The first three years in business. You've got all these things to do and I've got some great news for you. It's the most stressful time that you've had up until now, but it doesn't disappear. It continues, you just get used to the stress. All jokes aside, it is the most rewarding thing you can ever do, starting a business, but making sure you set the ground correctly, making sure the footings of your business are set up adequately will mean that your business will last well into the future.
So, I've been in business now for 19 years. The first business was just myself as a sole trader. Then I went from that to get a sole trader ABN that was registered with GST and trading under a business name instead of my own name. From that, I got all sorts of good stuff such as Pty, Ltd, trusts, distribution trusts and all that fun jazz.
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What Do You Need?
What you need to think about when you are looking to get into business is what sort of model is going to be best for your business. Now I'm in no way, shape, or form an accountant. All I know is what I've done, what's worked for me, and what hasn't. You definitely want to make sure that you are talking to someone about your company structure, make sure they're giving you a review. You need to know what you want to do in the future because the difference can be as simple as you have kids or you don't. If they're coming up to adolescents and there are some tax offsets to be made with trust distributions rather than with Pty Ltd. The most important thing is having that discussion before you go forward and start working it out. There are lots of different ways that you can set up your business to protect yourself with asset companies, as well as with different structures that allow for you to have a little bit of a firewall between you, and if something was to go wrong, heaven forbid, shit hits the fan. So a company structure review is really, really important.
Review Client Vertices
You want to make sure also that you're reviewing the client verticals that you want to be advertising into and that you want to be pushing into. It doesn't matter what you're doing now, what you want to be working with is not everyone. There's a famous person, I'm not going to mention the name, but they decided they were a PT and they decided they did not want to deal with everyone and anyone. They wanted to deal with just the top 5%, and they wanted to deal with the 5% that were in the movie and TV industries, so they wanted to make sure they were in front of those people. So all their marketing and everything is around that exact vertical. Now, they didn't want to be overly known themselves, but obviously, through virtue they became. Now, you might want to deal with only accountants because of some reason for whatever the product is. Maybe it's zero accounting and you want to deal with just accountants, or maybe it's something else and there's a certain vertical. You're selling paint and you want to deal with artists or whoever, but you don't want to deal with people in the automotive industry. Maybe you want to deal with one or not the other. But advertising and working out what your ideal avatar is for your company is one of the most valuable things that you can do to make sure that you can target your audience.
Technology, IT and Infrastructure Review
You also want to look at where you think your time's going to be spent with technology. Make sure you give yourself a technology, IT, and infrastructure overview. Create a topology of how you think your business should be working, and then have that reviewed by a couple of independent companies so they can give you some hints and tips of different software that's out there to be able to make the process even better than what it is.
Check Your Finances
You want to make sure you're financially set up. Now I can say I was able to start the first business that I did 19 years ago on a shoestring budget. I was living at home with mum and dad and so I had that huge advantage as a teenager starting a business. I had a little bit of support behind me in that regard. You may or may not have that, but when I decided to start the company Dorks Delivered, I needed to have some financial backing behind me. And I wasn't going to have anyone do that. I needed to do that on my own steam. So I was working two jobs to make sure that I was able to get enough money in my pocket for that rainy day. Look at what industry you're in, maybe your in here in makeup and you know that there are certain times that the industry is flooded with people that want to get this done around Christmas time and for formals and wedding seasons and stuff like that. Or maybe you're in the IT space or a business-to-business space and you know that around mid-December up until mid-January to the end of January, businesses pretty much just turned off. No one cares to spend anything and you may not get invoices paid or there may not even be any work happening. In those cases, you want to make sure you're preparing for that rainy day. Now what you feel comfortable and where you want to prepare, it may be different to me. I am very cautious with how much I have in savings to make sure that I can do what I need to do long into the future, and that's how I've been able to be around so long. If I had less than six months of money saved readily for every single expense, without any income whatsoever, I would start feeling a little bit nervous. So making sure you've got the ability to have a safety net behind you is a very, very invaluable tip that I would give anyone looking to go out in business, so make sure you've got that.
The first three years in business for myself, as I said, I was working a couple of jobs and that allowed for me to save up enough to be able to jump out and have enough of an income coming in from the business that I was confident that it was going to work. The last thing you want to do is start biting off little bits of the business and seeing how much you've got to go, realising that this thing is an elephant and it's going to take you a while to set up and get through it. If you're doing that and it's an elephant and you've quit your day job, you may very well be finding another day job and you've just burned through all your savings and a bunch of time. Work longer hours at the start to be able to get the flexibility to know that what you're going to do is going to work and it's not going to be a waste of your time.
One of the other big ones is thinking about if you are buying into a business or if you're buying into a job. If you've been in and out of work all the time, maybe have a think about why that is. It's easy to point fingers at someone else. It's easy to say, "Oh, I hated that boss. Oh, those dickheads. They're all dickheads that work there." Or whatever the case is. Try not to do that. There is a chance that you are the consistent thing in all your unsuccessful relationships when it comes to working. There is a chance. And if that is, you've got to just check in with yourself. Just make sure that you know the reason that you're getting into the business because if you're looking to get away from the hostility of a work environment and having a boss, you will find you're going to have multiple bosses and everyone there is peer-reviewing you. You're going to have customers, whether it be other businesses or people walking in off the street, you're going to have people that are continuously reviewing you. Now, of course, they're not going to give you all of your income, but they are all going to be adding up to that and it only takes a few pissed-off ones to leave some nasty Google reviews and it can topple down from there. So you want to make sure that you are aware of why you're getting into business and if you're buying yourself a job or if you're buying yourself the freedom, the career, and the lifestyle. Make sure when you've done that you look at where you want that to go in the future.
