Did you know there are more than 2.2 million small businesses in Australia and only 35% of them are owned by women?
According to Westpac Business Bank Chief Economist Besa Deda, the economic bounce back from Australia reopening will be led by small business.
So if you have a great idea for a small business, it’s the perfect time to start that side hustle or be your own boss and redress the gender imbalance while you’re at it!
Deda further stated; “Low interest rates, elevated household savings, a strong housing market, and pent-up consumer demand are a potent mix of factors that will help reignite growth in the economy.”
New research from Westpac has also revealed 82% of small businesses have seen an increase in customers buying Australian-made products and services over the past 12 months. While it’s been a tough time for many businesses during COVID-19, a rare positive that’s come out of the pandemic is that Aussies have realised how important shopping local is to our country.
Westpac’s survey of 1,000 small to medium business leaders across Australia also confirmed that owners are optimistic about the outlook ahead, with seven in 10 expecting an increase in sales over the next 12 months.
However, it’s important to do your homework before starting a small business, as almost 60% of them fail within their first three years.
A study by the University of Technology Sydney suggests the largest contributor to small business failure is financial mismanagement due to factors such as lack of business experience and cash-flow issues, with sales and marketing problems, economic and personal issues also play a role.
The Remarkable Woman wants to make sure you’re part of the 40% of small businesses that not only succeed but truly thrive, so we’ve put together a 101 guide on getting started. Here’s what you need to do …
1. Write a business plan
You don’t need an MBA to write a great business plan, it can be created on just one sheet of paper.
First, research who your customers are and whether your product or service resonates with them.
“Go ask 10 people if they would buy your product or product idea,” suggests The Remarkable Woman CEO Shivani Gopal. “Really question them about why they would or wouldn’t buy it. This is a great practical starting point.”
Get clear on the solution you’re offering that solves a specific problem in the market and specifically, how you’re doing this unlike anyone else. It’s called the USP (Unique Selling Point) that you can offer to solve a specific problem in a way that differentiates you from your competitors. What are one to three features of your product or service that solves this need? What are the benefits that your customers will receive from using your product?
And, most importantly, think about cash flow - you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to pay you. There are a myriad of online platforms that you can use, depending on your business model, including Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, We Pay, Paypal, Amazon Payments, Square, Authorize.Net.
Need help putting it all together? Download our business model canvas.
This article will teach you more about writing a simple and effective business plan.
2. Work on your leadership skills
As a leader, two things will drive your success in small business: relationships and results.
Research shows that people describe great managers as those they feel a personal, authentic, one-on-one connection with. It’s also important to ensure staff feel their efforts are recognised, give them constructive feedback, and create an environment where people feel psychologically safe and supported to work, learn and make decisions.
“Employees prefer managers who take pride in their communication skills,” explains Shivani. “And guess what, customers do, too. They love engaging with brands that keep them updated and engaged through intentional conversations – resulting in more sales and longer customer life cycles.”
Need tips on enhancing your communication skills? Click here for Shivani’s insights on how to be a great manager.
3. Get digitally savvy
The migration to online purchasing has accelerated at a phenomenal scale and speed as a result of COVID-19. In fact, research suggests the pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping by as much as five years.
Over the past year, there has been a transformation in the way consumers interact with products and services and how they conduct many of the routine transactions of life.
NielsenIQ says it’s paramount for brands and retailers to consider how to adapt their digitalisation strategies to better serve shopping online.
Businesses need to rethink the shopper journey and accelerate the development of digital solutions.
Conversational marketing is also key to success in this market - it’s important to be in constant conversation with your customers online, via both your website and social media.
When you engage in conversational marketing, you need to listen, ask questions, diagnose the customer’s problem and prescribe a solution.
“Businesses are seeing that customers are preferring more personalised interactions,” Shivani explains. “Customers are giving us feedback and telling us exactly what they want, more than ever. It’s pivotal that businesses and start-ups take the time to listen intently and ask the right questions.
“Conversational marketing increases the momentum of customers coming to you, rather than you going to them, interrupting their day, and trying to close them within a specific window. It puts the customers in the driver’s seat and enables you to help them, right there and then.
