One Big Shift To Success

One Big Shift to Success Gen George and Content Queen - Gen and Anna

Founder of the phenomenally successful online talent marketplace, OneShift, Gen George is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in recent years. I had the privilege of a sit down with Gen to discuss her journey and success in establishing her business through online marketing and creative PR.

TRAVEL THE WORLD TO REALISE YOUR BIG BUCK DREAM

Gen came up with the idea for OneShift while she was travelling and working abroad. Low on money and trying to get work, Gen would go round and hand out CVs on the docks in Antibes, France, every day. She was down to her last $20 when she thought that there had to be an easier way of finding work. There wasn’t, so she went out and created an easier option for both job seekers and employers.

On returning home to Australia, after her fabulous excursions in Europe, she registered her ABN and OneShift was born. But this is only where her story really begins. Gen would go out to get listings, taping posters up at Universities after work and on weekends. With around 1000 users in the first few months and Gen registering new workers and businesses on the street, OneShift grew quickly. As a solo worker, she spent the first days of OneShift working long hours, late into the night – and indeed early hours of the morning – connecting employees to jobs and vice versa. Then, as of October 2015, OneShift had close to 50 staff and 550,000 people and 37,000 businesses across Australia. So how did she do it?

BIG PROGRESS IN SHORT TIME

As OneShift grew, Gen met with developers to create a “ruby on rails” site to connect people to jobs.  Five months after its launch, OneShift was approached by Programmed (ASX: PRG), an investment group, who had noticed OneShift’s potential and wanted to get involved. Others started noticing as well and OneShift was featured on A Current Affair and the AFR in December 2012.

Everything was moving so quickly, but OneShift hadn’t even set up a payment gateway yet! So, with a 6 month deadline they had to figure out how to monetise the idea. In October 2013, Programmed (ASX: PRG) invested 5 million for 27.5%. Gen commented, “2 years into our relationship now and we still call each other to say happy anniversary

TAILOR MADE MARKETING STRATEGY

For their marketing strategy, OneShift found that an online approach works best. It is a very personal site. Everything is tailored to your specific needs and if you can’t find the info you require on the site, there are many people available to provide help.

OneShift has embraced this new facet of online business and makes good use of blogging and social sites, like LinkedIn, to generate contacts, gain new business partners and potential users.

“I don’t think you post a blog and immediately 60,000 people sign up to your website,” Gen says. “But it creates that story, and people want to know what’s going on, and if they relate to it, even better”.

Blogging creates excellent traction with people, helping them relate to your business. This in turn increases online following and sales, aka it’s a win-win. A regular following like blogging generates continued interest.

While for many businesses, the more traditional sales team structure works better, OneShift’s marketing and business plans suit their own agenda. Instead of following an outdated marketing strategy, Gen and her team have forged their own way in the marketing world, and have taken it by storm.

OUR FAVOURITE RELATIONS ARE OUR PUBLIC RELATIONS!

PR has also been an important part of OneShift’s campaign. Having started with a smaller agency, then moving on to a larger agency, OneShift finally found their right fit in a PR agency who works like part of their team. Since OneShift has a digital focus, their PR agency has been working with that, and as Gen says, “not just getting placements, but the right placements”.

With OneShift’s massive growth, it’s a wonder whether she is competing with companies like Seek and CareerOne. “For those sites, it’s pretty much about ‘how many eyeballs can we drive to this ad’ like banner advertising,” Gen says, “OneShift is more personal”. While a job opening may receive 500 applications, only 10 will be worth it. Whereas, OneShift is about finding the right eyeballs on the right ad. More personal and more comforting for those faced with the daunting task of finding new employment.

TINDER FOR JOB SEEKERS

Gen refers to OneShift as an “online talent marketplace” akin to a “dating website”. It’s free for job seekers to sign up, and there’s a small fee for business owners to advertise jobs. You set up a profile with your skills, qualifications and desired position and let the site (and its workers) find a suitable job for you. This enables employers to find the right people for the right job. It’s mutually beneficial, hassle-free and convenient for everyone involved.

We’ve changed our business model, maybe 10 times over the course of OneShift,” Gen says. “And we’ll probably change it 100 more times”. However, even though they have grown and adapted they have stayed true to their core mission.

Even though she’s the captain of the ship, Gen commends her crew at OneShift for listening to the feedback from customers and changing to suit the needs of their clients. One of their values is “Test, Fail, Learn”, which has led to more effective advertising. Working with feedback, OneShift measures mostly with any significant spikes following advertising changes. One of the key successes for the business is accurately measuring what works and what doesn’t.

Testing different strategies for advertising has been important for their success and needs to be considered for anyone just starting their own business.

THE FUTURE…

OneShift’s development in just 3 years has been amazing. Thanks to some brilliant PR, online marketing and an adaptable business model, Gen has created an amazing company. She has also received numerous awards and accolades for OneShift including the 2013 Australian Awards for Enterprise, Innovation and e-Business. Gen herself has been named one of the 30 under 30 to watch, The Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 100 Influential Women and a finalist in the Telstra Business Awards for 2015. Yet, she remains humble, grateful and super busy.  Working out of OneShift’s bright and welcoming offices, it was very clear how far they’ve come and that they’ll go a lot further yet.

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