small business challenges

First Time Entrepreneurs Share Their Biggest Business Challenges (& Tips) So You Don’t Make The Same Mistakes

Mar 10, 2022
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Written by Angela Omari

One would have imagined that a lingering pandemic (and with everything going south), the flame of starting a business must have dwindled, but apparently, not. The anomaly in data tells another story that points to the singular truth—there has never been a better time to start a business.

Starting a business is hard…very hard. Ask any entrepreneur, and they’ll likely tell you that’s it’s similar to building a plane …but while it’s flying! 

Thankfully, there are others who have walked the path and have learnt meaningful lessons along the way, and there’s no better way than learning from others, if we may stress? 

Read along as we share insightful tips and strategies from these entrepreneurs on the biggest challenges they faced in the first year of business and how they overcame them.

Balancing The Big Juggle 

A study conducted by Prospa reports that 10% of small-business owners work between 50 and 59 hours a week, with 16% putting in 60 hours or more. This means over a quarter are working 50+ hours each week. That’s massive. Clearly, balancing the big juggle isn’t easy and is a sentiment echoed by many first-time entrepreneurs. 

Wearing the hat of a CEO, the accountant, the hiring manager, and more is not just taxing; it takes away from the bigger picture (and critical things). For seasoned entrepreneurs, balancing it all may seem like second nature, but for first-timers, it’s a different game altogether, even though you may have years of experience managing it all. 

No one knows this better than Rod Norris, from M G Bell Norris & Associates Pty Ltd.Rod started his career in accounting at the ripe age of 18 and continued to do work with various firms until recently when he decided to be the boss and took over a firm run by his previous manager. Running the show meant greater “entrepreneur” responsibilities—one he wasn’t exposed to previously.

Managing client relationships, travel, new technology, server malfunction and more, he was inundated with business tasks. And just when everything was falling into place with new accounting software (MYOB), Covid hit!  

One of the things that helped him ease the load were Lawpath’s legal documents, which he describes as “an essential resource”.

Stuart Menzies, Co-founder and CEO at LifeHash, a tool that builds public and enterprise blockchain solutions, can relate to it. Stuart founded the business in 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, and while his priorities were geared towards scaling the business, he quickly realised that there were not enough hours.

Stuart Menzies

Of course, time is key, but launching a business in the midst of a pandemic also taught David Wildman a few other lessons. As the CEO of People Tank, a professional training and development business based out of Melbourne, David knew that building learning that’s flexible, cost-effective and built to support the decline in budgets and change across Australian businesses was the only way out.

“All solutions were delivered virtually than in-person, and we were forced to deliver high impact learning programs to keep engagement levels high.”.

Thankfully things worked out, and they now have a team of 17 and still growing! His advice on balancing the juggle?

David Wildman

Finding the Right Tribe 

Starting a business also means hiring your dream team. It’s the only way to ensure that things move forward, however insane the circumstances are. 

But hiring the right tribe is one of the “most difficult things”, especially in the first year of business, according to Paul Vaughan, who operates two successful businesses—World Amateur 4BBB Champions Tournament and Gonegolfing-Tours and wanted assistance from people who were specialists in building websites.

Adam Kupics, who started FXgossip, shares the sentiment. In fact, he faced a similar challenge when hiring coders. 

Adam Kupics

Thankfully there’s a solution. You can start your journey by finding the right vendors, and as you get resources you can expand your team by hiring a mix of full-time, part-time and even casual workers.

Setting up processes 

There’s no bigger joy than getting customers, making money and seeing an uptick in your profits. But the hard truth is that to achieve this one needs to have processes at every step of the way, otherwise it can be a long road ahead. 

For Duncan Fischer “Getting everything in place and finding a funding partner” was a key goal. His company First Shave Club was created as a feeder for large enterprises so taking care of processes especially legal ones (Lawpath helped him with the incorporation of Pty and other supporting documents) was a key priority for him. 

Setting up processes may seem like an afterthought, but having the house in order will free up your time to focus on taking things off the ground. 

Maziyar Shoghi, whose company Netpal offers NBN support to customers, faced a lot of process-related challenges in his early day. 