What Happened With Me
I'll comfortably say that when I started out in business, I wasn't buying myself a job, so to speak, or I didn't think that I was. Given that I had no interest or intention at that stage when I was starting it up, and that could be through to my naivety or that could be a number of reasons, but when I started it up, I had no intention of really growing it to have as many people working with us as we do now. I had the intention of doing a great job and really pushing through earning lots of money, doing what I love doing. I soon realised that that is not possible if I want to go on holidays and all sorts of other things. So I then started to change around the way the business worked so that I wasn't the head cog and the bit that was needed in the business for it to run. It would've been much easier to start off with that same attitude. That would've saved me years, and I would stress strongly, think about why you're doing what you're doing and how you're doing it.
A business owner, if they're running a pie shop or an accounting firm or anything else, is the same person. They've gone into the role of being a business owner. Somebody who owns a McDonald's franchise is a business owner. They're not flipping hamburgers. They didn't start off flipping hamburgers and then start one day, "Oh yeah, I'm now the business owner of McDonald's." Some people probably have, but as a majority rule, it would not be likely. So you don't work your way up. You want to work out what the structure is to start off with and why you got in there.
How Will You Measure Success?
Once you've worked that out, you then need to look at how you're going to measure your own success and the success of your peers and contractors. Putting in key performance indicators where you're able to see what they are doing, how they are doing it, how we can improve on it is absolutely imperative. And those different key KPIs that you put in place can only come about when you have measurable data, so make sure the systems that you're putting in place allow for you to measure things. If you're a plumber and you're running a mobile plumbing service and you're looking to be bringing someone on with their own van, you know how long jobs take. Use that data to measure how long their jobs are taking. Even if it means for you to go along with a few jobs and just see how they're doing it. There might be a few tricks of the trade that you've got over your experienced years that you can teach them that's going to improve their processes. Documenting that down and making sure that you've got the time to do that and create this means that when you bring the next van on with the next plumber, it's going to be so much quicker. The onboarding process is going to be fast as, and that's going to save you countless dollars because you've then got it there and it's repeatable. The other cool thing is if you do decide to change the process and the way that you're doing it, you can just send that out to all of the trucks, all of the plumbers that you've got working for you, and then that'll just flow down from there. And this can be applied to any and all industries. Make sure that you've got the ability to see how your data's working and put up key performance indicators that allow you to make those goals.
Sales Objective Training
The next one we're going to talk about is sales objection training. Now, you really need to make sure that you've got sales objection training because you know your product better than anyone else. When you start selling the product or the service that you're doing, you want to make sure that you can think of any single reason someone wouldn't want it. This could be price, quality, time, guarantees, or anything else. If there's something that you can think about what they may ask and say, "No, I don't want that. It's too expensive." You have to know and have an answer to why it is the price that it is and what they can do about the cost or the problem that they've got on their mind. You need to make sure that you know your product better than anyone else. And more importantly, when you've got that all documented down, make sure that when you find a new objection that you didn't think about, and that could be a time-dependent something. Maybe for us in our industry, an objection might be, we don't want to upgrade because the hardware's fine, but Windows 10 has come out and we have to upgrade. You might need to then tweak and refine that overtime to make sure that you're able to overcome those objections and explain why they're important to be done. So this is a live document and you want to make sure that anyone that is customer-facing has had the sales objection training. It's super important because it will really increase the professionalism of your business.
Hiring and Firing
When it comes to hiring and firing, you're going to need to know how to hire someone and how to sit down with someone. If this isn't something you're comfortable being in, if you've never been on the other side of the desk, you want to get someone in there. Talk to your local business coach, join a networking group, sit there with a professional friend and talk to them and play it out. Sit there with your partner and work out how you see it happening. We have staff that can sit with you and listen to what the person that you're interviewing is doing, and we can hear and look at different traits that they've got there and looked at the psychology of how they're moving their hands, how they're moving their eyes, why are they looking away, why do they wear this colour, ask them the same question in three different ways and see if they answer the same answer all three times, see if they're lying and pick up on any of those minor details before you get them on board. So HR training is very important. And that's something that can come with time and experience, and it's very industry-specific, so we can't really get into too many details around that.
Have a Knowledge Database
One of the other things that you should really be doing, obviously you've now got all these awesome procedures, is you need to have a knowledge base section or location with a database with all of this stuff in it. There are a few different tools that are out there and you need to have a place that everyone can reference that has all this cool, awesome information inside it. So you want to make sure you have a knowledge base portal that has all the runnings of your business, any standard operating procedures, KPIs, and the how-tos for your business.
The Final Word
I hope this has been useful, we've come to the end of this here and hopefully, you've enjoyed it. If you want us to have a look at your business, shoot us through an email. I would love to talk to you and see how we can collaborate. Stay good.
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