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10 Lessons I Learnt as a  Finalist in the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program

10 Lessons I Learnt as a Finalist in the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program

The Afterpay Global Mentorship Program gives small and medium businesses in Australia and New Zealand, who are partnered with Afterpay, access to resources, publicity, mentorship, as well as personal and business growth opportunities. Our Founder, Amanda, decided to take the leap and apply. She went on to become, first, one of 100 Finalists, and eventually, one of six Grand Finalists! Here, she tells us the lessons learnt by being involved in the program.

Who saw 2020 coming? Not me!

If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that I’d have one of my products appear on the cover of Women’s Weekly, my revenue would more than double, and I would be announced as a finalist in the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program, I would have rolled my eyes, turned around and got back to work!

But those incredible things did happen for The Grampians Goods Co. in 2020, and exciting things are continuing to happen every single day.

When I first heard about the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program, I was skeptical as to whether I should apply. I was run off my feet with shipping orders, and communicating with suppliers. Plus, could I really be chosen as a finalist?

Well, I decided to take a leap and just do it. A decision which, at the time seemed crazy, but now I know why it was worth it.

Before I go into why it was worth it, and what I learnt, I wanted to quickly explain what the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program actually is, in case you haven’t heard of it.

What’s the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program all about?

The Global Mentorship Program is an initiative that was set up by Afterpay, in order to provide resources, publicity, mentorship, as well as personal and business growth opportunities for small and medium businesses across Australia and New Zealand.

To be eligible, businesses must be Afterpay business partners; those businesses that offer Afterpay’s payment method as an option for their customers.

There are a number of categories, including ‘Daily Average Sales Growth (au)’, which was the category that I became a finalist in.

As part of becoming a finalist, my brand was showcased on Afterpay’s digital platforms, including this impressive feature on Afterpay Access.

Out of 100 finalists, six were chosen as ‘Grand Finalists’... guess what, we were one of them!

This was where the fun really started. This involved us delivering a shark-tank style business proposal pitch to a panel of 3 retail industry experts, via Zoom, in the hope of being named the Grand Prize winner of the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program.

I was terrified, but I did it!

Ultimately, I didn’t end up winning the Grand Prize, but one thing’s for sure; being recognised as a finalist alongside other founders and startups, of whom many are my idols and inspiration, was so very humbling and surreal, and I’m so deeply grateful that I was given this incredible opportunity. It was 100% worth the time, effort and energy I put into it.

So without further ado, here are my ten lessons learnt, as part of the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program.

In a hurry? Skip to a particular point using the links below

Grampians Goods Co Sweet orange and palmarosa aromatherapy candles
Photo credit: Hannah Puechmarin

#1 Saying yes—and figuring it all out later—is the best way to grow

When I applied for Afterpay’s Global Mentorship Program, I really wasn’t aware of the work that was ahead of me!

I knew that I qualified for the program, due to the insane growth I’d seen in my business throughout the year, but to tell you the truth, I definitely didn’t expect to become a finalist!

I remember the week I had to deliver a shark-tank style business proposal pitch to a panel of 3 retail industry experts, via Zoom, as part of Afterpay’s Global Mentorship Program.

I’d spent the week running around like a madwoman, making a million candles, packing and sending a thousand orders and cleaning and preparing our booked out Airbnb, Salt Creek Cottage.

I’d never done anything like this pitch before and I was absolutely terrified.

But like everything else that this business has thrown at me over the last few years, I managed to figure it out, with the help of some incredible friends of GGCo. and it was an unbelievable experience—100% worth it.

#2 Spending time to solidify and understand the GGCo. brand, story and audience has been a game-changer

Honestly, before completing this application and then preparing the subsequent presentation, I really didn’t have a clear idea of what GGCo. was all about in my head.

I mean, I knew what we were doing. But in the whirlwind five years in the business, I really hadn’t had a chance to stop, evaluate and reflect with objectivity, who we are, what we do, what impact we want to have, and importantly, who we’re serving!

Having the structure and pressure of the application process allowed me to prioritise this important work in my business.

And through the process, I really started to understand what made us different and special, as well as what we needed to improve on to ensure that every single tiny aspect of our experience was aligned to the brand.

Really analysing ‘my people’, that is, my audience, has been a game changer too—now I feel like I understand better how to serve you all.

It can be confronting to learn that a product you’ve been using for years, in your home and around your children, isn’t exactly what you thought it was.

We’ve provided this article not to alarm you, just to shed some light on the hidden ingredients in synthetic fragrances that might be making you and your family feel sick.

We’re confident that burning a GGCo. candle will help you to avoid these toxic ingredients—that’s our promise to you.

And our ultimate wish is that using our scented products—especially our aromatherapy candles—will elevate a moment in your everyday routine and the ambience in your home, instead of contributing to your family’s toxic load.

#3 I didn’t just learn what GGCo. is, I learnt what we’re not

And on that note, going through the Afterpay Mentorship Program process helped me to get crystal clear on what The Grampians Goods Co. is not, which turns out, it just as important (if not more) as knowing who you are!

