Hello and welcome to From Go to Grow. I’m Cheryl Gray and it’s my pleasure to bring you insights from small business owners, start-ups and business leaders as they reveal the seeds to help your business From Go to Grow.
In the next few episodes, I’ll be chatting with the Managing Director of Australia’s longest running national membership organisation for women in business, to unlock the secrets of successful networking. I’ll also be chatting with a recent start-up about how to start a side business while still holding down a full-time job. And I’ll be talking to an incredibly talented dietitian and nutritionist about how she’s growing her Melbourne based practice and embracing the digital environment.
They’re just a few of our guests on From Go to Grow over the coming episodes so if you’re in business or thinking about starting a business, stay tuned and subscribe to From Go to Grow because each episode we’ll be providing three practical tips, or seeds, that you can implement today to make your business better.
I’m going to start off right now by sharing my three seeds for starting a business because this podcast is all about sharing personal experiences, the good, the bad, and everything in between, so that we can learn and grow through connecting with others.
So, my first seed is to back yourself. I was a salaried employee for 30 odd years across 5 employers in that time, two of those for 10 years or more. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities to learn from very inspirational leaders during those years. It was in my forties, with two boys about to enter high school, that I felt I faced a crossroad. I could take a secure, well-paid public service role or I could start my own consultancy business.
I know that many of you out there have faced a similar crossroad either by choice or by necessity. I think I’m a pretty rational, low risk person so given my circumstances, the safer option would have been to take the government job and do it well. And I did head down that path, but at the eleventh hour after quite a few sleepless nights, I changed my mind. I decided that what I do best, what I do best for customers, for clients, is best delivered as a consultant and that’s truly who I was.
So if I was going to put my children and my family first, and my customers first, my clients first, could I seriously run my own race as a sole trader? And that’s when I decided to back myself. It was with incredible support from family and from colleagues that I took the plunge.
In the life of small business, I am still in the danger zone. My business is two years old and the majority of businesses in Australia, in fact up to 60% of businesses, fade and fizzle once they get to that two-year mark. The majority, in fact 61% of Australian businesses by number, are sole traders with no employees. So there’s a lot of “me’s” out there. Micro businesses with 1 to 4 employees account for 27% of Australian businesses and if we follow the statistical trends, around 300,000 businesses will start up in Australia this year, and again, most of those will be sole traders and unfortunately by 2021 about half of those will have failed.
Are we crazy? Why would we even contemplate that with those types of statistics? Now I’m all for the power of positive thinking and I have to continue to back myself. I have seen my business grow over those two years, but hope is not a plan, as you know.
So, my second seed for success is having a safety net. It could be a financial safety net, it could be an emotional safety net, or if you’re in the tightrope walking business, it could be a literal safety net! My safety net was an incredibly generous mentor and former employer who provided me with a safe landing, or rather a safe jump off point, to get my business going.
Do you have a safety net in your business plan? How will you deal with the tough times which inevitably will come? We know that cashflow is the number one killer of small businesses in this country, but it’s not your only challenge.
How will you deliver excellent service to your customers and clients when you want to take a holiday or when you’re sick? How will you deal with expansion when things start to go well, so well that you have to get some extra resources? And how will you balance your business and your home life, particularly if you are a home-based business owner?
That leads me to my third seed for success and that’s knowing when to ask for help. It’s really important to remember that asking for help within your business is not a weakness. It’s a strength.
You may be surprised at the number of generous people out there that are willing to pitch in and give you a hand. The first, and best, to place to look is your close circle of friends and family. Explore what skills and ability they have and how they might help you. Be honest about the things that you’re not so good at. Your time will be your best asset, so don’t waste it doing the things that someone else can do much better and more efficiently than you can.
In our next episode you will hear from someone who knows a lot about asking for help and offering help to others. That’s Janelle Bostock, the Managing Director of Women’s Network Australia, the longest running national membership organisation for women in business.
We’ll be talking about how networking can work for you and the importance of “tell, don’t sell”, during your networking opportunities.
So please, join me again, as we share the seeds for success in your business and your journey From Go to Grow.