Daily Archives: February 4, 2019

Running a business from startup


Most people I know have thought about starting or owning their own business. Most people I know have not gone down that path for one reason or another.

I love talking to people who have gone down that path, about the challenges, the wins, how they got there, how they are going – I take my hat off to anyone who has tried.

Whilst in the airline lounge before heading over to Argentina for business recently, I got talking to a guy about business and he talked passionately about his want to start his own business. I asked why he hasn’t done it yet and his reply was simply “I should”. He gave no reason, he didn’t have to. I know it is hard.

I’ve had two experiences in getting into my “own business”. The first was a startup in Australia where we leveraged technology from the US and the second was acquiring an ongoing concern. Both were tough for differing reasons. I feel I was lucky that both were relatively successful with one still going along nicely.

As I thought back about the steps involved in the startup, I started looking back through my notes as I reflected and found the answers I gave to my son’s business course assignment asking questions on running a business from start up.

Here it is. I find it refreshing to look back on and thought I’d share it.

Name:
Paul Barlow

Name of Company:
Digital Motorworks Pty Ltd

What does the company do?
Digital Motorworks is an online technology company specializing in developing and implementing online strategies, services, products and business intelligence for online classifieds businesses

Time spent to start it up:
It is hard to say when a company “start or leaves” the start up phase as, especially in the early days, you feel like you are always starting up and then later you do not want to lose that “start up mentality” to keep you lean, agile and hungry. I would consider that there was about 5 months of true “start up mode” where agreements for technology were negotiated, company formation and the targeted first client signed that would get the ball rolling; however, before this there were many months of thinking, dreaming, procrastinating, planning, etc before the real work started

Number of employees (when first started up):
2 Co-Founders

How long were you at the company:
10 years

Your background:
Started my IT life as a Print Operator in a large mainframe system before moving in the Operations of the mainframe; Then completed a Diploma in Software Development and started as a Software Developer shortly thereafter; Software Development back then saw you involved in the whole product life cycle so when I moved into a Product Management role I was cutting code, testing, implementing, training and supporting; This enabled me to have a business/commercial focus while developing software to solve commercial needs

Your qualifications:
Diploma of Software Development (before business was started); Master of Business Systems (studied whilst running the business)

Your previous jobs before starting up the business:
Print/Computer Operator with Idaps Australia Pty Ltd; Software Developer, Product Manager & e-Commerce Director all with Reynolds & Reynolds Pty Ltd

Reason for going into the business:
My father’s advice was always in the back of my mind; Wanted to be in control of my own destiny; Saw an opportunity in the market and had a go

Skills that are important in operating the business:
Negotiation; Management; Leadership; Industry knowledge; Relationship management; Technology know-how

Objectives and goals for the business:
To provide seamless, value added, data fueled services to the online automotive and jobs classifieds markets

Difficulties/Challenges/Pressures encountered:
Getting out of your comfort zone; Convincing large media companies to “give you a go”; Challenging convention with new technology; Competitive threats; Employing the right people; Ensuring all bills can be met, especially payroll early on

How were these overcome?
Realizing the value proposition for the client; Creating great technology; Building relationships; Putting attitude and aptitude over experience when hiring; Prudent business planning; Having a passion for what we were doing

Support services used to help you run the business:
Accountant; Legal advice where required

How the manager manages business performance:
Setting Key Performance Indicators through out the business and ensuring these drove our operational objectives

Reasons for the businesses success:
Focus on solving business problems in the markets identified; Not trying to be everything to everyone; Employing the right people; Hard work; Passion

Impact of business ethics on the way you conduct the business:
I have two favourite sayings in business: (1) “people do business with people they like” and (2) “if it easy everyone would do it”; Both of these are driven by the business ethics of understanding the needs of clients and employees and understanding that there are no easy paths; Another important philosophy was developing a “win, win, win” culture between the employee, the manager and the company