Small businesses have never been bigger.
As more people seek a better work-life balance, financial independence or even a side hustle to supplement their day job income, starting a small business is more alluring than ever – especially as we navigate a new wave of financial insecurity. And thanks to today’s tech advancements, launching and growing a new business is also easier than before.
According to a report by accounting firm Xero, there will be 3.5 million more new small businesses in Australia by 2031.
As the founder of Click Start Digital – a resource which has helped women launch new small businesses for over a decade – Samantha Hurst has seen an influx of people turning their attention to the dream of working for themselves on a project which may have once seemed like a pipe dream.
“It’s when things are in a downturn, when people are becoming redundant, that we get busier,” she explains. “People realise that there is no such thing as job security, so they think, ‘How can I create another income stream, so I have financial stability?’ And that’s how they find us.”
If you too are wondering how to start a business, Samantha lists the five things she tells clients to think about before they take the leap.
1. Have you done a business personality profile?
What type of worker are you? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Are you an outdoorsy person, do you prefer being in an office or do you like the flexibility of working from home?
“Do a personality profile to understand what type of business owner you will be and what sort of business would suit you,” advises Samantha. “Drilling into those deeper questions to work out what makes you tick, what makes you excited and what brings you joy will help you work out the perfect business for you.”
2. What is your financial mindset?
“Some people start a business for the wrong motives,” warns Samantha. “They’ve just lost their job or they can’t find a job and they think, ‘Well, I’ve only got $10,000 in savings left so I’m going to throw everything at this.’ That’s a bad place to come from. When people are stressed financially they don’t make good decisions.
“But if you come in with the entrepreneurial mindset of, ‘I’m excited about this, it’s something I’m passionate about and I’m in it for the long haul? These are the people who go well. Those who come in with frantic energy or are just looking for a quick dollar or get rich scheme are the ones who will fail because they have the wrong mindset.”
3. Is there competition?
The biggest misconception about starting a small business, says Samantha, is that a wealth of competition is a bad thing; and you should change your course as a result.
“It’s quite the opposite,” she stresses. “In this day and age if there are a lot of competitors that usually means it’s a popular product which is selling well. It’s not like it was 10 or 15 years ago. These days competition is a positive sign if there is demand for that product.”
To find a niche that suits you best, attend trade shows, use research tools (Google offers great free resources for businesses, head to Google Workspace to see what might work for you), read reports on and research the industry you are thinking of entering.
4. Have you got a support network?
Both personally and professionally, this will be key, says Samantha.
“You need people to bounce things off, it’s so important. I have support within entrepreneurial organisations – I’m a member of EO Queensland and it’s great having a support network. There are seven of us in our forum, we catch up every month. We talk about issues we are having in our businesses and in our personal lives. My business has doubled since I’ve been part of EO, I don’t know what I would do without it.”
5. How much money do you need to start a new business?
“First and foremost, it’s how serious you are,” says Samantha of the leap from having an idea to launching a business.
“Second is finding something you’re interested in and passionate about and then the third thing is finances. Obviously when you are starting any kind of business it’s going to cost money – there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
You need to be prepared for it to take time to make a success. But equally, you need to be resourced for if the business is an instant hit.
“Resources are everything,” says Samantha of the importance of being overprepared. “Nobody has a crystal ball about what is going to happen in the future of your business but (instant success) is one thing many business owners don’t think about.”
While that is a good problem to have, an early win can quickly go downhill if you are unable to meet customer demand.
Be prepared with projections and a clear financial plan, which will also help you work out exactly what sort if investment you will need, and for how long, to get your business off the ground and through to a successful future.