February 22, 2016

From tiny things big things grow

When sisters Nikki Jurcutz and Rachael Waia co-founded the Tiny Hearts Paediatric First Aid course, they became the youngest women to own a registered training organisation in Australia.

When sisters Nikki Jurcutz and Rachael Waia co-founded the Tiny Hearts Paediatric First Aid course, they became the youngest women to own a registered training organisation in Australia.

While teaching everyday Australians how to save lives, former Ambulance Victoria paramedic Nikki Jurcutz is learning on the job herself as she expands the first-aid training business she established with her sister to make the most of new opportunities.

Jurcutz co-founded what was originally known as the Priority Training Group in 2013 with her sister Rachael Waia, who had a background in education and training. After initially launching the PriorityCPR workplace first-aid training program, they soon branched out to create the Tiny Hearts Paediatric First Aid course aimed at expecting and new parents. They quickly noticed, though, that many of their clients were interested in both offerings.

“After a few months we noticed that expecting parents would grab our contact details to pass on to their HR department at work,” Jurcutz says. “Meanwhile, people undergoing workplace training were also excited about the idea of Tiny Hearts – some had already heard of it thanks to celebrity endorsements from people like Megan Gale and Zoe Foster-Blake.

“There was a major cross-promotional business opportunity here which we didn’t really anticipate when we started out, so we decided to capitalise on it.”

Capitalising on referrals

Today the sisters’ business is booming, with 30 employees across four states, and much of that growth has come from client referrals between the two branches of the business. To make the most of this opportunity, Priority Training Group has just completed a six-month rebranding exercise to become Hero HQ – with a new logo and a revamped website whose joint landing page highlights both branches of the business.

“The rebranding is the hardest thing that we’ve done to date as a business, but it made more sense than running two halves of the business separately and hoping the customers would hear about the other half,” Jurcutz says.

Jurcutz’s efforts have won her Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2015 NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

The nationwide business began with a simple text message from Jurcutz to her sister outlining her business idea. Jurcutz continued to work as a paramedic for the first 18 months while they got the business off the ground, finally dedicating herself full time to Hero HQ last year as it began to expand across the country.

“Rachael brought the training skills to the business, I brought the first-aid skills and together we ended up becoming the youngest women to own a registered training organisation in Australia,” Jurcutz says.

“It wasn’t until we started investigating how you actually train first aid that we realised what a big task it is to become a registered training organisation. We were told many times that we should just partner with another organisation, but it was really important for us to build this from the ground up, to learn along the way and become an independent registered training organisation.”

Mentoring can make the world of difference

With neither sister having a business background, they had to jump in at the deep end to bring their idea to life. Jurcutz’s advice to others looking to make the leap is to stay focused on the big picture, and to consult the experts when you’re worried that you’re out of your depth.

“You might say we did things the hard way,” she says. “We were so focused on becoming a registered training organisation that we stumbled through some aspects of building a business. Perhaps the biggest lesson we’ve learnt is that if you don’t know how to do something, or you admit you can’t do it well, then outsource it to someone who does. You save time and money by actually getting it right the first time.”

Jurcutz also attributes their success to the support of mentor Liz Atkinson, owner of consulting group Zest Possibilities and co-founder of The League of Extraordinary Women.“For anyone who is going to start a business, I say get a mentor – someone who can stand on the outside, look in at you and give you their honest opinion while speaking from experience,” Jurcutz says.

This article was first published in Business View magazine (Summer 2015). For more articles and interactivity, download the iPad edition of Business View for free via our app, NAB Think.

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