Saturday, December 31, 2011

My year in review....

I sit here, red wine glass in hand, kids asleep, 87 year old step uncle dozing on the lounge whilst listening to Carmen and no hubby 'cause i just sent him off to his best mates NYE party in the eastern suburbs; we were all suppose to go but the dreadful lurgy bug has had the better of us all week. Darn.

It's hard to believe that we have been home now for a over a year since our 18 month barging adventure down the canels of France. Karl is starting school in a month, Ciara is growing long legs and I, despite trying (not very hard!) are terribly busy still have not launched my biz.

It does not matter tho as I feel in total control, know where I am going and most of the time love what I am doing (the part where I don't surrounds emotions over 'stuck with the kids' so let's skip that bit...I'll grow out of it).  I have created an amazing circle of friends and support thru biz (love you ladies - you know who you are) & via pre-school (esp Ciara's Montessori)

In the last 12 months there have been quite few highlights....

  1. - set goals (meet Julia Bickerstaff, re-connect with Suzi Dafnis and that guy - who ah yes Peter Switzer) - obviously I achieved the first 2, let's forget the last one...boys don't live online like us.
  2. - written a biz plan and started executing with a iron fist. (ie don't deviate from time constraints of working tuesday and wednesday)
  3. - got the house & sitters in order
  4. - had fun with the kids, watched them grow, been there for them - not felt guilty
  5. - started the Table of Fabulousness and thru it met the MOST amazing women. oh how i LOVE's been my highlight.
  6. - built a vege garden (well hubby did) and got a hen (organic dippy eggs for kids) and as of Xmas native fish (so they don't eat the frogs eggs / tadpoles)
  7. - grown a little team with my interns and realised that it is people and a team who together create a biz that i LOVE best, so may have to re-look at biz plan. hmmm, task 1 for 2012  review iron fist theory.
  8. - launched a beautiful cookbook for Rowie Dillion Indulge - Gluten Free gets a make-over
  9. - not put on weight (just a bit of flab) - not half as fit as i was cycling everyday in France.
  10. - assisted many talented women to help realise their biz dreams - you know who you are! x
  11. - exercised my mind via getting back some biz skills and learning how to operate in the world online.
  12. - created a Collaborative PR data base and in doing so set up a pretty awesome online CRM/CMS system in the cloud with Drop Box, Google Apps, Project blogs etc.
  13. - organised a pre-school fundraising team to raise $8000+
  14. - been to swim lesson twice a week (ALL YEAR) so Karl can now over arm and Ciara can survive if she fell in water.
  15. - ooh and met Martha (how could I forget!)

I have been working on my luk beautifood kitchen | Cooking for Beauty blog as by all accounts my lippy won't be ready for a few more months so i thought it best to share a few of my secrets on what I believe makes for a beautiful woman...and guess what it is FOOD.  My plan was to start the NY with a Fresh Start....a new years resolution for you but I am not sure, we'll see how I go getting the first recipes up as i am still figuring out how to customise the columns x page in Wordpress. At least i have worked out how to plugin a forum, page printer and event manager....not to mention the Mailchimp subscribe form via HTML! When I do get the first luk newsletter out you will see my goals for 2012 there! At least i don't stress over these things ...easy does her.

So, I guess I sign off with a very big thank you for your support, (there have been 8500 page view this year), your comments, your inspiration and your patience.

I live by my mantra ..'live what you love' and that is what i am doing right now, hope you are too.

Bonne Annee for 2012. Take care. See you on the flip side.

Cindy x

kids & I at Timbertown...our first road trip!
Some of the Fabulous ladies...

cooking for the Table of Fabulousness has been such a pleasure

I have the BEST hubby in the world...just look at that smile
 (PS. 3rd in this years Syd to Hobart)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Meeting Martha! Some simple take outs

Last monday I moved heaven and earth (& $) to listen to Martha talk about building her business and brand, this was to be followed by a brunch and pic. Well I got the pic (low on my list) but missed the brunch as we Oz landers could not muster 100 people. Like hello.....

Martha is an amazing global brand elevating all things domestic to iconic levels. She forged the "LIFESTYLE' industry.....decades before the Nigellas, home renno TV  shows and 'LIVING' magazines. Her products alone turn over $1b not to mention her 4 websites, 15 blogs, many Apps and media empire - her M.S Living magazine still has 2.3 million subscribers after 20 years, her first book Martha Entertaining has sold > 1 million copies!


- understands the woman - she elevated the homemaker out of drudgery. She showed 'her'  she could have a better life, everything she wanted. She could  have a career, entertain, garden, decorate, be handy ....everyone's home could be beautiful.

- knows what the woman 'NEEDS & WANTS'. She is always asking this question. They are the 2 most important words in her life & biz.

- & now they have been joined by WHERE.  Where does her customer want them to be? online, instore etc

- zigs when others zag. 2013 will see the opening of her first Martha walk in store within a store created by the wizard behind Apple's 300 world wide stores. Department stores need to create a consumer experience - her brand will do this.

- is a technology evangelist:  she sees & understands its power; the saving of time to do 'better' things.

- can "TEACH & INSPIRE" that's why her online products (websites, blogs, magazines, Apps (eg making cookies) work. Her material is glossy, beautiful, indexed, the recipes work, her hints help.

- understands the importance of MASS.

@ 70 (yes!) Martha's vision is to create a strong brand like Channel or Estee Lauder so the brand outlives her.

visit: martha's web site - portal to all her sites & stuff . Her life story is interesting to.....just google it!

Written from notes taken at "Unwrapping Genius" put on by The Growth Faculty, Sydney 12th Dec 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Frock UP & PARTY

If you have had a day like me juggling everything from pre 7.00am cupcake baking & lunch box making to Contract Manufactures and Sourcing Fair Wrap Up reports whilst picking up/ dropping off /assembling race car tracks and doing the washing/cooking/bathing THEN this is for you.

Alexx from Luxury Tasting (founding guest on Table of Fabulousness) is creating an   a m a z i n g
'POP-UP" Christmas party for small biz people like us!! ie work from home, (aka no one to party with) may have kids, ambitious, want control without loosing style, love meeting like minded on.

