The first 5 things to do when you start a business

Thinking of starting your own small business? We talked to a few Reckon customers who have done just that, and discovered their top five guiding principles.

5min read

be your own boss

If you’re starting your own business, there is a temptation to get distracted by details… What sort of desk should I get? Should I get T-shirts printed?

There will be plenty of time for all of that and more, but first there are some fundamental pillars to put in place. Here are the top five principles Reckon customers shared with us.

#1 Find your niche

“Find that thing you can do that no one else is doing – that’s really helped us,” suggests Laurie, who runs a dance studio on the Gold Coast.

“Because we are a production-based company – of which there are few – we’re not just a dance studio, we’re not just a drama studio.

“Instead, we can help people from the ages of one to 25 to come along, meet some great people, and learn great life skills, or to move into the industry,” she continues.

“Several of our past students and present students are working professionally. And I think that’s testament to our work. You need to find your niche.”

#2 Surround yourself with knowledgeable people

“My biggest lesson,” says Casey, a singing teacher from Adelaide, “has been learning to actually seek out mentors or people who are in similar positions to me, and talk to them to understand what’s going on – and to get help.

“I started out thinking I could do everything alone,” she continues, “and it took me about a month to realise that was not happening! So, find people and talk through issues with them.”

#3 Put processes in place

“Start with your processes,” says Bodo, a management consultant.

“You might be good at everything that you’re doing in your core business, but if you haven’t got your standard operating procedures done, then going for a tool will not help you,” he advises.

“There’s this phrase that says, ‘A fool with a tool is still a fool,’” he laughs. “If you haven’t got your processes right. Any tool will fail.”

#4 Be authentic with your marketing

It’s important to get your business out there and create awareness, but make sure your message is genuine. That’s the advice of Nuala, a cafe owner in Sydney.

“I think you just have to be authentic with whatever you’re doing for your marketing,” she says. “Don’t be any other business, don’t try and please anybody else.

“You just have to be authentic to your brand or to your ethos, and what you’re trying to do.”

“We had to really ramp up our social media during COVID, and I had to take control of all of that,” she continues. “I started doing videos on our pages, just so people knew who they were buying from and to remember who we were.

“I think for small businesses, you really have to be digital. You have to be there.”

#5 Get accounting software

With your positioning agreed, support network in place, processes detailed and marketing message ready, you need to be organised for when the money starts coming in – and costs start going out.

Janet owns holiday accommodation in Hobart and learned the hard way that there is no substitute for good accounting software, such as Reckon.

“If I had my time again, I would have set up Reckon One quicker,” she says. “I’m not a business person. I was just fumbling around and I’d made a big mess of it. It caused a lot of stress.”

Janet is exactly the sort of customer that Reckon aims to help, as CEO Sam Allert explains.

“Rather than fiddling around in a spreadsheet, we’re making it simple to use proper accounting software instead,” says Sam. “So the numbers you’d plug into your spreadsheet, you can instead put into our software, and we’ll give you a P&L, we’ll give you something you can send to the bank or an accountant, or the government if you need to.”

That also extends to automation options that make banking easier.

“You can put in some rules, such as every time you go to Caltex or BP… that’s classified as a motor vehicle expense,” explains Sam. “Next time the expense comes in, you can approve it and it will automatically debit to the right place.”

Janet agrees: “Now, with my banking, it just automatically goes into Reckon. I just need to check it. I tick it, and it’s done. I don’t need to type in anything. It’s made it so much easier.”

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