Running a Small Business? Got an Idea For a Side Hustle? Ask An Expert! We Have Your Burning Questions, Answered!

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In partnership with BNZ

Last week we put the call out on Instagram to small business owners – or those looking to start up their own side hustle – to ask any burning questions, no matter how big or small, that could help them on their journey. We were blown away by how many questions we got (and how many of you have genius ideas for new businesses), so we put the questions to the good folks at BNZ, who have helped us on our own journey – particularly Courtney Manning, a Business Partner at BNZ and her colleague Anna Soons (you can read about it here).  Along with their expertise, we’ve added in our own 10 cents about what we’ve learned since launching our business. 

My dream is to start a cake business – what’s the first thing I should do?”

BNZ says: Good for you! While there’s no one way to start a business, and every success story follows a different path, there are a few key things you can do to ensure you put your best foot forward:

  • Spend time planning. There are great tools available to help owners with new business ventures. The MBIE website and BNZ’s Business Moments have some great resources available, so check it out and make the most of it.
  • Make a plan. But besides your Plan A, also make a Plan B and C(ovid).
  • Back yourself. If you have created something superb, then have the confidence to bring it to the world.

Capsule says: You have an idea for a business? You’ve already jumped the biggest hurdle! When we started off Capsule, the one thing people kept repeating to us was that the most successful businesses are ones that are born out of wanting to share your passion with others – rather than just wanting to make a quick buck. If you have passion, you already have the most important ingredient of the recipe! Then, you’ll want to find key people who can help bring your ideas to life, like a great bank and an accountant!

“I’m thinking about changing banks. What should I be looking for in a bank? What’s most important to know from my bank?”

BNZ says: Being a small business owner can be lonely at times. But the good news is, you don’t have to go it alone. There are many ways a bank can help your business to succeed – it’s important to find out what those tools are. Whether it’s payment solutions, finance or business insights, there are plenty of products BNZ has on hand that might fit the needs of your business and help you to grow. Talking with a Small Business expert can help tailor these tools to your company’s individual needs. And conversely, it’s a good opportunity to understand what the bank’s expectations are of you as a business owner.

Capsule says: As we’ve mentioned a few times, we had very little idea what we were actually doing when we started off, and going in to see Courtney and the BNZ team at the bank felt like a huge milestone. And it was! Having a good relationship with a bank can really be a game changer and help you to make the most of your business. In the early days for us, that included simple hints that had a big impact! For example, we were given advice on opening a separate account from our day-to-day account that we would transfer tax and GST to. They helped us find the right kind of account to generate the most interest, without incurring penalties. Suddenly, we were making money while we slept! It’s all about working smarter and your bank can help facilitate that.

“I’m launching soon! What should I be doing with my money to start off with?”

BNZ says: The best thing you can do is get planning, planning, planning. It also helps to engage the bank as early as you possibly can – that way, you can have an open conversation with an expert about forward planning. BNZ has exposure to a huge array of different industries so we can provide guidance based on experience and trends.

In that planning you’re going to need to understand the cashflow of your potential business. You’ll need to calculate up how much it’s going to cost to get it off the ground, which will include:

  • Up-front costs: fit-out, stock, equipment, licenses, legal fees, branding etc
  • Reserve funds until the business starts generating a profit
  • Cash for working capital 

At the start of your journey, it’s also a good time to engage an accountant and advisor to assist with ensuring your money is spent in the most beneficial way.

Capsule says: It can be confusing and overwhelming at first, but it’s all worth it in the end! We found the most important step was to ask for help! Ask around and get some advice! Getting a good team – your bank, your accountant etc – can make the world of difference!

“How do I choose the best financial advisor or lending specialist?”

BNZ says: The best financial advisor or lending specialist will vary from company to company, because the best fit is someone that you personally gel with and fully trust. An advisory board can help provide valuable input to any business and aid growth. A good advisor can help you to gain further insight and oversight into specific areas of the business; help if you are looking for early-stage market validation, and help if you want your business to become more professional. 