Hope to see you there! Cindy x 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Congrats email from Slideshare!

So busy working ON my business with my little intern team i am neglecting sharing my blog. Apologies. 15 hrs pw has its ceiling, especially when you add the Fab Table!

This email just came in which i thought was pretty of those out of sight-out-of-mind-things. It references the sharing of my stuff online. 'awesome' SlideShare say.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

TOP 10. wrap-up of the week

I loved my week.... but it just reinforces how determined you need to be to be a master of your own destiny and make it happen. So what did happen?

1. Intern Fruition! I have had over 25 application for my position i posted last week, the quality of the application is beyond belief. Smart, happy, keen, talented mostly ladies willing to gain experience to move forward. My first is starting on Tuesday, a second on wednesday, with several more in the pipeline if required. An instant team - woohoo, people to talk to, create with, share dreams with.... be motivated by and 'teach'. People really do make the world go round.....when you work at home by yourself it is a team & support environment you miss most, that's why you have to build one...but not loose your flexibility, and space. They working tues / wed when i do.

2. Breakfast Outing: I went to The American Club on tuesday to hear Naomi from Red Balloons speak,......huge effort, got into the city at 7.30am (don't forget i have a 3&4 year old and hubby who is out the door at 7am) . Liana who is on the Table of Fabulousness had organised the event (does the clubs mktg 2 days a week) and had spoken about it being a great place to join - to work form (full office facilities), meet like minded, have meetings. What a fabulous spot with views over the Botanical Gardens and down the harbour....for <$1000 pa and benefits thrown in such as gym membership it would make a great PT office. It's conservative but very smart, well equipped and professional. But I don't think my new little team & I can move it.....bummer!

Whilst there I met Yolander Vega (CEO) from the Australia Woman's Chamber of Commerce  and Industry. She has organised a VIP survey for woman in business...please take 10mins of your time to do if you are in business.

3. Out & About: - met my long term friend Jane over a lunch (Spice Temple - delicious) who inspired and introduced me to the world of beauty, she has been living & working in American for the last 5 + years, it was so good to talk business, babies and beauty. I miss you so much...please come back.

4. Open Shed launch - Lisa Fox, another Table of Fab lady launched her biz Open Shed helping to bring the collaborative consumption movement to Australia. A dissatisfied lawyer turned entrepreneur has everything you need to make it work. Vision (great idea), determination, enthusiasm...  go see   and list your items that are sitting around your house and could be used. It was a fab night atop a city building (borrowed) with great cocktails (donated - Alexx and savvy social App rating stuff by Melanie of  Boom Vox from Customers Underground.  Very inspiring.

5. Christmas Party Invite: arrived in my IN-BOX so that we solopreneurs - early stage & start up can frock up and party in the city together at a tres special event with like minded & partners.  OMG ...i won't be at home celebrating by-my-self anymore. MORE LATER on this fab idea.

6. Table of Fabulousness - the little idea that sprouted out of need to meet like-minded is creating it's own wonderful energy.... i don't have time to manage what it is turning into but we are getting so much benefit something will happen! It is my FabTAb ladies that make me feel so good because they are there to provide feedback, create shortcuts, intro you to other great ladies and events and keep you buzzing on business.  There is now a Newcastle Table and Melbourne Table, the First Sydney Table has been closed (first 20 mix n'match),  the 'Second Sydney Table' will happen early next year. For info....go the our temporary online home

7. CMS (contact management system) - I know, this has been going on for what seems like ages now, but I am sooooo determined to organise and set up a streamlined system so information (contacts, files, conversations, pics, correspondence inc emails IN & OUT, subscriber mail outs from all devices & mediums) is at my (& my new little teams) fingertips no matter where we are.

I am overwhelmed by the number of people i am meeting (& will in the future seeing i have cut the middle men out of my supply chain), the email flow, facebook & twitter comments, messaging, subscribers etc so trying to stay on top of content, connection, opportunities is paramount ...I want to work SMARTER not LONGER.  Finally I have my 'shared' calendar and emails & tasks & files & most conversations & meetings & phone calls etc tied back to each e-contact card with all linkages (www, FB, twitter, what they do, where i met, categorisation etc for that person) instantly accessible....  And i can search, group and all these contacts (classified into subscribers, contacts, vendors opportunities, friends, PR etc) any which way I like, send group emails with personalised fields and in general, feel very organised. I have to say my Task list is looking very organised (not because i have done everything but because i know what i have to do!!)

 I still have a LOT of work to do out how to run team projects online, mail merge with documents in the cloud but it will be good enough for when my little team starts next week because we will be on the same page going in the same direction and not wasting time. Oh i do love this ..oh-so-affordable & accessible technology.

BTW - i am using Google Apps (business gmail & calendar, Solve360 other integrated Add-ons)

contact snap shot from Solve 360 

8. Collaborative PR Data Base - Again, I am overwhelmed by the support this 'online' world of business connections provides. I have numerous amazing lists of media contacts provided by collaborators - it will start taking shape (in the CMS system!!) next week with the arrival of first intern. This list is beyond anything i ever had at Luken & May ...and we were pretty good at PR/guerilla marketing!!!

9. Family Fun - we have been busy at home too making halloween pumpkins, planting tomatoes, snow peas and lettuce and falling out of trees!!

10. I have written too much already. Have a great weekend and apologies for breaking every rule in the blogging hand book with this post...but it is better than nothing!!!

ps - AND i finally got an iPad. Not that i have turned it on yet. Came via an online contact Lisa Messenger (custom publishers) who had a brand new (in box) one for sale for $500 v's $949 (3G 64gb)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Intern or 'work experience' position: learn hands-on how to run a small natural beauty biz!

Noticed my lack of posts? I am admitting I don't have enough time to cram everything into a 15hr working week when i keep mentoring new start up businesses AND accidentally create something called the Table of Fabulousness AND have to keep my word by sticking to a skinny startup budget AND take holidays with hubby & kids..... so, I need to "Supercharge" (tx Lee) my biz.

