Australia has always been a country of cafes and restaurants. But the depth of this love has been deepened in recent years, thanks to the rise and success of shows such as My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef. No longer just consumers – we fancy ourselves a nation of cooks.
But for talented culinary artists like Alice Zaslavsky, food is more than recreation – it’s a lifestyle. After spending several years as a school teacher, Alice took the biggest chance of her life and applied to appear on MasterChef.
Although she didn’t win the grand prize, she definitely succeeded in more ways than one. Taking advantage of her public profile, Alice has launched her own business – Alice in Frames – a way to combine both food and education.
“I’m using my skill set as a teacher, as well as my platform in the media and in the food industry, to create something that is meaningful for teachers across Australia and hopefully across the world,” she says.
“On top of that I’ve got a few TV projects in the works, book two, hopefully…it’s all moving towards the idea that I’ve had from the start which is to be a teacher, but bigger.”
For someone so passionate about food and using creativity to promote a message, starting a business can be a daunting task.
“The most challenging thing about running my business is that I’ve got so many plates that I’m juggling…It’s actually quite overwhelming sometimes,” she says.
“There are so many different pies that I have fingers in that it’s difficult to actually figure out which one to prioritise first.”
It’s a lot of hard work. Invoices, quotes, chasing up payments, liaising with clients and networks and generating leads – it’s a whirlwind of activity. It’s also exacerbated by the fact Alice isn’t working to promote a product – “I am the product”, she says.
Thankfully, Alice is able to get some help with the admin. After experimenting with online accounting software, she eventually switched to MYOB Essentials. “It had all the features I wanted,” she said.
“I’m not a numbers person. Number crunching is definitely not my game,” she says.
“I love that I’m able to relinquish all of that sort of stuff away to MYOB. The fact that I don’t have to rely on somebody else, I can do it myself but I don’t need a massive skill set. It’s kind of like paint by numbers I suppose and I like that.”
As an entrepreneur in the digital age, Alice’s first thought is to put her business documents in the cloud – out of sight, out of mind.
“Honestly, I don’t have a filing cabinet and if you look at my desktop on my computer it’s an absolute mess.”
“Having an online business actually gives me more security because I know that all else fails, it’s in the cloud.”
And given Alice is traveling quite a bit, being able to manage her invoices quickly and easily using tech gives her more time to work on the core of her business.
“I can go on my OnTheGo app, click the client, generate an invoice in 30 seconds flat and send it off. How good is that?”
Getting the admin out of the way gives Alice the ability to run her business the way she likes without getting bogged down in the doldrums of day-to-day tasks. Less admin eliminates distractions – which means Alice can focus less on the books, and more on the kitchen.
“The best thing about running my own business is that I get to be myself. I don’t have to play by anyone’s rules,” she says.
“I love that I can be an individual.”