Hub Adelaide’s Spark program has now been running for 5 years, welcoming dozens of participants into the course designed to accelerate their business through an accelerated mentorship and training program.
Amanda Smith is a previous participant of the Spark program and finished the course with a wealth of new knowledge and a newfound motivation and plan for her business.
What is your business?
I’m a travel journalist, copywriter & author.
In my freelance business, I’m commissioned to report in the travel, lifestyle, culture business spaces for my human-centric, storytelling approach to writing. I help brands tell their own stories, too. Some of my clients include News Corp, TedX Talks, Google, MedicAlert, National Pharmacies, Japan Tourism, Scott Salisbury Homes, and Royal Caribbean.
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While I’m an international creative writer, my business is very heavily focused in Adelaide.
My secondary business, Loco Travel Magazine, is a travel storytelling platform that explores topics that we don’t see in mainstream travel stories.
I tackle issues like reverse culture shock, identity shifts, and loss and grief in movement. This is the business that won my acceptance into the Spark Program and while the direction has changed slightly, the vision remains unchanged.
In 2018, I’ll release my first book under this brand. You can read more about it here!
How did you first learn about the Spark Program?
My friend Alison Barrett was working at In-Business at the time and sent me an email saying “this is perfect for you!”
She knew I was a little nervous to apply, so she kept giving me a friendly nudge.
I had the interview and got accepted. I had already started working on Loco at the time and a coworking space + support program was exactly what I needed to grow my confidence.
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What were your initial goals from the Spark program?
Two things: gain more confidence and develop clarity around my project.
I was still working full-time and I hadn’t made the transition completely into my business yet, so it was a crucial time for me.
Looking back, the Spark Program was where my career took a pivotal shift towards entrepreneurship.
What are the three best things you learned while at Hub Adelaide?
The biggest takeaway for me was that it’s totally acceptable to pave your own career path – and also, that pivoting during that journey is required.
It’s fine for your project to evolve and change over time, so I learned how to adapt, too.
I learned some big lessons surrounding the value of persistence and discipline.
All too often in entrepreneurship, we have ideas about what it should be – overnight success, investment and big audiences. But being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to be a guest on Shark Tank. It’s okay to make your own rules, so to speak.
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I discovered my personal success recipe by ‘showing up’ every day and letting it naturally evolve. I had to let go of all of my preconceived assumptions. The Spark Program helped me do this, given the wide range of people (and stories) I was exposed to.
What were your favourite things about being in Hub Adelaide?
My favourite thing would have to be the connections I’ve made.
I still keep in touch with a few of them today, and it’s wonderful to watch their own initiatives unfold. It was a really important time for me as a young, impressionable budding entrepreneur and having that support was invaluable.
I’ve hired a couple of the members in the past few years for various projects, and I was commissioned for work, too.
Having access to this ecosystem is an incredible benefit to my personal and professional growth.
I finally felt understood in a community like Hub Adelaide.
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How has your business grown and evolved since you completed the program?
I’ve spent the past few years growing the clients I’m working with and have since picked up contracts with international brands such as Google, Royal Caribbean and Japan Tourism.
I’ve carved my name in the commercial travel writing industry, particularly through my work with Australia’s largest news platform, News.com.au.
And while this commercial success has been wonderful, it’s my art that’s really taken a turn since the Spark Program. I’ve been picked up by Media-Connect, a book publicity firm in New York, who will be representing my book in North America.