I'm thinking I have a lot to GIVE and SHARE on setting up and running a small business (solo/SME/pre kids and with kids) and you might like in exchange or know someone that would love to work FOC with me for a few months or on a project basis as an 'intern' or assistant to learn and get to top gear fast. If you've been in the corporate world with lots of departmental support (ie not jack of all trades) or away from the workforce for a while and don't know the ropes or want to work in the natural beauty industry then this could be ideal.

I am offering a chair & desk in my dedicated and tres comfy home office &/or virtual office if you can join me on a Tuesday &/or Wednesday working from 9.00 til 2.30 (kids hrs) on Sydney's lower north shore. BYO laptop. I have have everything else inc espresso machine! Alternatively, depending on the project and stage there -of, you can work virtually and we link up via skype. I write and give great references///providing you fit the bill! Start is asap.

There are a couple of the projects I have WIP at the moment:

1. making the business quick & nimble and positioned to run from the top of a mountain to cruising the high seas: this involves setting up an integrated CRM system to capture contacts from social media, PR, sales prospects, vendors and ensuring all components are in place - online file storage, template documents, task work-flow templates, mail merge systems (for letters, labels etc), newsletter templates, auto-responses. etc. Writing a simple manual to ensure correct ongoing use. The research on what tools to use is done, a tech support guru is available, it just getting it up and operating that's key.

2. Setting up PR: helping me pull together the data base (90% contacts on hand but need sorting & checking) designing and preparing the kit, targeting media, writing.

3. Beautifood blog: assisting me with recipe development, food profiles, nutrition and ingredient research, food styling, photography & videoing. Creation of newsletter and writing of copy for the Wordpress pages & forward posts.

4. Product development - of new cosmetic lines. Preparation of briefs, sourcing packaging & manufacturers, product specs, etc

The skill set is varied so it may take a couple of you to cover the current projects or one of you may like to multi-task and give it a go.  If you are interested contact me via email with why you want to work for luk beautifood / me and your experience or what you bring to the table.

I look forward to hearing from you. :)

Cindy (Luken)

Connect here....
home office - i know bit messy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

COLLABORATING to create a PR data base

Is anyone interested in collaborating to pull together a HOT data base of MEDIA contacts in Australia (sydney focus first) suitable for LIFESTYLE - fashion, food, woman, home/garden, health & wellbeing + BUSINESS - corporates, sols/ SME, woman + SOCIETY across magazines, inserts, networks, papers, radio, TV, digital?

I will scope out the project (with your input) and manage an outsourced 'data dog' to create a database that will provide us with data in format to input into your own CRM.

This request is URGENT to assist a solo startup retain her market leadership by defending an aggressive launch in her space by a 'minted' competitor!

Thinking that collaboration can take part 2 ways for you to get a copy of the complete one-off data base. (ie you have maintain / update once received)

1. provision of your existing data in an IMPORT FORMAT (however much you have)
2. provision of a small fee ($100 max / depends on collaboration uptake) to share the cost of funding the data entry. (i need to get quotes on cost of job)

We all know the need to have a FAB PR data base but the cost of time or the list is too great if you are starting from scratch. Close media relationships really work - I built Luken & May Biscuits to $5mio pa (w/s gsv) in 5 years using aggressive in-house managed guerilla marketing techniques using a brilliant data base we built up over years. (went to pasture!)

Anyone in? What do you think?

Look forward to hearing from you ASAP - Tx Cindy

Changes - new blog layout and I can't go back!

Sorry about the blog layout - i clicked a button to look at some new thing called "dynamic" viewing and lost my old design forever! Where the content has gone that use to live down the sidebar (links, archive, my goal, slideshare docs etc) is beyond me and what about my pic with Ciara....guess that can be added to my "about Cindy".

Oh well ....maybe it is time to migrate the whole thing to a few months tho. I have enough on my plate.  :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

back on deck

10 days away and the online world changes - doesn't really concern me besides the time I will waste re-learning how to make the most of it. Can already see that FB will be a very low priority this week, I have far more exciting things to do.....

1. Launch the beautiful cookbook INDULGE by Rowie Dillion where Gluten Free Food gets a Make-Over!!! It is sure to be a success, the recipes and photography are stunning. Not to mention the company she will keep in the HarperCollins stable...Donna Hay, Bill Granger!  Go girl. Feeling very honoured.

2. Keep working on my luk beautifood kitchen blog now that I have wrapped my head around how to use the Word Press Corona Template by Kreise. Whilst away and 'on the road' i doodled my way around copious pages of my notebook, can't wait to apply my thoughts, ideas and some content...and start working on design & copy for the 'Daily Juice' newsletter.  My 'kitchen' logo got designed too so i was quick to whip that one up last night. Very nice thanks Morganna. x

3. Most importantly - get over another packaging hurdle, we can't print exactly where we want the design to go on the stick so i am feeling very stymied. Glad i don't have an official launch date...I would be sacked by now. Sometimes it is nice to have an absolute deadline so that it HAS TO BE DONE NO MATTER WHAT. 

4. Ready myself for our next Table of Fabulousness - October 11th. Hmm, what to cook, discussion is easy - I just need to facilitate or rather time keep so everyones gets a share! Also need to sort out other tables as i have lots of 'newy's' that want to attend here in Sydney. 

5. CEO Round Table Dinner with Sara Lucas of Enrich me Melanie Kansil of Customer Underground and Stephanie Vilner of Party for a Cause .  I feel very grown up already - it is years since i have had a 'proper' business dinner (not counting our Tab of Fab lunches!) Really looking forward to meeting a couple of go-getting, biz savvy ladies. 

6. Prepare the detailed brief for Implementing Solve 360 CRM system into my hubby's business - that is  the easy bit, i fear teaching 5 'boaty' men to use it systematically as one weak link and the boat will sink. Well not quite but CRM systems are all about you guessed it ....using the system. 

7. Send out 12 little packages with a luk 'sample' lippy to my every 10th liker of luk beautifood FB page. 

In case you are wondering how i will tackle this IN the school holidays, the little ones are going to Nan Nans tomorrow for 2 nights of sleep over. The couple hr return drive will be bliss! WooHoo!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

taking shape - wonderous wordpress site

It's underway. I have the beginning of beautiful blog (& grey hair) in 4 hrs!

