written by Angela D’Alton | mantra illustration by Renée Baker
“Start as you mean to continue” is a regular mantra used at DBP, especially when it comes to providing advice to our mentees that are just starting out.
But what does that even mean?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an estimated more than 60 percent of businesses close within the first three years of operating (1). Why? It appears many find the challenges of operating a small business all a bit too much to handle, and exit.
Sure, starting a business can appear quite glamorous. We’ve seen entrepreneurialism become increasingly popular given the rise of the Internet. Savvy tech users adopted digital strategies and social media with ease and set themselves up with shops via platforms like Etsy, making it happen quickly and easily.
The problem starts with the planning, or more accurately, the lack thereof. That’s the part that isn’t quite so glitzy. It’s hard work, it requires intense research and a great deal of effort to thoroughly plan out your business.
Start as you mean to continue really means that if you are serious about turning your part-time passion into a full-time reality, you have to treat it as a serious business.
Completing a competitor analysis sounds like a dull undertaking, we know. Starting a SWOT Analysis on yourself sounds like a real drag, we get that. Not doing it however, means that you’re really setting yourself up for failure, like all of those others that dreamt, but didn’t do.
So where do you start?
Writing a business plan. I know, it sounds really exciting doesn’t it? Well, it’s ABOUT to!
When you take the time to properly research, build knowledge, determine strategies and breakdown your budgets, you will have an intimate understanding of the minutiae of your business. That therefore empowers you to make fast and efficient decisions, that are, most importantly, informed as opposed to arbitrary guesswork.
Don’t get me wrong, completing a business plan is not an exact science. There are many lines drawn in the sand when projecting profits and determining turnover for the next 3-5 years.
Not finishing one is a far worse scenario.
You don’t know what your customer life cycle looks like so how will you know how to manage seasonal production? If you aren’t in touch with your target market, their needs, and how you can solve their specific issues, what kind of messaging are you using in your marketing strategy? How effective will your advertising be when you’re not sure of who your buyers are?
Without systems which support and allow scalability, you can’t support growth. Unless you know what your goals are, you’re working very hard without specific direction.
Whether it’s a highly competitive industry like jewellery or if you’re creating one-of-a-kind products it still applies. Especially if you’re seeking external finance or investment. Try getting funding without a business plan…. !
The good news is that with DBP, you don’t have to do it alone. Not knowing where to start is no longer an excuse. If you aren’t sure how to do it, we can help you through. The sense of isolation when undertaking a new project is not an issue when you have the support of DBP mentoring.
Templates are available all over the Internet. DBP recommend the free download available from business.gov.au(3), which also comes with a “how to” document to guide you through the process. Of course, that template doesn’t work for absolutely everyone, so at DBP we’ve customised that template for our mentees to make it more relevant to the community of makers and designers.
Additionally the Internet is full of handy references supporting this notion, and to assist you in the business planning process. If hunting through that information is still a little too “noisy” for you, again, DBP can make sure you’re focused on the appropriate and relevant issues to your specific business.
Once completed you have a blueprint for you, your business and your future that provides you with control, clarity, and a robust strategy to work towards your mission.
Get in touch with us today and let us know how we can help you start as you mean to continue.
- Libby-Jane Charleston, Huffington Post, 17 Jul 2016, Why Small Businesses Fail in Australia
- Jessica Stanic, Dynamic Business, 18 Dec 2009, Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail
- Australian Government Business, 14 Aug 2018, Why do I need a business plan?
Although peppered with a lot of US based references, this guide is invaluable to anyone who is keen to turn their making into an industry.
A long-term bookshelf stalwart for Australians keen to get themselves into their own small business.