How to succeed in small business

Six of Australia’s most brilliant business minds share their top tips for succeeding in small business.

Half of all small businesses don’t survive – so how can you make sure you’re one of the success stories?

Six of Australia’s most brilliant business minds shared their advice at The Australian Women’s Weekly/CPA Australia Women in Business Awards in Sydney’s Ivy Penthouse this morning.

Alex Malley – Chief Executive of CPA Australia

You have to find time for yourself – time to pause, stand back and have a look at the business from a different perspective. In small business, you are so passionate and involved in the day to day that it can hard to see the business as a whole. You need time to work out your strategy and stay relevant.

Heather Ridout – Chair of AustralianSuper and a member of the Reserve Bank Board

Don’t ignore your superannuation. You never know what’s going to happen and you need to prepare for having to look after yourself – I never thought I’d be in that position but I’m going to be. You need to take $25,000 a year, no matter what. Super is a fantastic long term savings option that too many women just don’t think about until it’s too late.

Sacha Drake – fashion designer and owner of her eponymous label

Spreadsheets are the key to success as a small business owner. Get everything in a spreadsheet. That’s what everyone in business understands. It’s about money, it’s about numbers. That’s all the counts in business. You can either pay your loan back or you can’t and you need to be able to document that.

Siobhan McKenna non-executive director of Ten Network Holdings

Don’t shy away from growing your business. Many women don’t realise that it takes the same amount of energy and effort to run a big business as it takes to run a small business. Women worry that doubling the size of their business will double their workload whereas in reality, it might be more like one per cent more work because as your business grows, you can afford to hire better people to support you. This also has the added benefit of allowing you to focus on the aspects of your role that interest you and that you’re good at, which is good for your business and great for you.

Sarah Wilson founder of I Quit Sugar

Don’t force yourself to do everything yourself. I have always been terrified by anything to do with money. I have no idea how much money I have. When I decided to grow my business from a hobby to something more, I brought on my best friend, who is very good with money. I gave her a share of the company so she had a vested interest and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. She worries about the money and I am free to be creative and do what I do best and the company has gone from strength to strength because of it. Get people on board you have absolute trust in so you can get on with what you’re good at.

Ainslie Van Onselen – Director of Women’s Markets, Inclusion and Diversity at Westpac

The key to getting finance for your business is confidence and being prepared. Know your objectives, have a business plan and do your research. You have to be financially literate. You need to know, almost in real time, your cash flow and where you’re going. And don’t be afraid to negotiate with your bank. If you get a no, push back. If you aren’t able to have a good clear discussion with your banker, get a new banker. You also need to continue developing your business case. It doesn’t stop once you’re up and running. To work fast and keep growing, you need to know exactly where you are going at all times.

Related stories