By launching the luk beautifood face book site i forced myself to start talking beautifood not biz, and to push myself even further I promised delish bites of beauty info in a ' daily juice'  newsletter. So I need to keep my promise and get some sort of platform up to do it. There is no way i am putting content into a FB site so a dedicated blog-style site is about to be created. Here's my approach:

1. 6 month ago. Looked at WordPress, set up free account, dabble, get totally frustrated, leave alone.
2.  Last night:
     a) read Karen's Build a little Biz newsletter. Go to ProBlogger review of how to boost your blog
         traffic by guest blogger by Issy Eyre of Fennel & Fern
     b) Check out her links. Get really really INSPIRED
     c) Fall in love with Fennel & Fern beautiful site. Dream of how can I do that for little or no spend
3.  Today: take a deep breath
    a) google 'magazine' style wordpress sites. Find Kriesi Corona (launched 10 days ago) site at  
        Themeforest in a few minutes thinking ....oooh maybe I will be really lucky.
    b) Play with site inc a few other versions. Really like what i see ....hmm which one.
    c) BUY  ($35) & download Corona as it is the newest template by this group. And i don't have time
        to waste.
    d) Start: watch video on WHAT TO DO!!! see fab but very fast no sound?  video tutorials
    e) Set up Web Hosting ($5 pm) with Crazy Domains as they have my registered domain names and
        it's in Oz.
    f) try and find the "one click button" they advertise to host my new WP theme.
    g) Get totally frustrated. have 2 lattes and a piece of toast.
    h) Make phone call to tech department of Crazy Domains. Woohoo. Test site set up in 2 mins
    i)  Go back to video instructions and follow........yippee, everything up and running to start
        formatting the site and loading data.  (in test version til I make another call to Crazy Domains)
4. Tonight:
     a) Start play with pages, menus, layouts, pictures, logo sizes, what i'll say....
     b) drink lots of Laphroaig whisky !
5. Tomorrow:
    keep working in my 6 hr kid free window.......fingers crossed i have something good-to-go!

taking shape!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Time to SHOUT OUT please!

Woohoo, my blog hit 5000 page views overnight.

Thank you for joining me on this 'cruisy' biz startup, I hope I have been able to share some tips and tricks on how to start a profitable biz whilst having 2 pre-schoolers and not experiencing the 'guilt-trip' that so many working mums have.

It's only a small step towards learning how this online world works and connects but boy does it feel good. (i wonder how long it takes to reach 5000 page views daily!) My aim in sharing 'my biz in the making'  is to inspire you to start your own and to share what you see - providing you really do like it. Not just my business jottings but my luk beautifood brand. Ultimately I want to sell a product that people desire and love. And if I can do it so can you. 

The last week has been encouraging:
-  my Table of Fabulousness lunch on Tuesday confirmed that this is the way of the future where woman support woman to help them in their success and enjoy themselves along the way.  
- mentoring several young woman in business, informally, over the phone has renewed their vigour by showing them in a few simple steps how to realise profitable sales
- linking up a friend with a tech investor to launch her 4 year dream (I met the investor only a few months ago tx to another introduction - amazing how quickly things can work in a like-minde space) 
-  working mostly on how to promote not process my product  

So, with the 5000 page milestone reached, I am feeling motivated to ask you a favour. Can you start to spread the word, more commonly known as SHOUT OUT on luk beautifood. I want to start building 'beautifood' subscribers because with out them I can't sell product! It's that simple. 

The luk beautifood facebook page is NOW up and ready to run. It will start by talking about the beauty of food, an A-Z of super active foods, Fast, Fresh & fabulous Recipes, what your skins loves and lots of other goodies. I'm applying my online biz learnings to start the ball rolling so you will find:

1.  Launch Incentive to sign up - every 10th 'LIKER' will receive a $20 beauty gift. (maximum 50) I am being brave and will share 'progress' samples of my new lippy!  ooh la la 
2.  Automated back end to run the promo. ie every 10th, 20th, 30th, liker etc must sign up to receive their gift and include their address details to qualify - makes co-ord, despatch etc easier not to mention having 50 new subscribers!
3. All 'likers' must be incentivised to subscribe - so I am starting my 'daily juice' beauty newsletter. I  will research and start writing whilst on school holidays - aka hubby around 24/7! Sign up happening immediately as I have just created the content / automated work flow with Aweber....! 
4. Content must be engaging, original and worth sharing!  I will source co-contributors (nutritionist/naturopath, scientists, make up artist) I am talking to some already so sing out if you are interested!
5. A blog dedicated to all things Food, Beauty and Science will be created...and yes David & Suellen I will do it on Wordpress! 

Let's see if this theory works and how long it takes to reach a target of 500 'likers' & 100 subscribers. Agh. I'm nervous already...!

NEXT STEPS: if you like what I do, can you....
Step 1.  GO TO - luk beautifood facebook page (click here) and click 'LIKE' once there.
Step 2.  STAY ON the luk facebook page or (click here) and subscribe NOW
Step 3. SHOUT OUT via facebook or your blog or tweet or email or all of them!
EG post this in your status entry with a luk beautifood FB tag.

"Free luk lippy (full size) to every 10th 'LIKER & SUBSCRIBER' of luk beautifood. (max 50)" You can also get creative and say something nice about me!! I will thankyou with a little surprise pressie too if you send 10 people so make sure your friends say "xx" sent me.

Would so love you to share to help me 'build a successful little biz'. Thanks for your support, have a fab weekend.
Tx Julia of for the inspiration and creative!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

l u n c h wrap-up - table of fabulousness

I hosted our second Table of Fabulousness today and what a magic day it was. 10 small business owners from all walks of life spent 3 hrs together discussing their businesses over lunch. It was intimate, open and  incredibly inspiring to hear each other talk about what they do and where they are at. Each of us made comment to help each person build a better biz. The conversation ebb and flowed.

Lunch had a decidedly summer Mediterranean flavour...

