A little help goes a long way in small business

Tuesday 8 March, 2016 | By: Darrell Giles | Tags: start-ups, business coach, debt collection;

Starting up and sustaining a small business can be challenging.

Many SMES will relate to this builder’s story and the struggle to survive.

Ana Manu, branch manager with Kemps Petersons, says a business coach, up-to-date technology and the help of a debt collection agency can turn your business around.

The story of a small business owner:

I had been employed by a construction company as a builder for about 15 years when I realised that I wanted to open my own business. I was tired of profits going to someone else for the extensive hard effort I was putting in. As quickly as I decided to do this I left my fulltime job with $75,000 in the bank, a van and tools of the trade. I was excited about working for myself after so long and had a strong reputation with locals and I knew that was going to help me build my business.

I set up a room in our home as my office and started making calls to the people I had done work for previously. I had no idea how to use a computer and considered a mobile phone was only used for talking on as I was ‘old school’ and didn’t see the need to change.

My wife was working fulltime, we had two children under the age of 8yrs old and she was also studying towards a Diploma in Business Management. Her role in the business was to support me by writing up invoices and managing the business accounts. She also had to ensure the children were taken care of and find the time to complete her assignments. Her day started at 7am and by the end of the first year in business it was normal for her to crawl into bed anytime between midnight and 2am.

I worked onsite during the day and spent nights putting together quotes for new jobs. My day started at 6am and often finished between 10pm and midnight.

Our excitement of going into business had changed by the end of the first year to a blur of sleepless nights, tempered conversations, battles over employing more staff and an overwhelming sensation of failure comforted me each day. 

My justification for not employing more staff was that we were doing fine and we needed to get money behind us first. My wife also repeatedly asked me to delegate running of work sites to a foreman so we could have holiday ...  I couldn’t pass the reins over to someone else just in case something went wrong; it was my reputation on the line.

I lost my passion for the business and found I never had enough time or energy to do anything other than work. 

I needed to change the way I was doing things ...

The first thing I did was accepted that things weren’t as great as I kept telling myself; this was a bit of a reality check for me. A friend referred me to a business coach who helped me to get back control of my life. I had to write down goals and put together a 12 month plan. Initially we met weekly to ensure I committed to changing how I was managing things. 

It was talks with my business coach that enabled me to see the pressure I was putting on myself. Through my coaching sessions I was able to get help with managing my accounts by investing in accounting software that automated my invoicing and let me refer outstanding accounts to a debt collection agency with a click of a button. This has considerably reduced the time we used to spend calling debtors, writing invoices and sending reminder letters.

I purchased a pricing software that was compatible with my main suppliers software so pricing updates were ‘live’ reducing the time I spent calling suppliers to check pricing changes. It also enabled me to quote jobs quickly and accurately.

I also employed more staff giving me back family time and allowing my wife to start enjoying life again. 

It took a year and a half to turn the business around and now I have two foremen and employ 20 contractors. I am also happily approaching my 5th year in business.

Want to know more?

Kemps Petersons Receivables and EzyCollect are partnering to offer businesses an automated accounting and debt collection services package. A workshop will be conducted in April 2016 with limited numbers.

For further information call Kemps Petersons on 07 5582 6370 and speak with Ana Manu.

Don’t try to collect debt if you don’t know the laws relating to it, get the experts on board, protect yourself from claims of harassment or breach of privacy.


Join Kemps Petersons’ Arjun Singh for a webinar tomorrow (Fri March 11), hosted by CCIQ: Three ways to boost cash-flow and profitability using technology. Register here.

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