This article will dig deeper on getting digital conversations started
4. Build your personal brand
If your business involves consulting, expert advice or if your marketing strategy is focused on you - the business owner, personal branding should be your key skill to master for success.
Personal branding is about crafting a story that you want others to engage with, and then telling people the story in a way that impacts them the most.
A recent study by Upwork revealed why personal branding is so important for business owners and operators. It found that Elon Musk has more Twitter followers than three of his companies combined. This is also true for Richard Branson (Virgin), Arianna Huffington (Thrive Global), Gary Vaynerchuck (VaynerMedia), and countless other highly successful entrepreneurs. These superstars know that we want to engage with real people, not a company’s ads about how good their products are.
Your personal brand only works when it’s built around your own personal values. These values become the pillars of your projects, business and interactions. When you’re authentic, people respond because they empathise with your beliefs.
Build your personal brand on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Be sure to be active on all three channels and tailor your messages to suit each platform individually. Consistently publish quality content on them and have a ‘content calendar’ that organises your posts every month.
“Build a strong network through in-person and online interactions by attending events, seminars, meet-up groups and a strong online presence by publishing content on your own social media platforms like: blogs, interviews, research, tips and other insights,” Shivani adds.
5. Harness your time effectively
As a busy business owner, you’ll have a lot on your plate. Managing your time and productivity can be the difference between making or breaking in the business world.
To maximise productivity, make a to-do list for the day, then ruthlessly audit tasks to put them in order of importance and urgency. Decide which tasks are important for long-term success versus the ones that are important for daily success.
Keep your purpose and long-term goals in mind when doing this.
Stephen Covey’s famous ‘Matrix’ is a good place to start when organising your tasks for short and long-term success. He reminds us that not everything that comes across our desks is urgent, or even important.
“When we’re in the middle of our busy day, we can be so pleased that we’re ticking off all our tasks that we forget to audit the actual importance of the tasks themselves,” Shivani explains. “Being busy doesn’t equal productivity. We often allow ourselves to get inundated with tasks in order to distract us from what we really need to do — the hard stuff.
“It’s a much better idea to tackle the hard stuff first in your day. This has a threefold effect: every task thereafter is perceived as much easier and more enjoyable; we get some momentum going; those who do their hard tasks first in their day are much more successful in the long-term.”
That brings us to long-term success. If you want to be productive in the future, you need to plan out our long-term goals, then specify the steps that you need to take in order to get there. Once you’ve identified the steps, you can dig a little bit deeper to see what needs to be done in order to complete each individual step.
6. Manage productivity and stress with the upside down technique
Here’s a strategy that can work when you are inundated with work and life demands – it’s called the “upside down technique”.
The key is to plan your most important task for the morning the night before. Write it on a sticky note and put it on your computer screen. Only have three important tasks at the very most, and place them in order of importance. Your morning is going to be focused on getting the top priority task done by lunchtime. And you’re not allowed to check your emails or social media until you’ve completed this task.
This strategy brings back the essential laser focus that we need to do great work, plus it takes off all the stress and pressure that can lead to the warning signs that end up causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. Click here to find out more about why you should turn your workday upside down.
7. Engage in mentoring
In our eyes, mentoring is for absolutely anyone wanting to get ahead in their career. However, if you are a business owner – or thinking about becoming one - and need to bounce ideas off other experienced people, mentoring is absolutely the way to go. Mentoring will help you achieve your goals faster by leveraging your mentor’s know-how.
The Remarkable Woman has assembled a team of experts across all major fields to guide you, develop actionable strategies with you, then help make your dreams a reality. These visionaries started where you are, and they want to show you the path to success.
You name it, they’ve faced it and succeeded: creating influence, negotiating, leading, marketing, networking, branding, and beyond. No matter your objective — from a promotion to building your own empire — you’ll be able to connect with experts to match your ambition and show you the way.
Our Signature membership offers you two 1:1 mentoring sessions per month, as well as a range of courses and resources to create and grow your business. Our recurring events and networking sessions will also open doors to a valuable community of like-minded women.