Moroccan Cocktail with rose water and petals, mint leaves, lime, coconut juice, vodka....
entree of proscuito, buffalo mozzarella, watercress, melon and a raspberry vinaigrette
chicken targine, cous cous salad, chargrilled asparagus and beans
little pots of baked creme, mango, blueberries, biscotti

The Table of Fab idea is morphing into something really lovely after only 2 lunches, today Lesley & Diana generously offered to host the 4th lunch (Nov 2011) at their place in the eastern suburbs. What worked well about today was having the same people return to get update on their biz progress and then to have new faces present their business. I imagine i will have a group of about 15-20 ladies on this table who would like to meet regularly and build special relationships to support one another.

What i do with all the enquiries I have had I am yet to work out....saying that there will be a Newcastle Table next month with a new bunch of fab women. To see more, go to

Monday, September 12, 2011

STOCK is MONEY - manage it right, manage it tight.

I've been inspired to write this post as I have noticed there are so many little businesses out there owned by mums that love to sell (&/or make) and never really give much thought to stock and its cost and the importance of having readily available information at their finger tips regarding cost, margins, sales, age etc to create a picture on where they are in their biz thus enabling important decisions to be made quickly & easily. (sorry  - a big sentence!)

It is really important to have a helicopter view of your biz when you sell stock so you understand the relationship between

  • buying & selling: lag in between 
  • cost price v's sell price
  • sell price & discounts / promotion strategy
  • margin v's mark up: margin speaks P&L as a margin is a % of sales / ie top line and therefore quickly relates to bankable dollars on your P&L) 
  • margin $ v's margin %: a big margin % on a low price item sold in small qty will never bank as much money as an average margin on a high sales volume item. ie no point gloating about a big margin or markup on an item when it doesn't sell much.
  • stock age: turn pa, shelf life, seasonal 
  • slow and fast movers: freeing up money to buy what sells, ensuring SOH on what sells, tailoring your product range to suit your customer.
  • sales reports:  in a)units, b)$ and c) margin $ d) not to mention x customer, x territory, x channel - however you slice & dice it to make the right decisions. 
  • customer sales reports: managing key account &/or channel profitability so you understand the true cost of sale as it takes into consideration your management time, promotional costs, shipment costs etc. 
  • Gross Profit / Contribution ie True cost sale which is sale price less cost of goods less cost of sale (your time!) less cost of promotion (discounts & give aways) less cost of shipment/storage/ullage etc)
AND how it all relates back to your P&L & Balance sheet because if you are not tracking stock regularly (like daily orders - worst case weekly) by cost and sell price then you can't run an accurate P&L and therefore have no idea how much you make out of sale or if you have a enough money to cover your overheads (fixed costs) or buy more stock. Coupled with that you can't run a balance sheet to see where you are. A balance sheet simply holds your assets -  SOH (Stock on Hand ie the investment of holding all that unsold stock & stock on order)  + your accounts receivable (if you are not pre-payment) and takes off your liabilities (what you owe for stock, wages, ATO, loan etc) to come up with your financial position.

In this day and age there is no excuse for a micro / small biz not to run an online accounting system that manages inventory (ie purchase orders, receive stock, stock list, less items sold, cost of sale) and is linked in with your online shop. Sure, there are fully integrated systems but we are talking something low cost and sometimes even free that is manually assisted so sales and stock are tracked back into the accounting package for easily run reports that tell you what your biz health (wealth) status is instantly - daily, weekly, monthly & quarterly.

It sounds like a lot of paper work but truly, once you get some help to set up your P&L & Balance sheet properly and set up some systems, everything else just falls into place and you have a beautiful (or not so beautiful) picture of where you are sitting.

If you are interested I can share much more detail on this, or pop online some report formats, show you the layout of a P&L that gives you answers, looks like etc. We could also explore some of the accounting packaging and/or online shops that are suited to Australia.

Let us know your thoughts. :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

[ delicious living ] out & about

When i first set up this blog i created a few different topics to share information, to date i have not posted anything, to be honest i haven't because I don't want to turn into a computer junkie nor do i want my children to see me on the computer much. There is a world at our door step that is exciting to explore and experience and sometimes takes just a little more effort to do....

My first entry in delicious living is an exhibition i stumbled upon last week when i took Karl (my 4 year old) to one of his favourite places that he is always begging me to go to -  The Power House Museum in Sydney. Little Ciara (3) goes to a Montessori Pre-school 5 days a week from 12.30 -3.30 so Karl & I have 2h&45min on thursday & friday afternoons to do as we like...

Til April next year there is an Exhibition at the PHm called LOVE LACE - don't let the title distract you - it is really a stunningly beautiful sculpture exhibition worthy of a place in the State or National Gallery.

Here is the link to the site and a few screen grabs for you to get the feel and when you desire a creative space and somewhere for the kids to run on soft quiet carpet when it's wet out side (one if the reasons why I love to go there) ...go visit! Enjoy.

[BTW - the PHm is under serious renovation at the moment so a lot of stuff is closed - entry is around $10 pp 4+yrs  and don't forget to get your ticket stamped for $eriously reduced parking at the nearby station. Also, there is a cafe downstairs outside with kids playground...nothing fabulous but everything you need to make things easy and comfy and relaxed]

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FB stats update #3

And whilst I am at is the latest stats view on my FB page. As you know I am sharing this because i am fascinated in the stats of LIKERS (154 who have come unprompted!) versus the MONTHLY ACTIVE  USES (905) who I assume visit anonymously.

blogger gets a make over!

Somewhere in the last 2 weeks Blogger changed its look (very nice) and user interface (WHERE IS EVERYTHING?). It's feeling and looking a lot like WORDPRESS. I am sure the new one is better...I will try and get use to it B4 I revert back to the old one for habitual reasons!

good-to-go: product sign off

ooh-la-la. Getting closer to setting my brand's launch date after doing some pretty serious sign offs on product today. Big tick items were:

1. Sign off on lippy product costings - production/fill cost
2. Sign off on lippy formulation - base, flavours and shades
3. +ve test results from lab - 3 months with revised packaging
4. Re-designed artwork submitted for test print & production mockup of packaging

I am trying to get the message and words right to describe my product and have had the camera out for weeks bringing ideas to life. My pin board is covered in brochure mockup designs. These are some of the shots from my creative moments..... the kids are (NOT) in the background!

