Away from the grind of the office, the summer holidays can provide inspiration for a great new business idea, and the time and motivation to turn that idea into a reality.
When starting up your new business, it’s important to remember that while an independent spirit may be the catalyst to going out on your own, it can also be a hindrance to your ultimate success.
MYOB General Manager Julian Smith says shifting that mindset to ask for help early on can be the difference between make or break in those first few months. "Many business owners don’t look for a trusted expert – whether it’s an accountant, banker or lawyer – until it’s crunch time,” he says. "But, in my experience working with Kiwi businesses, it’s those start-ups that build a support network of trusted experts – before they even start trading – that have a greater likelihood of long-term success.”
Build a high-performance team
"Like a large company with an executive board, your own professional team can help you make decisions, plan for development and identify what steps you need to take to grow. And independent advice can be absolutely crucial when you have a vested interest in the business.
"In getting help, start with referrals from other professional service providers and successful small business owners. Create a shortlist and ‘audition’ those that you think could be an asset to your business. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – from experience with other start-up businesses and how they can help your business, to billing processes and conflicts of interest. As with any relationship, the key is good communication. Look for people you feel comfortable discussing all aspects of your business with – not just the positives.”
Find a good accountant – and good accounting software
One of the most trusted experts for Kiwi business owners is their accountant, says Smith. "Your accountant will be able to help you plan your business, set up key systems and structures, and work though legislation, training and financing. They can also provide valuable insight into the local business environment.
"The single biggest issue most small businesses face is the cost, and hassle, of compliance. Understanding the complexities of the vast number of rules and regulations, and staying up-to-date with revisions and amendments can be a headache. However, technology can make all the difference. Find a way of automating the requirements of your business. Anything you systemise can be managed by software – from writing a Health and Safety plan to re-ordering from suppliers.”
As for managing your books manually, Julian Smith believes technology provides a far greater – and simpler option. "There is a whole range of software for managing your books, specifically designed to manage that mountain of accounts, forms, invoices and bills,” he says. "Filing your GST return electronically can also make things a lot simpler. The same goes for the end of year tax return.”
Online businesses do better in New Zealand
Recent data from the MYOB Business Monitor – a survey of over 1000 Kiwi businesses, conducted by Colmar Brunton – shows that two-thirds of business owners believe the internet is a critical channel for promotion and marketing.
"From our research we can see that businesses with a website do better,” Smith says. "Fifty percent of businesses with a website predict growth in revenue in 2011, compared to 42% without a website. And 32% of businesses with a website had more work in the last quarter, compared to 24% without a website.”
Top five tips for starting a new business in the New Year:
Love your work
If you love your work, you have a better chance of achieving your dream – and encouraging others to believe in your dream too.
Do your research
Evaluate if there is a real need for your product/service, who your potential customer-base and competitors are, your point-of-difference, potential costs and funding avenues, and your long-term goal for the business.
Ask for directions!
Accept that there are areas of your business that you will need help with, and establish a start-up network early on to help with planning, legislation and finance. This will also ensure you get the legal and tax issues right the first time.
Make the most of technology
There are a number of tools and software systems available today that can assist you in managing your business and your books.
Nowadays, you can miss significant opportunities if your business is not established in the virtual world. Set up a website early on and regularly review how you can use online activity to generate business.