A story of how to start a small business by Nicole Gibson, Director of Soka Australia

Studio 42 Workspaces   •   July 21, 2020

My husband was always complaining that he could never wash his hands in the laundry sink because I was always soaking clothes in there. So I accepted the challenge and designed a laundry soaking system that increases the usability and functionality of the laundry sink whilst saving water, detergent, space, time, money and sanity!

I wanted the innovation to be stylish, versatile, universal, practical, sustainable and most importantly, Australian made. One product – multiple uses. I wanted to solve the problem of filling up the sink with too much water, using too much detergent, not being able to rinse my hands or utilise the drain. The sink becomes a wasted 40 litre space! I wanted to separately soak multiple items at once, using different laundry solutions, be able to easily recycle waster water, avoid touching solutions, prevent drips to the washing machine and eliminate children drowning. Big features all packed into the compact Soka Tub. The perfect gift for family, friends, clients and employees. After my experience, these are my tips for making your idea a reality.

How to make your great idea a reality?

Did you know that most great ideas go to the grave? Don’t be a statistic!
If there is a hole in the market, then that is a true sign and an obvious green light to give your idea or business a go. Even after many years if there is still a hole in the market, what are you waiting for?!? This is your invitation to start your small business today.

How do I know if it is a great business idea?

Firstly you need to answer these 2 questions:

  1. What problem are you solving?
  2. What makes you unique?

If you can successfully answer these two questions, then you are well on your way already.

Where do I start?


The next step is to do a SWOT analysis to look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. By doing this you will have a clearer picture and confirm that there is an opportunity in the market for your idea or service, and this will give you the confidence to take the next step.


Making a prototype out of recyclables from around the house is a cost effective way to start the process. I used a cardboard box to create my first prototype, ensuring the size and functionality was what I was after. I then found a product which happened to be in my friend’s kitchen cupboard that had the strength and texture I was potentially looking for as a final product. With my cardboard prototype and kitchen bowl, I sought the expertise of an industrial designer to put my ideas into a working CAD file.


I am flat out turning the TV on, so outsourcing to an industrial designer to create your vision on the computer is definitely a smart move! They can also bring an extra 30% more value to your product innovation which may be noticeable or as a hidden extra. Industrial designers will bring your product to life and also provide realistic images to start off your brand awareness campaign.


You may also be able to apply for FREE money under different business grants to help finance your project. There are different grants for all types of businesses. It is a matter of searching for a suitable grant, filling out your application, getting that application checked by a grant write and then submitting. Once again, you can outsource this task or attend grant writing courses such as Busy Connection, who offer both options.


TRUST NO ONE! Ensure you get a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) signed before discussing with key stakeholders. They are easily accessible from the internet and are crucial for protecting your idea.


Is your design worth patenting? Understanding the legalities is important for protecting your idea or design because not all ideas are suitable or can be patented, however it is definitely worth investigating and having discussions with a Patent Lawyer. Often, they will give you free advice over the phone and I would certainly seek a few options to ensure consistent advice.


Who is your avatar? Knowing who your target market group will support you to make more effective decisions with marketing and will allow further clarity for goal setting.


When starting a small business think of how your innovation or service will benefit your community. For me, I manufacture locally which supports other local businesses and their employees.

Likewise, since we live in a drought ridden country every drop of water we can save will definitely help our planet because water saving in Australia is crucial.

Lets talk profit. Its a no brainer that we are in business to make money, but profit can be viewed in many ways. Donating a small percentage of your profit to sustainable charities will certainly fill your cup and will encourage others to follow in your footsteps. I have the City to Bush Pay it Forward campaign that supports farming families living in drought conditions. You can donate through my website.


Having courage to succeed. Fill that hole in the market and start making a difference. If you need laundry advice, follow us on Instagram for daily laundry tips, hacks and stain removal ideas using earth friendly household projects. Finally, make sure to support other small businesses by following, liking, sharing and commenting on their pages.


This blog has been created in partnership with Studio42 by a guest author. The opinions represented in this article are the individual views of the guest author, and do not in any way reflect the views of Studio42. This post has not been sponsored and any products or companies listed have been included solely at the discretion of the guest author. If you have any concerns about the content of this article, please contact Studio 42.