Day One of Xerocon Melbourne 2015 is now in the books. To close out the day, breakfast host from Channel Seven, David Koch, hosted an entrepreneurs panel. The panel was made up of Jo Burston from Rare Birds, Adam Schwab from Aussie Commerce, and Helen Souness from Etsy. Kochie interviewed the panel about how small businesses thrive in Australia.
Kochie’s own small business experience
Kochie revealed to the 1,600-strong audience the gritty start to his own business. He launched his first small business in 1989 above a garment factory on Flinders Street in Melbourne. Even the greatest business success can have very humble beginnings.
“Over the years I’ve been through the highs and lows. Seeing the success of small business, but also staying awake all night worrying about how I’m going to meet next week’s payroll. As with all small businesses, you go through the peaks and troughs. You learn how to celebrate the successes and learn from the hard parts.”
He also shared his insight about just how unique small businesses are. “They often think of us as a smaller version of a big business. Well, we’re not. We’re living, breathing human beings who have the house on the line. We’re give up family commitments and more to make sure our small businesses can go for growth.”
What makes a successful small business owner?
Kochie believe a successful entrepreneur is always a glass half full kind of person. And today, that’s a rare breed. They also take responsibility for their own success and failures. They don’t blame anyone else.
He talked about how they continually re-engineer their businesses. And how they’re always looking for more efficient ways to to run it. This includes choosing great cloud tools that help streamline operations.
Kochie has to balance the needs of his small business with his other responsibilities. While growing Pinstripe Media with his son AJ he also juggles his Sunrise gig, being chairman of Port Adelaide Football Club, working to reinvent the way organ transplants work in Australia, and more!
Cloud computing has revolutionised how he keeps in touch with the business. His Xero dashboard keeps him in touch with the finances no matter where he is.
The challenges facing entrepreneurs
The panel discussed the challenges facing small businesses around the country.
Jo said it was about thinking big. She said that if you feel like you are thinking big, think even bigger. Entrepreneurs should change the perception of themselves, and talk to each other to grow their organisations.
Adam spoke about how the internet has broken down barriers to starting and growing a small business. However, it has led to increased competition where only the best and most efficient businesses will win.
Helen from Etsy highlighted the ability for small businesses to get a wealth of information easier than ever before. Having data, tools, and trends that you can explore to identify and maximise opportunities.
The role of advisors
Then Kochie asked the big question. What kind of relationship should small business owners have with their accountants and bookkeepers?
“If my accountant doesn’t get my vision, they don’t get my accounts. I want my accountants talking to my marketing people and my digital people. I want them interpreting the numbers back to me in a format that doesn’t indicate past, but indicates future. Give me an insight into my behaviours. What’s working behaviourally in the business? That help to me is absolute gold.”
Helen said accountants and bookkeepers can continue giving great value to small businesses.
“Accountants have to move up the food chain. It’s no longer about once-a-year accounts. You’ve got systems that give you data all the time. The closest advisor to most small businesses has access to that information. Alongside other tools like Google Analytics, there is huge potential to understand drivers of revenue, spot trends, and really add value to the business. They’re a partner in your business and part of your growth.”
Adam added that it’s important to remember that it’s not about a one size fits all approach. “If there’s a way to add value to a client through experience and insight, then the trust builds from there.”
Kochie drew cheers from the crowd when he said the bookkeeper was the most important person in his small business. She provides invaluable support by spotting trends before he can even see them!