Back in 2014, we started Instyle Solar with a humble investment of $2500 and in the last five to six years we have grown rapidly, being named Australia’s third fastest-growing company by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Fast 100 List for 2020. One question I have been asked on many occasions is, “How? How have you been able to achieve this in such a competitive industry?”
The answer is pretty simple really – we didn’t aim to be better than our competitors, we aimed to be different. Our goal was to take what can be complex and make it that simple that it just made sense for the consumer, and this is what I believe we have done and continue to constantly tweak and work on as a business.
Below are some of our key learnings from the early stages of Instyle Solar that you can take into any small business to help you on the road to success:
Educate your customer
The majority of our competitors talk to the technical specification of the panels and other products, and the issue with this is that the customer generally forgets five minutes after you leave the property. It became glaringly obvious that understanding the maths behind energy production and how solar is generated was key. The first thing we do when talking to someone about solar is teaching them how to read their electricity bill and understand what all of the jargon means and what they are actually paying for. Think about how you can educate your customer and help them understand your product.
Sales beat investment
When starting a business, look to sales. Many people are so set on raising capital that they forget the key ingredient needed to be able to repay your investor, is sales. You never want to do the same as your competitors – be the point of difference in the marketplace.
Know your numbers
For example, we started with door-to-door sales and we knew on average, each person would produce three leads a day, working five days a week – so 15 leads on average per week. We would end up sitting 60 per cent of these leads and an average salesperson would sell at 35 per cent. More people in the field equalled more sales. However, towards the end of 2014, we learned the same door-to-door salesperson could generate six to eight leads over the phone. It’s so important to know your numbers.
In summary, we have grown at a rapid rate by never sitting still and always learning, tweaking and evolving as a business. As time goes on we will continue to do so and no doubt in the five years to come, the advice will likely be the same – understanding the foundations of your business is key and always refer back to them as the first step, if things go astray.
Karl Brown, Co-Founder and CEO, Instyle Solar