Kel Grey had only been back from England for a few weeks, but it was clear that big changes were already afoot at his dairy farm in Kiama, NSW – when he spoke with us about meeting a mentor who can help take business to the next level, and shared some key advice that’s perfect for anyone in small business.
A well-deserved win
The ad that popped up on Facebook caught Kel Grey’s eye. “We’re flying one lucky person out to meet their mentor – anywhere in the world,” it said.
For a dairy farmer from country NSW with big dreams of becoming a cheesemaker, putting together an entry was an opportunity too tasty to pass up – especially as Kel already had a master in mind.
“Jonny Crickmore [UK cheesemaker] was the obvious choice because he’s a family farmer who has transitioned out of selling milk into making cheese,” he says.
Life on the farm continued as usual for Kel after the application was sent, until RedZed got in touch to let him know he was our winner, and he’d be jetting off to the UK to spend time with his small business hero.
“I was pretty ecstatic. It was incredible. I ran inside, told my wife and we celebrated,” he remembers.
An inspiring journey
It had only been a couple of months since our winner got home from Beccles, when we spoke to Kel, but massive changes were already afoot in Kiama. Because the experience has encouraged and inspired Kel to invest in his dream.
“Five days after we got back we met with our local bank manager to extend our loan. And we’ve put a builder on notice that we need them for three weeks in July,” he says with enthusiasm.
“We’re building some proper cheese rooms with the right equipment. And from there we’re going to become full time cheese makers.”
Kel had long been a follower of Jonny Crickmore’s successful business on social media, and went to the UK thinking he’d be learning from someone who was born and bred ready to succeed. But he was pleasantly surprised with the reality.
“What I learnt was that every step along the way, he’s had someone help him. All that information, that knowledge he has now, he got from outside help.”
Kel’s advice for others
Now, Kel is ready to provide some of that “outside help” to others starting their small business journey. And he was more than happy to share three big pieces of advice that translate to anyone in small business, not just dairy farmers who are keen to make delicious cheese.
Lesson One: Ask An Expert
“First of all, if you don’t know how to do numbers, get help. Don’t be afraid to go and get outside help. Become aware of how much things will cost, how much you need to consistently earn, and whether or not you’re on track once you get up and running – so you can make adjustments accordingly.”
Lesson Two: Embrace Your Passion
“Do something you’re really passionate about. Don’t just start a business because you see a niche or you see a quick opportunity. You’ve got to really care about what you’re doing, because if you’re not passionate about it, the customer picks up on that awfully quick. And that’s the fastest way to lose your income.”
Lesson Three: Put In The Hard Yards
“Always strive to make it better, no matter what it is you do. Little changes can make big differences long term. Always strive to improve your product or your service, the value can be huge.”
That’s invaluable advice for any of us, right? So what wisdom does Kel have for the next batch of aspiring entrants in RedZed’s Meet the Master competition?
“Do it, get in there and enter. And when you apply, be as open and honest as you can. Put your passion onto paper, because it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s made a massive difference, and there’s flavours in my mouth I know I’ll never forget.” he says.
Is your mouth watering when you think about learning from someone who’s already been successful? Follow us on social media and subscribe to our updates so you know when entries for our next Meet the Master competition are open.
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