Tho it is good news with all those key sign offs I must dust off my corporate sales hat to bag some chunky sales offline (nooooo not retail - too many hurdles and deadlines for not much margin - aka bankable $$) to get the oils wheeled. By that I mean I want to pre-sell 10K (10,000 units would be REALLY nice tx) to take a big bite out of startup packaging stock requirements. Pre-selling before I buy packaging (my design custom made in Asia) and go to production (out sourced here in beautiful Australia using gorgeous ingredients) means I am not tying up my funds but using someone else's to cashflow my biz.

I am envisaging sales online (my biz model) will take time to build (no I don't have a 20+K subscriber list but would love one if anyone has a creative collaborative idea!!) and the quantity and rate of sales is a relatively 'unknown' so by doing this I reduce risk and as a consequence launch STRESS.....thus keeping me and therefore family happy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

back to core business!

It has been a great couple of weeks but when you work <15hrs a week and ideas outside of your core biz gathers momentum it sure take you off your path. Good lesson but lesson well learned and that is:
- there is a need for home based biz owners to meet in person on an intimate level to share, connect & learn.
- when you are active online doing something that people need/love, your numbers move. I know it is obvious but i saw the power of it which motivates me for the launch of my real biz - luk beautifood. This site/s are my experimental table, where i research, test and implement not to mention meet like-minded people, open doors and get insights into what I didn't know existed.

So today & tomorrow in my 6 hrs is all about getting my sales tool kit finalised so I can do those vital trade presentation to 'catch up big fish' to cash roll my starting stock for online consumer sales! Confused ....see my biz plan via slideshare on the RHS of this blog.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stats - behind the scenes #2

Just thought I'd share with you what is happening at my luk by Cindy Luken Facebook page this August. The Tab of Fab idea started end July so I am guessing this is the main activity that is causing the growth but the interest suddenly kicked off August 8.  What's of note is that there are nearly 3x more anonymous 'likers' than official likers. Anyone have thoughts on why or do you experience this too?  What do your page stats look like?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Facebook Page set up for Table of Fabulousness

Now that this idea has sprouted, I have moved the discussions on the Home Boardroom Lunch to a dedicated site so everyone, especially the guests that have been to a Table of Fabulousness have a place to meet online to keep the conversation going!

So here is where it is happening!  < click me >

#1 Home Boardroom Lunch was fab, fun & fulfilling!

Yesterday was the first shared 'Table of Fabulousness' and was by everyone's account (8 of us) a fab & beneficial event. We had < 3 hours to devour bite size pieces of information on each others business, savour delicious food (recipes to follow) and sip on a signature, award winning 'Celestial' cocktail (tx Alexx of  Luxury Tastings).

Appetiser Miang 
a David Thompsen inspired hot, sweet, salty spoon salad
(little pieces of bbq prawn, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, peanuts, coriander, mint and thai basil leaves, roasted galangal, ginger, lime ruby grapefruit, pam sugar, fish sauce get the idea!)
Main course of beef poach in Asian broth with greens and shiitake (Rowie Cakes inspired & Neil Perry recipe)
Dessert 8 hour pears with vanilla yoghurt & home made sponge fingers to soak up the vanilla infused red wine 
(fruit in season, healthy yoghurt & a 'biscuit' I have never cooked)

The mix of people and their biz types & stages married really well. We had businesses from Virtual Assistants & PR/Events thru to e-learning & online waste trading! Just by introducing ourselves & our biz each of us got at least 3 unplanned 'take -outs'. We did not make it right round the table in full as the time slipped passed quickly (we better sack the chairperson - moi!) Sorry Mel & Liana -  you are both at the next one/s so we shall make up for it there.

There was a quick discussion that it would be good to have an online table, a place where we could meet and keep chatting & sharing about sharing specific topics between lunches. I am thinking an online table would also attract new guests and perhaps even be a desirable destination for 'experts' to join us IRL and share their expertise.  Table of Fab #2 has been filled (8 guests) with 6 returning guests, this means there are not many places for new people - this is telling me that you would like to build 'real' relationships.

My initial thoughts on where to create an on line Table of Fabulousness are about time & effort to maintain and ease of use for guests. It probably works best being phased: eg
Start with a dedicated Facebook Page for the Table of Fabulousness as it is so easy to setup and add content, run the events, set up an online enquiry/database, view pics/data jpgs etc. The trouble with this is you don't get much depth in conversation as the discussion page app I have on my luk site is no longer available.
Move 2 a wordpress blog/site so we can above but also have discussion forums / subjects, profile each biz etc

At the next Fab Table I think we should keep it simple. Finish the introductions + welcome the 2 new guests (Suellen and Naomi), and either discuss a particular subject of interest (which we can work out before hand) or set ourselves a biz goal that we wish to be accountable for by the next meeting. These are just ideas - I will kick start this discussion on our dedicated facebook page soon.

We need to think about what to do if we keep getting enquiries to join. Perhaps people will volunteer to be a host and hand pick their own table! Just seeding the thought....lets let it go organic!

We have just a few pics of our day (Tx Melinda) - all before guest arrived as we were too busy sharing & connecting, learning and being inspired!

Here is a little taste of our fab few hours. I look forward to our next shared Table of Fabulousness - the  Home Boardroom Lunch for small biz owners!

Achieve Success. Implement a Comprehensive Business Strategy - In Her Shoes part 2.

A quick video interview hosted by Suzi Dafnis of Australian Businesswomen's Network (with me) on biz strategy that you may find interesting. < click here >

Thursday, August 11, 2011

thoughts + 24 hrs in Paris

Tony (hubby) is taking a spontaneous 'daddy' day tomorrow, I am already packing things up ready to 'disappear' into the world of luk (don't know where i will hide out yet but am sure to find a friends empty house somewhere close!) and I am guessing I won't come home til the kids are in pj's ready for me to read them a book!  I can't believe the thought of 12hrs of 'me time' brings so much joy....what luxury!

