Control and autonomy, improved work/life balance and the pursuit of a passion – just some of the reasons Australia is a nation of innovators enjoying the freedom of being our own boss.
From tradies in Western Australia to graphic designers in New South Wales, we’re home to over two million small business owners. While running a small business is an empowering, rewarding and romantic notion, many potentially budding entrepreneurs may have talked themselves out of running a business for one reason or another.
“It’s too financially unstable…”, “I don’t have any experience in running a business…” and “It’s too lonely..”, are just some of the reasons some may give for not making the leap.
While it’s prudent to be considered before starting a business, it’s important to not to let these reasons deter you in the pursuit of a potentially rewarding and empowering career.
That’s why it’s important to ‘bust’ some of these myths, and in doing so hopefully reassures the next generation of Aussie small business owners that, with dedication and passion, no hurdle is too great if you want to start your own venture.
1. I don’t have any experience of running a business
From local freelancers to the biggest global brands, everyone started from the beginning at one stage, so don’t be scared if you don’t have experience of running a business.
As long as you’re up for the challenge and have talents in your industry, starting a business doesn’t necessarily require previous knowledge. Instead, determination, commitment, optimism, judgement and resilience are the traits many successful business owners display. So, if you’re driven and want to make a success of your business, work ethic and dedication outweigh a lack of experience.
Before you start, research both your industry and what’s required of you with regards to setting yourself up, such as registering your business, paying tax or getting the correct certifications. Don’t, at any stage, be afraid to ask for help – one of the best ways to learn and grow is to seek advice from others.
Other small business owners, in particular, are a great source of advice and guidance, while forums and Facebook groups can help connect you with other business owners and potential customers in your field. Once you feel confident that you’ve done your research and have a solid understanding of your industry, it’s time to go out and get started.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, though – it’s all part of running a business. Use every experience as a learning curve. Try, fail and then learn – determine what works, and do more of it.
2. It’s too financially unstable
If you’re diligent and take the time to understand your money and the technology that can help you control it, running a small business can actually result in financial empowerment and increased earning potential.
When you’re in traditional employment and receiving a regular salary straight to your bank account, you’re likely blissfully unaware of the financial intricacies of running a business. It’s someone else’s responsibility, after all.
When you’re a small business owner, however, you’re in charge of everything from your accounts and expenses, to your invoices and taxes. While it might seem daunting, whether you’re a builder or a baker, managing the finances of a small business needn’t be taxing.
Mastering your money is dependent on creating a regular cash flow. You can’t get paid from a client if you don’t send them a bill as soon as the work is finished. So, don’t let your unpaid invoices pile up – create and send professional invoices and accept all kinds of online payments from your smartphone as soon as a project is completed.
After all, the sooner you invoice, the sooner you can get paid. If you’re going to be working on a project with lots of up front costs – if you’re in construction, for example – request a deposit before you start work.
Creating an invoice and deposit tracking system that is easy to implement and manage ensures clients and payments don’t slip through the cracks.
There are small businesses invoicing tools such as, for example, Invoice2go, which exist to ease the burden and make running a small business financially rewarding rather than financially risky. With Invoice2go, reports are automatically generated to help you keep track of unpaid invoices and how well your business is performing.
You can also track when a customer has viewed the email with your invoice, which is extremely useful when it comes time to follow up. By taking some time to understand how to effectively manage your cash flow, and letting technology help, you could find that money is rarely a worry.
3. It’s too lonely
Many believe business ownership means long, lonely hours working from the kitchen table, but starting out on your own doesn’t mean being on your own – far from it, in fact. Co-working spaces have fast emerged as the face of Australia’s contemporary working environment, with 70% of new workspaces in 2018 being this type of shared, collaborative space.
Known for their trendy appearances and enviable perks – think free snacks, office dogs and on-site gyms – there are a number of advantages of immersing yourself in co-working space, particularly if you’re concerned about being lonely when starting your business. They’re a particularly great environment for small business owners in creative or computer-based industries, like graphic designers, architects and photographers.
While working from home might sound appealing to those wanting to steer clear of office politics, having little to no face-to-face interaction can easily breed feelings of loneliness and isolation. Co-working spaces, however, provide an opportunity to meet new people, make connections and thrive in a connected, creative and supportive environment.
What’s more, when working from home, it can be tempting to wake up at 10am, stay in your pyjamas and succumb to the various distractions around the house. Co-working spaces provide a productive environment in which you’re surrounded by other people focussed on making their business a success.
Perhaps the biggest positive, though, is the ability to network, share knowledge, collaborate and work with other members of the small business community. This interaction has the capacity to fuel innovation and ideas that wouldn’t have come about from working solo.
So, to not only negate the feelings of loneliness, but increase your opportunity to make contacts and win new business, getting out of the home office and immersing yourself in a motivating and stimulating co-working space could be exactly what your business needs to get up and running.
If you have a passion or talent that you want to share with the world, don’t let anything stand in your way. With the freedom and autonomy to take charge of your work, starting a small business is one of the best ways to achieve your goals and discover what you might be able to accomplish.
But if someone says you don’t have the experience, think about the traits that are more important than experience. If someone says it’s too financially unstable, think of the tech tools designed specifically to help you take control of your finances. And if someone tells you it’s too lonely, think of all the places and people you can turn to as you embark on an exciting small business journey.
Chris Strode is the founder of Invoice2go, the mobile invoicing app that gives small businesses and contractors control over their time and business. As a small business owner from a family of tradespeople, Chris created Invoice2go out of frustration with the lack of simple invoicing options available.