Dos and don’ts of bringing your business idea to life
You’ve got a great business idea you’ve been dreaming about for the past few weeks, months, or even years. But the timing never seems right for bringing your vision to life. Sound familiar?
For most of us, there is no perfect time to start a business – and knowing when to make that jump from idea to reality can be tricky. Starting your own business is a daunting prospect and, to see your idea become a profitable reality, you have to be prepared.
To help you get started, we asked three Australian business owners to share their tips for success – and what they would avoid – when starting a business.
People are the backbone of every great business. When you’re first starting out, it’s especially important to invest in staff with the right skills and attitude to support your business growth. And, although you may still be working out how to sustain a profit, it’s crucial to recognise and reward a job well done.
"You may not have the resources to give out big salaries or awesome job perks, but your people are literally the number one asset you'll have," says William Edwards, founder of Sydney distillery Archie Rose.
"They will drive the business to places you would have never thought to go, or could not have gone on your own — so treat them with respect, empower them to lead the areas they are responsible for and acknowledge the contribution they make."
To maintain a business, it’s a good idea to build an offering that appeals to a diverse customer base. For example, you could offer a range of products rather than offering a single product or find multiple distributors for a product.
Head chef and owner of LP's Quality Meats Luke Powell says selling products to other vendors was the ticket to sustainable revenue for his business.
"We have diversified our business by making smallgoods for other restaurants, cafes and venues," he says. "We were making them just for ourselves then other people started asking for them. We got a licence as a meat processing plant and can now make and sell to anyone."
If you’re still waiting for the right time to get the ball rolling, keep in mind that many successful businesses started by taking a chance. For Edwards at Archie Rose, taking a leap of faith – while being prepared – is key to bringing a business idea to fruition.
"I've met so many people with so many good ideas and the talent to make them a reality, but they never did anything because it wasn't the perfect time," he says. "I'm not saying don't prepare for what you're about to undertake, but there will never be 'a perfect time' — at the end of the day, you just need to start."
Running a business means making tough calls and sometimes getting it wrong. With that in mind, Edwards says instead of striving for perfection from day one, be open to learning and honing your approach as you grow.
"In some instances, you're better off just perfecting what you need in the short term, and then getting a better understanding of what you're going to need in the long term as you actually operate and grow,” he says.
"One thing I would do differently is to not try to set up everything perfectly for the long term. I purchased two 40-foot containers of 750ml bottles for the US market on day one in order to get a better cost per unit. Those bottles are still sitting in storage."
Trends come and go, but a truly unique business offering is built for longevity. That's why it's key to focus on innovation as the foundation of your business.
“Restaurant trends are constantly changing, but we do try to stay away from them as they are usually not enduring," explains Powell at LP’s Quality Meats. "We try to be as creative as possible while staying true to our brand to keep it fun and fresh for our staff and customers."
Powell says that, ultimately, it’s most important to do something you’re genuinely passionate about: "Don't do something because it's trendy. Make sure you are doing it because you love it, and play the long game."
When starting a business, income doesn't always come before expenses — and vice versa. That’s why, according to Lyndon Kubis, owner of Milton Wine Shop in Melbourne, it's important to remember that "money in the bank account belongs to a lot of people" — not just you.
On a day-to-day basis, Kubis uses Westpac’s Presto Smart at point of sale to track and process cash flow. LP’s Powell also uses Westpac’s tools, saying the information it provides has been "insightful and useful" for growing his business.
When you've invested so much time and energy in getting a business off the ground, it can be nerve-wracking to reveal it to the public. But generating buzz is key to success, so it’s important to start early.
Powell learnt that lesson the hard way.
"I held back on letting people know in case the build was delayed," he says. "It then took a long time to build momentum."
Don’t be afraid to share your business idea with the world, and in the words of LP’s founder Luke Powell: "Get it out there and start building hype."
All statements in this article are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views or position of Westpac. The information provided in the article are general statements and for guidance only. This article has not been prepared with your situation in mind, and your individual situation may differ. Westpac’s products are subject to terms and conditions, fees and charges and certain criteria may apply. Full details are available on request.