With luk's launch on track for year end I have lashed out on a cleaner as i can't stand NEVER getting the house clean and tidy from end to end: it is really doing my head in. I have been married for nearly 20 years and we always had one (both busy in own businesses and making the most of life) but after coming back from 18 months away we needed to get back on top of thing$ (not to mention having the guilt trip about being a stay-at-home-mum).  I am treating it as an investment in personal & business development and feel better already!

When i first started this blog I planned to write & share lots of things outside of business - ideas on 'sweet living', tips on things to do with kids, places to go, inspiring trips, recipe that are great for mid week meals, all those sorts of things, however I am afraid it has not happened so I will endeavour in the next few weeks to start to balance this 'blog' out for you & me!

With this in mind I have been looking through some photo's and would like to share this very special photo-album of the 24hrs I spent in Paris with my dear old 'Uncle' Joe. It is memories like these, where you pause and create something spontaneously very special (& have the opportunity) that brings a smile to your lips for the rest of your life. Giving is one of the great gifts in the world.

[as 87 years young, my uncle flew from Adelaide to Paris and spent a month with us on our barge in the country side before we had a 3hr TGV trip to Paris, arriving mid afternoon. We had 24 hrs in Paris to fit in as much as we could before I popped him on the plane back to OZ. He had not been to Paris on 50 years and we both new this would be his last visit we made the most of it! ]

24 hours in Paris

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Please confirm event attendance - tx

Hi ladies, for those attending the first Table of Fab. - home boardroom lunch (or later ones), can you please indicate your coming by clicking on the event link below. Due to my lack of experience on FB - I really want to see it this is a good way of organising the events & in turn it helps each of us.

You may have to 'like' me/luk by CIndy Luken before hand!

tx Cindy

link to facebook page:


I should be so happy today as i have the next 5.5hrs ahead of me for working on luk (& ditto tomorrow) but i am seriously lacking my normal energy. It take so much to get the house and kids organised just  to have those few precious hours (whilst staying calm & teaching them to do things for themselves)...on top that hubby has been away the last 2 weekends and working til all hours in between. My biggest challenge comes with working from home as seriously I can't ESCAPE when the sitter comes back with Ciara after dropping off Karl as she WANTS me. (yes - they go do activities but still comes back here late morning)

Big deep breath...they have all just walked out the door (hubby 3 hrs earlier!), think i'll emerge and make a latte, put on some 'spa' music and start again with a happy smile on my face. This should be  good session, I plan to work on my sales presentation kit so i can get on the road in a few weeks and sell those first 10K units to trade to get the ball rolling. To fill in where I am at.... stability /compatibility testing on the new lippy packaging is going well so I have good reason to slowly start pulling things together! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Design brief to RubyRuby Design for Table of Fabulousness!

Kids are in bed! Dinner is ready & I have 10 mins to squeeze in post before relaxing for the evening - i know I have been sucked in by MasterChef (it is my first series viewing tho!). I should be folding clothes but that has no draw-card!!

Earlier in year I made a couple of 'purchase donations' to a fantastically organised QLD Funding Flood Appeal by Hand Made Kids & Rudy & The DoDo where they raised close on $20K. I 'won' the silent auction bid kindly donated by Bec Marr of RubyRuby Design. (bid link)

I am now using that donation 'win' to create a logo so that the 'Table of Fabulousness - the home boardroom Lunch for small biz owners' can be brought to life.

Bec received her brief this afternoon and loved it. (link to brief) or see slideshare on RHS. This is what she had to say.

Table of Fabulousness - home boardroom lunch guest list #2 open

This idea is brewing faster than my organisational skills so i am creating this post for those of you who would like to attend #2 - 13th September (2nd tuesday of the month).

Please just add your name to the list via a comment in this post and please, i would really like you to answer those profile questions in my previous Home Boardroom Lunch post and send me it via email. <1 page, Q&A format.

In terms of is free for the first couple we do - you are my guest in my home!

Tx Cindy

Monday, August 1, 2011

e-marketing with Aweber - first embedded form & follow up process accomplished!

After a little 'stimulating brain activity' in front of TV on the weekend I set up my first subscription template with Aweber. I was able to embed it into my website & onto a luk beautifood Facebook page that is slowly taking shape.

Launch - The home boardroom lunch

After some very positive feedback to the idea of a 'home boardroom lunch' where home based startup & early stage biz owners can meet 'informally' in a private dining experience to connect with smart & savvy like-minded ....we are GOOD-TO-GO!  3 spots still open.

Date: 16th August
Time: 11.30 for 12.30 sit down, finish by 2.00pm (to cater for kid collection)
Place: address details will be emailed once profile form is returned to me.
Guests: Shortlisted so far from interest shown. Best in first dressed. There is room for 10.
1. Caroline Jewell (from Melbourne) Startup biz - food product CANCELLED (hubby away!!)
2. Kirralee Baker - early stage biz ( confirmed profile rec.
3. Alexx Swainton Stuart: Confirmed early stage biz: (Luxury Tastings - profile rec.
4. Melinda Hills - Early stage biz: online learning & training consultant confirmed
5. Diana Corlette - Startup - biz proposition confirmed
6. Liana (confirmed)  - early stage startup (
7. Sonja Firth- (confirmed) - early stage biz (Verve business support - ) profile rec
8. Lesley Lees: Biz startup. Commercial / Industrial Waste On-line Trading Confirmed profile rec
9. open
10. Me confirmed!

I would like all guests to send me a brief profile on yourself and your biz (<1 page) which i will use to facilitate the 'lunch meeting'. I understand if you don't want to share some points but i think it is a great little grounder & if not forwarded to me in total should be shared on the day [Thanks Diana for ideas :)] 

Your Name & contact details inc home address & your linked in address:
Biz: Who are you? What do you do? Who will you be? What stage are you at?
Opportunity: why is there a market for your product? What is the potential?
USP: What makes your product/biz unique?
Income: How will/does it generate sales?
Challenges: what are your key risks and how are/will they be managed?
People: What experience and skills do you bring to this project?

If you can't make this lunch and are interesting in future ones, please let me know via this blog and drop me a brief profile by email. I will look at running one per month, say the second Tuesday of each month. This first one will be FOC - you are my guests, I'll see how it goes from there. 