Capsule says: As we’ve said, finding the right tribe for you and your business can be a game changer! But in our experience, sometimes it takes a while to find the right folks – it might not be who you first go to, or a recommendation that always works out. Talk to other business owners you know and look up to and ask about what or who has worked out for them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, or change who you’re dealing with to find the right fit – the people you need will change depending on the stage your business is at, and that’s okay.

The Capsule team

“Everyone says I need a business plan… do I really? What should be in it?”

BNZ says: You sure do! Imagine turning up to your wedding day without doing a stitch of pre-planning… if you want it to happen, you have to plan for it.

A business plan is all for the benefit of the director/business owner so it’s time well spent in investing in yourself. You really want to have that plan drawn up before your first sale – that will allow you to identify your business model and the ‘why’ of your business.

There will be so many considerations a business plan will cover, and if you put the time in at the start, you’ll likely save on time, money and mistakes further down the track. It’s crucial and it’s a document you’ll refer back to and review – to ensure you’re trading in line with your plan – time and time again.

BNZ can help you bring that plan to life with easy to follow templates that you can view and download here.

Capsule says: A business plan was a crucial step in getting our company headed in the right direction! Yes, it was super important in having a road map and a solid plan as to how we’d all be able to pay our rent/mortgage in the year ahead, but it also helped us to navigate challenges on the way. When Capsule started there were four of us onboard as partners with an even split – so it wasn’t one person calling the shots. Having a solid business plan meant we had discussions and set out a plan for coming to decisions and overcoming any hurdles along the way – like, what if we disagreed on something? What if someone were to leave the business?

Because it’s YOUR business plan you can also add whatever is important in, so we had some fun with ours, like establishing that on office days dogs would be welcome and PJs would be acceptable for Capsule Zoom catch-ups!

“When is the right time to quit my job and focus on my passion project?”

BNZ says:  As there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question, there are a huge number of variables that come into play. For making a big decision like this one, we’d recommend sitting down with a financial advisor to get some advice tailored just for you and your company.

Capsule says: Jumping out of the nest is scary! Fortunately – or unfortunately – for us, we were pushed out of the nest rather than having to jump, after we were made redundant and decided we’d give our own thing a go (whilst we were in Level 4 lockdown and had nothing else to do, as well as some redundancy money to tide us over!).

But in saying that, we had a ‘do we, don’t we’ moment when we were offered new jobs and had to decide whether to make Capsule work, or take the safety of a 9-5 salary. Some of it is an emotional, gut decision, but it also has to be realistic and based on facts and figures. Ours was still a leap of faith, but based on knowing that the income of the business we had forecast would at least cover our rents and basic living costs! Owning your own business is liberating – and knowing that the hard work you put in goes directly into your own back pocket is a huge motivator!

“What’s your best tip?”

BNZ says: Can we give you seven? Our top tips are:

  1. Know your ‘why’.
  2. Know that every successful business started from just one idea.
  3. Get a quality business advisor, accountant, lawyer, banker to set you up to help, and guide you through the good times, and bad.
  4. Learn from your setbacks – they’ll make you more resilient.
  5. Work smarter not harder – work out where your time is best spent to maximise productivity.
  6. Employ people that can do what you can’t.
  7. Network. This can sound like a scary word (especially for introverts) but networking isn’t all about selling your ideas and products, it can be about meeting like-minded individuals and learning from each other’s experiences. Along with this, starting up your own SME can be quiet/lonely in the early days so building a support network can help you feel connected.

Capsule says: Believe in yourself! Being passionate goes a long way in business and if you back yourself and your product, you’re so much more likely to succeed. It’s not always going to be easy – trust us, there will be unexpected setbacks along the way, but knowing what you stand for and having that confidence means you can turn those setbacks into an opportunity to grow and learn. Good luck!

“I own a small business, how can a bank make life easier for me?”

BNZ says: We can provide the right products and services to suit each different business – for the company as a whole, as well as for the owners/directors individually.

Capsule says: Having the right bank on your side means some peace of mind and knowing you have another skilled pair of eyes watching over your company!

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. References to third party websites are provided for your convenience only. BNZ accepts no responsibility for the availability or content of such websites.

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