As many businesses pivoted to making hand sanitiser and cleaning products during COVID-19, Anthony Wilson was already ahead of the curve. The founder of Nood Australia had launched his lines of cleaning products and skincare made from Australian botanicals in mid-2019 and felt the uptick of business as more and more people came to know about the brand. But popularity during a pandemic also came with challenges for the fledgling, majority Aboriginal-owned Adelaide business.Here, “The Nood Guy” shares why following his moral compass and gut instinct for every business decision has been crucial to Nood’s small business success story.
Accept the Good with the Bad
We only started trading in August 2019. Then COVID came, which had its pros and cons. We had orders in the system, but we couldn’t supply anything for a while because of the demand, and not being able to get things in and so on. At the same time, it helped us grow our brand and get people to start to recognise us [as they were on the lookout for disinfectants and sanitisers]. It was a crazy time. I had to learn a fair bit pretty quickly which was great, even though it was a little chaotic – a genuine crash course in business.
Practise What You Preach
Before Nood I was working in numerous different jobs in education, insurance and compliance, and I had a contract for professional sport for 12 months. I was working for a program called AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) with Indigenous young people in Adelaide but had been having discussions about Nood for about a year. I was teaching kids to take risks and do things that you want to do and there I was, not doing what I wanted to do. I decided to take the risk and go for it and see what would happen.
Listen to Your Customers
Even in our first year of trading, we were doing a lot of work on the product itself and getting constant feedback from our commercial customers around what needed to be changed, what needed to be done better. We were always asking our customers for feedback, telling them to give us a call if there was something they thought could be changed.
Take Advantage of Positive Feedback
We had developed an amenities branch with a hotel chain and had people reaching out, asking where they could purchase them because they loved them. Going direct to consumers wasn’t in the long-term plan – we had been business-to-business up to that point – but we had great feedback and thought we should just do it.
You Can Only Grow Your Business if You Grow, Too
Our original business goals were to just build the brand and have a great story and a great product. At the same time, for me personally, the last 12 months have been about making sure that I understood business as well as I could. I couldn’t continue to grow Nood if I wasn’t willing to grow and learn myself in life. If you don’t grow, you’re going to do more harm than good.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Fun
With our name, I was sitting there trying to think of names and people always enjoy something a little quirky. I wanted to really focus on native botanicals and wanted to use them in their raw format – which is nude, just spelt a little differently! People remember it – it’s fun. I get called “the nood guy”.
Partner With Like-Minded People and Businesses
We’ve partnered with a company called Native Extracts Australia and the owner, Lisa [Carroll], is a really good person to work with. Her moral compass is great, she wants to engage with Indigenous communities and enterprises that harvest or source native botanicals. Our morals align and what we wanted to do was really grow that sector because, for me, it’s about learning – what I can learn from Lisa, what Lisa and I can learn from communities that harvest native botanicals and the amazing properties that these species hold that we don’t even know about. It’s important to me that I am able to create more opportunities for communities, whether directly or indirectly; I want to help open doors.
Stick to Your Own Moral Code
Making our products here in Australia is super important. I’m not going to lie, you could easily go and get it done overseas and try something a little different, but to be Australian-made and be able to grow our own economy is important to me. Within my heart, my soul, it just feels right. If I went overseas to do it, my gut would have told me it was the wrong thing to do. I feel my intuition telling me what is right and wrong and when I was looking at it, the right thing to do was to keep it in Australia. If I do something that my gut is telling me not to do, I know it is going to play on my mind for a long time. I’d be stewing for days on end.
Structure Helps, but Don’t Be Afraid to Divert
You can have a plan in place, but not everything is going to be smooth sailing. It’s about being open-minded and being able to navigate that very quickly. Have a structure in place, but know that not everything is going to go the way you want it to go.
Do Business in a Way That Works for You
I’ve never done a business degree; [before this] I’ve never really known any person who has run a business. Being able to learn as I go has been super-rewarding. I learn by doing things; I’m not a person who will sit there and read. Sitting in a classroom is not my strong suit! Being able to sit down and have conversations with people has been the best way for me to learn. I’ve been able to connect with some really great business people and use them as mentors and pick their brains for what I need.
Know When to Get Help
In the beginning, it was quite tough – [doing] the accounts, marketing, product and purchasing. I was doing as much as I could in the business, but realising I was spreading myself too thin. That’s been my biggest challenge – realising I was trying to do everything in the business which just gets tougher. It can easily get away from you, but we are looking at outsourcing some parts of the process so we can do what we need to do to keep the business going.
Appreciate the Journey
We want to continue to grow and hit all the targets we set for this year – but at the same time, I want to continue to see the fun. It’s a roller-coaster but I want to enjoy it.