“Invoice platforms, tax set up and all, we were overwhelmed with the number of interests and setup or our platform for our invoicing and recurring invoices took longer than expected.” 

The challenge was even bigger for the team at Dharana Digital.

“Setting up the business across three countries was challenging in terms of timezones, currencies and finding great staff. Also, communicating across cultures and working out who we wanted our clients to be was also a challenge.”

But ensuring that processes were set up early on ensured that there were no roadblocks. 

“Our team has never met in person, but we function well because we are regularly face-to-face via video and communicate well using tools such as Trello, Facebook and email.” 

The team got assistance from Lawpath in setting up their legal processes, and when asked about their experience, they said:  

Karen Sutherland

Building a Lovable Product 

Whoever said that “build it and they will come”, clearly forgot to mention that he meant building a product that resonates with customers. Many entrepreneurs in the early days continue to invest in their business ideas without validating if it’s commercially viable. A handful of customers may enjoy your product or service, but the future of your business rests on the fact that the number of customers grows over a period of time. 

Co-founders Jason Cromarty and Felix Barbalet launched Psithur in 2021 with a vision to revolutionise the way prospecting teams leverage data. For a business like theirs, it was crucial to find early adopters.

Jason Cromarty

Jason continues to explain,

“None of these challenges were particularly surprising. The thing that has surprised me is the need for all of these challenges to be addressed in parallel, often in an iterative way.” 

His tip on ensuring a product-market fit faster? 

“Implement strategies to maximise your learning efficiency – pursue the cheapest (time and $$) ways to secure the customer feedback you need to grow your product-market-fit confidence.”

Bankable Expert Advice 

Can you nurture your very first business for success alone? The answer to the question will mostly fall in the “it depends” category, but one can’t deny that while one might have expert know-how a true lack of experience may come in the way of achieving your business objectives. 

Financial, legal and tax advice are the biggest roadblocks one can anticipate when starting their business; most entrepreneurs agree. 

So what’s the source of gaining bankable business advice in the early years? Partnering with experts, hiring consultants and outsourcing works will help you move ahead with confidence, and when it comes to legals, you can do it all with Lawpath. 

Rehan Ahmed

Joshua Boys from Arkhana used Lawpath’s expert services for contracts, documents and other items that he needed to get set up quickly. 

“By using Lawpath early on I was able to focus on the things that would help us scale faster.”

Wrapping It up 

Despite the romanticism attached to entrepreneurship and launching a business, it is indeed daunting. But being successful does not mean you need to turn into a pretzel—there definitely scope to prepare yourself and be in charge of things.

Here are a few things to think through, as shared by Anthony Dean, Founder & CEO of LOOKB4.

What’s the plan? – We all know plans change and successful businesses often pivot or change direction; however this does not mean a plan isn’t required. Before anyone decides to kick off a business, they need to complete a structured business plan. This doesn’t have to be the size of a novel but should cover the important stuff. Then, as the business is being formed the plan should be revisited and revised regularly.

What’s the need? – Is there a strong customer need for what you are proposing? Think long and hard about this and decide if you are really creating a business because of what is missing in your customers’ world.

Where’s the money? – How is the business going to make money? How long will it take? How long can you last if it takes longer than expected? What is your contingency plan if it doesn’t make money? 

Who’s going to help? – No one is great at everything. The sooner we admit this the more chance we have of succeeding. There are a lot of incubator and accelerator programs around that you can apply to but there is also a heap of assistance available via groups, mentors and reasonably priced subscription platforms. Search for ‘start-up specials’ and make the most of the advice and assistance available.

Lastly, the advice I give to everyone who is starting any business is “Start the day with the stuff you hate”. It is so easy to procrastinate when you don’t have someone checking your work. 

This pushes the bits of work that you don’t like doing to the bottom of your to-do list. As the list gets longer starting each day can become overwhelming and it gets harder and harder to get motivated and regain your momentum. If you start the day, when you are fresh, with an item or two that you don’t like doing you will be able to tick them off the list and then reward yourself with the stuff you enjoy for the remainder of the day.

And for anything legal, Lawpath is here to help. From legal documents to on-demand legal help and more, we’ve made sure that we have your legal needs taken care of.

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