Navigating the 5 stages of starting a business

Running a small business is emotional. Like falling in love or experiencing grief, there are a range of emotions you’ll experience and coping mechanisms that need to be learnt. Here are some life lessons Reckon customers have to offer.

5min read

be your own boss

When you start a business you need to know something about marketing and branding, finding your niche, and learning about bookkeeping. Skills and knowledge can be accumulated, but alongside that there’s an emotional learning curve, too.

You need resilience to start and survive in business. You need stamina. You need to learn to stand up for yourself. You need to focus on your goals and dreams. But, sometimes, you also just need to have a laugh…

#1 Start right now!

If every parent waited for the perfect time to have children, then we’d have a global population problem. Usually, people just decide to give it a try. That can also be the case with business, as Adelaide singing teacher Casey learnt.

“I had to learn not to be a perfectionist about everything… to just put stuff out there, see how it goes and fix the issues later,” she admits.

“I wanted everything to be perfect, but I had to realise that it was never going to be. If I waited until it was perfect, my stuff was never going to get done.

“The perfect moment never comes.”

#2 Pace yourself

Mobile games developer David has maintained his motivation and energy by pacing himself.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” advises David. “You need to manage your own workload and the workload of your peers.

“You’ve also got to manage when you’re doing appearances, so you can be animated and awake. You want to ensure you’re not looking down or sleepy because you’re burnt out.”

#3 Maintain professional boundaries

For Fiona, who runs a concierge business in Queensland, the biggest lesson has been to stand up for herself and create boundaries. Small businesses might not operate like the big banks or multinational companies, but they still deserve respect.

“We’ve got to keep our focus on premium stuff,” explains Fiona. “Even if that means cutting back other services, because we must have our standards.

“We have to be available,” she adds, “but not be pushed around.”

“We want to be there for people, but don’t ring us now to say, ‘Can you come mow the lawn in 30 minutes?’ Or ‘Can you come and help us host drinks at midday?’

“We need notice and to plan jobs within an acceptable timeframe to provide the best service.

“We are professional. We may be small, but we are professional and treat us as such.”

#4 Never give up

Winston Churchill famously said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 was that hell for many small businesses.

Laurie runs a drama school with his wife on the Gold Coast and resilience was needed to get them through the last 12 months.

“I think, probably, last year was the biggest lesson that any of us had,” Laurie says.

“We’re located fairly close to the Queensland/New South Wales border, and a lot of our students came from across the border,” he explains. “When the borders shut, that had a massive impact on our business from March last year. Our income stream dropped by about 45%.

“We had to think very quickly. Luckily, we had teaching staff who loved working with us, people who love the business and love what they do. We were able to go to them and say, ‘Guys, we need to pull together here, and be the family that we are,’” he adds.

“We took our business online for three months while we had to shut, and we pulled through that. I’m happy to say that we are now in a better position than we were this time last year.”

#5 You’ve got to laugh

Even in difficult times, you can still have a lot of fun running your own business. For Bodo, a management consultant from Perth, it’s essential.

“A day without laughter is a day wasted,” says Bodo. “You need to have fun in what you’re doing. That’s something Sir Richard Branson always says.”

“If you have fun, keep going. If you don’t have fun, stop,” Bodo continues. “Do something else!

“Life is too serious in many ways. And people can make things very, very complicated. I’ll ‘Keep it simple, stupid’, so I can laugh about it.”

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