In reflecting on how my businesses were setup and the advice given to me along the way, I have come up with a list of what I see as some of the essential tasks and operations in setting up and running a small business. Not all will be applicable to everyone, but you may just get one idea which makes life in business that little bit easier:
- Business Structure and Setup – decide what sort of structure you want for your business? Is it going to be a family trust, partnership, sole operator, Pty Ltd company? Speak to some of the business advisers in our area and your local accountant to decide which best suits your circumstances. If you’re not sure where to start, call us at the WBN and we can point you in the right direction.
To save on setup costs, you can register your business and ABN yourself at business.gov.au. It is a very good resource and easy to use. It also has a lot of information about the various types of business structures.
- Have a Plan! If you’re heading off on an adventure to somewhere you have never been before and you don’t know how to get there, you use a road map, right? Well business shouldn’t be any different. It helps significantly if you have an idea of the sort of business you want to run, the financial information to help you budget and move forward and the goals you want to set for the short, medium and long term. In essence, your business road map!
The WBN has programs that address this very thing – WBN Seed will roll out next year with the first session on the 10th February in Corrigin. If you haven’t already, this is a must if you are starting a new business or have set one up in the last 2 years.
- A logo and corporate image is essential. A good logo, with a style guide that sets out your fonts, colours and branding elements and used consistently throughout your communications projects and air of confidence and reliability. It makes you look like you know what your are doing and can also make you appear larger than what you actually are (I know this from experience as it is what we did with our IT company when we first started!). Make sure that everything is consistent – colours and fonts included on all your advertising, marketing and signage.
- Decide what accounting package is best for you – it can be a real pain to change down the track. Look at cloud-based options which allow you to access your accounts and payroll from anywhere in the world. This can make it a lot easier to step outside your business – especially if you can do your payroll from a beach in the south pacific!
- Setup a web site, domain email address/s and your Social Media pages. This not only makes it easier for potential customers to find you, it builds confidence in your products and services by providing information about you. We all love to research our purchases now before we make them, and the Internet has made this task especially easy. You don’t have to spend a lot of money – set your budget and shop around. One item though is absolutely essential – a domain email address. By this I mean something like email@example.com. Please do not use Google or Hotmail email addresses for your business! They look unprofessional and are constantly blocked by spam and junk mail filters and should not ever be used for business. It is not expensive to setup a domain name and email address and it makes all the difference to your appearance and appeal if you have them!
- Decide how you want things done and go about setting up systems and procedures to use them. An example is how a customer is dealt with when they make an enquiry. You may have a system in place like Active Campaign that manages your customer interactions and you then have a procedure that details what happens when a customer makes an enquiry. You may have something like: They receive a phone call within 12 hours of the enquiry and a follow up email within 24 hours. Then once the transaction is complete you may have an email that is sent to them following up on the service they received. It allows for a consistency of service.
This can also be done even if you don’t have staff. If you start putting together systems and procedures from the beginning, when you do get staff to fill roles, you already have the instructions for them to do their job the way you want it done. It also makes it much easier to hand over a business as well if you sell or pass the business onto the next generation – they can walk in and you basically have an instruction manual on how to run your business!
- If you have staff in various locations, setup good communication platforms (e.g zoom, slack) for remote conversations and discussions. It allows you to feel connected even if you are miles away.
- If your business charges by the hour or you quote on jobs, a good Job Management system is also essential to capture time so that you are quoting appropriately (e.g Jira, Trello, Xero projects). You also want something streamlined that your staff can enter their time into and that easily produces quotes and invoices. This saves incredibly on administration time and you can get accurate figures on how long certain jobs take which makes quoting much more accurate.
- In the same vein a good Inventory system is also necessary if you manage parts and products as part of your business. So much time can be wasted in warranty claims and maintaining good stock levels. You need something that, at the click of a button can tell you where a part was purchased from, the date of purchase and how many you have in stock.
- And finally, seek help when you need it! There are some amazing services out there and I know for a fact that the WBN is only too happy to help where we can, and if we can’t, then we have an amazing network of partners that we can refer you to. We also have very affordable business programs such as WBN Seed and Grow which can help you get started or take a step back and do some overdue strategic planning on your business to help you move forward.
As our good friend Stephen R Covey says:
“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction”.
Written by Rachel Thomas, WBN Business Manager