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Tiffany Loh
Smarter Writer

Tiffany Loh is the Smarter Business™ & News and Digital Editor, with varied writing experience always looking for a unique story

Tiffany Loh
Smarter Writer

Tiffany Loh is the Smarter Business™ & News and Digital Editor, with varied writing experience always looking for a unique story

Diane Costa started her marketing and advertising agency, Marketing Mechanics, in 2001 working from the kitchen table. By 2013 Marketing Mechanics had won the Small Business category of the NSW Telstra Business Awards and Diane had employed 11 people. Today, Marketing Mechanics has worked with wonderful clients, big and small, including AVIS, Little Athletics NSW, NIDA, Australian National University and Vodafone. Here Diane shares her unique business success story.

“I set up the business because I had worked in many jobs and various careers. When I worked my way to the top of someone else’s business, I still felt I needed to do more. This set me on the path of starting my own business and wanting my customers to experience exceptional service. I went out and bought a new car on finance, a laptop on finance and worked from the kitchen table in a rental unit. In the early years I wasn’t even aware about how much of a risk I took and how much I must have believed in myself at the time. I think I had youth on my side along with an abundance of enthusiasm that blocked out any fear."

 

Diane Costa, Director Of Marketing Mechanics

What doesn't kill you makes you smarter

“I had at least 20 diverse jobs before I started my business. I worked as key account manager for some major national and global brands. I believe that every single job − no matter how hard or how unfashionable it was − all of them contributed to making me a better business owner. I know this may sound crazy, but I have never really focused on my competitors. I’ve simply had my head down, bum up working on doing the absolute best we can for our customers, ensuring we are on the cutting edge of new innovations."

"Offering full service to our clients is a unique point of difference as it allows us to ensure there’s consistency and quality control across all campaigns. Winning the NSW Telstra Business Award in 2013 definitely set us apart as well; this really gave the business and me the boost we needed to take it to the next level."

Setting goals

“My first goal when starting was to get a customer that wasn’t a one-off, but a long-term client. I landed on my feet within weeks as I had the opportunity to work as a marketing consultant to Blackbird Café, a 350-seat restaurant at Darling Harbour in Sydney. I set a clear objective of how much money I needed to earn so I could grow, and set targets. It was a successful start in my business for both of us, which I am very grateful for. I believe there are two types of thinking when it comes to goals and money. Neither is right or wrong.    

"The first type is people who work out the money they want to earn and then what needs to be done for this to happen. The other is a little simpler, just do what you want to do and believe that the money will come. I think in reality the former is probably the very successful people who get to where they want to fast. I consider myself the latter, I prefer to do what I love."

"When there is real passion you can’t help but be successful if you stick at it long enough."

Diane Costa, Marketing Mechanics

Biggest challenges

“In our industry, things are so fluid they change nearly every day. You have to be open to and aware of new technologies constantly. Up skilling our team as well as attending training events and seminars keeps us on top. The biggest change is being able to measure every dollar spent.

"One of the biggest challenges when starting out is simply figuring out how to grow the business and how to hire new team members, not to mention how to budget for the long-term. At the very start of your business it’s darn scary, and I really couldn’t find clear direction or advice on this topic. Focus on six months, as that should be enough time for a new person to net some results, but it is the only real way any business can grow. It’s a real investment for the future of your business."

Final thoughts

"In hindsight, I should've had funding, a contingency plan and even a business plan may (or may not have) made a difference. I would have preferred to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. What keeps me passionate about my business is I enjoy seeing smiling faces around the office and I enjoy being a manager and helping my team realise their dreams and ambitions. Our industry is creative, challenging and very rewarding, and that is exciting in itself."

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Originally published 3 November 2014. Updated 30 July 2019.

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