Throughout life, many of us come up with business ideas, some that could be successful and others not so much.
Going about starting a business from the ground up is no easy feat, and a key reason most of these ideas get swept under the rug is not knowing where to start.
For the select few who follow through with their ideas, they jump on a train to an unknown destination, as each business venture is unique.
According to Small Business Development Corporation Business Advisor Peter Frey, going into business for yourself for the first time will change your lifestyle and can involve a significant financial commitment.
“Getting the right advice is essential, so you should choose trusted and reliable advisers who can help you with start-up issues and then assist you as your business develops,” he said.
Having a business plan, which includes how to manage growth should be a priority, according to Mr Frey.
“It’s important to understand exactly why you are busy and growing,” he said. “Identify exactly what your product and service is and work out why there is so much demand.
“Being so busy because you are too cheap is a mistake that can eat into your profitability and cause you to burn out. In this situation, raising your prices can help manage demand and maintain a healthy profit margin.”
Mr Frey said being committed to creating a successful business was great, but cautioned against falling down the workaholic trap and sacrificing your own health and wellbeing.
“Be careful of overextending yourself and be mindful of family and work-life balance,” he said. “While you may run on adrenaline for a while, exhaustion and its health impacts are a very real risk for business owners and key staff members.
“Ask yourself if you need to be actively involved in every aspect of your business day, and be prepared to delegate as needed. Trying to do it all, particularly in a solo business, is a recipe for burnout.
“If you can afford to outsource to someone who can do an important task for your business more efficiently or better than you can, it can be a good investment.”
Mr Frey said it was important to understand the factors that had led to the success of your business could change.
“Continue to monitor your competition, as inevitably they will copy you,” he said. “Stay focused on what works and adjust your course as necessary.”
F is for Dance
Grace Armstrong is the founder of F is for Dance, a company located in Perth and Sydney which specialises in beginner-friendly dance experiences.
Starting the business with the money from her own pocket and growing it organically from the very first class, the company became cash-flow positive quite quickly.
Grace Armstrong Founder of F is for Dance
“The idea for the business came to me about eight years ago when I was organising my sister’s hen party,” Mrs Armstrong said. “We are big Beyoncé fans so I figured I would throw her a fun dance class where we learnt beginner-friendly dance moves to her favourite Beyoncé songs.”
Mrs Armstrong hired a dance studio, made a Beyoncé costume for her sister and hired a dancer friend to teach the moves on the night.
“Everyone who attended couldn’t stop raving about how much fun they had dancing the night away and that if they could do it every week they would,” Mrs Armstrong said. “And that is how F is for Dance came to life.”
Mrs Armstrong says the business would not have been able to scale as quickly as it did if she didn’t outsource the workload to other competent women, particularly because she is not a professional dancer herself.
“In the beginning, I was doing 16-hour work days as I was trying to manage the growing business around full-time work,” she said. “It was then that I realised I needed more staff.
“Outsourcing and delegating are key. I encouraged an autonomous work culture amongst my team which contributed to the success of the business.”
Having jeopardised her own health and wellbeing during the first few years for the growth of the business, Mrs Armstrong said she could not stress enough how important having a solid, trustworthy team was.
“I didn’t listen to my body’s warning signs and kept pushing myself beyond reason to keep up,” she said. “It wasn’t until my body shut down and I ended up in hospital with a severe case of acute pancreatitis that I was forced to stop and start to put my health and wellbeing first.
“This definitely didn’t happen overnight as I had to unlearn all the workaholic traits that I had picked up and constantly remind myself that my health is number one and everything else must come second.
“If it wasn’t for my amazing team, I probably would have had to close the business during my long recovery, but because I had outsourced and delegated from the start, they were able to keep the business alive while I recovered.”
Mrs Armstrong has a couple of tips for people thinking about taking on the role of a business owner.
“Start before you’re ready, you will figure it out along the way,” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t the right fit because the world needs fresh ideas and perspectives.”
The Little Posy Co
Helen Pow, Founder and Creative Director of The Little Posy Co, came up with her business idea whilst working as a journalist in New York.
Keen for a change of career direction, Ms Pow went about seeking floral experience in the Big Apple.
“I really enjoy flowers so while I was in New York I interned with a few of my florist friends to gain some insight,” she said. “I started working on an Instagram page and a website while I was there so I was ready to hit the ground running when I got back to Perth.”
Ms Pow wasted no time, returning to Perth from New York in October 2014 and starting the business the following month.
“It started off with me going to the markets, making flowers and delivering them myself,” she said. “I was very fortunate to be able to stay at my Gran’s house when I got back so I could borrow her car to do deliveries and it helped to keep the initial costs down.
“It really was a business that I didn’t need that much investment in from the beginning, apart from a basic website which is what I started with.
“I think it was a business model that Perth was crying out for – more affordable but still really beautiful, fresh flowers, and I am very fortunate that it took off like it did.”
It wasn’t long before the business was a runaway success and Ms Pow realised she could not do it all herself.
“I had a bit of an Instagram following at that point so it was an easy route to target people who already knew the business model,” she said. “I hired a few delivery drivers so I could focus on the flowers and then I hired a florist and it all went from there.
“We now have about 15 florists and admin staff in the team and about 15 delivery drivers.
“Hiring the right staff is crucial because ultimately they are your best asset. A business owner needs to ensure they are hiring staff who are committed and are going to do the right thing by the business.
“Making the work culture a really open and honest environment that makes people want to stay is super important.
“I am still learning, and I call Fair Work Australia regularly to chat through different scenarios with them. They are a wonderful resource.”
The thing that was most disheartening for Ms Pow in the beginning were the copycats, and she lost sleep worrying about whether her customers would remain loyal.
“If I can give one tip to new business owners, it is that at the end of the day you have to trust what you are doing and make sure it is the best that it can be and everything else just flows from there,” she said.