Growth

Joost Hilkemeijer's growth tips for business owners

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Joost Hilkemeijer, owner of sourdough bakery Flour Water Salt, shares his tips for success.

Joost Hilkemaker started Flour Water Salt in 2011, and has made his living from artisan breads. His focus is on high quality produce and putting the product at the heart of the process. Here, Joost shares the lessons he's learned and his tips for success.

baker in bakery

Marketing

“The product is the best marketing tool. Wholesale promotions haven’t worked for me. No-one came. Every customer I get hears about the bread. They ring us.

“Our retail outlet promotions aim to get people to try our product – price promotions such as ‘buy a sandwich, get a free coffee’. Once they try it, the word of mouth kicks in.”

Management

“There’s no manual and I learned on my feet. You need to understand what’s important to your staff – that it’s not just about doing things my way. It’s a job to them – not their lives. Good staff are hard to find – particularly in regional Australia. My focus has been to get the right people, like-minded people and train them.”

Money

"There were three good decisions I made."

  1. "Having the confidence to reinvest: we’ve spent hundreds of thousands keeping three vans updated and on the road because product distribution is essential for us. Running a safe fleet is key."
  2. "I don’t make rash decisions, especially with large purchases. I sit down with my accountant and work out the worst-case scenario. I research expenditure thoroughly."
  3. "Try to keep on top of bookwork. Keeping the books current is so important. You need to know what’s coming in and what’s going out, otherwise you could be in trouble.”

Technology

“I spend money on technology to save time. I’m happy to pay for efficiency. Our software is always up-to-date and our shops are linked. Our mobile and landline phones are on one account, allowing freecalls between management and shops. We use iPads between our bakery section and shops for the daily ordering.”

Family

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned about work-family balance is not to expand regardless. Growth takes sacrifice and needs to be considered. I take Sunday off, knowing it will cost me a fortune to pay staff, but it’s worth it. It’s our only family day and you need one day to switch off. 

For me, switching off is the hardest thing.”

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