Small Business

Will My Small Business Work Out?

In starting up a fresh Australian small business, the last thing you want to think about is what if it doesn't work out? The reality is that about one-fifth of small business start-ups in this country don't make the first year; and only about one third manage to survive ten years or more. That's all rather frightening...

So what are some of the key reasons for these rather depressing statistics?

  • Starting up for the wrong reasons: maybe a knee jerk reaction as a result of frustrations through working for a boss for umpteen years. Often the thoughts of a better work-life balance including more time with the family take precedence over the sheer hard work, dogged passion and resilience in the face of adversity that are absolute musts when setting up your 'own show'.

  • Insufficient Planning: a good workable business plan needs to be carefully thought out and realistic. In fact you must almost let it rule your life (well, within reason!). After all it will be based on all sorts of assumptions which will always be subject to the winds of change such as a volatile economic environment, your competitors and customer behaviours.

  • Weak use of technology: make no mistake, business success these days is dependent on having a good website, effective SEO and online marketing including a strong presence on social media. This way you can instantly highlight your professionalism, effectively promote your products and services whilst explaining points of difference over your competition alongside other 'reasons to buy'.

There are several websites on this subject which will be of great value to anyone thinking about starting a small business. However, at the other end of the scale, BLA exists to help struggling small businesses which may have fallen victim to one or more of the above situations. Other factors may have come into play like insufficient capital, overzealous expansion, ineffective financial control or risk mitigation. Whatever the case, our job is to work with struggling small business owners by helping them through the 'dark times' and its negative consequences, whatever the ultimate solution might be.

By Ted Beecher
BLA Director

How Business Life Australia Helps

When a business owner starts to experience a downturn in sales, a shortfall in profits, a 'drought' in orders or excessive predatory activity by competitors, that's when the anxiety sets in alongside other negative physical conditions. Does this sound familiar?

This is where BLA is fully equipped and ready to help!

So what's likely to happen next?

Firstly, we will assign a concierge to get alongside that owner and listen carefully to their story - basically little more than that at this first meeting. BLA's primary aim at this early stage is to establish a connection of mutual trust and to create an environment of hope, whatever the eventual course of action is most appropriate for that business owner's situation.

Using the information gleaned at that initial meeting, the concierge will consult with the BLA team, including our specialist service providers, in order to map out a pathway for the business owner. That pathway will usually lead to 3 possible outcomes:

  • Business recovery and restart

  • Sale

  • Closure

At the next meeting, the concierge will discuss our conclusions with the business owner and outline the next steps they need to take. Often this involves connecting them with one or more of our service providers who, for example, may have expertise in the accountancy, marketing, legal or insolvency space. Importantly, these providers understand BLA's 'heart' and will provide initial services free of charge.

At all times, the BLA concierge will remain the owner's friend in order to provide continuous encouragement and hope in their new journey. Typically, we will work with the business owner by getting them back into the driver's seat at the most appropriate time so they can reapply their skills and initiative. At the same time we see them using the experience as a learning tool as they strive towards their new goals.

By Ted Beecher, BLA Director

Business Is Personal

Is there always joy in managing a small business?

Of course, because this is my ticket to FREEDOM after being answerable to a boss for the first 15 years of my working life.  Now it's 'little old me' running my own race, managing my own show, controlling my wealth, my team, my future, my everything!

And then it becomes so positively personal  with the family sharing that joy............ 

How good Helen feels when she has coffee with the girls every Thursday. All those 'by the way', moments': the upcoming ski trip with the kids, the ever-meticulous  dressmaker over at Double Bay , Christmas in New York!  She can't wait until someone asks about private school. The kids are loving it!  All those modern sporting facilities, the gym, the Olympic pool, acres of fields. True, Aiden is struggling with his maths but, never fear, Mr. Morgan has all the best resources at hand to quickly get him up to scratch. Oh yes, another 'BTW' moment: last weekend's sleepover at the McCarthy's waterfront mansion. (David McCarthy, of course, runs the United South Pacific Bank).

Then there's me - I love being busy, watching things grow and the money rolling in.  More customers, more staff and larger premises! 

Can just fit in lunch with the accountant today. She's great but did warn me last year about the shoebox full of invoices and bills saying I should hire a good book keeper to do them monthly. Still, you'd expect her to say that. Accountants always do err on the cautious side.

Actually, I've got three shoe boxes this year. That's surely a good sign as to where the business is going. Mind you most of that was for the first three months before I lost '5-Ways'; they made up for about 25% of our turnover. Never mind, they say you shouldn't have all your eggs in one basket.

The lull will give us time to focus on the 'UPs"; like step up our marketing, beef up the website, unclutter and tidy up the stock. Then, up the loan (so easy for the bank with the house as guarantee). 

Now we can all take a deep breath especially as it's almost  Christmas when, thankfully, the business goes dead quiet. That's ok, a return to the good times might be delayed a bit. In the meantime, let's celebrate !!  

And, boy, did we! A great family Christmas with no expense spared followed by the cruise. We certainly deserved it after all the work we'd put in.

It's now February..... the bills have accumulated. Not enough in reserve and only just enough income flowing in from the regulars to pay the staff wages (well, at least this month). As for the bank loan? Funny how I quickly take my eyes off the house when I leave for work and come home at night. 

Mmm, Judging by the amount of sleep I'm getting and the blank looks from Helen, I quickly realise how personal business really is. Even the kids have gone quiet. Suddenly I'm nervous about answering the phone. Who do I pay first? Why am I avoiding people? Maybe I should see the doctor and get some anti-depressants. Alternatively, the cellar is still fairly well stocked from the Christmas splurge...

Sound familiar? If so, we need to talk...
1800 041 218
info@businesslifeaustralia.org.au