Work Inc.

A Day in the Life: The unglamorous side of a self-starter

Kristy Bannister – Burger flipper turned National McCafe Ops Consultant worked for McDonald’s for 17 years before going out on her own to become the founding owner of Dr. Dough Donuts & Mug Life café in Pyrmont. And amongst it all, Kristy also happens to be Work inc’s Operations Director. 

A Day in the Life of a Business Owner

I’m sure many of you will agree that when you start your own business, you realise very early on that you don’t work for yourself, but you work for the people you employ. In my case, I am responsible for keeping 30 people employed across Work inc, Bay Ten Espresso, Dr. Dough Donuts and our Mug Life Cafe. You want to make sure your employees are looked after but then there’s also other people that rely on you as well. I see myself and my role across all the companies as a supporter of other small businesses like our cleaners that look after the office space or the milk suppliers for the café; they all rely on another business too. And behind that business are people like myself and the people that make up our coworking community. 

Dr Dough Donuts – Geoff and I design the donuts ourselves and on any typical day we deliver as many 1,000 donuts to Sydney-sider’s doorsteps. Over our four years we’ve sent out over 1 million donuts!

Mug Life – A little café on Harris St. Pyrmont also acts as our shop front for our line of donuts. It has a friendly, community atmosphere like Bay Ten Espresso but on the other side of the bridge. It’s the local hang out.

I did not wake up like this

The businesses that I have built and the position that I am in here at Work inc didn’t just happen – it stems from a collection of 20 years of experience working hard, staying consistent while learning, and genuinely taking pride in everything I do. But there’s an ironic duality to me saying ‘I didn’t wake up like this’ – My customers from our Pyrmont café get a shock when they catch me in my day clothes, which for most would be normal attire but my customers have come to take my aproned athleisure attire as the norm.

There is more behind the scenes

I don’t shoulder the load of two businesses alone, my husband/partner in crime, Geoff, looks after our businesses while I’m out during the day at Work inc.

Image: Wolter Peeters

(left) Kristy & Geoff Bannister digging into some Dr. Dough Donuts for a photoshoot with the Sydney Morning Herald; (right) Kristy in front of the Work inc book wall

This is the Real Life 

Warning: Sleep deprivation, anxiety, pressure, and lots of chocolate

2:00am – This has been our wake-up time for years now and it still doesn’t get any easier. When the alarm goes off, I’m tore from a deep sleep while grabbing a hair tie and chucking on some sneakers.

2:05am – Geoff and I are down the road at our Dr. Dough lab taking over from the bakers to start decorating the day’s orders. Each delivery is a little different with their own special touches so this can take time.

5:30am – My hands are stained in food colouring and sore from tying dozens of balloons. We then must make sure every order is right.

6:00am – Up to 10 couriers turn up within the hour with their route that Geoff and I have already mapped out the night before. The donuts are passed on and from there the donut happiness is shared.

Mug Life café is opened and in the background I’m on my computer processing the new orders/emails that have come through overnight and generally waiting for the stream of messages to tell me what’s happening over at the warehouses as the Bay Ten guys begin their day.

7:30am – By this time I’m already on Pyrmont Bridge running the 5km to Lavender Bay to get some exercise in but it’s also where I do my best brainstorming.

7:50am – On my way in I run past the café kids to say hi and then jump in the shower and get changed into my day clothes and usually grumble something about my Maltese hair being too frizzy.

8:00am – If everything in the laneway is running smoothly then I’ll get cracking on emails, phone calls, etc etc. But you never know what might be waiting for you at work; sometimes the café is under the pump so I’ll jump onto the coffee machine or help out with dishwashing, or on a rainy day we may have a leak – we are in 100 year old warehouses so it’s what’s to be expected. I love that any day at Work inc I could be doing a whole array of things.

9:00am – Our full team has arrived by now and everyone gets stuck into what they need to do, customer service, branding, crunching numbers, and the best part of my job is being involved in all of these areas with such an incredibly talented team.

5:00pm – If I have time, I’ll run back to Pyrmont otherwise I’ll get an uber to save time because there’s still a bunch of things that need to be done.

5:15pm – I’m back at Dr. Dough HQ to finish off all of the last touches making sure that everything is prepared for the following day. This includes tallying all of the orders and getting ready for tomorrow morning’s production again, plus, all of the courier routes across Sydney have to be calculated all the down to the minute so our customer’s are happy (this is actually quite tricky).

6:30pm – Geoff and I leave the shop with a small window left for catching up together on the happenings of the day. We wind down with dinner and then the evening normally ends by browsing Pinterest or planning the next photo shoot or ad campaign. And if it’s a Friday then you’ll catch us at our Local, The Quarryman’s, for a glass of the house red and some chippies.

8:00pm – Hop into bed and do it all again tomorrow.

(left) Kristy & Work inc’s Commercial Manager, Brendan, in the laneway; (right) Kristy behind the coffee machine helping the guys at Bay Ten Espresso

Why do I keep doing it?

Simply, because I love it. It’s what I do.

Early on, it was tough. I learnt to sink, or swim and I swam my way here although at times I was left feeling pretty beaten up. Starting out I was robbed, scammed, and burned by a dodgy business partner and that story is sadly not unique to me but I’ve developed a thick skin and a whiz bang accurate bullshit radar. And after it all, I still love what I do.

I am incredibly energised by the challenge of doing good business and seeing others around me do well and, it’s the people around me that keep me going. I love giving people guidance and the freedom to succeed and progress in their careers. I love learning from the greatest entrepreneur I’ve ever met, Mark Davidson. I am truly proud to be in his team and incredibly fortunate to have Mark as a mentor and a true leader. 

Once you’ve had a taste of working for yourself there’s no way you could go back to working in a buzz-wordy corporate world and thankfully, Work inc is far from that.

What COVID has taught me?

Any given day you could feel all the emotions but amid a global health pandemic, well, that’s just a bit tougher isn’t it? No one chose to be in this, but together we will sure as hell keep rising to the challenges that lay ahead and remain energised. And it’s beautiful to be surrounded by a like-minded community of other small business owners that believe the same, and we help each other shoulder the blows.

For me it’s amplified my need to be enduring, resilient, and successful, and that although that means sacrifice and hard work. When the alarm goes off at 2:00am I am reminded that I am waking up because our businesses are busy, and I am so grateful.

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