Getting clarity on this has allowed me to double down on my values, to ensure that I remain true to our regional area, to keep our products natural and healthy (but not hippy), and also to run a classic, aesthetic line of products but with a fresh twist through collaborations and creative solutions.

This has been invaluable, and really helps me when I need to say ‘no’ to certain opportunities or requests that come along.

#4 When times get tough, it helps to have a clear vision and mission

Some days it really feels like it’s been such a long road, with so many dark days and just as many stumbles.

Other days it feels like it flows easily and everything I’ve achieved has happened in a flash.

But it’s those dark days that come along where I really, really need to dig deep and remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Putting the effort into understanding why I’m doing this, was important, throughout the Afterpay Mentorship Program. What’s my purpose? What impact do I want to have?

Now that I really understand what GGCo. is here for, it brings a new level of focus and determination, and a healthy serving of perspective.

When challenges that may have seemed overwhelming before, come along now, I see them for what they are; solvable. Solvable because I have no option, if I’m to realise the dream and vision that I have for GGCo.

#5 Recognition is nice, but feedback and validation are even better

Of course, being recognised for all the hard work I’ve put in is absolutely golden—that’s right, I have an ego like the rest of us 😂 😂 😂

But even more important than that was the absolute privilege of having access to a panel of seasoned retail experts, who were generous and willing enough to give me honest feedback.

Not only did their feedback illuminate my blind spots, their sincere praise also validated my own decisions.

And until then, I hadn’t really had them validated in such a forthright way.

It’s not often that you get the opportunity to really put your business under a microscope and analyse the guts out of it!

#6 Clarity in both my personal strengths and my weaknesses has given me the confidence to follow my instincts

As I said above, both the positive and constructive feedback were invaluable to me. They made me feel special and validated, but they also shed a light on my personal strengths and weaknesses.

As I said in the Afterpay Access feature story, “A small business can be a vehicle for your own self-development, and there’s a lot of satisfaction and fulfilment that comes with that.”

It has been personally invigorating, to have to face these challenges and conquer these hurdles, all while raising my kids and trying to be the best that I can be.

And not only that, it’s reminded me to trust my gut, my instinct. There are times when I doubt if I’m making the best decision when it comes to the business and my personal life, but this process has reminded me that in 99% of situations, I need to lean into intuition.

#7 Playing full-out is scary but necessary to succeed in business

The Grampians Goods Co. was a side hustle until fairly recently. Keeping it that way made me feel safe and secure, and allowed me to take risks in the early stages of the business that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

But it comes to a point in business when you need to lay all your cards on the table, and really go full-out—give it everything you’ve got and make no apologies.

After one of my blankets was featured on the cover of The Australian Women’s Weekly, wrapped around the gorgeous bub of Sunrise star, Edwina Bartholomew, blanket sales soared.

The thing is, I gifted that blanket to her. I didn’t know if she’d use it, let alone post about it on social media and use it in the Women’s Weekly shoot!

I remember deliberating about whether or not to send the blanket to Edwina; thinking to myself, what if she ignores me, what if she thinks I’m annoying.

But I decided, if I was in this business, I really needed to be in it. So I messaged her and the results speak for themselves.

#8 When the unexpected happens, roll with it

Well 2020 was a year of surprises, for many people!

First, the Edwina moment, in which I struggled to restock the now-extremely-popular blankets because of COVID issues.

Then, and also because of COVID, sales of my homewares and self-care products rose dramatically, with some products selling out completely!

While all of that mayhem was completely unexpected, and I mostly felt like buried my head under the covers, I made the conscious decision to roll with the punches and it paid off.

Afterall, if my revenue hadn’t increased so dramatically, I wouldn’t have been recognised by Afterpay!

#9 My community is everything

I realised throughout the program, that the community that I’ve built around The Grampians Goods Co. is really something special.

The ongoing support and encouragement from people in the region, in the industry, and also from people who I never would have met if it weren’t for this business.

Reflecting on all that’s happened in the last year, I’m absolutely floored by this whole community every single time I release a new product and it’s received with excitement and enthusiasm.

Literally none of this—not the revenue, not the media attention, and definitely not the Afterpay Global Mentorship Program—NONE of it could have existed without you.

And it’s not like I didn’t know that before, but this whole process has really brought it to the forefront of my mind, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

amanda writing in diary for the afterpay global mentorship program
Photo credit: littlewildlovephotography

#10 Storytelling is my superpower

And finally, I learnt that my stories hold beauty and strength that allow me to connect with people in a unique way.

Throughout the Global Mentorship Program, honing my message and offering, I realised that part of what I do, and part of what my collaboration partners do, is take you on a journey.

Whether that’s a journey of self care, or simplicity or slowness, or perhaps adventure and romance.

And I realised that our beautiful region, and our namesake, The Grampians, hold stories of their own, that people resonate with.

And that by unearthing those stories, I’m taking my community on a journey that’s raw and rugged, through storytelling.

Thanks so much for reading—if you have any questions about the experience, feel free to leave a comment below, or get in touch over at Instagram.

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