Our member Ross Clayton had this article published in the February 2014 edition of NETT Magazine in the Entrepreneur section. See below for the paraphrased content.
At the tender age of 20, Ross Clayton decided to turn his interest in second-hand furniture into a proper business. By focussing on the three greatest passions in his life, he’s managed to combine them all into a ripper of a business.
What’s the name of your company, and what do you do? My company is called Vast Interior, and we are direct import retailers of handmade furniture, predominantly manufactured from sustainable and recycled hardwood.
How long have you been in business, and what were you doing before you started? I started Vast in 1999, when I kicked off with a second hand furniture business when I was 20 and my love of furniture and recycling started from there.
How did the idea for your business come about? I wanted a job that combined my three greatest passions; travel, furniture and design. I knew no-one would give me that position so I started a company and employed myself.
What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome? In business it can be a very lonely journey, when sometimes the only one who believes that you can climb a particular mountain is you… thankfully, I now have a team of believers around me.
What had been the most effective form of advertising for your business? It sounds corny but definitely word of mouth/mouse. We concentrate our efforts on providing the best service we can to our customers, and if we take care of that, then the referrals abound.
How important is social media to your business? Massively. Our individual stores are dynamic importer retailers, and social media means they can upload their daily stock to facebook and alert customers instantly. Our customer base is pretty passionate about furniture, so its great we can keep them well informed.
What do you think the Federal or State Government could do to help make it easier for small business? In the same way that charitable micro lending is massively successful in spawning entrepreneurship, why don’t they do the same for SME’s in Australia. As long as the project is well researched and stacks up as a viable business the government can relax lending criteria. There have been many times when a great business idea has been left to rot because the house hasn’t had enough equity to fund it.
What are your plans to expand the business? We have built a solid brand, and reputation of quality furniture over the past 14 years without marketing. Next year we might do a bit of that and also introduce a little thing called e-commerce.
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