Honey, I shrunk my business – and started a new one  

Unlike most business owners I come across, I never dreamed about running my own show. But somehow, it kinda just happened… accidentally

Then POOF! Here I am, 20 years on, as the Founder of Australia’s longest-running copywriting agency.  

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Running a business has always been a huge part of my identity and enormously fulfilling. I have loved the flexibility, autonomy and creative freedom it’s given me.

But it hasn’t always been flowers, fairy sprinkles and flourishing tax returns. Far from it. 

At times, it’s been lonely. Exhausting. Even terrifying. I’ve had countless sleepless nights and ugly cries along the way. Especially last year. 

But first… let me transport you back to the end of 2022, when RM was at its peak with 14 staff. I had a General Manager, a Head of Copy, 11 copywriters, and a gazillion projects always on the go. It was a lot. But I was ‘happy’.

Or so I thought.

Because today, more than 12 months on – with only six staff – I would never choose to go back to that time. In fact, just thinking about it makes me shudder. The intensity. The pace. The drama. NO THANKS!

So – what changed? Why the about-face?

Let’s just say the first half of 2023 threw me a few curveballs. The economy took a nosedive. My GM exited the business abruptly. And my two senior copywriters told me they were almost ready to move on. (But I was fine. It was fine. Yes, fine! Stop asking me about it, ok?)

By June, I was officially burnt out. Ugly cries aplenty.

At that time, our copywriting work was trickling in at a noticeably slower pace. But our training work – RM’s other main revenue stream – was still in high demand.

And thank goodness for that. 

You see, our training arm has always been less resource-intensive and less stressful than our copywriting arm. But more importantly, it has come to be more rewarding for me personally.

This may sound a little self-important, but as a writing skills trainer, I genuinely believe I am changing people’s (professional) lives. (Like Wonder Woman, but for words!) After my workshops, participants walk away with a spring in their step; confident and excited to put their new skills into practice. 

And their managers feel a huge sense of relief knowing they’ve invested wisely in their team – and that their organisation will be far better off for it, for a multitude of reasons.

So it’s not hard to see why, by the second half of 2023, I began to daydream about a dedicated training business (and a holiday, tbh).

Then before long, those daydreams evolved into a business plan. And at that point, I had three critical decisions to make:

1.   The brand: I was always conscious of the disconnect between our corporate training offering and the name ‘Refresh Marketing’. And although this disconnect didn’t hinder our success over the years, now was the time to resolve it. So it was decided: the training business would have its own name and logo (with a subtle visual link to RM).

2.   The fate of RM: RM has racked up two decades of goodwill and a list of loyal, long-term clients who we LOVE to work with and write for. So, yes, RM will continue to operate. The vision – which is already in play – is to continue servicing our existing clients, while being exceptionally discerning about taking on any new ones. Also, as practising professional writers, we are much more credible as writing skills trainers. (Something about walking and talking, I hear.)

3.   The leadership: I’d had enough of doing this business stuff on my own. If I was going to take this leap, I wanted someone to share the ups and downs with. Someone to bounce things off. Someone who shared my vision – and my values. And lucky for me, I was already working with that ideal someone: Senior Copywriter (and qualified educator), Veronica. An outstanding professional in every respect, Veronica agreed to come on board as both the GM of the new training business and a writing skills trainer.

So, say hello to the Communication Skills Academy. Or CSA for short.

Our mission? To arm everyday professionals with the skills and confidence to communicate effectively in the workplace. For life

Business Writing Essentials is, and always will be, our flagship course. But our training programs will stretch far beyond writing skills. We’ve already established – and will continue to establish – strategic partnerships with trainers in other communications-related areas. And I’m delighted to share that CSA already offers training in public speaking, storytelling and media skills. 

But that’s just the beginning. We intend for CSA to become the hub for Australia’s most exceptional communications skills trainers.

So what are you waiting for? 

Start exploring the new CSA website now. Read our story. Browse our masterclasses. Discover our brand voice bibles and writing style guides. Download free cheat sheets. And sign up for our quarterly newsletter, Campus Chronicles.

Oh yeah! And follow CSA on LinkedIn. Pretty please? We’d love to see you there.