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Expert tips for aspiring entreprenuers

The Dynamic Business panel of leading Australian business experts share their top tips for entrepreneurs looking to start up a business.

Janine Allis, founder and executive chair, Boost Juice Bars
Concentrate on one thing. You can’t be everything to all people. Don’t just try to be better than your competitors, be different. Find the one thing that separates you from the pack and shout your difference to the world. Boost was born when my husband and I identified a gap in market for healthy fast food alternatives. We then made Boost the best natural, healthy smoothies and juices available.

Be passionate about your business. It takes a lot of hard work to make your business come to life, so you want to make sure you really enjoy it. Your excitement will attract people and your passion will help you get it right. At Boost we inject our ‘love life’ ethos into all aspects of the business and as a result have produced a consistent marketing message and attracted a great team.

Implement innovative communications and marketing strategies. No matter how great your product or service is, a massive stumbling block for new businesses can often be the calibre of the marketing. The Boost communications strategy started from day one. We made all our communications and marketing extraordinary, making customers and potential customers smile. Good communications is a great brand builder if you captivate your audience.

Add the ‘care factor’. Even with the amazing growth of Boost, we constantly came back to the ‘care factor’; care about what you do, care about what you sell and care about your customers for the long term. Put yourself in the position of a customer, see what they see when they approach and deal with your business.
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Brad Sugars, chairman and CEO, ActionCOACH
Youth gives you flexibility, agility, naivety and so much more.

Hang on, how the heck is naivety a benefit? Simple. I remember all the things people told me you could not do, and with youth on my side I just went and did them. OK, so I made some mistakes on the way, but let me give you a simple example.

I first started doing seminars and planned a massive tour in Adelaide. I had committed tens of thousands in marketing, the same in venue hire and travel, and when everything was just starting, a ‘friend’ from Adelaide rang me and asked me what in the world was I doing? Apparently no-one ran seminars in Adelaide; it was never going to work.

Well, work it did. I had only planned for 1,000 attendees, and it booked out in the first two days. So I added another, and it sold out in the next two days. All in all, four events and 4,000 people. But of course, you can’t do that in Adelaide!

Look, unless someone has told you you can’t do it, laughed at you or just plain ridiculed your goals and dreams, they are not big enough! Dream big and give yourself 10 years to get there. Stay focused, keep learning, keep growing, reading, attending seminars, watching DVDs and, most of all, keep focused on your dreams. Turn your dreams into goals, your goals into plans and your plans into actions and it WILL happen, no matter what anyone else (including your in-laws) thinks.

Dr Craig Emerson, Small Business Minister
In business, just like in other walks of life, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. That’s why there is no substitute for seeking out good advice and doing your homework.

Diving head first into a business proposition can be fraught with danger and small business operators in particular take a risk in going out on their own.
While hard work, creativity, talent and persistence can undoubtedly lead to commercial success, there are downsides such as no sick pay, holiday pay or penalty rates.

Budding young entrepreneurs may want to avoid the instinctive feeling to rush at business establishment in favour of research around potential markets, competitors, skills base, financial capacity and developing a business structure. And make sure you keep overheads to a minimum in the early stages of your business. You don’t want a situation for long periods of time where more money is going out than coming in. That’s the way to go broke.

While the Rudd Government is hard at work on a massive reform program to reduce the amount of business administrative red tape, there are still forms to fill out.

The Govforms website www.govforms.business.gov.au contains forms that can be downloaded for everything from registering for an ABN or tax file number right through to various forms from your local council.

As a Government we support a competitive market economy that provides the incentive for risk-taking and entrepreneurship. Those who do their homework will be ahead of the game.
Gavan Ord, business policy advisor, CPA Australia
There are a number of preliminary steps that aspiring entrepreneurs need to consider before going into business. These include:

  • Determining whether you are the right type of person to run a business. To respond to this, you need to consider whether you can deal with the demands of being in business, such as long hours, staff problems and complaints. You also need to consider whether you have the perseverance to continue when the going gets tough and the self-discipline to focus on your business.
  • Understanding the business you are going into. Do you have the necessary experiences and/or qualifications to enter the business you want to start? Do you need to undertake further training to gain a better understanding of the industry?
  • Can you afford the financial risks? Do you have the financial resources to commence or acquire the business and to continue to operate it?
  • Are the people closest to you in agreement with your plans?
  • Have you undertaken any business training? Have you undertaken any small business courses or spoken to people already in business?

Another important step is to undertake market research. Such research includes:

  • Feasibility study: You should research the industry you are entering, your product or service, the potential market, competitors, suppliers, staffing requirements, etc.
  • Sensitivity analysis: The likely outcomes of change in turnover, prices and costs should be explored.
  • Business plan: A business plan should be prepared incorporating the above two items as well as a range of other information, particularly your potential funding needs, that will help you plan ahead.

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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