Overcoming business hurdles in the early days

Getting a business off the ground can be tough. Three Australians who’ve done it share their biggest obstacles to success and how they overcame them.
 
It’s risky, daunting – but oh so worth it, when inspiration and perspiration come together to create a profitable business. Three entrepreneurs share hard-won advice for clearing just some of the hurdles that can hold you back in the early stages.

Learn to DIY

When you work for a big firm, there’s an in-house expert for just about everything. Start a small business and it’s all down to you. What you don’t know, you have to learn, whether it’s running the payroll, dispatching orders or setting up the company’s Facebook page.

Aodhan MacCathmhaoil’s biggest challenge was getting his head around Marketing 101, when he launched his Sydney-based waste disposal and recycling business Waster in June 2016.

Watch podcasts, read blogs and have a go.
“I had never worked in the area before and had to get up to speed on the basics pretty quickly, otherwise we would’ve sold nothing,” he says. He has straightforward advice for other start-up founders with similar skills deficits: watch podcasts, read blogs and have a go.

Want to improve your own digital marketing smarts? Bluewire Media offers tutorials, podcasts and expert posts. For inspiration and advice from someone who’s made a success of it, check out Red Balloon founder Naomi Simson’s business blog

Try, try and try again

The essential components of a successful start-up are a good idea and the cash to launch it. Securing the latter can be tricky for would-be entrepreneurs who lack the means to self-fund their ventures.

It was for former nurse and Group Homes Australia founder Tamar Krebs. She went cap in hand to investors 37 times in 2011, before securing a backer for her concept of small, community-based care homes for elderly Australians with dementia. Seven years on, the company has 10 facilities in and around Sydney – proof that Krebs was on the money with her vision of offering a high-quality alternative to the large, institutional facilities which dominate the aged care sector.

“Persistence, patience and never giving up on your dream is key.”
Believe in your idea strongly enough and keep chipping away until you find someone else who does too, Krebs advises: “Persistence, patience and never giving up on your dream is key.” 

 

If possible, find alternative sources of income until the business starts making some 

New ventures rarely turn a profit from the get-go. It can take months before you start making money and years before you’re able to achieve the personal income you’d earn – or gave up – working for wages. For many entrepreneurs, the money runs out before that moment comes.

It took three years before Daniel Brady’s online outlet Heavenly Hammocks and Swings started making sufficient profit for him to draw a decent salary.

Paring personal outgoings back to a minimum and having an alternative income source – in his case, dividends from a share portfolio – made it possible to keep going in the meantime.

Have a plan for how you’ll get through those lean times.
“For the first couple of years, I was working for practically nothing, as everything was reinvested in the business; my only reward was seeing it grow,” Brady says. “You need to be persistent and have a plan for how you’ll get through those lean times.”

The gig economy offers plenty of opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs to turn a dime while they’re waiting for their big idea to bear fruit. They include pedaling for food delivery firms like Uber Eats and Deliveroo, letting the spare bedroom on Airbnb or picking up for odd jobs via Airtasker

Cover yourself

Insurance is easy to overlook and can seem like an additional cost you could do without when you’re trying to get a new venture off the ground. But protecting your effort and investment should form part of your plan to put your fledgling enterprise on a firm footing.
 
This is an ideal time to forge a relationship with a Steadfast insurance broker, as they can be an invaluable source of information and guidance about appropriate cover for the size and scope of your operation.
 
Some types of insurance you may wish to have in place as soon as possible include business interruption, motor, product liability and public liability for most businesses and professional indemnity for some businesses.
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