by PARAGON COLLECTIVE
Paragon Collective is exactly as our name suggests, a collection of creatives supporting clients to be their best through simple, elegant and effective digital solutions. Founded in 2018 we have quickly become the go-to biz in Cairns for all things Social Media & Digital Marketing. We found the more we supported and elevated our clients, the more they asked us to do, so we grew. We built our team and our expertise so we could offer our clients a full service, in-house marketing experience. From Airlines to builders, NFP’s and hairdressers. We’ve now worked with over 70 clients, from all over Australia!!
Want to know more about us and how we got here? The highs, lows and late nights. Keep reading, we think you’ll enjoy the ride.
Success is a fickle little thing, moody even. One month it’s making multiple 5 figures, the next it’s having the lifestyle to work part time and do as you please. I found a document the other day while looking for docs to support my submission – an excel spreadsheet from my first year in business. It was actually the first 5 months of working for myself in 2018.
My first FY as my own boss. Paragon did $13k… in 5 and a half months. I had 1 client. I was scraping through by the skin of my teeth with every rent payment I made or car payment that came out. Noodles were a staple and I was stalking Seek daily, applying for jobs I knew I would hate, because I knew I couldn’t survive much longer the way I was going. Until one day – a push from my partner made me go all in.
I stopped applying for other work, and focused ALL of my time and energy on Paragon – at that time Paragon PA. The following FY (18/19) I had managed to replace my full-time wage – I was so proud. I was doing it; I was my own boss and It was the biggest “I don’t need you” I could have ever given to my old employer. I replaced a wage I’d worked (slaved) for, for years in one year of working for myself. It felt SO.DAMN.GOOD!!
This was also the year I had my son, Nix. Most don’t know this but Nix is an IVF Bub, and it was the most emotionally exhausting year of my life. I was a new mum and juggling the pressures of running a business, that was starting to build some serious momentum, and I truly believe parts of having Paragon at this point of my life saved me. It gave me something to focus on, that wasn’t milk stains and sleepless nights. It kept me connected to people and adult conversation but it also meant no maternity leave. I made the decisions, I was the contact point for my clients, I was doing all the things and wearing all the hats. It was all on my head. At this point I believe I had around 6-8 clients and I was at my max.
In the 19/20 FY things really started to kick it up a notch. Paragon was no longer a Personal or Virtual Assistants service – the demand for Social Media & Marketing management had well and truly taken over. So, in April of 2019 we rebranded to Paragon Collective. I hated the term agency and it’s still one I have some resistance to. We were boutique and personal and small. I was a mum working from my spare room. I was not an ‘agency’. But the term is well understood and it encapsulated the services I was providing so – I rolled with it.
Fast forward a little to early 2020 and we all know what happened. A dude ate a bat and changed the world as we knew it. I expected to feel the pain that so many other business owners did – but I held steady. I took care of our clients, maintained and built on those relationships and made it through the foggy initial stages of Covid-19 mostly unscathed and with all my clients still on board. I helped multiple business owners access the grants available to them and implemented technology, strategies and tactics that would help them roll with the punches yet to come. I am incredibly proud of the work we did during this time. But it was time to hire some help.
In September of 2020 I hired my first part time staff member – What a lesson this would turn out to be. Hiring, teaching and managing staff has undoubtably been the hardest thing I have done in business. At this stage I was still working from home but it quickly became clear that two of us working from my spare room wasn’t great and I felt ready to have a space to offer my clients. At this stage I had also started to offer photography services and things were getting pretty squishy. So, we started to look at commercial spaces to rent.
Paragon found her first home in Shop 15, 64-66 O’Brien Road, Trinity Park. 45 square meters and an old Real Estate office – complete with fit out. It was perfect. It was light and bright, tiled with floor to ceiling glass windows, double frontage/corner office in a great complex. I paid my first 12 months upfront and signed on the dotted line. I keep saying proud but, PROUD doesn’t cut it!! I didn’t have time to soak in that feeling for long. Paragon had become like a wild show ride you can’t get off and I was 100% addicted to the adrenaline.
We were still only open 3 days a week– though I don’t think I’ve ‘only’ worked 3 days since it started. However, I was about to experience my first heart break as a business owner. In December my staff member quit. I had an idea it was coming, but it still stung. I felt like I’d invested so much time and energy into teaching someone, showing them behind the curtain essentially – Things I’d worked years to know and learn. It hurt. But the job is harder than it looks and it’s difficult to explain to someone that it’s not just playing on social media all day. It’s hard. If it were easy, like everything else, everyone would be doing it. So now I had this lovely new space… and once again. I was on my own. Time to hire again.
In January we re-hired. Hannah joined the team as our Social Media Manager and Copywriter. Then in March and April we hired again. Bec Our Office Manager and Becca our second Social Media Manager and Marketing Consultant. The team had now grown to 3 plus me! Again, I was faced with the fact we were quickly outgrowing our space. I started to look at new locations and spoke with my landlord. The perfect space was empty and in the same complex. An easy move, less confusion for clients and a great deal. Again. SOLD. And we began the fit out and move. Around this time, we also made the transition from Sole Trader to Company.
The last week of June 2021 we moved into our new home. Shop 12D, 64-66 O’Brien Drive, Trinity Park. 80squares of perfection, fit out just for us! Our new space has an office, a boardroom, a HUGE co-working space, reception and waiting area, A photography studio which we now offer for hire to other photographers and content creators and internal kitchen and bathroom facilities. And we hit our biggest year yet… in a pandemic. It was a huge week and an even bigger milestone for me personally.
So, what next for Paragon? This year we have invested into a Virtual CFO and Strategic Planner for the company to really help us keep on track and set the tone for where I want the business to go. We are implementing more systems and processes, upgrading equipment, offering more services for our clients. Continuing our training and learning so
that we can be the very best at what we do. I’m terrified but great things come from being uncomfortable and I’m a big believer in saying yes to opportunity and working the rest out later.
The best bit? I’m no longer working nights, I have firmer boundaries around contact times and I can actually be present in my life without being consumed by the business.
The ebbs and flows of owning a business are heavy and high. Do I feel like I always know what I’m doing absolutely not? But I’m now confident in my ability to work it out as I go.
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