Owning and operating a small business can be extremely satisfying and financially rewarding.
Using your skills, knowledge and experience to create a successful operation takes time, effort and determination. Often, small businesses are family-run and set up to capitalise on the expertise of one individual with the other members of the family taking on support roles.
A lot of the time small businesses are launched and run from the dining room table of the family home to minimise start-up costs, with plans to branch out into a stand-alone business space when cash-flow allows.
Unfortunately, Bureau of Statistics data shows that two-thirds of small businesses will not make it past three years of operation.
This can be for a wide range of reasons, but as someone who has been on the journey myself, there’s a few basic things you can do to give your business the best chance of success.
- Accept the support of family but use them wisely. You shouldn’t expect that your spouse, sister or brother be responsible for book-keeping if their skills are in customer relations. Match their role to their area of expertise and be prepared to engage quality professionals where necessary
- If you are starting your small business from home, create a specific area for your business. Ideally in a room with a door. While it may be a family business there should be the opportunity at the end of the day to close the door and walk away, just like you would if you were working from a commercial space.
- Business owners are known to eat, breathe and sleep their business but for the sake of your own health and relationships do what it takes to switch off from work mode outside of reasonable working hours. This especially applies to making and taking phone calls, which can be hard, but boundaries need to be set. Taking a phone call from a client at 8.00pm sets up the expectation that you are always available, so they’ll take to calling regardless of the time.
- It’s easy for family-run businesses to forget that there is the choice to isolate work conversations from others not involved in the its day to day operations, like your children. Rather than interrupt dinner with a question about the thought you just had about a client, write it down and make a note to talk about it during business hours.
- The final tip might sound obvious, but it’s often not done. Have separate bank accounts for the business and for the family to ensure that all business work is done at arm’s length from the family. This includes paying the owners and all staff – whether family or not – a fair commercial wage, including superannuation. This ensures there is transparency and you have a complete understanding of how the business is tracking financially.
By following these basic tips, you’ll be giving yourself and your business the best chance at success, but also a good balance between work and life.