In partnership with BNZ
“There is a massive difference between being good at what you do and being able to run a business; they are two completely different things.”
Well, ain’t that the truth.
Courtney Manning, a Business Partner at BNZ, couldn’t be more correct. Let the three of us at Capsule tell you how wholeheartedly we have learned that difference in the past 14 months, after starting our own online magazine in the aftermath of losing our magazine jobs last March.
It turns out, writing and running a magazine is very, very, very different to running a small online business and all the nuances that come with that. Who knew?!
The saying “we don’t know what we don’t know” has been uttered so many times, it might as well be our new motto, and so it was both very interesting and VERY useful to sit down with Courtney and her colleague Anna Soons, to learn some helpful tips on running a small business.
And since so many New Zealanders – especially women – have taken the plunge and started businesses in the wake of Covid-19, we figured there’d be other women out there too who were in the same scary boat.
All we could think was: why didn’t we do this earlier! But the answer is, like so many new business owners, we charged around like the blind leading the blind for too long because we absolutely had Imposter Syndrome and, to be honest, felt a bit intimidated to take our fledgling business idea (invented over a Zoom during Level 4 lockdown) to a bank.
All we could think was: why didn’t we do this earlier! But the answer is, like so many new business owners, we charged around like the blind leading the blind for too long
There’s a reason why the three of us got into journalism in the first place – apparently, you can’t be good at both words and numbers and we are VERY firmly in the words camp. Money, finance and banking might as well be Ancient Greek to us – don’t get us started on tax – so we need a little bit of help.
Luckily, Courtney and Anna understand. “People who work in a bank can often be perceived as from a different world, but really, I genuinely care about our customers and want to help them succeed,” Courtney says. “We may ask a lot of questions, but that’s to ensure what we do is for the best interests of the customer.”
Capsule entered the market as a “micro business”, which tends to be classified as sole traders, side jobs, or passion projects; e.g. your candle-making hobby at the market. Because they don’t tend to need a huge amount of banking requirements, they tend to be handled by a consumer or retail-banker.
Once a micro business owner brings on staff or starts bringing on a certain amount of income, then they can become a SME (Small Medium Enterprise), which, Courtney says, makes up a huge part of the NZ economy. According to Statistics NZ, approximately one in six employed people in NZ are self-employed.
A key thing to remember is, no matter the size of your business, engage the bank early – something we didn’t do. As soon as you engage with the bank, this will help you to be connected with the right banker for your needs and you will usually have a ‘discovery conversation’ where they ask you about your business and get a sense what you’re about.
“Directors love telling you what they do and why they’re passionate about it, and that gives you a good understanding about where their money is coming from and where they want to go,” says Anna. It may sound like A Serious Talk to have early on but, actually, it can save you so much time in the long run.
“Directors love telling you what they do and why they’re passionate about it, and that gives you a good understanding about where their money is coming from and where they want to go.”
“Because you don’t know what you don’t know, that discovery conversation will often tease out a lot of pieces,” Anna says. “A lot of people go into business without a plan, e.g. they don’t have relationships with accountants or advisors, and some of those items will come out in that conversation.”
Once that initial conversation has been had, then the business owner can find out what tools will work for them. At BNZ there are online calculators, PayClip1 – a cost-effective mobile payment terminal, all great handy tools for day-to-day business needs.
And then there’s the piece de resistance, MyBusiness Live2, a one-stop shop where you can plug your compatible business apps into one dashboard – like Xero, MYOB, Shopify, Facebook and Google AnalyticsTM – which can give you an overview of your business and can help you to make decisions that much faster. The main point of this, Courtney says, is to help limit the amount of time you have to dedicate to the banking side of things.
“The aim here is to give you as many digital tools to assist with your business decision making and to give you back more time to focus on business operations.”
Hindsight is 20/20 but particularly so when you created a business in 2020 (pun! Intended!) and your business plan was less curated, more panicked. At Capsule, we were wary to declare ourselves a Proper Thing for a long time and apparently, that’s not at all an uncommon prospect for female business owners.
Courtney cites The Confidence Gap statistic – where a woman will only apply for a job if she meets 100% of the requirements, whereas a man will apply if he meets just 60%. “Women are perhaps more likely to walk before they can run, whereas men are more likely to take a chance on something, knowing that if it doesn’t work out, it’ll be a good learning experience.’”
By bringing on the help of a banker early on, you can have someone to ask the Questions You’re Afraid To Ask But Need to Know, plus you can know that no matter where your business goes, there’s someone who can anticipate your next few steps.
Whether you’re turning your side hustle or passion project into a paying one, or you’re on your first steps to global world domination, there’s a banker that’s up to the challenge. Or, your side hustle may start out as a micro business but after some time and money, it’s actually your surprising ticket to world domination and it becomes a SME – an account manager will know what’s best for you and your business.
As anyone who has started a business knows, it’s really easy to get trapped into the daily, keeping-your-head-above-water doggy paddle and you can lose track of the wood for the trees.
And it’s also just really nice to have a proper conversation about your business and your hopes and dreams. As anyone who has started a business knows, it’s really easy to get trapped into the daily, keeping-your-head-above-water doggy paddle and you can lose track of the wood for the trees.
Having someone a) to talk to you in a nice gentle voice, and, b) to treat you like a Proper Business Person, when it’s easy to feel like you’re a child putting on a blazer at their neighbourhood lemonade stall. Redundancy statistics that came out last year showed that a disproportionate amount of women lost their jobs last year and anecdotally, we know that a lot of sole traders or SME’s are set up by working mothers balancing child care with bringing in an income. These women are finding more flexibility in doing their own thing rather than relying on the corporate 9 to 5.
Recent figures from Statistics NZ also show the number of self-employed females has been increasing steadily every year, with last year having a noticeable jump from the previous year. Finding a bank that not only treats new business owners seriously but understands the needs of female business owners is a priceless environment to have these conversations in.
As part of our upcoming series with female business owners, you’ll read that one of the secrets to their success is treating themselves like ‘a proper business’ early on.
As one serial entrepreneur said, “if you don’t give yourself that professional space, you’ll never grow past those ceilings.” So, give yourself and your business the credit it deserves and bring in your bank early on, it’ll give you not only the guidance you need but the gravitas you’re seeking and then?
Lady, the world’s your oyster.
1 PayClip is subject to credit criteria and merchant services terms and conditions. For more information visit https://www.bnz.co.nz/business-banking/payments/payclip
2 MyBusiness Live terms and conditions apply. An up to date supported web browser and internet connection is required to access MyBusiness Live. The MyBusiness Live dashboard is powered by supported business apps. Use of any app is subject to the relevant App Provider’s terms and such terms are separate to the MyBusiness Live terms and conditions. BNZ has a relationship with 9 Spokes International Ltd to provide the MyBusiness Live platform and also with some of the App Providers available on the platform. 9 Spokes International Ltd has a relationship with some of the App Providers available on the platform. The platform is not otherwise affiliated with, related to, sponsored or endorsed by any App Provider (including Facebook and Google and each of their affiliated companies). BNZ may receive a payment or a reduction of its 9 Spokes fees, and/or a payment from an App Provider, when you sign up for or connect certain apps through MyBusiness Live. https://www.bnz.co.nz/business-banking/small-business/mybusiness-live
Any views expressed in this article are the personal views of Capsule NZ and do not necessarily represent the views of BNZ, or its related entities. This article is solely for information purposes and is not intended to be financial advice. If you need help, please contact BNZ or your financial adviser. Neither BNZ nor any person involved in this article accepts any liability for any direct or indirect loss or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance on, all or any part of the content.