I really look forward to hearing from you, and please think of anyone else you that maybe interested in what we are doing & is interesting!

Bon Appetite!

PS - Alexx I will be in contact re cocktails 
PSS - does anyone need a sitter?
PSSS - Melinda, hey, I might take you up on the offer to help prep!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

{ i d e a } The home 'boardroom' lunch!


I woke this morning with an idea I would love to get off the ground! Tell me what you think/ if you can join me to 'make it happen'.

I, like you have been inspired by the lovely people I am connecting with via my blog & facebook page - those in their own business - either startup, early growth or want to start one  (Hi Steph, Lisa, Caroline, Nancy, Alexx, Naomi, Kirralee, Melinda, Alice to name a few). We all seem to be in similar stage of life (mostly mums) & business and to be honest are smart & savvy & I suspect crave to meet like minded people.

As we work from home we do so much online & yes it is a great world, but we quickly loose contact with the 'other world', so my idea is to take advantage of our 'fortunate' setup and share a little more 'in person' to help us & our biz grow. Of course there are the networking groups, and industry functions but i am thinking wouldn't it be good to have an intimate 'biz' lunch - aka the board room lunch but at home!

I'd host a lunch for 10-12 of us with good food & wine & we could talk biz!  What better place could there be....our home, the hub of our world, where the food is great (i'll be cooking so maybe we'll make that judgement later), the room creative (yes you can also see how i set myself up) & maybe, depending on how the idea develops I get a sitter to ensure you can get here. (my little Ciara has to go to pre-school 12.30 to 3.30 so I will need help!)

This is the start of what I hope will be a good idea! We need to flesh it out a bit more & I don't know if you live in Sydney (I do - 8 mins from the Harbour Bridge) but if you do, let's start the ball rolling and create a great 'home biz lunch event'. Topics? Timing? Guest list, friend invites, 'screening/criteria' etc

Would be best to keep the discussion in one place ie here but i will put detail on FB too ...let's just see how it takes shape and then I will co-ordinate ideas, & confirm details via email.

Warm regards,

Where we would have our biz lunch event!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Google Apps for biz email/using own Domain

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to set up my business email on my laptop via Apple Mail (or if you are a PC user Outlook)

One of the easiest ways (with bells and whistles) is to use Gmail for business via something known as Google Apps which allows you to use your own domain name.


Week 2, Term 3 of pre-school and into my first 6 child free (nearly) day ahead of me after 2 months of disruption (sickness, school hols, no sitter, no day care / swap to pre-school). Having a  'nanny' 2 to 3 mornings pw will mean that I will have back my 15 hrs during the week. WooHoo.

My week now looks something like this...not that you can read it! But the point is I need to keep re- organising our family as things change so that we can do the things we need and want to do. I'd love to just cruise....but I admit, I am born to set goals!! And tho I am doing this biz part time, i use my e-diary on my computer and sync it in with my phone and little alarm bells keep going off....the kids are's time to go to pre-school or swimming or (mummy needs to work) etc and it alerts me as i don't wear a watch any more and sometimes 'events' such as kids photo's at pre-school (eee today!) or a PC meeting (tonight...another eeee need to do fundraising report) can slip by!!!

Sorry for talking 'me" but I thought it may help you take the step and see how others 'get organised'

Friday, July 22, 2011

feeling chuffed - blog being tracked by my google analytics

It's taken a few attempts to wrap my brain around it but finally i have added my blog to google analytics. If you do have a Blogger blog finding the right piece of advice was the linch pin to getting it working as according to their instructions i had to insert code into the site....insert what, where was my initial reaction (so I walked away - x2) but, yes, the instructions really were easy to follow once I went a bit further, and realised I had a template with a html code section to modify!  So, if you are not tracking ALL your sites via Google Analytics, get a glass of red wine, relax and start again following Google Analytics simple instructions as you go (not their forums or help searches)!

Protecting IP

I wrote this post a few months ago but waited till my trademarks were approved..the letter came in the post today! This approach has been gleaned from my experience......

Protecting your brand is paramount - especially when you are as transparent as I am!  And using names, logo designs, tags lines and other graphics that are not already in use goes without $aying. There are several areas you must check simultaneously to ensure you are not stepping on anyones toes and to ensure you cover yourself and $trengthen your brand. It is also good to know that when you start using a name/trading in a market then you actually have rights to it!

That is why it is really hard & important at a start up stage to a fair idea on what territories you will be selling to in the future so you can secure that market or be able to legally trade in it.

1) Registered Domains: I did a search last month when I revealed my brand name and registered a few variations. For about $12 for 12 months per name, it is not a huge investment.

As I wrote the sales & marketing strategy I am came up with some promotional ideas that I think will work really well. I have checked out domain availability and can see that this must be a relatively untouched area  (ie i got .com's I wanted) as i was able to add all these delicious terms to my brand portfolio (cost in total $102 for 24 months!)

Obviously i can't sit on these names, I must use them or loose them.

2) Trademarks.  Bottom line is, every region in the world has a different register and each class you register in costs more money. You can do it yourself or use an expert but, bottom line it add$ up. You can register words or a word mark &/or tag line. 

Obviously, my first territory to sell product will be Australia. Europe - especially english speaking UK is attractive and thankfully falls under EU umbrella. As for Asia - yes I want to sell here in the future - China, Japan, where else? As for the USA .....the world is your & some one else's oyster!

Interesting - things have got simpler in the last decade! I just found out that in 2001 the Madrid commenced which means I can apply for trademarks to those countries that are members: good news - my targets all are! See  &  for a list of the member countries. 

Back to Oz  - IP Australia  is the place for trademarks: There is a Head Start area for first time users...looks good. I have a little experience on trademarks so I am pretty confident that my searches have turned up nothing that will compete so I am using the online facility to pay $120 per trademark per class and then will pay a $250 registration once they are check & hopefully approved.
luk beautifood as a graphic in class 3 is the first cab off the rank. 

3.) Name Search site lists all Australian ABN registered entities whether they be a name, company   I have checked all my words and are clear.

I hope this gives you a little clarity if you are wondering where to start.