and the rubber never seemed to hit the road. To be positive about this experience it was a great training exercise, one which I have learned a great deal from.

Q. What obstacles or challenges do your small business clients face most often?

My clients face the challenge of keeping up with the constant changes in industrial relations legislation. The idea of an employee taking a grievance to Fair Work, sometimes will result in ignoring a small problem until it becomes a much larger one and therefore more difficult to manage. Also in small and medium sized business the fundamentals are not always in place such as employment contracts and policies and procedures. So when you have a bullying complaint, you need to ensure that you have a policy, your employees have been training in it and that you comply with the policy. The main reason these are not in place, is it is one of things you are always going to get around to doing, but everything else seems to be more urgent.

Q. Any other tips you would like to share about running a small business?

It can sometimes be very lonely, so try and join a group of like-minded individuals to discuss the challenges and wins of your individual businesses. More minds create more solutions. I also think that by having a te am of ‘virtual functional skills and abilities” available can assist your business. I have found when using these talent pool they are flexible in their work times, delivery is faster and they are more cost effective.

For more information, visit the HR On Call website.