- Do your homework - business is filled with uncertainty but there's a lot of knowledge you can arm yourself with
- Have your finances organised - most start-ups have a mix of shareholder's funds and debt to get them going over the first couple of years
- Know yourself - many would-be entrepreneurs have a 'dream' about owning their own business, but the reality doesn't suit them
You might recognise Mark Bouris from The Celebrity Apprentice. When Mark isn't gracing our TV screens telling contestants 'You're fired!', he is busy working as the Executive Chairman of Yellow Brick Road Wealth Management which he founded.
Yellow Brick Road Wealth Management is a full service wealth management company that offers products and services for home loans, commercial loans, financial planning, insurance, superannuation, investments, accounting and tax. Yellow Brick Road has a network of over 30 branches in Greater Melbourne and regional Victoria.
In addition to Yellow Brick Road, Mark is also Executive Chairman of U.S based technology company TZ Limited and Chairman of biotechnology company Anteo Diagnostics.
Mark is also the author of three business books, Wealth Wizard, The Yellow Brick Road to Your Financial Security, and 'What It Takes'.
We chatted with Mark Bouris who shared his business tips for small businesses:
What are three pieces of advice you would give to people thinking of starting up a business?
- Do your homework: Business is filled with uncertainty but there's a lot of knowledge you can arm yourself with before fully committing your money. Basic information such as market size, competitors, unit pricing, regulatory burdens and major suppliers are the starting point; then use this data to build a business plan. No one ever regretted doing their homework.
- Have your finances organised: most start-ups have a mix of shareholder's funds and debt to get them going over the first couple of years. You can't just rely on your shareholder funding for the venture; you should also have to have a facility with the bank (or other lender) before you open, to cover the working capital needs that will invariably arise. See the bank before you open for business.
- Know yourself: many would-be entrepreneurs have a 'dream' about owning their own business, but the reality doesn't suit them. Business ownership entails long hours, a lot of stress, financial uncertainty and a burden of responsibility to customers, employees and partners. Be honest about who you are.
Many small business owners struggle with financing their businesses. What three tips would you give to small businesses owners on financial management?
- Treat it like a business, not a lifestyle: avoid thinking about your business as something that gives you the time to do what you want. A business must produce a profit for its shareholders, and when you're the leader, that's your job.
- Have one or two simple benchmarks: most advanced finance theory was developed for large corporations. New business owners really just need to find one or two metrics that they operate to: for instance, ensuring cash flow covers costs, and ensuring each sale is generating your targeted profit margin.
- Don't be grandiose: don't start a business with a big office fit-out or by leasing flash cars for the partners. You can fit out an office with cheap furniture from the online auctions, and your vehicles should be what your business needs, not what you personally want.
I'm so lucky with the variety of tasks faced in a typical day, however, when helping others build their businesses, finding time to work on my own business growth is a constant challenge. That's where Business Victoria's programs come in – it's always a pleasure to be part of a wider community of business people.
How did you get started in the business world?
I was a young professional, working on large structured finance deals for the oil and gas industry. A group of us split to create our own firm, specialising in our niche. I was also involved in property development in my twenties.
How do you overcome failure and any knowledge you can impart to small business owners?
I think you have to decide in advance how you'll define failure and what it will mean to you. Will it crush you? Will it liberate you? It's worth thinking about it because every business owner has set-backs and frustrations and ideas that simply don't work. What I try to do is to take the emotion out of failure – or at least reduce how long I feel bad about it. You want to move to this point very quickly, because emotions can lead to bad decisions and flawed judgement. Also, the faster you move to a clinical view of 'failure', the sooner you can mine it for the lessons that make your business stronger. This is the point where you want good employees, partners and mentors.
What advice do you have for small business owners on how to stay inspired and persevere when the going gets tough?
The most resilient business owners I've met are those who have a sense of purpose. I don't mean this in a New Age way: I mean it in terms of feeling that what you are doing is what you were put on earth to do; that your goals have a value greater than just the profits you can make. Purpose gives you energy and momentum and it allows you to persevere where others can't. For a glimpse of how this works, do some reading on what Sir Richard Branson went through to challenge British Airways and the establishment to get his Virgin Atlantic airline operating. You can't take on a massive business challenge like that without some sense that what you are doing is valuable or important.
Information on Karl Bower and Yellow Brick Road
Yellow Brick Road Prahran is a wealth management company with the goal to give all Australians access to quality financial advice. The business's mission is to assist people in planning for their future, from the purchase of their first home right through to their retirement. As a Prahran local with 20 years' experience in financial services, Yellow Brick Road Prahran Branch Principal Karl Bower is committed to delivering the highest quality advice to the people in his community. Whether you need a competitive home loan, a plan to consolidate debt, or a strategy to grow your wealth, Karl and his team have the experience and resources to help.