The right mix of company culture and branding

Carolyn Creswell

When Carolyn Creswell bought half of Carman’s Fine Foods at age 18 for $1000, she never expected to be running a multi-million dollar business just two decades later, and exporting her 14-product range to 32 different countries.

Now that your business has become a multi-million dollar organisation, do you have any advice for making the transition from small to medium business easier?

Get your business absolutely humming first. Get systemised, get organised and become a well-run business.

We have a ‘clean desk’ policy where every email has to be actioned within 24 hours, and it’s policies like this make us well-run – and when you are it allows you to grow successfully while still delivering to your bottom line.

If you get your act together early, it makes it easier to springboard to the next level. You don’t want to be out of control, and just grow your business for the sake of growing it, because doing it in an unstructured way won’t work.

Are there any entrepreneurs you look up to? Why?

I look up to Gillian Franklin, who owns the Heat Group, a Melbourne and Sydney based company, because she’s got all the time in the world to be a wonderful mentor. She’s a specialist in great company culture and systems, so if I ever need to know something or ask anything I just contact her.

Big picture wise, Tony Hseih of Zappos because he’s brilliant when it comes to culture, which is my big thing. If you’ve built a good business culture, great things flow as a result.

From a branding point of view I love Grill’d, because I think the CEO Simon Crowe is doing a great job of marketing that business, and Naomi Simson of RedBalloon because I think she’s built a really interesting business model – I’m totally fascinated by the internet!

Any hints about what’s next for Carman’s?

We’ll be focused on exporting. We export to 32 countries at the moment and we’re looking to up the volume and make sure we’re working with the right people and improve the export business.

We’re also working on our three-year strategic plan at the moment, so right now we’re looking to consolidate what we’re doing now and improve our margins. We want to use the year to look at what we’re doing best and what we should be doing over the next three years.