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My early business mistakes – Bindoon Bakehaus

By CCIWA Editor 

When award-winning pastry cook Anne Maree Hagge and sales executive Leanne Phillipson took over the Bindoon Bakery in 2000, it had just four employees. Today, the rebranded Bindoon Bakehaus has a staff of 38, a purpose-built premises and is an essential stop on the Great Northern Highway if you’re heading north out of Perth.  

Even Prince Harry famously dropped in for a banoffee éclair in 2015. It’s considered one of the Australia’s biggest retail-driven bakeries. 

Mistake: Trying to do everything 

Like most small business owners, Hagge and Phillipson are used to juggling roles, with Phillipson handling front-of-house and Hagge taking care of production. But as the business expanded Phillipson began to feel out of her depth in complex fields, such as HR. When the Fair Work Act was introduced in 2009, her head was spinning.  

“We just didn’t know what was going on. We didn’t know what the workers’ rights were, or our own rights,” she says.  

“Then we had a couple of issues with our staff that were quite big, that we couldn’t handle on our own.” 

They turned to CCI for help and found that Member Services were able to guide them through some complex legal issues. They now rely on the service to advise them on most HR decisions. 

“If we ever run into a problem we just give them a call and they have the advice for us. 

It’s a cost-effective (and sanity-saving) solution for businesses who can’t afford a full-time HR manager,” says Phillipson. 

Lesson: Seeking specialist advice before you run into trouble is money well spent 

For businesses that are expanding, CCI can provide a cost-effective professional advice through the Employee Relations Advice Centre. Members have access to consultation services along with guides and templates to manage a variety of workplace situations, from standard employment to maternity leave and termination laws. 

It has been a game-changer for Phillipson. 

“With CCI, they have all the updated State and Federal laws, they have all the paperwork there for us, so we’re not re-inventing the wheel. Now we will always ring them as our first port of call.” 

Mistake: Too many product lines 

More of a misstep than a mistake, says Hagge, was a period of trying to be everything to everyone, with a ridiculous range of products at the Bakehaus. 

“We got up to more than 250 lines at one point,” she says.  

The result was a loss of focus and a lot of effort for very little return.  

“I started to think, ‘Why are we making all these things for $10 every two days? Let’s just simplify this and have 50 things that we do absolutely amazingly’.” 

Initially, Hagge was worried locals would complain about “favourite” items disappearing from the cabinet, but barely anyone noticed the streamlining of product lines.  

It left them wondering why they agonised over it for so long. 

“There was one lady who stalked me about a brownie,” she laughs. “So we brought it back.” 

Lesson – Streamline your range to make more money with less stress 

Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way. Trying to do too much can slow your business growth. Hagge advises others to focus on products or services that they do exceptionally well, and those that drive their profits.  

“I wasn’t utilising my time well on what I was passionate about and what I was really good at – and that’s what our core business is,” Hagge says. 

Find out more about the Bindoon Bakehaus here. 

When award-winning pastry cook Anne Maree Hagge and sales executive Leanne Phillipson took over the Bindoon Bakery in 2000, it had just four employees. Today, the rebranded Bindoon Bakehaus has a staff of 38, a purpose-built premises and is an essential stop on the Great Northern Highway if you’re heading north out of Perth.  

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