Inspirational Biz Owner Spotlight : Michael Baxter
Michael and I met years ago at a local networking event, and it wasn’t until some years later when I had clients coming to me with old Wordpress websites that needed a redesign and upgrading that I contacted Michael to help with the development process.
It’s great to have Michael’s guidance and vast expertise to ‘make things work’ on the websites as they should, which helps us to deliver a great customer experience.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I have always wanted to be my own boss and in charge of my destiny. I saw early opportunities when it came to the arrival of the Internet in New Zealand. The ability to take an idea, build something and then turn it from a side hustle to a full-time business was truly amazing. Thus creating new life style and business flexibility.
What challenges or obstacles do you face with running your own business, and how do you overcome them?
The main challenges can be the feeling of isolation when it comes to your own business ideas. Thankfully my wife also works in the business and we are a perfect match for getting balance and choosing direction for business strategies. We have also learnt to surround ourselves – where possible – with others also in business so you can share general operational ideas and expertise.
What have been the most effective marketing and promotional strategies for your business?
For Utopia it is word of mouth and referrals. This has expanded as we do more in various networking groups. These have really been the main driver for gaining new clients. On top of this, we have done a range of online and print marketing. The latter being very hard to gauge the true results. Being innovative during the sales process and showing possibilities to clients back up what people say about us. This personal touch is our most effective marketing.
What advice would you give to business owners who are wanting to move their business to the next level?
Seek out opportunities and don’t be afraid to see how you can grow something in to a side business or packaged solution that can be sold to someone else. We managed to build 3 of these and sell them as stand-alone businesses for others. Keeping the setup, paperwork and systems as simple as possible means someone new can easily operate it.
What are your future plans and goals for your business?
As AI becomes a household name it will soon also become the mechanism for a range of bespoke business solutions. It is this area where we are looking to expand as well as the numerous side hustles we hope will also find their wings.