Michelle Brown • Melbourne
Michelle Brown originally trained as an outdoor education teacher, picked up a Graduate Diploma in Marketing along the way and worked in a variety of jobs before she opened her own business, Melbourne by Bike. Inspired by her passion for showing clients what she calls ‘the real Melbourne’, Michelle undertook the Marketing for Growth workshop, part of the Small Business Victoria’s Workshops Program, to refresh her marketing practice, help her to price and develop new tour products, and grow her client base.
Michelle has always had a love of health and fitness, socialising and travel. She runs, plays tennis and, of course, rides her bike regularly.
With tertiary qualifications in teaching and marketing, Michelle worked in a range of fields, culminating in a role with Bicycle Victoria, working on the Great Victorian Bike Ride and co-ordinating the Great Queensland and NSW Bike Rides.
After a period as a stay-at-home mum to three young kids, she was inspired by the desire to do something for herself by starting her own business that could combine her love of sport, her professional skills’ mix and the need for flexibility around her family.
In 2010 Melbourne by Bike was born.
Melbourne by Bike organises and runs tailored bicycle tours around the city for small groups. Michelle works hard to plan tours which meet her clients’ areas of special interest – street art, design and architecture, food, historical sites, markets, locals’ hot spots – and showcases the city she is proud to call home.
Michelle is always on the look-out for opportunities to expand her product range and understand trends in ‘experience’ tourism.
“My challenge is to keep current – it’s always been vital to me in my business. By researching, networking and staying up-to-date with industry information and service models gives me an edge that I try to use in my own business.”
In her early business days, she took bike-riding tours in Sydney, Hawaii, New York and San Francisco to help guide her own business development and pick up some tips she could incorporate herself.
A trip to an international tourism trade show in the UK in 2014 firmed up her contacts with in-bound tour operators and travel agents.
Keen to learn more closer to home, she investigated local, convenient, cost effective courses.
With 95 per cent of her work coming from international visitors to Melbourne, her goal is to now develop new products that target the local market.
This expansion in mind, Michelle undertook the Small Business Victoria’s Marketing for Growth workshop hosted by the City of Port Phillip.
“I went to the workshop because I wanted some clarity around my marketing strategy. It helped validate things I already knew and definitely helped refine my marketing practice. The world of marketing has changed substantially since I studied it – the workshop was a great refresher in terms of my skills development and gave me the opportunity to meet other small business people to discuss contemporary marketing techniques and how we could apply them.”
Michelle also said that the workshop leader was very knowledgeable in a range of growth issues that her fellow participants were interested in and was able to pass on some practical tips.
The Business Today
Melbourne by Bike is in an exploratory phase.
Michelle is a great fan of ‘self educating’ – she constantly researches the world market for businesses such as hers, to keep her product up to date, relevant and competitive.
“I’m a firm believer that you should never stop learning. The workshop was a great example of this – it was affordable, at a handy time and place, and most importantly gave me the chance to step back from my day-to-day business and get up to speed with current marketing trends and activities. Any small business person, no matter what they do or sector they are in, should make sure they are keeping up with best practice.”