Even though my partner and I had been in the industry for almost 20 years and had a great relationship with customers, we didn’t assume we were going to immediately get support from them when we set up our new company. Many companies only work with established vendors in the market or seek various levels of approvals needed before they would consider you product. Even though you might be experienced, there’s always concern about a new company’s stability.
That said, we had a few former customers who gave us smaller jobs and that was very helpful when we were first starting out. Though everyone wants bigger projects as soon as possible, larger projects come with lots of hidden costs, risk and uncertainty. If you take on a big project without the technical backup or support required, you not only face issues, but you might also tarnish the reputation of your new company.
Smaller projects helped us learn the nitty gritty of what goes into a project. It also helped us to decide on the right staff to hire, so that you can slowly expand your company with the necessary headcount.
As a business owner, it is good to be ambitious but it is also important to be conservative in the size of the projects you take on. It’s not a matter of how capable you and your team are; sometimes larger projects simply aren’t possible with a smaller team. You only have 24 hours in a day and there’s only so much you can do.
When we first began four years ago with just two people, we did all our paperwork on Excel sheets, from expenses to invoicing. We frequently found ourselves with missing documents that we forgot to put in every month. A really big benefit of QuickBooks is that we don’t need to do double-work — we create and input our documents on the same platform, plus we can also link the respective costs that the business receives to the sales numbers. This helps us better control and forecast our numbers.
I started my first business when I was younger. The benefit of starting out young is that you have a lot more energy and less fear. The drive to want to be successful is also much stronger when you’re younger. But because of this, you can find yourself making mistakes as you might be too eager to jump into things quickly. You might end up committing to agreements that aren’t suitable for you. And that gets you burned.
If you want to start young, it’s a great experience but always remember what your limit is — give yourself a deadline to become commercially viable and if it doesn’t work by then, pull out.
Also, always prepare for the worst-case scenario. I think many young people who start businesses are a lot more optimistic in their planning than they should be.
There’s no such thing as a 100 per cent closing rate. So be patient and meet as many people as you can. It’s really a numbers game. The more people you see, the higher the number of sales you’ll make.
I feel that whatever hard work and sacrifice you put into a business, there will always be results. It’s just a matter of when the results are going to come in and the level of scale of the results. So patience is key.
Regardless of how amazing your product or brand name is, what makes or breaks a small business are the people in the team. People are the strongest asset to a company and you need to make sure everyone feels involved each day.
Give your staff the responsibility and authority to run certain aspects of the business. If they do it well, it makes them very proud because they’ve personally contributed to the decisions that made it successful. This makes them even more motivated to work harder in the future.
Johnny Chua has been using QuickBooks since 2015. Find out more about Innivate here. Also, uncover more ways to build a successful business in Singapore, and discover how QuickBooks Online can help you do just that.